A Bit About Orthorexia

Featured Image: “Hope,” © Forest Wander (own work), June 2012. CC By-SA 2.0. (license)

In a given week, I read dozens of blog posts, news feeds, and articles (in both popular and scientific press) about eating disorders, mental health, or recovery. Usually, I pass along the particularly good ones to friends who are also in recovery or colleagues I think might find them interesting. However, I do link a couple resources on my “Favorites” and ED-specific pages, and now there is one more to add…

There isn’t an overwhelming amount of stuff out there about orthorexia. It isn’t an eating disorder that is officially recognized as a distinct diagnosis or entity. In truth, few people with eating disorders ever present with “textbook” features. My own blend of disordered eating began as restriction with episodic binging and morphed into what was ultimately diagnosed as binge eating disorder. It was after I finally confessed to my restricting tendencies that my nutritionist began to explore my extreme fears related to food and my orthorexia. Early in the course of my disorder, my behaviors closely mirrored anorexia. When a friend of mine sat me down in April 2014 to broach the topic of an eating disorder with me for the first time in stark seriousness, she hauled out the DSM IV and flipped to the page describing bulimia. Binge eating disorder wouldn’t receive its own unique designation until DSM V.

There is a great deal of overlap when it comes to eating disorders, but that doesn’t make the disease any less real or the stakes any less serious for those suffering from a condition that is “not otherwise specified.”


A link to the article is also added to my “Orthorexia” page. For more eating disorder and mental health resources, visit my “Favorites” page.

2 thoughts on “A Bit About Orthorexia

  1. Yes. I have orthorexia.
    I have never binged. But I have spent hours searching a city for an acceptable breakfast that would satisfy my need for protein and vegetables. Starving regularly (intermittent fasting was my reasoning).

    Like you, I still have real distrust and fear of some foods. Sometimes I am ok, and will eat fries at McDonald’s.
    Sometimes I must have the low carb, gluten free option I want and nothing else will suffice. So I eat nothing.

    I get very off balanced when I starve. I become unreasonable. I have learned to eat enough regularly to prevent the slide into focused eating. It works most of the time.

    I know people just see me as difficult, or, worse, as super disciplined and someone to emulate.

    One day at yoga one of the women brought up orthorexia as some made up disorder. I told her a bit about how I feel when in the through a of food obsession. She changed her mind.

    It’s a strange world. I know the better I support my overall well being, the less food becomes my master.



    1. Oh, Anne! I’m so sorry that this struggle affects you personally, too. I know the feeling of frantically searching shops and markets for something – anything – that would be OK to eat. Days when I found myself traveling or away from home were the worst. Eventually, I just stopped doing everything and locked myself up in my own literal and psychological prison. I’m glad it sounds like you are able to maintain much better balance with your orthorexia. I hope that you find supportive resources in your community. Working with a nutritionist was one of the single best things I ever did to aid my recovery. There is so much misinformation and misunderstanding about health and nutrition. Almost everything I thought I knew was wrong, or at least inaccurate and misconstrued. Learning to let go of all of my rules about food and eating, getting over nutrition labels, and accepting that there is truly no such thing as a bad food was monumental, and brought balance not only into my eating but into my entire life. I still have foods that make me leery, but I’m gradually reintroducing them one at a time. The pasta was a big step! Last week it was fries and mussels. I’m working toward eating all the foods I’d find in Paris so that I can make my first international trip since entering recovery.
      I wish you so much success on your journey with your orthorexia. It sounds like you are managing to live the balanced life you love, and I hope it never holds you back from being your truest self! That is the goal I am striving toward. Sending love! ~ Lu

      Liked by 1 person

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