When a desire to eat healthy turns into an obsession or preoccupation that results in distress or anxiety over breaking your own nutritional rules, that may be an eating disorder called orthorexia nervosa. According to Elizabeth Barchi, MD, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and sports medicine specialist at the Center for Women’s Sports Health, “This rigid adherence to a specific diet, or restriction of certain foods, can lead to nutritional imbalances and other negative health effects.”
“Good nutrition and exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Barchi tells Bustle. It only becomes unhealthy when it “becomes a preoccupation, a coping mechanism for a high-stress situation, or a compulsion (i.e., ‘I have to work out or else the rest of my day is shot’).”
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