If you or your loved one is currently struggling with orthorexia nervosa, you should seek treatment as soon as possible. Like other eating disorders, orthorexia can lead to a slew of physical and mental health problems if left untreated. At Eating Disorder Solutions in Dallas, TX, we offer treatment programs that address the underlying causes of orthorexia and provide individualized care and support every step of the way – from the initial diagnosis to recovery. To learn more about orthorexia nervosa, its signs and symptoms, and the personalized treatment we provide at our Dallas location, please continue below. Our compassionate team is here for you, ready to help guide you on your road to recovery.
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What Is Orthorexia?
Orthorexia is an eating disorder categorized as an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. This isn’t to say eating healthy isn’t a good thing, it is; however, those who have orthorexia obsess to a point where it damages your overall well-being.
Orthorexia may manifest itself differently in different people. For some, this illness may start as a diet, such as veganism or the like. However, the end result is still the same in that there is an obsession with only eating foods that are ‘pure’ and excluding those that aren’t. These exclusions may start off as minor, but can eventually turn into not wanting to eat out, eat foods not prepared by themselves, or just eat anything they deem ‘impure.’
And although many health professionals recognize this illness as an eating disorder, orthorexia nervosa is not recognized as an ‘official’ eating disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V). Because of this, orthorexia isn’t an official diagnosis –i.e. there aren’t any official criteria in diagnosing this disorder. Subsequently, there is less awareness of orthorexia among the general public, resulting in more instances of this disorder being left untreated.
Signs & Symptoms of Orthorexia
Orthorexia symptoms range depending on the person and the disorder’s severity. However, common orthorexia symptoms and warning signs can include:
- Abnormal obsession in eating foods that are ‘healthy’ or ‘pure’ – this goes hand-in-hand with food quality
- Obsession in avoiding
- Fear of becoming sick – a common belief among those who have orthorexia is that by eating ‘unhealthy foods,’ they may acquire medical illnesses or become severely sick
- Preoccupied with dietary vitamins or supplements
- Avoidance of food groups entirely – although some people may disregard certain foods, those with orthorexia may disregard entire food groups (which can lead to malnutrition)
- Begin to show signs of malnutrition – this can include feeling weaker, tired, having hair loss, ulcers, etc.
- Increased amount of time thinking about food, meal preparation, and nutrition – in many instances, those with orthorexia will spend a considerable amount of time researching foods and their nutritional contents, whereas most people would just look at the label
- Social isolation, particularly from those that don’t have the same dietary beliefs
- Feelings of superiority or satisfaction when eating ‘healthy’ foods
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or remorse when eating foods that aren’t ‘healthy’
- Spending an excessive amount of time thinking about what foods might be served at upcoming events, parties, or other gathering/dining occasions
- Refusal to eat food prepared by anyone other than oneself
- Refusal to go out and eat
- An increase in interest in the health of others’ eating choices – similarly related, those with orthorexia may begin to judge others, including friends, on what they eat
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Orthorexia Treatment Process
As previously stated, orthorexia is not currently recognized as an eating disorder by the DSM-V. Therefore, diagnosing this condition can be rather difficult. Even so, orthorexia treatment is of utmost importance and requires professional medical attention and care – whether it be residential, partial hospitalization, or outpatient.
If you or someone you know have been experiencing any of the listed symptoms above, you should consider treatment as soon as possible. At Eating Disorder Solutions in Dallas, TX, we offer specialized orthorexia treatment to help you overcome your obsessive tendencies, minimize malnutrition, and eliminate the risk of further health deterioration.
Orthorexia Treatment at Eating Disorder Solutions
Armed with the most compassionate and knowledgeable staff of mental health professionals (nutritionists, therapists, and psychiatrists), Eating Disorder Solutions gives you the tools, support, and motivation to take your life back and start anew.
Before you begin orthorexia treatment, we’ll have you take part of our intake process – but we won’t make you go through it alone. Treatment is scary, especially taking the first step. That’s why we’ll make sure you have an intake specialist walking you through the beginning stages of intake. These stages include a series of questions aimed at understanding your medical history, a confidential interview, and a physical exam – to better understand the current state of your medical health. This physical checkup will include basic measurements such as height, weight, and BMI, and will also include an examination of your lungs, heart, vital signs, and others – such as blood tests, EKGs, and X-rays.
Once you begin treatment, we’ll introduce you to your treatment team, the group of individuals who will talk with you, care for you, and provide you with the best strategies, therapies, and treatment for a better, healthier life – one without an eating disorder.
As for what kinds of programs our orthorexia treatment center offers, we provide residential, partial hospitalization, and outpatient treatment for all of our orthorexia patients. While outpatient care is less ‘involved’ (an hour of therapy once or twice a week), residential treatment allows patients to solely focus on their health and well-being. Our program offers a safe environment where individuals can relax and effectively recover – including 24/7 medical monitoring and support.
Our partial hospitalization involves the same structure and level of intensity as our residential program. However, it gives patients more freedom and opportunities to recover outside of a controlled environment – patients are only required to visit our orthorexia treatment center 5-6 days a week. But like with all of our programs and approaches, we understand the unique challenges and circumstances individuals may have; therefore, our methods may slightly differ for each patient, tailored specifically to that person’s needs.
The Impact of Orthorexia if Left Untreated
Without prompt and attentive care, those with orthorexia may sustain long-lasting health complications – including an overall declining quality of life. Similar to the health consequences of other eating disorders, those most commonly associated with orthorexia include:
- Malnutrition and other nutritional deficiencies
- Weakening of bone structure and function, bone brittleness (osteoporosis)
- Kidney failure
- Problems with the heart (heart disease, slow heart rate)
- Onset of a co-occurring mental disorder; if a co-occurring disorder is already present, symptoms may worsen
- Lack of confidence, sense of self-worth
- Social isolation
- High levels of anxiety, stress, and depression
- Increase in suicidal thoughts or tendencies
- & More
And although rare, the complications that result from orthorexia can be fatal. However, you don’t have to let this illness define you. The road to recovery may seem daunting at first, but this disorder is overcomeable with the right treatment and support.
Get Help Starting with Orthorexia Treatment Today
At Eating Disorder Solutions, we offer comprehensive plans designed around your specific needs and current circumstances. We understand that overcoming orthorexia isn’t easy and that there are unique emotional concerns and physical needs for each patient. Our compassionate team of mental health professionals and nutritionists are here for you, crafting individualized treatment strategies specific to you. From initial diagnosis to eventual recovery, we’ll hold your hand every step of the way.
If you’re ready to begin your journey towards a healthier life and a healthier you, contact Eating Disorder Solutions today. Our orthorexia treatment center is only one call away.