Orthorexia nervosa
Posted in eating disorders

Orthorexia nervosa

Similar to anorexia nervosa, orthorexia nervosa is a type of eating disorder where a person is obsessed with eating healthy food and avoids certain types of food considered in their opinion to be not healthy, the key difference being people with orthorexia are not excessively concerned about their weight. 

Why is it called orthorexia nervosa?

The greek term otho means correct. It was a term coined by a physician by name Steven Bratman in 1997 which was desccribed as an unhealthy fixation with what the individual considers to be healthy eating. Beliefs about what constitutes healthy eating commonly originate in one or another dietary theory such as raw foods veganism or macrobiotics, but are then taken to extremes, leading to disordered eating patterns and psychological and/or physical impairment.

Is orthorexia nervosa an official diagnosis?

No. Although orthorexia is not recognized as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, and it is not listed in the DSM-5, it is commonly reported in many research and magazine articles.

What are the commonly accepted criteria for orthorexia nervosa?

Criterion A. Obsessive focus on “healthy” eating, as defined by a dietary theory or set of beliefs whose specific details may vary; marked by exaggerated emotional distress in relationship to food choices perceived as unhealthy; weight loss may ensue, but this is conceptualized as an aspect of ideal health rather than as the primary goal. As evidenced by the following:

  1. Compulsive behavior and/or mental preoccupation regarding affirmative and restrictive dietary practices believed by the individual to promote optimum health.
  2. Violation of self-imposed dietary rules causes exaggerated fear of disease, sense of personal impurity and/or negative physical sensations, accompanied by anxiety and shame.
  3. Dietary restrictions escalate over time, and may come to include elimination of entire food groups and involve progressively more frequent and/or severe “cleanses” (partial fasts) regarded as purifying or detoxifying. This escalation commonly leads to weight loss, but the desire to lose weight is absent, hidden or subordinated to ideation about healthy food.

Criterion B. The compulsive behavior and mental preoccupation becomes clinically impairing by any of the following:

  1. Malnutrition, severe weight loss or other medical complications from restricted diet
  2. Intrapersonal distress or impairment of social, academic or vocational functioning secondary to beliefs or behaviors about healthy diet
  3. Positive body image, self-worth, identity and/or satisfaction excessively dependent on compliance with self-defined “healthy” eating behavior.
W8MD Team

W8MD Team

What are the symptoms of orthorexia?

Symptoms of orthorexia nervosa include “obsessive focus on food choice, planning, purchase, preparation, and consumption; food regarded primarily as source of health rather than pleasure; distress or disgust when in proximity to prohibited foods; exaggerated faith that inclusion or elimination of particular kinds of food can prevent or cure disease or affect daily well-being; periodic shifts in dietary beliefs while other processes persist unchanged; moral judgment of others based on dietary choices; body image distortion around sense of physical “impurity” rather than weight; persistent belief that dietary practices are health-promoting despite evidence of malnutrition.”

Orthorexia nervosa related terms

  • orthorexia nervosa treatment
  • orthorexia nervosa statistics
  • orthorexia vegan
  • orthorexia test
  • orthorexia dsm
  • orthorexia wiki
  • orthorexia recovery
  • orthorexia reddit

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