An obsession with health food might be a possible eating disorder

An obsession with health food might be a possible eating disorder

Yup, you heard that right. It's called Orthorexia Nervosa, and it might be more common that you think. Here's what you need to know...

These days, there are a ton of new diets and health food trends. It seems that every month there’s always a new “superfood” and a new crazy type of diet that promises to make you live longer and lose weight quick. And it’s totally fine right? After all, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep yourself healthy.

But did you know that being too obsessed with eating healthy food can be an eating disorder?

Orthorexia nervosa


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First coined by Steven Bratman MD, back in 1996, orthorexia nervosa was used by Dr. Bratman to describe patients who where too health obsessed. He initially used it to help patients understand that their healthy eating obsession might not be as healthy as they think. Eventually, he found that it could be a possible eating disorder.

Orthorexia can appear to be health-motivated, but in reality, there can be a number of underlying factors that contribute to this behavior. These include:

  • A feeling of being safe from having poor health
  • An urge to have complete control over what you’re eating
  • A desire to be thin
  • Trying to escape from your fears
  • Trying to improve your self-esteem
  • Searching for spirituality through food
  • Creating an identity for yourself

All of these factors can contribute to the reason why someone might be suffering from orthorexia.

Go to the next page to learn more about orthorexia.

How do I know if I have orthorexia?

Currently, orthorexia is not considered an eating disorder under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), however, it does have a lot of similarities with other types of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to know if you have orthorexia:

  • Do you always feel preoccupied with planning the perfect and healthiest diet?
  • Are you extremely strict when it comes to the types of food that you eat?
  • Do you look for ways to find out if a specific type of food is unhealthy for you?
  • Would you say no to eating a meal lovingly prepared by someone else if it doesn’t suit your diet?
  • Do you feel that you’re in ‘control’ whenever you’re eating the right diet?
  • Do you feel guilt or self-loathing every time you eat something outside of your diet?
  • Have people commented about the extremity of your eating habits?
  • Does the food you eat dictate what you do in a social setting?

If you answered yes to most of the questions above, then you might possibly be suffering from orthorexia.

Being too obsessed with healthy food can be problematic, especially if it’s directly affecting your life and your relationship with other people. As with most types of disorders, talking to a professional can help you understand more about what you can do to manage your obsession. In some cases, orthorexia might be brought about by underlying emotional issues.

Either way, the most important thing is to make sure that you eat healthy, but not be obsessed about it. While food is important, there are many other aspects of your life that are more important compared to food.


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Written by

Nasreen Majid

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