Orthorexia is not currently recognised as a clinical diagnosis in the DSM-5.

For some sufferers, Orthorexic symptoms are an aspect of a recognised eating disorder such as Anorexia Nervosa. For others, it is a disorder in its own right. While a healthy weight may be maintained a healthy relationship with food and body is not.

Orthorexia is used to describe people who take their concerns about eating foods that are considered healthy to extremes. They will often restrict their intake to foods which they consider to be 'pure', 'natural', or 'clean'.

Attempts to follow extreme diets which may cut out whole food groups can lead to malnourishment. People with Orthorexia can be left feeling guilty and at fault when their nutritionally inadequate diets lead to constant hunger and cravings for 'forbidden' foods.

Some sufferers of orthorexia may display obsessive compulsive traits and it may simply be that these are personality traits. However, these may also be as a result of starvation rather than a cause of the disorder. This kind of thinking can perpetuate the disordered eating and lead it to become an entrenched behaviour.

Signs and symptoms of Orthorexia

“I saw a SWEDA support worker on campus at university. I had been struggling with binge eating disorder and compulsive exercise for about ten years. The SWEDA support worker was able to help me look at my relationship with food and my body in a different way. I have learned to be kinder to myself and they taught me techniques which helped me to slow down my thinking. Now I can go out and have fun without worrying all the time.”

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