Orthorexia | Eating Disorders Victoria

"Orthorexia" is a term that describes an obsession with eating healthy food (from the Greek “ortho” = correct and “orexis”= 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 in the DSM-V, it is a serious mental health condition that can cause irreversible 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.

The symptoms of orthorexia go beyond a simple preference and interest in healthy eating. A person with ortherexia experiences strong anxiety about their food choices and may worry about their diet not meeting their personal high standards of “purity”. They may become socially isolated as they withdraw from activities and people who do not align with their strict dietary regime. They feel guilt following ‘slip-ups’, heightened self-esteem when they eat foods that are “healthy”, mood swings, anxiety and depression. These are all warning signs that the disorder is progressing into a serious eating disorder. If you are worried about yourself or someone you know, please call the EDV Helpline on 1300 550 236 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Read more: Warning Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Book: Health Food Junkies, by Steven Bratman

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