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Elite Athletes and Healing from Orthorexia 

EMpowering Athletes

The goal of therapy with Elite Athletes is focused on interrupting the eating disorder and empowering athletes to return to their sport or performance stronger, both mentally and physically. There are complex issues that a sport can contribute to the manifestation of eating disorders in athletes and performers. With the support of wellness coaching and therapy there is the room of growth, and gains to occur in the amount of insight into the eating disorder. It’s my goal as the provider to empower any individual to explore new ways of freeing themselves from power of negative body image and disordered eating. 

Signs to Look for

  • Decrease in physical and/orpsychological performance

  • Change in weight or body shape

  • Changes or isolation around meal time

  • Shifts in mood or irritability

  • Conflict with teammates and coaches

  • Change in behavior around teammates and coaches

  • Inability to concentrate during performance or practice

  • Peer reports of concern to coach

  • Amenorrhoea (loss of menstruation)

  • Chronic or overuse injuries

  • Obsession, rituals, or rigidity around food or exercise

  • Training beyond prescribed routine

  • Training when injured or tired

  • Obsessing about training details or feeling distressed when training routine is interrupted

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Orthorexia Nervosa

Orthorexia Nervosa is when an individual has an “unhealthy obsession” with otherwise healthy eating may be suffering from “orthorexia nervosa,” a term which literally means “fixation on righteous eating.” Orthorexia starts out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but orthorexics become fixated on food quality and purity.  Every day is a chance to eat right, be “good,” rise above others in dietary prowess, and self-punish if temptation wins (usually through stricter eating, fasts and exercise).Food has a moral value attached to it, that allows the individual determine whether they are "good or bad". Self-esteem becomes wrapped up in the purity of the diet and they sometimes feel superior to others, especially in regard to food intake.

Eventually food choices become so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health suffers – an ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to healthy eating.  Eventually, the obsession with healthy eating can crowd out other activities and interests, impair relationships, and become physically dangerous. Which is why this can start as being healthy and then turn to something that becomes disordered.