Healthy Eating Gone Too Far- Orthorexia


So in my previous blog post I mentioned how I always use the line, "everything in moderation." And when you hear this line don't you immediately think of weight loss?  BUT this line can be applied to healthy eating too! See, "everything in moderation" really means a balance.  Balance within your meals (nutrition) but also balance within your life!  If you are so focused on food, how can you truly enjoy your life and be at peace and present in that moment? Therefore, anything of the extreme puts up red flags for me. 

The article that I'm highlighting has to do with what could happen when healthy eating goes too far.   Not everyone thinks this way but because of my exposure and interest in eating disorders, my personal experiences through activities and sports, and my belief in mind and body connection, I am much more sensitive to the extremes of eating;  it could set someone up for an eating disorder--orthorexia to be exact. 

I'm all for eating healthy, I'm all for going gluten-free and for possibly eliminating certain food groups  IF done for the right reasons (i.e. medical reasons). However, I have to wonder if those that take part in these diet changes are really doing it for health or is there an underlying motivation? Perhaps weight loss? Is it for performance? And if you are really being honest, are you using it as a diet in hopes losing weight for gaining confidence and even self esteem?  These are just thought provoking questions, please don't take offense if you do follow one of the above examples.  I want to say this now because I'm sure people are thinking about it... following a healthy diet, being vegan, going paleo or paying close attention to labels does not mean you are orthorexic.  All I'm saying is, any time one goes to the extreme in combination with the preoccupation with food and negative self-talk it could easily cross the line into a dangerous category of eating--an eating disorder. My hope is for this blog post to help raise awareness with orthorexia and bring to light the message that any extreme is not a good thing. Let's strive for balance. Let's strive for "everything in moderation."

Side note- this article focuses on athletes because it is taken from a fitness magazine. In my experience, athletes with weight lifting, power lifting and CrossFit do take particular interest in their nutrition and diets.  But let's not fool ourselves, orthorexia can happen to anyone, anywhere.

Facts about Orthorexia:

- Orthorexia Nervosa (not yet recognized as an official eating disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is defined as an unhealthy fixation on eating only healthy or "pure" foods.

- It is a common co-occurring eating disorder

- Similar to anorexia in that involves food restriction. Different to anorexia in that it is quality vs. quantity of food that is restricted.

- Becoming more prevalent in part due to the marketing of food as healthy and organic and because of media's often conflicting dietary advice.

Signs of Orthorexia:

  • Obsession with healthy eating
  • Perception of superiority to others due to the self control exhibited in one's diet
  • Extreme limitation in food choices, often avoiding entire food groups

For more information for yourself and/or others:

National Eating Disorders

National Eating Disorders- Family & Friends Support

1. January 16, 2014. What is Orthorexia. Retrieved from

2. Eckern, Jacquelyn. (January 2014). Orthorexia, Excessive Exercise and Nutrition. Retreived from

3. Kratina, K. Orthorexia Nervosa. Retreived from