Orthorexia is an eating disorder characterized by obsessions with eating healthy or “pure” foods. When you think of healthy eating, you probably think of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and other beneficial lifestyle choices that contribute to your mental and physical health. While focusing on these foods isn’t a bad thing, for some people, eating healthy becomes an obsession to the point where the person follows patterns of disordered eating. 

If you or someone you know has become obsessed with healthy eating to the point where it’s impacted their mental health and relationships, our  Philadelphia eating disorder clinic offers orthorexia treatment that can help.  

Orthorexia Symptoms 

A California doctor named Steven Bratman coined the term orthorexia in 1996, which means “fixation on righteous eating.” Since then, many medical professionals have accepted the term, and treatment for orthorexia has advanced.  

While orthorexia is not an official diagnosis, it does include eating habits that reject a variety of foods for not being pure enough. Eventually, people with orthorexia may begin to adopt similar styles of disordered eating as anorexia nervosa, such as avoiding certain foods based on their perceived purity or nutritional facts.  

People who struggle with orthorexia nervosa are fueled by the desire to eat pure or healthy foods and obsess over maintaining what they consider a perfect diet rather than an ideal weight. Someone with orthorexia may refuse to eat any food that contains anything they consider unhealthy or impure, such as artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, fats, sugar, salt, pesticides, animal, or dairy products.  

While this may be a normal approach to eating for some people, if you’re suffering from orthorexia, your attitude and behavior toward eating a clean diet become obsessive and exaggerated. Common orthorexia symptoms include:  

  • Obsessive thoughts over the effects of the food you eat on medical conditions, such as asthma, anxiety, allergies, or digestive disorders, even if there are conditions that you haven’t been diagnosed with. 
  • Severely restricting the types of foods you eat because you consider specific types acceptable.  
  • Using significant amounts of probiotics, herbal remedies, and other supplements that are believed to be beneficial for the body. 
  • Having irrational concerns about the preparation of foods, including food washing techniques and sterilization of utensils. 
  • Experiencing strong emotional reactions to food, such as feelings of satisfaction and happiness when eating clean or feelings of guilt or shame when consuming foods that aren’t considered healthy or pure. 
  • Spending excessive time thinking about food and the consumption of food. 
  • Regular advanced meal planning. 
  • Feelings of guilt and distress when meals are not planned in advance. 
  • Having critical and judgmental thoughts about others who do not follow healthy, pure eating plans. 
  • Avoiding certain foods not made by you or prepared outside of the home because you aren’t sure of what’s in them or are worried that you can’t comply easily with your healthy eating plan. 
  • Avoiding food bought or prepared by others. 
  • Creating distance between friends and family who do not share the same beliefs you have about food. 
  • Feelings of depression, anxiety, or shame, or experiencing mood swings, self-loathing, or social isolation. 

Orthorexia can begin as an honest attempt to eat healthier but can eventually develop into a way of life centered on obsessing over granular details when it comes to food, preparation, and control. A person with orthorexia will eliminate certain foods or food groups from their diet, frequently think about foods with the best nutritional value and healthiest preparation methods, and try to control the ingredients of every single meal.  

When unable to eat a meal that meets their standards, a person with orthorexia nervosa will skip the meal and go hungry instead. While restriction is a major aspect of anorexia, unlike people with anorexia nervosa, the intent of orthorexia is not to deny the body of food but rather to feed it healthy foods that fall under the person’s category of what’s pure. 

If you notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, our orthorexia treatment center in Philadelphia offers the physical and mental support you need to recuperate.  

Our Orthorexia Treatment Plan 

Banyan Treatment Centers provides comprehensive orthorexia nervosa treatment that includes medical and holistic modalities aimed at treating an individual’s physical and mental well-being. Considering that eating disorders are often rooted in mental illness, we believe it’s necessary to help clients heal from the inside out, starting with their thoughts and emotions as they relate to food.  

This disorder affects everyone differently, which is why our orthorexia treatment is personalized to ensure that clients are getting the help they need. Our orthorexia treatment plan includes various steps to offer clients the foundation and support system to help them recover from their symptoms.  

Because orthorexia nervosa can be rooted in other mental health disorders, such as body dysmorphic disorder, it’s critical for clients to go through a comprehensive clinical assessment or intake to determine the presence of any co-occurring disorders and how to best address them. Banyan Philadelphia offers Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Treatment for orthorexia nervosa, each of which offers flexible scheduling, counseling, and aftercare support. 

Each client at Banyan will be assigned to a team of medical professionals based on their needs. Together, clients and our team will address the disorder and create an individualized orthorexia treatment plan for recovery.  

Get Orthorexia Help Today  

If you or someone you care about is battling orthorexia nervosa, don’t wait to get help. Contact Banyan Treatment Centers today to learn more about this program or our other forms of Philadelphia eating disorder treatment. 


Related Reading:  

Common Anorexia Relapse Triggers to Watch Out For 

Coping Mechanisms for Anorexia 

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