In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition), Orthorexia Nervosa is characterized as an unspecified eating disorder. A reasonably novel phenomenon, Orthorexia Nervosa is an obsession with appropriate or “healthful” eating. Although being conscious of and concerned with the nutritional characteristics of the food you consume is healthy, people with orthorexia nervosa become so paranoid about “healthy eating” in general that they damage their well-being.
Even though Orthorexia Nervosa isn’t as popular as other eating disorders, the number of people diagnosed with it is on the rise. There are currently no specified treatments for it, but experts treat Orthorexia Nervosa with psychotherapy and exposure therapy. Studies have also demonstrated that people with Orthorexia Nervosa also have obsessive-compulsive disorder. To determine if someone is dealing with orthorexia, there are specific symptoms and warning signs that one should be aware of. These symptoms and warning signs include but are not limited to:
Obsessive checking of ingredient lists and nutritional labels
A surge in concern about the health of ingredients
Cutting out several food groups at once (all sugar, all carbs, all dairy, all meat, all animal products)
An inability to eat anything but a limited group of foods that are considered ‘healthy’ or ‘pure’,
Interest in the health quality of what others are eating,
Spending hours thinking about what type of food might be served at future events,
Showing high levels of distress when ‘safe’ or ‘nutritious’ foods aren’t accessible,
In the era of constant propaganda about healthy and nutritious eating, we might not even realize that we have Orthorexia Nervosa; we might even unconsciously encourage it for ourselves. It is essential to remind ourselves that fanatically obsessing over our diet may lead to malnourishment, poor quality of life and a diminished overall well-being.