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What is Orthorexia? The Importance of Avoiding Overthinking and Stress

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  Published on May 27th, 2020
  Reading time: 3 minutes
  Last modified April 15th, 2021

What is Orthorexia? The Importance of Avoiding Overthinking and Stress on Keto

Even with all the benefits of going keto and improving dietary habits, some people can overthink, overanalyze, and become stressed. No matter your lifestyle or nutrition choices, chronic stress isn’t good for anyone.

It isn’t just physical oxidative stress that can have negative health consequences; emotional and psychological stress can also negatively affect general health and the immune system.


What is Orthorexia?

Orthorexia describes an eating disorder involving an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating or consuming foods that are deemed healthy, pure, and as free from pesticides and other contaminants as possible. Being concerned with and aware of the nutritional quality of food isn’t necessarily a problem, but individuals with orthorexia become so fixated on what they believe is healthy eating that they can damage their own well-being.

Some researchers believe it might often coincide with or be a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Studies reveal many people with orthorexia also have obsessive-compulsive disorder. Unlike other eating disorders, such as anorexia, orthorexia involves obsessively focusing on the quality of the food, not necessarily the quantity.

Orthorexia can be isolating and affect other parts of life, such as social networks and relationships, education, and occupation.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, some of the signs of orthorexia include:

  • Compulsive checking of ingredients and nutritional labels
  • Significant increase in concern regarding the health of ingredients
  • Removing an increasing number of food groups
  • Severe distress when healthy foods aren’t available
  • Body image concerns


Some individuals with orthorexia are so restrictive with their eating habits they become malnourished [1,2,3].


The Health Consequences of Stress

It’s widely known that psychological stress can promote immune dysfunction and have a negative impact on health and wellness. Research highlights how chronic stress can take a physical toll on health by increasing the peripheral production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin (IL)-6. High serum levels of IL-6 are associated with and considered risk factors for several conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, mental health complications, and cardiovascular disease [4].

Tips for Avoiding Stressing and Overthinking on Keto

Many people use the keto diet for depression with great success. Keto can be beneficial for mood disorders and mental health. 

The ketogenic diet can be life-changing, but like any nutrition plan, stressing and overthinking will counteract the positive health benefits. It’s a good idea to find an accountability partner and get support from the keto community. You might also want to join our keto club!

You could also try adding stress-relieving methods to your keto lifestyles, such as yoga, tapping, meditation, or Tai chi.

People that are particularly stressed or dealing with orthorexia might harbor misunderstandings about nutrition and food. This is why it’s helpful to learn more about your chosen nutrition plan, so you feel more comfortable with your decisions. There’s plenty of useful information here at ketogenic.com. Check out our articles on keto for beginners or keto diet myths or five tools to help you maintain keto!

Some people get overly stressed or develop orthorexia when they have an important goal like weight loss. Here’s a useful guide on certain obstacles that might be preventing weight loss on keto.

Instead of overthinking, enjoy spending time perusing recipes and fun ideas for tasty dishes that can get you excited about healthy eating. You could also try incorporating fasting into your ketogenic lifestyle. Time-restricted feeding or fasting doesn’t just have health benefits, it also means you spend less time thinking about what to eat, and more time enjoying what matters most.

How Are You Reducing Stress? How Does Stress-Relief Fit into Your Keto Lifestyle?

Comment below and let us know how you stay cool on keto!



1)  National Eating Disorders Association. Orthorexia. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/orthorexia

2)  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Orthorexia: An Obsession with Eating Pure. (2018). https://www.eatright.org/health/diseases-and-conditions/eating-disorders/orthorexia-an-obsession-with-eating-pure

3)  Koven, N. S., & Abry, A. (2015). The clinical basis of orthorexia nervosa: emerging perspectives. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, DOI: 10.2147/NDT.S61665

4)   Godbout, J. P., & Glaser, R. (2006). Stress-induced immune dysregulation: implications for wound healing, infectious disease, and cancer. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 1, 421-427. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11481-006-9036-0

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