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Orthorexia Nervosa Signs & Symptoms

What is Orthorexia Nervosa?

Orthorexia is an eating disorder characterized by having an unsafe obsession with healthy food. An obsession with healthy dieting and consuming only “pure foods” or “clean eating” becomes deeply rooted in the individual’s way of thinking to the point that it interferes with their daily life.

Although orthorexia is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), it is still recognized by many mental health professionals and eating disorder experts and can have a harmful impact on the body, mind, and spirit.

Symptoms & Warning Signs

  • Veganism, Vegetarian or Pescetarian
  • Gluten-free
  • Showing an “unusual interest” in what others are eating
  • Inability to eat any food that isn’t designated “pure”
  • Obsessively following “healthy lifestyle” bloggers or social media figures
  • Obsessions about checking the ingredients
  • Compulsively checking nutrition labels and/or calorie counting
  • Inflexibility
  • Fear of processed foods
  • Perfectionism
  • Obsessions with dietary and nutritional supplements
  • Opting out on celebrations and social gatherings in fear of unhealthy foods that you may be pressured to eat

Risks & Complications

Orthorexia can result in severe health problems such as malnourishment leading to protein deficiency disorders that can harm the kidneys and other vital organs. Additionally, the presence of co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse disorders can increase the morbidity and mortality associated with orthorexia.

Causes of Anorexia

  • Past history of trauma
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Unresolved personal conflicts
  • Low self-esteem
  • Perfectionist personality
  • Long history of dieting
  • Substance abuse
  • In males, decreased testosterone
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation, bloating or nausea
  • Electrolyte abnormalities, such as low blood potassium, sodium and chloride
  • Kidney problems
  • Obsession with exercise

Treatment for Orthorexia Nervosa

The psychotherapy approaches offered in eating disorder treatment can allow an individual to acknowledge the underlying feelings and triggers associated with their orthorexia nervosa and find strategies to develop healthy coping mechanisms and ways to live in reality without striving for perfection.

Orthorexia nervosa is known to lead to anorexia nervosa, which has the highest mortality rate out of all mental health disorders. Treatment for orthorexia nervosa alone or in combination with anorexia nervosa does differ, as individuals with anorexia nervosa are focused on weight restoration in treatment.

We’re Here to Help

Center for Discovery’s Treatment Centers specialize in treatment for eating disorders, mental health and dual diagnosis treatment with unique treatment programs for every individual to get them on their way to eating disorder recovery.

For more information, resources, or to consult with one of our specialists, call 877.288.7512.

Take a free Eating Disorder Evaluation

This evaluation can help determine if you or a loved one may benefit from consulting with an eating disorder professional.

What is Orthorexia Nervosa?

Orthorexia is an eating disorder characterized by having an unsafe obsession with healthy food. An obsession with healthy dieting and consuming only “pure foods” or “clean eating” becomes deeply rooted in the individual’s way of thinking to the point that it interferes with their daily life.

Although orthorexia is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), it is still recognized by many mental health professionals and eating disorder experts and can have a harmful impact on the body, mind, and spirit.

Symptoms & Warning Signs

  • Veganism, Vegetarian or Pescetarian
  • Gluten-free
  • Showing an “unusual interest” in what others are eating
  • Inability to eat any food that isn’t designated “pure”
  • Obsessively following “healthy lifestyle” bloggers or social media figures
  • Obsessions about checking the ingredients
  • In males, decreased testosterone
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation, bloating or nausea
  • Electrolyte abnormalities, such as low blood potassium, sodium and chloride
  • Kidney problems
  • Obsession with exercise

Risks & Complications

Orthorexia can result in severe health problems such as malnourishment leading to protein deficiency disorders that can harm the kidneys and other vital organs. Additionally, the presence of co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse disorders can increase the morbidity and mortality associated with orthorexia.

Treatment for Orthorexia Nervosa

The psychotherapy approaches offered in eating disorder treatment can allow an individual to acknowledge the underlying feelings and triggers associated with their orthorexia nervosa and find strategies to develop healthy coping mechanisms and ways to live in reality without striving for perfection.

Orthorexia nervosa is known to lead to anorexia nervosa, which has the highest mortality rate out of all mental health disorders. Treatment for orthorexia nervosa alone or in combination with anorexia nervosa does differ, as individuals with anorexia nervosa are focused on weight restoration in treatment.

We’re Here to Help

Center for Discovery’s Treatment Centers specialize in treatment for eating disorders, mental health and dual diagnosis treatment with unique treatment programs for every individual to get them on their way to eating disorder recovery.

For more information, resources, or to consult with one of our specialists, call 866.482.3876.

Take a free Eating Disorder Evaluation

This evaluation can help determine if you or a loved one may benefit from consulting with an eating disorder professional.

Preferred In-Network Provider for All Major Health Insurance

Preferred In-Network Provider for All Major Health Insurance