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Long-Term Effects of Orthorexia

Long-Term Effects of Orthorexia

Funny Woman Eating Broccoli At a Party - Portrait of a girl trying a diet vegetarian dish at formal dinner


Long-Term Effects of Orthorexia 

What is orthorexia? People who fixate on healthy eating display signs of obsession and develop an eating disorder such as orthorexia nervosa. The person will avoid eating many foods that they think are harmful to the body, but this often leads to lower calorie intake and malnutrition. Basically, it’s an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating, but it’s not truly healthy. OSFED eating disorder treatment (Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder) is highly advised to avoid the long-term effects of orthorexia.  

What Are the Five Warning Signs of Orthorexia? 

Orthorexia nervosa is one of the newest recognized eating disorder types, but many professionals are starting to announce that the disorder should include an individual treatment plan. According to Iowa State University, the term means “fixation on righteous eating.” There are specific signs that a person will display that will show that they have the disorder. These signs include:  

  • Obsessive behavior: The intention to eat well gets buried under compulsion, and eventually, the obsession takes over a person’s mind.  
  • Self-esteem issues: People will attach their self-worth to the foods they eat, and if they do not avoid the “unhealthy” food, then they will experience feelings of guilt and shame.  
  • Isolation: Food begins to take over the majority of a person’s energy and time since they will focus on what food they will eat and how much to eat, and they will worry about feeling guilty if they eat something they consider unhealthy.  
  • Health issues: From hormone imbalance to an impaired metabolism process, a person may lose a significant amount of weight and experience mood swings.  
  • Fear: Over time, a person will form a fear of food which means that more and more foods will be left out of a necessary diet. A person will then feel the effects of malnutrition.  

The risks of long-term effects from orthorexia rapidly increase after a person begins showing signs of isolation. The person with the disorder will cut out one or multiple food categories like sugars and carbs. The lack of proper nutrients inflicts rapid weight loss and other harmful impacts on the body, which can result in depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions.  

What Are the Side Effects of Orthorexia?  

The adverse long-term effects of orthorexia are not worth waiting to get treatment. The effects fall into three categories which are physical, psychological, and social effects. The long-term effects of orthorexia include:  

  • Anemia 
  • Mood swings 
  • Digestive problems 
  • Depressive episodes  
  • Weakened immune system  
  • Abnormally slow heart rate 
  • Lack of productivity or energy  
  • Intrusive food-related thoughts  
  • Complicated social interactions  
  • Electrolyte and hormonal imbalances  

People with the disorder may also believe that their food habits are superior to others which leads them into a more compulsive or obsessive eating pattern. Eventually, anorexia nervosa treatment will be necessary as a person may become seriously malnourished. Although these effects do not have to be life-long, they are long-term if a person does not receive proper medical care.  

Recovery at Our Philadelphia Eating Disorder Clinic  

At Banyan Treatment Centers Philadelphia, we offer numerous eating disorder treatment programs to help people from all walks of life get the assistance they need to make a long-term recovery. In addition, we offer trauma therapy for those who need a space to express themselves and past events that may have contributed to their orthorexia. The goal is to get to the root of the problem and conquer intrusive thoughts and build self-esteem.  


Speak to a healthcare professional at Banyan Philadelphia by calling 888-280-4763 and asking about our partial hospitalization program or intensive outpatient program, and get started today!  


Related Readings: 

The History of Eating Disorders 

Diet Culture and Eating Disorders 

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.