There are many behaviors which can lead to a variety of eating disorders. In many cases, individuals may be able to recognize negative behavioral patterns, yet they may not know they struggle with an eating disorder. In this article, we discuss orthorexia nervosa, a specific type of eating disorder. This way, more individuals can identify self-damaging behavioral patterns in their own lives so they can begin to seek the help they need.
What is Orthorexia Nervosa?
Basically, orthorexia nervosa is an eating disorder which is characterized by a consistent need to eat healthy in a way that debilitates other aspects of life. Obviously, eating healthy foods is good to fuel the body with the nutrients it needs to maintain good health. But, when this is taken too far, it can impact other areas of life negatively, which is actually unhealthy. For example, a person with this eating disorder may avoid specific places in fear that they won’t find anything healthy to eat. Furthermore, this eating disorder may include other characteristics like obsessing over ingredients, vitamins, and food prepping.
Other Signs and Symptoms of Orthorexia Nervosa
Along with having obsessions of healthy food impact other areas of life negatively, a person struggling with this eating disorder may showcase a number of other symptoms including:
- An obsession with foods that don’t contain specific ingredients like sugars, fats, animal by-products, salt, etc.
- Refusing to go to specific places that don’t serve or offer specific foods.
- Avoiding family members and friends for fear of having to eat in front of them.
- An obsession with planning and prepping meals and their ingredients.
- Obsessing over food sanitation, techniques used to clean food, and cleaning the kitchen.
- Anxiety about other people preparing food and food preparation techniques.
- Judging others who aren’t obsessed with eating healthy foods.
- Losing interest in past passions but still getting relief from eating “healthy” foods.
- Spending mass amounts of time thinking about and preparing food before eating.
- Refusing to go out to eat in general.
- Experiencing guilt when “unhealthy” foods are consumed.
- Scheduling daily tasks around food planning.
- Eliminating specific foods and food groups completely from a diet.
Negative Effects of Orthorexia Nervosa
Because orthorexia nervosa may not lead to serious weight fluctuations like other eating disorders do, it can be more challenging to diagnose. However, individuals struggling with this disorder may experience negative effects due to cutting out entire food groups from their diet. This can include low iron levels, strains on family and friend relationships, cardiac complications, and malnutrition.
The Difference Between Orthorexia Nervosa and Other Eating Disorders
The main difference between orthorexia nervosa and other common eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia is obsession on weight and body size. With common eating disorders, weight and body image is a driving force behind self-damaging behaviors. However, with orthorexia nervosa, this isn’t an issue. Rather, individuals with this disorder display obesssion with healthy eating and how it feels than body size and weight.
Seeking Clinical Help with Orthorexia Nervosa
If you or a loved one is experiencing some or many of the signs and symptoms of orthorexia nervosa, diagnosis can be made by a clinical expert. Here at Willow Place for Women, we offer evaluations for women who may be struggling with eating disorders. Additionally, we offer clinical help through educational resources, therapeutic services, and medicinal care.
If you’re ready to live a life free from the dangerous effects of eating disorders, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about our program and how we help many women each year recover from eating disorders.