Healthy eating gone too far

Believe it or not, it’s possible to be too concerned with healthy eating. Orthorexia is a term used to describe someone who is obsessed with the quality rather than quantity of their food to an excessive degree. The symptoms of orthorexia go beyond a simple preference and interest in healthy eating. Orthorexia can start with “healthy” or “clean” eating, then progress to the elimination of entire food groups such as dairy or grains, and then to the avoidance of foods such as those with artificial additives, foods treated with pesticides, or particular ingredients (e.g. fat, sugar or salt).

Someone with orthorexia experiences strong anxiety about their food choices and may worry about their diet not meeting their personal high standards of “purity”. They may become socially isolated as they withdraw from people who do not align with their strict dietary regime. They feel guilt following ‘slip-ups’, heightened self-esteem when they eat “healthy” foods, mood swings, anxiety and depression.

Although it isn’t officially recognised as an eating disorder, orthorexia is a serious mental health condition that can cause irreversible health complications and frequently coexists with an eating disorder.