What Is Orthorexia?

Disordered eating is dynamic. Most are familiar with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. 

In recent times, orthorexia has made a strong presence and is on the rise. Orthorexia has not been acknowledged as an "official" eating disorder, rather it is a term used to describe the desire to follow righteous perfect eating rules. I know from past experience that it is very real. I'm proudly orthorexia-recovered and now specialize in helping others win their battles with orthorexia.

Orthorexia has been coined the "clean eating eating disorder" - When the intention to eat healthily becomes so extreme that one falls into an unhealthy lifestyle and mindset. This is very common amongst athletes and avid gym goers.

Common characteristics of orthorexia include:

  • Defining one's worth based on their food choices -  for example the need to consume only organic or "clean foods"
  • Restrictive with food quantity and/or variety, only consuming foods believed to be "safe"
  • Feelings of guilt upon eating foods perceived as "forbidden"
  • Fear toward certain foods, a common example is fear of carbohydrates
  • Rigid food timing, meal prep, and grocery shopping rules
  • Fear of eating in restaurants or any food prepared by anyone else (one may feel timid to eat when others are around and isolate themselves socially)
  • Susceptibility to falling into the restrict/binge/purge cycle. One may set rigid eating guidelines throughout the week then lose control come the weekend, and battle yoyo-dieting (Note: over exercising is a common form of purging)
  • Negative self talk, feeling the need to suffer to become fit, obsession with leanness is prominent amongst the fitness community suffering with orthorexia
  • Belief in non-existent food allergies
  • Judging others based on their food choices

Each person's underlying intentions behind their susceptibility to this eating disorder are unique. However, common triggers stem from mainstream fitness pop culture and the multi-billion dollar diet industry