What is Orthorexia Nervosa? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

Eating plays a significant role in the growth and development of your body. Some people have an eating disorder and it impacts their health and well-being. Today, we’ll discuss what is orthorexia Nervosa; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is Orthorexia Nervosa? 

Orthorexia Nervosa is a form of an eating disorder comprising an unhealthy obsession with healthy food and diet. Steve Bratman was the first person to come up with the term “Orthorexia” in 1997. It’s a combination of two Greek words, ortho means “right” and rexia means “appetite,” and the translation of the term is correct diet.

Unlike any other type of eating disorder, the focus of orthorexia is on finding the quality food and not the quantity. Unlike bulimia and anorexia nervosa, the focus of people with orthorexia is on healthy food and diet, rather than being thin or losing weight. They have got an obsession with the benefits of a healthy diet and eating, and their mind is extremely fixed on the cleanliness and purity of food.

The medical community has started to recognize orthorexia Nervosa as a type of eating disorder, but DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental health disorder) and APA (American psychological association) have not officially recognized it as an eating disorder.

People with particular group types like healthcare workers, vegans, and students are more at risk of developing this condition than the general public. According to a study, 6.9% of the general Italian population, and 88.7% of Brazilian nutrition students have got this condition. Vegans are also at the risk of developing orthorexia, and some experts say that choosing veganism is a sign of orthorexia rather than a cause of it.

Symptoms of Orthorexia Nervosa 

Some of the main signs and symptoms of orthorexia Nervosa are as follows;

  • Curing, preventing, and fixating diseases with clean eating and food
  • Experiencing weight loss or unintentional malnutrition as a result of extreme restrictions on food
  • Bringing your handmade meal to the event out of the belief that the food of others won’t meet your standard of healthiness
  • Not participating in such social events where other people would prepare the food
  • Spending a lot of time analyzing the menus and the particular food served in the event
  • Unusual interests and critical views about eating or diet habits of other people
  • Taking a lot of time on planning, buy, and prepare a meal that they consider healthy, and reach a point where it disturbs their other areas of life.
  • Removing a large number of food items from your list without any ethical, cultural, religious, or medical reasons
  • Obsession with checking the nutrition level on the ingredient list
  • Incapable to change from the dietary plan or the eating style without feeling anxious about it
  • Anxious and fearful of unhealthy food and avoiding them

People with orthorexia eating disorders violate the healthy diet rules that they have set for themselves. They crave food that they consider unhealthy and it lowers their sense of self-worth and emotional distress. However, people with this condition think that their self-worth relies on their capability of following a healthy diet plan. The obsession with a healthy eating style badly impacts their life.

Causes of Orthorexia Nervosa 

Researchers don’t know the exact and precise cause of orthorexia Nervosa eating disorder. Some experts say that it simply starts with simply following a healthy eating plan in order to improve your health. It would be a condition when the good intentions relevant to the food choices become extreme.

Risk Factors

Some factors like an existing eating disorder or OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) tendencies amplify the risk of developing this condition. Avoiding certain types of food items is the socially acceptable norm to some extent. However, some of the other factors are as follows;

  • Control need
  • High anxiety or stress
  • Perfectionism

Some of the social factors that may cause it are as follows;

  • Bias and weight stigma relevant to eating behavior
  • Dietary trends on social media
  • Organic products and clean food items
  • Higher-income
  • Nutrition knowledge

The proponent of “clean food” and “clean eating” say that it’s healthy than processed food. “clean eating” puts a label on certain types of products and the others are dirty and undesirable.

Treatment of Orthorexia Nervosa 

The healthy side effects of orthorexia are as bad and damaging as other types of eating disorders. If you don’t treat orthorexia, it would result in the form of irreversible damage to one’s health. However, the first step in the treatment process is to acknowledge its presence.

Realizing the condition can be difficult and challenging, it’s because people with orthorexia won’t see the problem and acknowledge its negative side effects on their physical health. After recognizing the problem, the person should reach out to the therapist or psychologist. Psychologists and therapeutic experts treat orthorexia the same way as they treat other types of eating disorders and OCD like;

  • Restoring your weight as per the requirement of your body
  • Different types of training like breathing exercises, guided imagery, tai chi, yoga, and meditation
  • Restructuring and cognitive reframing
  • Behavioral modification
  • Reintroduction to triggering food items and gradual exposure
  • Therapy to treat the underlying disorders OCD, depression, and anxiety

Conclusion: What is Orthorexia Nervosa? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is orthorexia Nervosa; its symptoms, causes, and treatment; we have realized that the condition could badly impact a person’s health. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should consult with the therapist in your area.