Orthorexia Nervosa; The ‘healthy’ eating disorder

Orthorexia Nervosa; The ‘healthy’ eating disorder

Do you spend your days checking the nutritional value of every food substance you put in your mouth? Are you paranoid about the negative effects certain food can have to the point you would rather not eat unless it is ‘healthy’ or ‘nutritional’? You may be suffering from a new eating disorder – Orthorexia Nervosa.

Orthorexia Nervosa is the term coined by Dr Steven Bratman in 1997 in an attempt to explain the burgeoning deep fixation or obsession people were beginning to display with healthy eating regimes. And we don’t mean those of you simply trying to maintain a balanced diet. The term is unofficially used to describe when sensible focus becomes crippling compulsion. Doctors describe it as “a disease disguised as a virtue”.

So what’s the difference between orthorexia and anorexia or bulimia? According to the Independent, ‘the goal is not usually to become thin. In fact, ironically, sufferers are initially motivated by a desire to be well, and to consume pure, “clean” foods, often to recover from illness.’

The article tells of high-profile sufferer, blogger Jordan Younger. Jordan writes a successful New York food blog called, The Blonde Vegan which has since spawned a brand, an app and even a clothing line featuring slogans such as “Oh Kale Yes!” Jordan’s whole life and income was focussed on ‘clean eating’. She would regularly embark on 10-day cleanses and share the journey and results with her 100,000-plus Instagram followers.

However, Jordan was not as healthy as such a lifestyle would lead us to believe. She suffered from lethargy, her periods stopped and she began to have panic attacks when faced with ‘unhealthy’ options or the thought of having to sway from her healthy regime. She realised gradually that there was something distinctly unhealthy about her restrictive diet.


I had developed many fears surrounding food,” Younger told The Independent. “I was becoming more and more limited in what I was comfortable eating. I even joked about it with friends, calling certain foods, like eggs, ‘fear foods’ because I had stayed away from them for so long. It was easy to hide behind the shield of veganism when I was at a restaurant with friends or even grocery shopping for myself. Anything not clean, oil-free, sugar-free, gluten-free and plant-based I dismissed because it wasn’t within my dietary label.”

Jordan eventually began a long process of therapy and shifting to a more balanced way of eating, reintroducing eggs, fish and organic chicken and renaming her brand The Balanced Blonde.

Check out the rest of the story on the Independent, here. 

photo credit: Jourdan Younger – Facebook



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