Am I Eating ‘Good’ or Suffering from Orthorexia Nervosa?

In today’s health-conscious world, many of us strive to eat “good” or “clean” foods, aiming to enhance our well-being and longevity. However, this pursuit of healthy eating can sometimes cross a line and become obsessive, leading to a condition known as orthorexia nervosa. Understanding the difference between mindful eating and orthorexia is crucial for maintaining a balanced relationship with food.

What is Orthorexia Nervosa?

Orthorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an unhealthy obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy. Unlike other eating disorders, orthorexia focuses not on the quantity of food consumed but on its quality. Those suffering from orthorexia may restrict their diets to an extreme degree, avoiding foods they deem unhealthy or impure.

Signs of Orthorexia Nervosa

While the desire to eat healthily is not inherently problematic, certain behaviours may indicate orthorexia nervosa. These include:

  1. Rigid Eating Patterns: Adhering strictly to self-imposed dietary rules and feeling distressed when unable to follow them.
  2. Preoccupation with Food Quality: Spending excessive time researching, planning, and preparing meals.
  3. Social Isolation: Avoiding social events or gatherings that involve food to maintain strict dietary habits.
  4. Emotional Distress: Experiencing anxiety, guilt, or shame when deviating from dietary rules.

Eating ‘Good’ vs. Orthorexia

It’s important to differentiate between striving for a healthy diet and exhibiting signs of orthorexia. Healthy eating involves making nutritious choices while allowing flexibility and balance. Orthorexia, on the other hand, is marked by an inflexible and obsessive approach to food.

Maintaining a Balanced Relationship with Food

To ensure your pursuit of healthy eating does not lead to orthorexia, consider the following tips:

  1. Variety and Balance: Incorporate a wide range of foods in your diet, including occasional indulgences.
  2. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues rather than adhering to strict dietary rules.
  3. Seek Professional Guidance: Consult with a nutritionist or therapist if you feel your eating habits are becoming problematic.
  4. Focus on Enjoyment: Remember that food is not only for nourishment but also for pleasure and social connection.


Eating healthily is a positive goal, but it’s essential to maintain balance and flexibility. Recognizing the signs of orthorexia nervosa can help you avoid falling into an obsessive pattern. Strive for a diet that supports your physical health without compromising your mental well-being.