Orthorexia is a term that describes an obsession with eating healthy food. It comes from the Greek words ortho, meaning ‘correct’ and orexis, meaning ‘appetite’.
A person with orthorexia is fixated with the quality, rather than quantity, of their food to an excessive degree. Orthorexia can start with ‘healthy’ or ‘clean’ eating, then progress to the elimination of entire food groups such as dairy or grains, and then to the avoidance of foods such as those with artificial additives, foods treated with pesticides, or particular ingredients (e.g. fat, sugar or salt).
Although orthorexia is not officially recognised as an eating disorder in the DSM-5, it is a serious mental health condition that can cause extreme health complications. Although there has not yet been much research conducted on orthorexia, it seems that orthorexic behaviours and attitudes are common amongst people with eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.