Dr. Lawrence Wilson
August 2020, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc.
information in this article is solely the opinion of the author and
is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as diagnosis,
prescription, treatment or cure for any health conditions.
is a new (1997) eating disorder characterized by an exaggerated or
obsessive focus on healthy eating.
2016, formal criteria for orthorexia were proposed in the
peer-reviewed journal Eating
Thom Dunn and Steven Bratman. These criteria are as follows:
A. Obsessive focus on "healthy" eating, as defined by a
dietary theory or set of beliefs whose specific details may vary;
marked by exaggerated emotional distress in relationship to food
choices perceived as unhealthy; weight loss may ensue, but this is
conceptualized as an aspect of ideal health rather than as the
primary goal. As evidenced by the following:
behavior and/or mental preoccupation regarding affirmative and
restrictive dietary practices believed by the individual to promote
optimum health. (Footnotes to this criteria add: Dietary practices
may include use of concentrated "food supplements."
Exercise performance and/or fit body image may be regarded as an
aspect or indicator of health.)
of self-imposed dietary rules causes exaggerated fear of disease,
sense of personal impurity and/or negative physical sensations,
accompanied by anxiety and shame.
restrictions escalate over time, and may come to include elimination
of entire food groups and involve progressively more frequent and/or
severe "cleanses" (partial fasts) regarded as purifying or
detoxifying. This escalation commonly leads to weight loss, but the
desire to lose weight is absent, hidden or subordinated to ideation
about healthy food.
B. The compulsive behavior and mental preoccupation becomes
clinically impairing by any of the following:
severe weight loss or other medical complications from restricted
distress or impairment of social, academic or vocational functioning
secondary to beliefs or behaviors about healthy diet
body image, self-worth, identity and/or satisfaction excessively
dependent on compliance with self-defined "healthy" eating
FOR OUR INTEREST IN THIS DISORDER
reason is that some of our clients may suffer from it. However,
we are not aware of any at this time.
second reason is that we may disagree that it is a disorder. Instead,
we may view it as a necessary or helpful way to navigate through the
junk food universe that we live in.
example, it does cause some social isolation if a group of people
whom you know all want to go out drinking beer or eating a McDonald’s
restaurant and you don’t want to go along. Your anxiety, however,
we would not view as an illness. We would view it as wisdom and
question arises, Who
has the real eating disorder? We
would say it is those who have little knowledge of nutrition and
health and therefore are swayed by advertising, convenience, taste,
appearance, or some other superficial criteria that has little or
nothing to do with the quality of the food they put into their
has a good article on orthorexia, from which we took the diagnostic
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