What is Orthorexia?
For some individuals, the problem is not as much the obsessive focus on the quantity as it is on the quality of the food eaten. Orthorexia is the dysfunctional fixation with healthy eating. Orthorexics persistently strive to obtain purity in their eating habits. This drive causes dysfunction in their daily lives. While Orthorexia is not a formally recognized condition, many clinicians believe the disorder helps explain a subcategory of eating disorders that is a current growing health concern.
The disorder usually begins with the individual’s genuine desire to live a healthy lifestyle. Orthorexics often describe the initial motivation as wanting to feel pure, healthy and natural. But unfortunately like other eating disorders, the behavior soon spirals out of control eventually taking control of the person’s life.
Orthorexics create severely limited diets in the pursuit of healthy eating. Sound dietary philosophies become twisted and are taken to unhealthy extremes. Foods are often characterized as falling into the “right” or “harmful” categories. Orthorexics can attach specific feelings to different types of food such as “dangerous”, “artificial”, “harmful” and “righteous”.
Slowly the list of the “right” foods that can be safely eaten becomes more and more limited. Whole food groups are avoided or even eliminated, such as fats, preservatives, animal products and other ingredients that are considered by the individual to be unhealthy.
Othorexia Warning Signs
Below are some “danger signs” to help determine if you or a loved one could be at risk of suffering from Orthorexia:
- Spending hours a day thinking about food
- Worrying about how food is processed and prepared
- Avoiding activities and individuals because they may not fit in with your food plan
- Continuing limiting the number of food items you will eat
- Friends or Family members comment on your interest in healthy eating
- Disproportionate amount of time is spent on planning and preparing food
- Feeling guilty after straying from your diet
- Feeling or being critical of what others eat
- Feeling virtuous or in control when you adhere to your diet
- Eliminating altogether food items you used to enjoy
- Caring more about the virtue of what is eaten than the pleasure from eating
- Planning tomorrow’s meals today
- Often bringing your own food in separate containers
A Healthy Diet?
For Orthorexics, inordinate amount of time is devoted to what they consider pursuing a healthy diet. Each day, hours are spent researching food products, planning meals and preparing food. Strict dietary rules and restrictions begin taking over the person’s life. Each day begins with worrying about today’s and even tomorrow’s meals. And if by chance the individual fails to stick to their diet, they often experience feelings of guilt or remorse. The obsession with eating only healthy food can progress to the point where it takes over the individual’s life, crowding out activities and even individuals that do not fit in with the restrictive food plan.
Orthorexia Treatment and Lifelong Recovery
Orthorexia disturbs both the mind and body. At Rader Programs, we understand this complex eating disorder and will work with you to build an orthorexia treatment program that works with your lifestyle. Patients who are suffering from a distorted body image can often adopt a healthier body image with the right orthorexia treatment.
We offer different levels of care tailored to your individual needs including a 24-hour program, a daycare program, a family program that allows loved ones to assist in the recovery process, and continued care. Let Rader Programs design the anorexia treatment plan that will keep you healthy for life.
Getting Help for Orthorexia
One of the difficult challenges with treating orthorexia is that many orthorexics do not feel they need help. Orthorexics can be proud of their dietary choices and believe they do not necessitate support. Our goal is to help individuals gain the knowledge and skills necessary to begin nourishing their bodies and minds with food from a healthy place. We understand that eating disorders do not develop overnight, so we do not expect behaviors and feelings about food to disappear overnight either. We know that changing nutritional habits may be difficult, but our staff is committed to help individuals work through the changes.
Our interdisciplinary staff works around the clock to provide you with personalized care and put you on the road to total recovery.
Let Rader Programs help you achieve a healthier, happier future.
For more information on Rader Program’s orthorexia treatment programs and other treatment plans, call 1.800.841.1515 or request a free assessment today.