If you find yourself constantly worrying about the nutritional value of the foods you eat, you may be struggling with a condition called Orthorexia Nervosa. Orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating, and it can be just as destructive as any other eating disorder. It is important to be aware of the signs of Orthorexia Nervosa in order to recognize and address the problem before it gets out of hand.
Here are 9 signs that may indicate you are struggling with Orthorexia Nervosa.
Signs of Orthorexia Nervosa
1. You Judge Others Based on Their Diet
If you find yourself feeling superior to other people because of the food they’re eating, you may be exhibiting signs of orthorexia. It’s important to take a step back and assess your feelings objectively. Are you truly concerned about their health, or are you just feeling superior? If it’s the latter, then you may be in the early stages of orthorexia.
This kind of judgement can be incredibly damaging to relationships. Friends, family members, and romantic partners may feel attacked or judged if you make comments about their eating habits. Remember that everyone is on their own journey when it comes to food and nutrition.
2. You Only Eat Clean Foods
Orthorexia nervosa is an unhealthy obsession with eating only healthy foods. People with orthorexia can become so restrictive in their eating that it affects their physical and mental health. One of the signs of orthorexia is an obsession with clean eating.
The desire to eat only clean foods is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it is important to recognize the difference between healthful eating and orthorexic behavior.
3. You Spend Hours Planning Your Meals
If you find yourself spending hours of your day planning and obsessing over your meals, it may be a sign that you are struggling with orthorexia nervosa. Meal planning for an upcoming week is a normal behavior, but if you find yourself overthinking the details of your meal to the point where it begins to consume your day, it may be a sign of orthorexia.
4. Skipping Meals
For those who suffer from Orthorexia Nervosa, skipping meals can be a frequent occurrence. People with this condition may go entire days without eating due to the mental pressures that accompany it. This is often done in an effort to meet their stringent dietary requirements and avoid any potential contaminants in their food.
5. Avoiding Restaurants
People with Orthorexia Nervosa tend to stay away from restaurants because they don’t want to be exposed to potentially unhealthy ingredients and/or food preparation techniques. For those with this condition, eating out can feel overwhelming and too risky, which can lead to extreme anxiety.
People with Orthorexia Nervosa may also plan ahead and prepare meals for themselves if they know that they’re going to be out and about for a period of time. This way, they can have complete control over their food choices and have the assurance that their food is meeting their strict dietary standards.
6. Only Eating Certain Foods
When it comes to Orthorexia Nervosa, one of the key signs is the restriction of food choices. People with this eating disorder may become overly fixated on only eating certain foods, typically deemed to be healthy or clean in their eyes. This can involve selecting specific ingredients or only purchasing food from specific stores or restaurants. In some cases, people with Orthorexia Nervosa may even go as far as to only eat food that they have prepared themselves.
This limited and selective eating can cause people with Orthorexia Nervosa to avoid social situations where there may be food present that does not fit within their strict dietary guidelines.
7. Planning Meals Around Workouts
Individuals suffering from this condition often feel compelled to plan their meals around their physical activities. This behavior can be as mild as taking into account the time of day and activity level before deciding what to eat. However, it can also become quite extreme, leading to a person carefully controlling every calorie, nutrient, and macronutrient in their diet for optimal performance.
It’s important to note that meal planning around workouts isn’t necessarily a sign of an eating disorder. In fact, there are many health benefits associated with such an approach when it is done in moderation. But when this behavior is taken to extremes, it can be a sign of Orthorexia Nervosa.
8. You’re Fixated on Calorie Counting
If you find yourself constantly reading nutritional labels and ingredient lists on food products and weighing out portions of food, it’s a sign that you’re developing an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. You may even find yourself avoiding certain foods because they’re not pure enough or they don’t fit your calorie goal for the day.
It’s important to remember that moderation is key when it comes to eating healthy. A balanced diet is essential for optimal health, so if you’re counting calories and scrutinizing every single ingredient, it’s a sign that you’re fixated on healthy eating and may have orthorexia nervosa.
9. Guilt or Anxiety About Eating
Feeling guilt or anxiety about eating can be one of the key signs of Orthorexia Nervosa. This guilt or anxiety is often triggered by the fear of eating food that is not seen as healthy or pure in the eyes of the sufferer. They may feel guilty for not following their strict diet, or anxious that they are consuming something unhealthy.
For people with Orthorexia Nervosa, this guilt or anxiety can be intense and all-encompassing, leading to avoidance of any foods outside of their strict diet. The sufferer may become so caught up in their perfect diet that they become isolated from friends and family and their daily routine is completely thrown off balance.
Ways to Overcome Orthorexia
1. Educate yourself
Learn as much as you can about orthorexia so that you understand the triggers and effects it can have on your life. This knowledge can help you better identify when you need to take a step back and make positive changes.
2. Talk to a dietitian
A registered dietitian can provide evidence-based nutrition advice that is tailored to your needs. They can help you identify areas where you need to make changes and create an action plan for achieving your goals.
3. Meet with a counselor
A mental health professional can help you explore your thoughts and feelings related to your eating habits. They can also provide tools and strategies to help you manage them in a healthier way.
4. Join a support group
Participating in a support group is a great way to connect with others who understand what you’re going through and provide encouragement.
5. Get involved in online communities
Online communities can be a great resource for support and motivation. You may find others who are dealing with the same issues and who can share experiences and advice.
6. Make lifestyle changes
It’s important to focus on making healthy lifestyle changes that will support your overall wellbeing. This could include getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, or developing healthy coping skills.
If you’re struggling with orthorexia, know that there is help available and that recovery is possible. Don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help if you need it.