Orthorexia is not officially recognised as a medical condition. The term was coined back in the 90s by Dr.Steven Bratman in the States. Here orthorexia would probably best slot into the ‘eating disorder not otherwise specified’ category. There are so many forms of disordered eating. These terms are fairly new but I think the condition has been in existence for quite some time.
Food packaging and labelling is so extensive now. While that’s largely a good thing, it also has its downside and that includes making already anxious people more anxious about what’s going into their bodies. There is such much in the press on food, dieting and obesity which is driving a dangerous compulsion to follow some fictitious, ‘perfect’ diet. Orthorexia, like anorexia nervosa, is largely an issue of control. People who are affected talk about not eating certain foods so as not to become ‘contaminated’. What starts as eating healthily spirals out of control.
We are certainly seeing more people coming to talk about orthorexia, although the vast majority of those needing help are suffering with bulimia. We recommend that anyone worried about their eating habits should talk things over with their GP first and he or she is likely to refer you to a specialist counsellor.