Counselors must help clients differentiate between healthy eating and disordered eating. Thus, this review of the literature examines when healthy eating becomes dangerous, and in some cases, life threatening by comparing a condition known as orthorexia to identified mental health disorders. Orthorexia nervosa (ON) is defined as, “a pathological obsession with proper nutrition that is characterized by a restrictive diet, ritualized patterns of eating, and rigid avoidance of foods believed to be unhealthy or impure” (Koven & Abry, 2015, p.385). Orthorexia is not included in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a disorder. Even so, characteristics of orthorexia could potentially fit into two different diagnostic categories: eating disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorders. The similarities and differences between anorexia nervosa (AN), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and orthorexia are discussed in this review and the importance of being educated about orthorexia is also included.

Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Capstone Paper

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Counselor Education

First Advisor

Dawnette Cigrand


Winona, Minnesota



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