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What is Orthorexia?

Individuals who have a severe preoccupation with eating healthy may suffer from orthorexia nervosa, a suggested eating disorder characterized by an extreme fixation on consuming foods thought to be pure. Orthorexia nervosa differs from other eating disorders, because unlike anorexia and bulimia, orthorexics focus less on the quantity of food consumed and instead fixate more on the quality.

Eating in a manner conducive to health is, of course, an excellent and highly encouraged life practice. But, at what point does healthy eating become an unhealthy obsession? The answer is rarely obvious, which is why it is important to seek proper diagnosis and orthorexia nervosa treatment as this condition has physical consequences and psychological implications that should not go unaddressed. Rosewood Centers For Eating Disorders specializes in orthorexia nervosa diagnosis and provides orthorexia treatment intended to restore the whole individual – not just treat the symptoms. If you suspect that you or someone you know may be battling orthorexia, encourage them to seek guidance from an experienced medical professional to determine if orthorexia treatment is necessary.

What Does Orthorexia Look Like?

Orthorexia can begin as an honest attempt to eat healthier, but can eventually develop into a way of life that obsesses about granular details associated with food nutrition, preparation, and control. For instance, a person prone to develop orthorexia nervosa can begin to completely eliminate certain foods or food groups from his or her diet based on what he or she believes to be healthy. An individual might also start to frequently ponder about consuming foods with the highest nutritional benefits and the healthiest preparation method. A person prone to orthorexia will, for example, try to control every single meal ingredient to make sure it is grass-fed, natural, and organic.

Other examples of food restrictions orthorexics could adhere to include:

  • Non-GMO
  • No artificial colors or preservatives
  • Non-sugar
  • Low-carb
  • Low-caloric
  • Low-sodium
  • Non-fat
  • Non-dairy
  • Animal by-products

If foods are not available that meet a particular quality standard, an orthorexic might opt out of a meal and decide to go hungry instead. Unlike anorexia, the intent of orthorexia nervosa is not to deny the body of food. But the obsession of eating only healthful foods will ultimately put people in a position where they choose not to eat if they find themselves at a restaurant with coworkers or at a friend’s house for dinner. Orthorexics worship health with indestructible bonds of fear – fear of lack of control, fear of sickness, fear of imperfection – several of the fears anorexics also face on a regular basis.

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The Effects of Orthorexia Nervosa

When orthorexia fully develops, it truly affects a victim’s life in all-encompassing ways, causing stress, alienation, and, in some cases, depression. At Rosewood Centers, we understand the suffocating effect orthorexia has on an individual psychologically, physically, socially, emotionally and provide a safe environment for orthorexia nervosa treatment.

Psychological Component. Though the initial intent is to eat healthfully, those that live with orthorexia can develop a series of complicated emotions that transcend diet and lifestyle. The level of control orthorexics require over their eating habits could be a symptom to a deeper psychological mental health condition or be a contributor to one. Orthorexia nervosa often develops in parallel or as a result of mood disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, or depression. It’s important to address the presence of mood disorders as they relate to orthorexia so they do not hinder life in other ways.

Physical Component. Although it seems somewhat paradoxical, orthorexia can have an adverse affect on physical health as well. Orthorexia is different for every person, because one’s idea of health is determined by his or her own beliefs. With all of the newly emerging diet trends and gimmicks, orthorexics can choose to marry a certain way of eating that requires a selective diet, which can sometimes demand the exclusion of an entire food group altogether. The danger of selective diets lies in the lack of nutrition the human body needs from the forbidden food groups. Ultimately orthorexic diets, although intended to be healthy and controlled, can actually do untold physical damage or contribute to malnutrition.

Emotional Component. Aside from the psychological and physical effect it can have on a victim, orthorexia will absolutely hinder one’s social and emotional health as well. Orthorexics can prioritize healthy eating to the point where it impairs interpersonal relationships and hinders involvement in certain activities. Because people battling orthorexia nervosa require a high degree of control over food consumption, ingredients, and preparation, they will normally prefer to cook food at home to oversee the entire process. This dogmatic practice of food preparation and consumption can prevent individuals from going to social events where food is involved. On the surface, that may not sound that difficult; but in reality, eating food with others is one of the most social activities in our culture. People battling orthorexia can experience extreme feelings of isolation and social alienation while protecting their consumption habits.

Orthorexia Treatment

Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders provides comprehensive treatment for orthorexia nervosa, involving medical and holistic techniques aimed at treating the entire individual – body, mind, and spirit. This condition affects every person differently, which is why Rosewood customizes orthorexia treatment for each patient to provide the most personalized attention and care. Our certified doctors and eating disorder specialists are not only top in their field of practice, but also passionate about providing excellent patient service and care in a safe and supportive environment. Our goal is to create a special orthorexia treatment plan that is specifically tailored to provide you with the best possible results.

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Rosewood’s Orthorexia Treatment Process

Intake Evaluation: Because orthorexia can be rooted in other mental health conditions, it’s critical for patients to go through a comprehensive intake evaluation to determine the presence of any co-occurring disorders. The intake evaluation is extremely important in developing a personalized treatment program that will best serve the unique needs of every patient.

Choosing a Program: The comprehensive intake assessment will help our doctors determined the type of program that will be most suited for the type of treatment a patient needs. Depending on the level of orthorexia treatment needed, whether acute or supportive, Rosewood Centers offer the following types of programs:

Individualized Treatment: Each patient at Rosewood will be assigned a team of multidisciplinary professionals based on his or her unique needs. Together, they will address the condition and create an individuated orthorexia treatment plan for recovery, including a nutrition program, holistic recoveries as well as traditional techniques.

Relapse Prevention: At Rosewood Centers, we are there with you all the way through your journey. One of our biggest priorities is to set our patients up for successful, long-term orthorexia recovery, which is why we also provide relapse prevention programs and after-care services.

If you or someone you know if battling orthorexia, call Rosewood Centers today at (888) 228-1253. Our eating disorder specialists are standing by 24/7 to answer your questions and concerns.

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