Orthorexia is characterized by an obsession with following a “healthy diet”.  Individuals believe they are engaging in the best approach for their body by eating “healthily”, however, the accompanied behaviors often lead to something more severe. Sufferers are fixated with maintaining the “perfect diet” rather than focused on body weight. An individual with orthorexia exhibits signs and symptoms like those of anxiety disorders along with anorexia and/or bulimia behaviors.

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS

  • May be similar to anorexia and/or bulimia symptoms, dependent on the severity of those behaviors correlating with the following Orthorexia behavior symptoms.

  • Individual believes they feel physically ill if food they do not believe is healthy has been consumed.

BEHAVIOR SYMPTOMS

  • Preoccupied with food

  • Fear of eating food not prepared by the individual

  • Will only eat organic foods

  • Fear of eating out because they are not aware of the origin and ingredients of meal

  • Obsessed with avoiding the following:

    • Animal products

    • Artificial colors, flavors or preservatives

    • Carbohydrates

    • Dairy products

    • Pesticides and genetically modified foods

    • Other ingredients the individual believes to be unhealthy

Similar to anorexia, orthorexia is characterized by restricting food intake and poor variety of foods eaten, creating malnutrition. Therefore, both disorders have similar health issues.

COMMON HEALTH CONCERNS

  • Electrolyte imbalance

  • Cardiovascular concerns

  • Gastrointestinal complications (chronic diarrhea, constipated, IBS)

  • Amenorrhea (Irregular or loss of menstrual cycle)

  • Stomach pain

  • Bloating

  • Chronic Kidney issues

  • Neurological issues

 

Coexisting disorders may be present in a diagnosis of Orthorexia. Insure a complete evaluation for the eating disorder, comorbid disorders may occur.

Psychiatric conditions commonly co-occurring with bulimia may be combined with:

  • Bipolar Disorder

  • Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Depression

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

  • Panic/Anxiety disorders

 

Although these are typical symptoms, please note not all must be present to exhibit the severity of the eating disorder. Orthorexia may be accompanied with other eating disorders, which will determine the increased health risks. Reference the other eating disorders to identify key behaviors.

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