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What is Orthorexia Nervosa : Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

Orthorexia Nervosa is a proposed eating disorder that is characterized by an excessive preoccupation with eating healthy food. However, the American Psychiatric Association, does not recognize Orthorexia nervosa as an eating disorder. To know more about the condition, its symptoms, causes and treatments, simply read the following paragraphs

What Is Orthorexia Nervosa?

What Is Orthorexia Nervosa?

The term Orthorexia comes from Greek Language with the word “Orthos” meaning “Right” and “Rexia” which means “Hunger” making it as “Righteous Eating”. Orthorexia is characterized by having an obsession to eat only healthy food which can sometimes be unhealthy. This obssssion with eating only pure food gets to an extent that it starts to interfere with the daily life of the individual. It then starts to impact the health of the individual negatively instead of providing nutrition. An individual with orthorexia nervosa tends to only eat only organic food, vegetables and fruits.

Symptoms of Orthorexia Nervosa

You might have orthorexia nervosa if you have the following symptoms.

Indulge in excessive Food Research:

The affected person spends a lot of time thinking about food, purchasing food items and planning the meals.

Fear Losing Control:

Another symptom of orthorexia is that you are afraid that eating even one meal that you didn’t prepare, including dinner at a restaurant, can be disastrous.

Refusal To Consume Wide Range Of Food Products:

It is normal to pass on some foods just because they not seem to the taste of your choice or if they do not feel right. However, with Orthorexia nervosa you may do away with a wide variety of foods just because you feel they may make you sick like any foods with preservatives, tinned foods, or other products which you feel may harm your health.

Become Tangled in a Vicious Circle:

Your excessive preoccupation with food and food products results in you hanging be\tween self-care and preoccupied guilt as you chop and change your diet plans. In extreme cases, your diet may become so restricted that you get out many food choices that you may become malnourished.

Isolating From Friends and Family:

The obsessive behavior of eating only pure and healthy food often results in the individual completely isolating themselves from family and friends which then puts awful lot of strain in the social life of the individual. Additionally, it may also affect their overall health as they restrict themselves to limited food and deprive the body of essential nutrients and vitamins.

Some Other Symptoms or Orthorexia Nervosa:

  • Obsession with consuming supplements and vitamins
  • Getting concerned that the food which they eat may affect their health and they will get medical conditions like allergies, asthma, and gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Severe feeling of guilt while eating foods they usually do not eat.
  • Feelings of power and extreme satisfaction while consuming only healthy foods.

Causes of Orthorexia Nervosa

There is not one specific cause that is known to result in orthorexia nervosa, and not enough research has been performed to correlate specific causes. However, similar to other eating disorders, there are some risk factors that can cause an unhealthy relationship with food. Some of the risk factors may be, past history of trauma, low self-esteem, unhealthy relationships, unresolved personal conflicts, perfectionist personality, king history of dieting, obsession with exercise, substance abuse, overwhelming society pressure, anxiety, depression, Social media obsession, Bullying, and need for extreme control.

Treatment of Orthorexia Nervosa

Your doctor preferably a nutritionist would guide you with the various treatments for Orthorexia nervosa. It must be noted that due to the mental state of mind that gives rise to a condition like this your doctor or nutritionist may recommended a consultation with a psychiatrist for an evaluation. It is essential for you to seek professional help and appropriate clinical advice and treatments from professional with experience in treating orthorexia and other psychiatric conditions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy allows the affected individual to recognize their unhealthy obsessive thoughts that could help them come out of the obsession of eating only health foods. Apart from this, patients must also be taught about the positive and healthy behaviors, such as problem-solving skills, communication skills, and healthy coping mechanisms, so as to prevent future maladaptive behaviors associated with their eating habits.

On the part of the patient it is essential to have a positive mindset and if the patient is successful in doing so then half the job is done and the patient will be well on his way for to eating what is right and healthy for the body.

Orthorexia can lead to severe health disorders like malnourishment which causes deficiency of protein which damage the kidneys and other vital organs of the body.

Moreover, with mental conditions like depression, anxiety, OCD, and substance abuse tends to increase mortality linked with orthorexia. So, it is essential for you to get the condition and also the associated condition well.


Now, with all the above description, you must have a clearer picture about this condition. If you feel that you or any of your loved ones is suffering from Orthorexia nervosa, it is essential for you to see your doctor, nutritionist and psychiatrist and get the problem solved out.


  1. National Eating Disorders Association – “Orthorexia Nervosa” (https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/orthorexia)
  2. Psychology Today – “What is Orthorexia Nervosa?” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201610/what-is-orthorexia-nervosa)

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 22, 2023

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