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How to Avoid Orthorexia: Becoming Balanced in Your Healthy Eating Quest

By HERWriter
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orthorexia-is-obsession-with-healthy-foods Creatas Images/Thinkstock

Americans are obsessed with weight and health. See how far you can get through the day without hearing a comment about what someone ate, what she did for exercise and whether she thinks she’s too fat or too skinny (or what she thinks about her coworker’s weight).

And don’t forget commercials, TV shows, articles and books about weight loss, healthy eating and fitness.

With this in mind, it’s not surprising that some people might take health to the extreme. This is the case for people who suffer from “orthorexia,” an unofficial eating disorder involving a preoccupation with eating healthy food.

Although the exact definition of orthorexia will vary, experts have advice on how to be healthy without becoming preoccupied and obsessed to the point of becoming unhealthy.

Carol Cottrill, a certified nutritional consultant, said that even though orthorexia is not considered an official eating disorder, it is a form of disordered eating that could eventually lead to an actual eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia.

“Orthorexia is an obsession with eating only healthy foods,” Cottrill said. “Though it is motivated by a desire to feel healthy, natural, and pure — not to be confused with anorexia, which is fueled by a desire to lose weight — it is nonetheless a disorder that has taken over the lives of many afflicted individuals.”

She said that in her professional experience, she sees more and more clients who show signs of orthorexia.

“Most begin by cutting out food groups like meat, and suspect they are ‘intolerant’ to other food groups, like wheat and dairy, so those foods are eliminated too,” Cottrill said. “I notice a rise [in] my impressionable younger clients who see celebrities following raw diets and cleansing diets. In my practice, I estimate orthorexia to affect one in 10 women and one in 20 men. I believe that the trigger for orthorexia is obsessive compulsive behavior.”

For people who are already prone to addictive or obsessive behavior and eating disorders, there are still ways to avoid becoming obsessive about health and eating healthy while still keeping their health.

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Great info. I've been cautious about what I eat but not to the point of restricting myself to certain food groups. A few years ago, I've gained weight when I met an accident. I couldn't go to the gym and I was told to eat more for fast recovery. I find it difficult losing weight when your older. I've used a pill and this Prescopodene helped me get into my former weight, which is perfect. Now back to my diet, I suppose, eating small frequent, well-balanced meal is much more healthy than depriving yourselves to a balanced diet. A balanced meal is a good way of being healthy plus exercise of course.

June 18, 2013 - 8:47pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I am also on the same pill but I I also portion size but not to the point of omitting some food groups. I go visit the gym at least thrice a week. It really helped me maintain a good shape since it did kill my irritating hunger pangs that I would normally feel two hours after eating. I also think that a good cardio exercise can keep your heart healthy even when your not on the pill. I am not a believer that a diet pill effective for women would be as good for men too, but now I am. 

July 5, 2013 - 6:39am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Hey, thanks for sharing your story. I find it helpful as I also find it hard to exercise but I do want to if I get the chance. I'd love to have a look on the ill your using. Wish me luck!

June 30, 2013 - 8:43pm

Thank you for the information.

May 29, 2012 - 1:53am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.