Orthorexia nervosa

Have you ever noticed that most people who liked healthy eating (or clean eating) goes too far in this food passion? The name of this phenomenon is Orthorexia.

Orthorexia nervosa is a proposed eating disorder or mental disorder characterized by an extreme or excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthful.

Symptoms of orthorexia nervosa may include obsession with healthy eating and emaciation, among other things. Orthorexic subjects typically have specific feelings towards different types of food. The obsession for healthy foods could come from a number of sources such as family habits, society trends, economic problems, recent illness, or even just hearing something negative about a food type or group, which then leads them to ultimately eliminate the food or foods from their diet.

Although Orthorexia is not recognized as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, and it is not listed in the DSM-IV or planned to be included in the DSM-5 to be published May 2013, it is still used as a diagnosis by some practitioners who have documented the damaging results of the condition as they have seen in their practices.


Orthorexia Self-Test by Dr. Bratman

Each YES answer scores one point

  • Do you spend more than three hours a day thinking about healthy food? (for four hours, give yourself two points)
  • Do you plan tomorrow’s food today?
  • Do you care more about the virtue of what you eat than the pleasure you receive from eating it?
  • Have you found that as the quality of your diet has increased, the quality of your life has correspondingly diminished?
  • Do you keep getting stricter with yourself?
  • Do you sacrifice experiences you once enjoyed to eat the food you believe is right?
  • Do you feel an increased sense of self-esteem when you are eating healthy food? Do you look down on others who don’t?
  • Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?
  • Does your diet socially isolate you?
  • When you are eating the way you are supposed to, do you feel a peaceful sense of total control?

If you answer yes to more than four questions, you are probably have Orthorexia nervosa.

ORTO-15 test (Institute of Food Sciences, University of Rome “La Sapienza”)

Orthorexia nervosa: validation of a diagnosis questionnaire. (Full text )
Donini LM, Marsili D, Graziani MP, Imbriale M, Cannella C.
Istituto di Scienza dell’Alimentazione, Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.

Questionnaire for the diagnosis of orhorexia nervosa, an eating disorder defined as “maniacal obsession for healthy food”

N Question Always Often Sometimes Never
1 When eating, do you pay attention to the calories of the food? О О О О
2 When you go in a food shop do you feel confused? О О О О
3 In the last 3 months, did the thought of food worry you? О О О О
4 Are your eating choices conditioned by your worry about your health status? О О О О
5 Is the taste of food more important than the quality when you evaluate food? О О О О
6 Are you willing to spend more money to have healthier food? О О О О
7 Does the thought about food worry you for more than three hours a day? О О О О
8 Do you allow yourself any eating transgressions? О О О О
9 Do you think your mood affects your eating behavior? О О О О
10 Do you think that the conviction to eat only healthy food increases self-esteem? О О О О
11 Do you think that eating healthy food changes your life-style (frequency of eating out, friends, …)? О О О О
12 Do you think that cosuming healthy food may improve your appearance? О О О О
13 Do you feel guilty when transgressing? О О О О
14 Do you think that on the market there is also unhealthy food? О О О О
15 At present, are you alone when having meals? О О О О

Scoring grid for ORTO-15 test

Question N Always Often Sometimes Never
2-5-8-9 4 3 2 1
3-4-6-7-10-11-12-14-15 1 2 3 4
1-13 2 4 3 1

If you score more than 40 points (threshold value), you are probably have Orthorexia nervosa.

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