Orthorexia Nervosa, Cleaner Than Need Be

One of the hardest parts about wanting to clean up your diet is learning where to draw the line. At one end of the spectrum is a careless diet of non-nutritive, highly processed foods and at the other end is ‘clean eating’ to the point of malnutrition and social isolation. Some people have orthorexia nervosa, an extreme obsession with eating healthy food.  Their righteous eating patterns are mixed up with low self-esteem, OCD tendencies and other anxiety disorders.

I wrote about the unofficial eating disorder, orthorexia nervosa, for Calorie Count. See  my article, Orthorexia: Obsessed with Healthy Food. What I like most about that article is the 7-item (non-validated) tool from the book, Health Food Junkies: Orthorexia Nervosa: Overcoming the Obsession with Healthful Eating, by Steven Bratman, MD.  Here are the questions; if you answer “yes” to two or three, then you’d better loosen your grip on food – and get some help from a psychotherapist and registered dietitian who specialize in  eating disorders.

1.    Are you spending more than three hours a day thinking about healthy food?
2.    Do you always skip foods you once enjoyed in order to only eat the “right” food?
3.    Does your diet make it difficult for you to eat anywhere but at home, distancing you from friends and family?
4.    Do you look down on others who don’t eat your way?
5.    Does your self-esteem get a boost from eating healthy?
6.    When you eat the way you’re supposed to, do you feel in total control?
7.    Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?
8.    Is the virtue you feel about what you eat more important than the pleasure you receive from eating it?
9.    Has the quality of your life decreased as the quality of your diet increased?

Your thoughts: Do you know someone who might have orthorexia nervosa?  What makes you think so?

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