Here at Fairwinds Treatment Center, we know all too well how a simple desire to eat healthier can easily spiral out of control into a full-blown eating disorder. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) calls this pattern "orthorexia," describing it as "a fixation on righteous eating … food quality and purity." Orthorexics are often obsessed with consuming only "clean," raw, non-processed and/or organic food. They may keep eliminating options from their list of "acceptable" foods until they are extremely restricted in what they allow themselves to consume. Ultimately, this can end up taking a serious toll on physical health, resulting in extreme weight loss and malnourishment.
"It becomes a problem when it really starts to interfere with your daily life," Fairwinds Treatment Center Clinical Dietician Kourtney Gordon recently told Tampa Bay CBS affiliate 10-News. "You're no longer able to be a part of your normal working job, or be a part of your family at normal meals, when you start to see changes in weight which can occur because of that limited food choice. It's not really about body image and body weight like anorexia and bulimia is, it's about more looking at the quality of the food and making sure that it's in the purest form, more whole, less processed, less ingredients."
Many, if not most people suffering from orthorexia or other eating disorders also struggle with undiagnosed mental, emotional and/or psychological issues. We recently discussed on this blog how popular food blogger Jordan Younger, author of "The Blonde Vegan," announced that she was struggling with orthorexia and was consulting with a therapist to heal her mind as well as her body. Younger correctly recognized that anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and other problems can trigger or worsen unhealthy relationships with food and exercise. Treating the latter without also addressing the former is almost guaranteed to be ineffective. That's why Fairwinds Treatment Center's Dr. Pauline Powers, a world-renowned eating disorder expert and the former president of NEDA, treats our patients using a unique dual diagnosis methodology. A personalized combination of clinical treatment and therapeutic counseling promotes healing inside and out, to encourage a lasting recovery.
Orthorexia is not an official medical disorder and is not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, however, it has similarities to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Men, women and children may experience struggles with these kinds of harmful eating habits at almost any age. If you or a loved one has a potentially unhealthy obsession with eating "clean" or healthy foods that is interfering with daily life, know that help is available at Fairwinds Treatment Center in Clearwater, Florida. There is simply no better place to find healing and peace.