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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

“Since obsessive compulsive behavior is the root cause for orthorexia, I find it helpful to encourage my clients focus on the many pleasurable and positive aspects of life rather than food,” Cottrill said. “Many of my OCD clients feel the need to ‘count’ something, whether it be fat grams, points or calories. I coach them to count their blessings when this urge strikes. Certainly this does not mean that healthy eating goes out the window, but balance, moderation and pleasure take the place of deprivation, extremism and limitation.”

She said orthorexia can start out with the wish for a healthy diet, but soon spirals out of control.

“In most cases, pre-packaged foods are the first to be eliminated from the diet,” Cottrill said. “From there, meats are often next to go, followed by dairy, non-organics, and so on. One might even reach a point where only raw foods are acceptable, but even then, the obsession might not be squelched. As more and more foods that are perceived as unhealthy are eliminated, at some point, balance is lost and mania sets in. Before you know it, what constitutes good health becomes clouded, as obsession and stress over consuming only morally acceptable foods takes over.”

For people who are already suffering from orthorexia, she said it’s a matter of reshaping the way they think about themselves and food.

“Once orthorexia is identified, the path to recovery often centers around the recognition that diet alone does not make a better person, and that basing self-esteem on the quality of one’s diet is irrational,” Cottrill said. “Some may be able to come to this conclusion on their own, while others who struggle more deeply with the disorder may require professional help to overcome it.”

“At the end of the day, while food and nourishment are important, they are but one aspect of our lives,” she added.

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.