Many times, this condition can arise from restrictive eating plans such as veganism or paleo, but orthorexia doesn't discriminate. Although, it is seen as an affluent, white girl's condition, it can and does affect both males and females; the well off and those not so well off; and the highly educated and those who have not had educational benefits. It can accompany other eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia or contribute to the development of these conditions.
Individuals suffering with orthorexia rarely think they have a problem because they are eating in a way that is often touted as "healthy" by limited processed foods and fats and eating a more plant based diet. In addition, excessive exercise often enters the picture in order to complete the "healthy" lifestyle. In an age when pictures rule the internet, orthorexic tendencies are often fueled by posts showing a "perfect" meal. The person suffering with orthorexia thinks if the person posting can eat like that then I can too and I'll do even better by eliminating dairy. grains,, etc. It becomes a slippery slope.
Because you are eating "healthy", orthorexia is often hard to diagnose until it has started to take a toll on your body and mind. It's important to know the signs of orthorexia, both for yourself and others, which include spending more than three hours a day thinking about "healthy" food, extensive food planning, anxiety about food preparation, continually limiting the number of foods acceptable to eat, suffering social isolation because of a limited diet, feeling guilt or self-loathing when a strict regimen isn’t followed and being critical of what others eat.
If you think that your "healthy" eating or that of someone you know is no longer healthy, the first thing to do is contact your MD, a counselor or a registered dietitian. Next, unfollow all unrealistic "health"/wellness sites and people. You can recover for orthorexia, but it takes time, trust and hard work. Unlike an alcoholic or drug addict, you can't remove eating from your life. You actually need to work at adding it back in. Remember that healthy eating is when you eat all foods and enjoy both the foods and the experience of eating. Don't let unhealthy eating practices prevent you from taking and enjoying a Real Bite!