Category: Eating Disorders

Orthorexia – What Is It? Why Is It Concerning?

Many people in today’s society have likely heard or participated in behaviors surrounding health and fitness. However, a fixation on health, fitness, and restrictive or “clean eating” is a significant problem in our society today. It often leads to disordered eating. It is almost impossible to avoid some exposure to ideas and themes in today’s media, social media, and exercise studios around dieting and exercise. Terms such as: “clean eating,” a “whole foods” approach to dieting, diets like the Paleo diet, 30 days, 50 days, or 100 days of “real food” cookbooks. The culture and recipes have become so commonplace that many of us do not even fully understand the definition of this type of eating or what “clean eating” really is — let alone the negative consequences ensued by the bombardment of these themes.

We see hashtages littered over social media such as: #cleaneating #bodybuilding #eatclean #shredded #nutrition #supplements #lifting #gym #gymlife #fitspo #fitlifestyle

Seems Innocent Enough, But Can It Be A Bad Thing?

Many individuals develop an array of symptoms that we as clinicians and mental health practitioners call Orthorexia. Orthorexia is a term coined by Steven Bratman, MD in 1996, who started to use this term with patients that were obsessed with their health. Although the current diagnostic manual (the DSM-5), does not recognize this as a stand alone disorder, those who suffer from Orthorexia are similarly impacted as those are from Anorexia Nervosa. Instead of being focused on calories and weight loss, Orthorexia often starts with individuals being consumed by diet and exercise, and consuming only “healthy” foods. Eventually, food choices become so restrictive in both variety and calories they can lead to significant weight loss. Orthorexia can result in various medical conditions too, including cardiac complications and bone loss. Often, those obsessed with health and fitness can slowly rid their lives of balance and social connection, which impairs relationships and physical health. Individuals feel a sense of shame, depression, and self-loathing when they fail to meet the demands of “clean eating,” which contributes to less overall satisfaction of life.

Over the years in my practice, I have seen the focus of “health and fitness” change from one theme to another, leaving patients more restrictive, sad, and ashamed. Documentaries such as: Forks Over Knives and Fed Up, have only succeeded in fueling the focus on diet and restrictive food choices that lead to potential disordered eating.

One common theme I encounter in my practice is that clients struggle with coming to terms that they truly have a disorder or problem. The conflict arises from the fact “clean eating,” fad diets, fitness, and exercise is not only endorsed, but praised by our society.

My goal and belief as a clinician is one of balance.

By restoring and relearning how to trust our bodies to know what they need clients can achieve an inner peace that decreases the need for obsessive dieting, exercise, and a focus on body image. If someone you know is suffering from what you believe may be disordered eating or an eating disorder, please visit: for more information.

How to Tell If Your Loved One Has an Eating Disorder

Eating disorder symptoms and presentations vary from individual to individual, among age groups and gender, and may present differently depending on the type of eating disorder that your loved one may have. Keep in mind that these are general behaviors to look for, and that there may be other causes for significant weight loss. Always encourage your loved one to check with a medical professional so that any dangerous medical conditions can be ruled out. In addition, the onset and progression of eating disorders can present in various ways. I have broken up these signs and symptoms into somewhat general categories. Read More…

Eating Disorders – Who Is To Blame?

I recently read an interesting article by Dr. Michael Katz in Body Image, April 20th, 2011 titled: “Confusion about Family-Based Treatment (FBT) of Eating Disorders.” I was drawn to the subject of this article, as it addressed the difficulties for parents seeking treatment for their teenagers and children who suffer from eating disorders. Dr. Michael Katz referenced the work of James Lock, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Stanford, and psychiatric director of the Comprehensive Eating Disorders Program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. Lock’s study, which was published on Oct. 4, 2010 in the Archives of General Psychology, compared the treatment of anorexia using individual treatment versus treatment involving the whole family, or what Lock calls “FBT”. Read More…