Orthorexia was defined in 1997 by Dr. Steven Bratman, MD. Orthorexia is currently not recognised as an official diagnosable eating disorder and would fall under the clinical category of Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). Orthorexia is driven by an obsession with healthy or “clean” eating habits and leads to people cutting out essential food groups. This can start off gradual (such as cutting out sugar or be triggered by an intolerance such as dairy) and become more restrictive by cutting out more food groups over time leading to striking similarities with Anorexia. As with other eating disorders, the eating behaviour involved – “healthy” or “clean” eating in this case – is used to cope with negative thoughts and feelings, or to feel in control. Someone using food in this way might feel extremely anxious or guilty if they eat food they feel is unhealthy.
All eating disorders are serious mental illnesses, and should be treated as quickly as possible to give the sufferer the best chance of fully recovering.