All About Orthorexia Nervosa

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the term “orthorexia” was coined in 1998 and means an obsession with proper  or “healthful” eating.  Even though being aware of the nutritional quality of the food you eat may not be a problem, individuals with orthorexia become fixated on the so-called “healthy eating” that it interferes with other aspects of their lives.  In addition, those suffering with orthorexia often display signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders that frequently co-occur with other eating disorders.


Common behavioral patterns include:

  • Obsessive concern over the relationship between food choices and health concerns
  • Compulsive checking of nutritional labels and ingredient lists
  • Cutting out entire food groups
  • Severe restriction of certain types of food consumed
  • Avoiding foods due to food allergies that have not been medically diagnosed
  • Significant increase in the consumption of probiotics, herbal remedies, and other supplements thought to have healthy effects on the body
  • Irrational concern over food preparation such as food washing techniques and sterilization

Emotional and cognitive characteristics include:

  • Feelings of guilt when consuming foods that are not considered healthy and pure
  • Increase in amount of time spent thinking about food
  • Regular advanced meal planning and feelings of guilt if plans are not followed
  • Avoiding foods prepared by others
  • Fears of eating away from home
  • Worsening depression, mood swings, or anxiety


Our Approach to Addressing Orthorexia Nervosa

Center for Change offers comprehensive treatment for orthorexia that focuses on healing the whole person – mind, body and spirit. Our orthorexia treatment program features dietary and nutritional therapies that help clients understand an intuitive approach to eating that will help them achieve long-term recovery. Working with a team of compassionate experts, our clients receive one-on-one, family and group therapy, individual nutritional counseling, medical care and monitoring, medication management and a variety of experiential and expressive therapies — all focused on the unique needs of the individual.  If you or someone you love is struggling with orthorexia, call our warm and caring admissions team today at 888.224.8250 or contact us here.


Published Article About Orthorexia Nervosa

Nicole Hawkins, PhD, CEDS, Director of Clinical Services at Center for Change, along with Thomas M. Dunn, PhD, Stacey Gagliano, and Kristen Stoddard published this relevant article about orthorexia for the eating disorder field.



Individuals who self-identify as having “orthorexia nervosa” score in the clinical range on the Eating Attitudes Test-26 by Thomas M. Dunn, Nicole Hawkins, Stacey Gagliano & Kristen Stoddard

The final publication is available at