What is Orthorexia and How Unhealthy is It?

Orthorexia is an extreme obsession with healthy eating. Learn the signs, causes and how to get back to a healthy relationship with food. Healthy eating is a goal for many people. However, sometimes this avid interest crosses over into an eating disorder called orthorexia nervosa, which is an extreme obsession with healthy eating that often leads to malnutrition and impairs daily functioning.

First coined in 1997, the term orthorexia describes an unhealthy, highly restrictive diet based on nutritional quality rather than quantity like most diets. This condition can become a detriment to someone’s mental and physical well-being. Their ability to live and enjoy life is hindered by the limitations placed on them by their own strict dietary rules. These rules interfere more and more with other aspects of their life and their ability to go out and freely enjoy social situations, such as dinner with friends or a holiday party.

“Orthorexia affects mainly adults and more women than men, but there’s less of a gender difference with this condition compared to other eating disorders,” explains Dr. Tom Hildebrandt, a professor of psychiatry and chief of the Center of Excellence in Eating and Weight Disorders at Mount Sinai in New York City. 

Excerpted from U.S.News

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