Many of you have heard this word before: orthorexia. But what is it?
While not an official eating disorder listed in the DSM V, orthorexia is a growing concern in the ED world. The NEDA website tells us,
The term ‘orthorexia’ was coined in 1998 and means an obsession with proper or ‘healthful’ eating. Although being aware of and concerned with the nutritional quality of the food you eat isn’t a problem in and of itself, people with orthorexia become so fixated on so-called ‘healthy eating’ that they actually damage their own well-being.” However, since there is no official diagnostic criteria, it can be very hard to recognize. It’s kind of a “I know it when I see it” situation, which isn’t great for those who suffer from it, because it means many people are probably getting overlooked.
I have orthorexic clients, and they’ve sought help because their “healthy” food choices are starting to ruin their lives. They have anxiety at the thought of eating anything outside their rigid “clean eating” food rules. It’s beyond “healthy eating” and making choices that meet both satisfaction and nutrition needs. It’s an obsession, and sometimes becomes a full-time job.
Aaron and I decided to tackle the topic on our Dietitians Unplugged podcast when he found a blog post that felt dismissive of the issue. If you are wondering if your eating might qualify as orthorexia, give this podcast a listen, and if you think you need it because your life is not your own anymore, reach out to a professional for help.
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