Orthorexia Nervosa Treatment Center
At Paracelsus Recovery, we provide comprehensive and expert-driven treatment for orthorexia nervosa. Our treatment programmes are designed to help you re-create a healthy relationship with food. To achieve this goal, our team will provide the tools necessary to create robust coping strategies and address any underlying issues, such as low self-esteem or a harsh inner critic. Orthorexia affects people differently, so we will create a custom-made treatment programme for each client.
Treatment for Orthorexia Nervosa
Orthorexia nervosa, often referred to as orthorexia, is an eating disorder characterised by the compulsive need to only eat healthy or ‘clean’ food. Food groups are typically split into rigid ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories. The list of ‘bad’ foods can grow out of proportion, leading to an increased irrational fear of these foods.
At Paracelsus Recovery, the priority of our orthorexia nervosa treatment programme is to help you re-establish a healthy relationship with food and to address each physical and psychological issues contributing to the orthorexia. Our multidisciplinary team provides hours of specialised psychotherapy, biochemical restoration and many complementary therapies to strengthen the client’s mind, body and soul. A live-in therapist will also stay in a self-contained section of your chosen residence and be available around the clock for emotional support.
We provide treatment for orthorexia nervosa at our treatment centre in Zurich and in London.
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Signs and Symptoms of orthorexia:
- Feeling intense guilt or shame when consuming ‘bad’ foods.
- Spending an excessive amount of time thinking about and planning meals.
- Following an increasingly restrictive diet.
- Hiding or concealing food from others.
- Linking self-esteem with adherence to a specific diet.
- Being overly interested and/or critical of other people’s eating habits.
- Obsessing over food origins, ingredients and nutrition labels.
- Significant weight changes.
- Sleep problems.
- Mood swings.
Understanding orthorexia nervosa
While being conscious of one’s health is a great way to practice self-care, it becomes unhealthy when a person is so obsessed with clean eating that it negatively impacts their life. Rather than controlling their food consumption to feel healthy, a person suffering from orthorexia uses healthy eating as a way to cope with psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma or difficult emotions such as guilt or sadness.
Unlike other eating disorders, individuals with orthorexia are less focused on body image and weight loss. Instead, the disorder manifests in the avoidance of foods because of perceived (usually undiagnosed) allergies, the continuous reduction of what foods are acceptable, an irrational concern for the food’s origins and a fear of medical ill-health. Orthorexia can be very hard to diagnose because cutting out entire food groups such as sugar, fats, meat or dairy is often seen as healthy.
Orthorexia is commonly associated with character traits such as perfectionism and conscientiousness and is often co-occurring with other mental health conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety. If left untreated, orthorexia can lead to other eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.
Orthorexia is a relatively new eating disorder that involves an unhealthy obsession with healthy or ‘clean’ eating. Unlike other eating disorders, orthorexia mostly revolves around food quality, not quantity.
Numerous studies indicate that individuals with careers that focus on health are at an increased risk of developing orthorexia. For example, healthcare workers, ballet dancers, athletes, personal trainers and Instagram-influencers whose ‘brand’ is health and fitness are at an increased risk.
Numerous factors contribute to the development of orthorexia nervosa. These include genetic dispositions such as a family history of eating disorders, developmental factors such as childhood trauma, underlying mental health conditions, low self-esteem and obsessive personality traits. Environmental factors such as having a job that places an emphasis on clean eating or being thin can also influence a person’s likelihood of developing orthorexia nervosa.
At Paracelsus Recovery, we tailor-make our treatment programmes for orthorexia to your specific needs. We start with an intense assessment to identify any physical and psychological issues and based on these findings, we create an individualised programme which includes psychotherapy to address your relationship with food, biochemical restoration, nutritional counselling and complementary therapy.
Orthorexia can cause permanent damage to physical and psychological health and over time can begin to produce similar effects to eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. For example, it can lead to malnutrition, a weakened immune system, reduced bone density, heart and lung damage, kidney failure, pancreatitis and irregular menstruation. It can also damage a person’s cognitive abilities and emotional wellbeing which can lead to substance abuse, other mental illness, diminished self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.