Can Healthy Eating become a Disorder?

This article discusses Orthorexia Nervosa (ON), a pathological obsession with “healthy” or “clean” eating, which is not officially recognised as an eating disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. ON involves an extreme fixation on the quality and purity of food, leading to restrictive diets. It differentiates ON from healthy orthorexia (HeOr), a non-pathological emphasis on a nutritious diet. The signs and symptoms of ON include meticulous scrutiny of food, avoidance of processed or impure foods, social isolation, and negative impacts on mental health, including anxiety and depression. Factors influencing ON include societal pressures, exposure to unrealistic body standards, history of eating disorders, and participation in extreme dietary trends. Seeking professional help, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy and working with a dietitian, is recommended for coping with ON. The article emphasises the importance of differentiating between healthy eating and obsessive behaviour, seeking help, and promoting overall well-being.

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