What is Orthorexia?

Orthorexia is an eating disorder and a mental trap we can easily fall in when we are concerned with our health and focus on eating healthy.

People with orthorexia obsess on the "cleanliness" of food, affecting their nutrition, their social relationships and their overall well-being, and they show some behaviors that may be like:

  • Worrying too much about food quality
  • Avoiding restaurants and/or food prepared by others
  • Eliminating whole food groups
  • Criticizing others food habits
  • Fearing losing control
  • Fearing disease when consuming food that are believed to be unhealthy
  • Feeling of guilt, shame, and/or anxiety in case of transgression
  • Cleansing rituals
  • Obsessive compulsive behaviors (OCD)

The risk factors leading to orthorexia have bio-psycho-social components and may include:
  • An history of parental eating disorder
  • Body dissatisfaction, anxiety
  • Being bullied about the appearance and/or weight, beliefs about an ideal body

 As a personal coach, treating orthorexia is out of my scope but talking about can raise self-awareness about the disorder, it is a first step toward change to acknowledge the situation, to accept and seek for help and guidance if needed.

Orthorexia can lead to conditions that requires help from a physician, a psychotherapist and a dietician. The sooner the problem is addressed the better.

CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) can offer benefits in the treatment of some cognitive distortions and can help reduce obsessive behaviors. Relaxation techniques such as meditation can help relieve anxiety. Education to correct false beliefs about food may also help.

May you be Healthy and Strong !

By Yannick Le Hellaye
CPT, ISSA, PN Certified Nutrition Coach


Orthorexia Nervosa: An Obsession With Healthy Eating - PMC (nih.gov)

Prevalence of orthorexia nervosa among nutrition students and nutritionists: Pilot study - PubMed (nih.gov)