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Orthorexia Nervosa

Orthorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an obsession on consuming only healthy and clean food.

What are the symptoms of orthorexia?

  • Not everyone will show the same symptoms, but the most common are:
  • An obsession with healthy food

  • Increase in the amount of time spent daily n obsession with healthy food
  • Increase in the amount of time spent daily eating only food that’s considered “pure”.
  • Distancing from friends or family members who do not share similar views about food
  • Regular advance planning of meals for the next day.
  • Fear that eating away from home will make it impossible to comply with diet
  • Feeling like certain foods are dangerous or disgusting (such as meat, products which include preservatives, artificial ingredients and processed foods).
  • Avoiding eating food bought or prepared by others
  • A strong and uncontrollable desire to eat emotionally (when feeling excited, guilty or nervous.)
  • Feeling critical of and superior to individuals who don’t eat as healthy.
  • Experiencing extreme pleasure in eating “correctly” but feeling intense despair when failing to do so, which could lead to additional exercise and eating right.
  • Worsening depression, mood swings or anxiety

Long-term effects of orthorexia

This obsession with healthy food can crowd out other interests and activities, impair relationships, and even becomes physically dangerous since it can lead to malnutrition and/or starvation.

What causes it?

In many of the cases, orthorexia begins with the desire to improve one’s overall health or to overcome a certain chronic illness.

An individual can start off by following a “normal” diet, which would restrict carbohydrates or protein only diet, but in extreme cases this can lead to orthorexia. Orthorexia occurs when the restrictions of diet dominate the individual’s thoughts and they become their primary obsession. Diets restriction such as those followed by vegetarians, vegans and rawfoodists have been linked as potential starting points for both orthorexia and anorexia nervosa.

For some individuals, attempting to follow a vegetarian or a vegan diet in order to improve their overall health can be the starting point for both orthorexia and anorexia nervosa.

Orthorexia can also be motivated by a wanting to be thin, improving self-esteem, safety from poor health and a compulsion for complete control.

Who gets it?

Orthorexia affects both men and women, at any age.

How is it treated?

Due to the complexity of this condition, orthorexia recovery requires comprehensive treatment from an experienced, multidisciplinary treatment team, including medical and psychiatric stabilization, nutritional intervention and psychological support.t.

At ACPN, our trained multi-disciplinary team provides evidence-based treatments based on Family-Based Therapy (FBT or “The Maudsley Approach”) and Enhanced Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT-E). With proper treatment, a full and lasting recovery is possible. The ACPN has the only specialized program in the U.A.E. dedicated to the treatment of eating disorders, like orthorexia.

Multi Disciplinary Team

Carine el Khazen Hadati
Carine el Khazen Hadati

Clinical Psychologist, Director of ED Program

Dubai

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Maya Fleifel Sidani
Maya Fleifel Sidani

Clinical Psychologist

Dubai

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Hala Abu Taha
Hala Abu Taha

Dietitian

Abu Dhabi and Dubai

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Dr. George Sawers
Dr. George Sawers

General Practitioner

Abu Dhabi

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Dr. Najwan Al-Roubaiy
Dr. Najwan Al-Roubaiy

Psychologist, Acting Head of Psychology Team - Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi

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Dr. Junaid Hassim
Dr. Junaid Hassim

Clinical Psychologist

Abu Dhabi

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Dr. Samra Tahir
Dr. Samra Tahir

Clinical Psychologist

Abu Dhabi

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Dr. Samer Makhoul
Dr. Samer Makhoul

Consultant Psychiatrist, Head of Psychiatry Department

Dubai and Abu Dhabi

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Dr. Nasser El Hindy
Dr. Nasser El Hindy

Consultant Psychiatrist, Medical Director

Dubai

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