What is Orthorexia?

What is Orthorexia? Why we need to be educated - An Apple a Day


Last week I shared an article written by a Nutritionist who discussed why she doesn’t believe in “everything in moderation”. This nutritionist argued that the term “moderation” was misleading and encouraged those who ate “junk food” to simply take ownership. I found her thoughts interesting and definitely thought provoking, so I shared it with my Facebook group in order to gain a general consensus. Whilst the post was met with so much positivity, one reader described the article as “Pure Orthorexia”. Having seen this label thrown around inappropriately numerous times in the past, this comment stirred up a few emotions. I soon realised that a lack of education surrounding this term has enabled others to use it to describe a whole array of lifestyle choices and conditions, without fully understanding their choice of words. Today on the blog, I attempt to right that wrong, and give those affected a voice.

What Is Orthorexia Nervosa? 

Orthorexia Nervosa is a term used to describe an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating however, Orthorexia is NOT a label for those who choose to eat/live a healthy lifestyle. Let’s make that point clear.

Is it an ‘Eating Disorder’?

Unfortunately the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is yet to accept the term “Orthorexia Nervosa” and as such, it is not classified as an eating or mental disorder as yet however, the following guidelines can help us assess whether or not one is falling under this umbrella:

There is nothing wrong with eating healthfully unless:

  • It is taking up an inordinate amount of time and attention in your life.
  • Deviating from that diet is met with guilt and self-loathing; and/or
  • It is used to avoid life issues and leaves you separate and alone.

To help explain this better, an article written by Karin Kratina (PhD, RD, LD/N) (SINCE REMOVED) for the National Eating Disorders Association, states that “people with orthorexia avoid family dinners, because they don’t want to be pressured into eating something; they are left paralysed by a panic attack in the grocery story trying to pick the least toxic kale; they bring their own chicken to parties”… and the list goes on. As you can see, it is a debilitating condition, not a lifestyle choice.

Where Do I Stand On This? 

As a final year nutrition student, health coach and model I’ve seen a number of ‘Orthorexia Nervosa’ cases and I can assure you, it is not a term to be thrown around on social media; nor is at a term used to label those who choose to live a healthy lifestyle. This claim has serious weight behind it, all I ask is that we respect those who suffer with such a debilitating, heart breaking condition in the same way we respect those diagnosed with other mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or anorexia.

If you’re struggling with your mental health or an eating disorder, there’s always someone you can talk to at the Butterfly Foundation on 1800 ED HOPE or Lifeline on 13 11 14.


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Meet Alyse

I’m a qualified Nutritionist who believes an evidence-based approach to modern nutrition is severely under-rated. Patients are so often left in the dark when it comes to health-care and as a firm believer in the old saying “knowledge is power”, my ultimate goal is to provide my readers, students and patients with clear and actionable advice that ultimately helps you reach your full potential.