What precautions can I take to guard against the development of orthorexia?

Despite the risk for orthorexia for some individuals, healthy eating is a worthy endeavor -- healthy bodies can support healthy minds and healthy environments. There is no right, correct or singular way to eat healthfully, and there are several precautions you can take to guard against the development of orthorexia and other eating disorders:
  • Consult a registered dietitian for guidance. Whether you are embarking on a healthy eating program or you have been following a healthy eating regimen for weeks, months or years, a dietitian can provide valuable insight related to goal setting, overall health status and meal planning. A dietitian can help you find the right way to eat healthfully based on your unique goals, medical conditions and food preferences.
  • Strive for a diverse diet, allowing all foods in moderation. Many eating philosophies claiming to be healthy call for elimination of certain foods or whole food groups. Stigmatizing foods and an all-or-nothing attitude about eating fosters the extreme rigidity and obsession characteristic of orthorexia.
  • Pay attention to how you feel about food and eating. Healthy eating should never hurt you physically, make you feel deprived or elicit feelings of anger, sadness or shame. Eating should be enjoyable, both for food's varied tastes and textures, as well as for the social element of meals. If psychological distress accompanies your healthy eating effort, consult a therapist or dietitian specializing in eating disorders as soon as possible.
  • Monitor weight loss and body image changes. Slow weight loss following certain eating changes for wellness may be positive for overall health. However, significant or rapid weight loss and increasingly negative body image may indicate the development of an eating disorder, particularly among individuals with a genetic predisposition toward these illnesses.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.