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Experts warn of fine line between healthy eating and orthorexia nervosa after rise in cases


By Jessica Greenway

ORTHOREXIA nervosa, the pathological obsession for pure food and extreme exercise, is rising year by year in the UK.

Orthorexia starts as an innocent attempt to start eating more healthily, but people with this new age eating disorder become fixated on food quality and purity leading to food choices eventually becoming so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health starts to suffer.

Do I Have Orthorexia? Consider the following questions. The more questions you respond “yes” to, the more likely you are dealing with orthorexia. Do you wish that occasionally you could just eat and not worry about food quality? Do you ever wish you could spend less time on food and more time living and loving? Does it seem beyond your ability to eat a meal prepared with love by someone else – one single meal – and not try to control what is served? Are you constantly looking for ways foods are unhealthy for you? Do love, joy, play and creativity take a back seat to following the perfect diet? Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet? Do you feel in control when you stick to the “correct” diet? Have you put yourself on a nutritional pedestal and wonder how others can possibly eat the foods they eat?

Ursula Philpot, senior lecturer of nutrition said: “No doubt social media has a strong part to play and many people coping with this eating disorder avoid socialising around food and have many rules that they think must not be broken.”

Instagram is widely used as a platform for posting fresh looking food and slim fitness models to promote low calorie diets for men and women.

Shadan Noori, personal trainer at Xercise4less, Leeds, said: “I have more young clients coming to me and asking for boot camp style workouts and what’s best to eat.

“I don’t feel like it is an obsession but people still need a cheat day to stop unhealthy bingeing.”

B-eat offer support for Orthorexia and treatment to tackle the obsessive disorder as most doctors don’t have the correct diagnosis because it is not a registered official eating disorder.

Recovered anorexia victim Frances Shillito, 25, said: “Orthorexia is life controlling just like anorexia and is a constant battle. I had two relapses in my early twenties I can proudly say after overcoming the last few hurdles of my recovery process, my relationship with anorexia nervosa is no more.”

If you know anyone who is silently suffering with Orthorexia Nervosa, visit B-eat website or call them on: Helpline 0808 801 0677  Youthline 0808 801 0711.


What is orthorexia nervosa?

Orthorexia is a form of maladaptive eating that can begin with good intentions. There is a suggestion that orthorexia is related to pathological eating attitude and obsessive-compulsive symptoms which is where it differentiates from anorexia. Sufferers tend to cut out entire food groups, often in the mistaken belief via food blogs and instagram accounts that what they are currently eating is making them unhealthy because their bodies are intolerant to them or curing an ailment. This restriction deprives the body of essential nutrition and vitamins. Accompanied with an obsession to over-exercise, you are left weak or often emaciated. Amongst other symptoms, low energy levels and nutritional deficiencies can lead to depression and anxiety.


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