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 ketogenic diet. 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.
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Orthorexia Signs & Symptoms
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 in Texas
We are a team that consists of the most compassionate and knowledgeable staff of mental health professionals such as nutritionists, therapists, and psychiatrists at Eating Disorder Solutions. We give you the tools, support, and motivation to take your life back and start a new life journey.
- Residential treatment
- PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program)
- IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program)
Our team provides a range of evidence-based services to support long-term OSFED recovery. The combination of services ensures that our programs meet every need and address all underlying issues of other specified eating disorders. We make sure to provide individualized treatment to all of our patients, taking into consideration their specific needs, wants, and comfort levels. Please click the link above to learn more about our treatment plans for orthorexia.
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
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 can be overcome with the right treatment and support.
Start your recovery from orthorexia 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. Call 855-808-4213 for more information about orthorexia treatment in Texas.