What Is an Orthorexia Test? Do I Have It?

Written by: Ankita Kathad – MA
(Clinical Psychology)

Last updated date : June 28, 2022

We all have that one friend who is worried about food. They focus a lot on healthy eating. Sometimes to an unhealthy level. It is difficult to enjoy food with them. This is because they always stop others from eating what they like. They spend a lot of time knowing the source of the food. They are mostly suffering from an eating disorder. In this article, we learn about orthorexia tests and understand if you have it or not?

Chapter 1:
What Is Orthorexia?

In this condition, a person avoids foods they believe are harmful and unhealthy. Like other eating disorders, this one can have a severe negative impact on a person’s well being.

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Chapter 2:
Symptoms of Orthorexia

Healthy eating is a life-changing habit. It improves the quality of life and keeps many health problems away. It is rightly said, “you are what you eat!” However, for some people, this becomes a habit and a compulsion. They can’t focus on anything else. They find eating small amounts of unhealthy food stressful. Some common symptoms are as follows:

  1. Worry about food quality: There can be intense worry about food quality and source. A person may keep looking for a source of food. They will keep thinking about the quality of the food. If the quality of the food is not up to their standards, they will panic.
  2. Avoidance: People may avoid food that is cooked by others. Further, they may actively avoid social meetings.
  3. Obsession: The person is obsessed with healthy eating. They will compulsively check labels. More so, they will dump foods that are even slightly unhealthy.
  4. Malnutrition: The person will not take essential nutrients which are not in their diet. This can make them thin and sick. Since there is always a fear of eating unhealthy food, the person will avoid fatty food such as butter.
  5. Frequent fear: The person fears falling sick. More so, they fear a lot if they have eaten ‘bad’ food. In addition, they fear losing control. They are scared that they will end up overeating at a party. Even worse, they fear they will eat large amounts of ‘bad’ food.
  6. Extensive research: People spend a good amount of time surfing about food. They keep reading blogs or books on healthy eating. People spend hours planning their meals. They engage in intense diet plans.
  7. Critical: The person remains very critical and doubtful of a friend’s food choices.

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Chapter 3:
Orthorexia Test

People with this feel emotional pain and a loss of self-worth when they break the healthy eating “rules”. More so, they feel sad when they “give in” to desires for foods they consider harmful.

People with this condition have false beliefs. They believe that their self-worth is based on their ability to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

This unhealthy obsession with healthy eating, therefore, has a damaging effect on your life.

DSM- The diagnostic manual for disorders does not have a criterion for this condition. So, many tools are used by experts to diagnose this.

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Chapter 4:
Effects of Orthorexia

  • Physical effects: As people avoid many food items, they will suffer from malnutrition. There can be problems with hormones. There can be problems like a weak immune system. In addition, there can be general issues like fever, cold or fatigue due to constant worry. These signs can get very serious.
  • Psychological effects: People with this condition can get very stressed. They can feel very guilty about not taking a clean diet. They blame themselves if they break a diet rule. People here also focus a lot on the labels. They also focus a lot on the contents of the food. This leads to a waste of time. As they are always busy with thoughts of eating, they cant focus on other things.
  • Social effects: The sufferer will have a difficult social life. They panic when they feel that they have lost control of food. This can make it hard for them to participate in social events. At parties, food is a very good way of socializing. People with this condition cannot eat due to fear. Therefore social interaction can be tough. Moreover, they can feel that their food habits and concepts are superior. This can make interactions difficult.
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Chapter 5:
Orthorexia Tests

  • Questionnaire: There is still a lack of clarity regarding this condition, many methods can diagnose this condition. These questions identify feelings and thoughts about food. They identify negative and positive feelings about food. These questions also check for the labels people give to food items.
  • ORTO-R. The six most important questions about orthorexia symptoms and behaviours are included in this revised version of ORTO-15.
  • Orthorexia Bratman Test (BOT): This is a ten-question tool with “Yes/No” choices. The questions are based on food-related obsessions, nutrition and health views, and other aspects.
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Chapter 6:
Treatment

Treatment for this condition generally involves methods used for other eating disorders. The initial step involves identifying the thought process. The goal is to accept that, eating healthy foods is beneficial to your health, the method you’re using is harmful.

You can try mindful eating practices if there is an an unhealthy relationship with food. Treatment options include:

  1. Acceptance: To accept the presence of this condition is the first step toward solving it. People with this disorder will mostly not notice any problems with their health, well-being or social function. This makes understanding the problem difficult. Many people think that their behaviour is good for their health but in reality, it is harmful.
  2. Exposure: People can expose themselves to food they think is harmful. This will reduce anxiety. People avoid unhealthy food. When they start facing these food items, they will overcome their fear.
  3. Relaxation training: Various forms of relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga or martial arts can help a person overcome stress that comes from eating unhealthy.
  4. Behaviour change: In this condition, changing the behaviour is the key focus. For example, the weight of the person is restored. The person is asked to make changes in daily life. For example, limit the time spent on reading food labels. More so, you can maintain a journal. So to say, this journal can help to keep a track. You can track food consumed, thoughts and feelings about the food.

A person having this condition will need to work with a team of experts. This can include a counsellor, a nutritionist and a general physician. Additionally, they can join a group which consists of people having similar problems. This group can act as a support system for the person.

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Chapter 7:
Endnote

Orthorexia can occur in people of all shapes and sizes. More so, this condition can co-occur with other disorders such as depression. So it is important to pay attention to signs and not take them lightly. This disorder is more about false beliefs about food rather than body weight. Which is why, teaching the person about research-backed content on nutrition can help them to reduce false beliefs.

It is okay to be mindful about eating and health. But, it is a problem when those habits start bothering you and others around you. When it affects the well being of people around you. If you feel that your current habits are affecting your personal and mental well being, then it is time to take action!

This disorder can be harmful. It is important to know that help is available At Epsychonline, some articles focus on eating disorders. These articles and courses provide research-backed knowledge on the subject. Do check them out!