Obsession with 'Pure' Food Leads to Eating Disorder

How to Help a Loved One

Someone who is suffering from orthorexia will need to be helped.

Loved ones may emphasize moderation, balance and eating for nourishment and enjoyment.

Savard also encouraged referrals to an expert, such as a dietitian, a family doctor or therapist, in cases that appear to be severe.

Woman Felt Imprisoned by Condition

Rutzel, who hit upon the diagnosis of her condition online, said she felt as though she was in a mental prison.

"I think my lowest points were when … I was afraid to hang out with people, or afraid to have Christmas with my family," she said. "I mean, these times are supposed to be joyous times. The shame and stress made me just shut myself in my room."

Her doctors didn't seem to understand, she said.

She gained weight at the hospital, but the medical professionals there couldn't seem to deal with the issues that came with her orthorexia, such as her fear of certain foods and certain diseases, she said.

Treatments for anorexia didn't work for her. Rutzel said she had an epiphany when she was at her worst, took charge of her own recovery and forced herself back to a normal existence.

"It was just step by step. Just challenging myself, saying 'I used to eat this, I used to love it. Why not do it again?'"

Today, Rutzel said her fears are gone and she'll indulge in -- almost -- anything.

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