Orthorexia in Males: Fitness Goals Turned Health Obsession

Meal prepping, meal timing, and “counting macros” are all the rage in the health and fitness industry. But when it starts to take over your life, this healthy lifestyle can eventually become an unhealthy obsession.  

Throughout society’s current “age of information”, emerging nutrition research and scientific data have become more accessible to the public. The wide variety of nutrition information has been used to support society’s influence of “clean eating” and other popular diet trends deemed healthy. Nutrition and fitness influencers encourage people to eat “clean”, which usually means eating more whole foods and omitting processed foods and preservatives. However, some will take these practices more seriously with the inclusion of weighing, measuring, and counting every food consumed on a daily basis. This lifestyle can eventually become more harmful than healthful to a person’s overall well being.

While it is known that the diet industry markets extensively to females, men have had increased societal pressure to be active and show it physically. These reasons tend to be masked as common motivators men have to adopt healthy eating. A goal that starts with fitness eventually becomes more serious in some men, where the focus shifts to reasons beyond just being healthy. Though focusing on health is important, it is also important to recognize when an eating style is more disordered than orderly. General eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa (AN) and binge eating disorder (BED), are known to develop more in women, but studies are finding a rise in eating disorders among men [5]. To be more specific, active, healthy men are becoming more at risk of developing an emerging eating disorder named Orthorexia Nervosa (ON). 

The term Orthorexia Nervosa was first coined by Bratman and Knight in 1997 from the Greek words orthos (correct) and orexis (appetite) [1]. ON is described as a pathological fixation with consuming proper nutrition characterized by an obsessional adherence to strict dietary regimens. This condition is fueled by fears of sickness, disease, and a desire for overall physical well-being. More specifically, people with ON are more focused on the quality of their food rather than the quantity they are consuming. These individuals have such fixated nutritional beliefs that they will consume foods based on their nutritional properties rather than for enjoyment and taste [5]. Some studies suggest that ON features erroneous food beliefs, or a magical belief about the benefits and functions of certain foods [5]. For example, raw foodism includes the belief that chewing food too fast affects protein digestion and amino acid absorption. These food obsessions combined with inconsistent balance, loss of food moderation, and social withdrawal can have negative impacts on relationships and emotional health.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) currently does not recognize Orthorexia Nervosa as an eating disorder, but its condition is gaining serious attention from health professionals. So far studies have found the prevalence of ON to be between 1% and 7% of the population, in fact, research is showing that 6.9% of men are likely to develop ON [8]. 

A rise in ON’s prevalence has been seen in a possible connection with the rise in social media. A recent study on participants, who followed healthy eating accounts on Instagram, found that 49% of its participants met orthorexia criteria [7]. The incidence in which ON occurs has not been significantly studied, however studies that have been conducted mainly focused on the emotional and physical consequences of ON. These consequences are believed to be stemmed from co-occurring conditions rather than the possible neurological profile of ON in the brain [5]. 

Orthorexia Nervosa is not an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, however, it’s characteristics are similar to that of anorexia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) [3,5]. Common diagnostic criteria include perfectionism, trait anxiety, and impaired working memory [5]. The difference between anorexia and orthorexia is merely the motivation for disordered eating followed by the extent to which the conditions are portrayed [2,3]. In addition, anorexic disordered individuals do not flaunt their behaviors the way orthorexic individuals do [3]. A potential reason why Orthorexia Nervosa has not been concerned enough to be an official psychological disorder could include the motivation of healthful behaviors for longevity reasons rather than for the desired body type. The co-occurring conditions of OCD and anorexia may also be more often considered a primary concern to diagnose. 

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), the warning signs and symptoms of ON include, but are not limited to:

  • Inflexible eating patterns
  • Obsession over the quality of food 
  • Intense frustration if rules are broken
  • Entire dismissal of food groups
  • Constant worry about sickness and disease
  • Increased anxiety around certain foods
  • Weight loss

Severe cases of ON involve an increased risk of malnutrition due to nutritional deficiencies from restricting some or all of an entire food group. Even when a person is strictly eating “clean” foods, there can be major gaps and lack of variety in their diet. This can ultimately disrupt gut health and hormonal balance. Other health consequences include testosterone deficiency, hyponatremia, and metabolic acidosis. In the short-term, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and digestive problems are also possible health-problems.  

The continuous rise in healthy-eating propaganda across various formats can become overwhelming, especially in people who share a predisposition for anxiety, OCD tendencies, and perfectionism. Men are becoming more health-conscious, but it is being paralleled with a problematic growth in an obsessive mentality noticeable in those seeking the “perfect diet”. Studies show that men are more likely to adopt a healthy diet for positive health reasons than merely just weight loss [8]. The pressure society puts on men compared to women questions the actual prevalence of men becoming orthorexic. It may be higher than society thinks. A man being told by the media that “putting on muscle” should be done by eating clean, for example, could increase their risk of developing ON. One study done on college males found the traits of men with muscle dysmorphia were similar to ON [4]. As mentioned earlier, though, more research is needed on the incidence of which ON occurs.

Nonetheless, the key component in recognizing Orthorexia Nervosa is when healthy eating habits become obsessively restrictive and obsessive behaviors become socially problematic. Since Orthorexia Nervosa is still new to the medical community, a standard treatment plan does not currently exist. However, it has been approached by health professionals in similar ways to the treatment of anorexia. Focusing on decreasing rigid eating patterns and increasing flexibility in food choices can be successful ways to combat orthorexia and its social isolation tendencies.

Sara Piecukonis, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian with Bright Road Recovery.


1. Bratman S, Knight D. Health Food Junkies: Orthorexia Nervosa– Overcoming the Obsession With Healthful Eating. New York, NY: Broadway; 2000.

2. Brytek-Matera, Anna et al. “Orthorexia Nervosa and self-attitudinal aspects of body image in female and male university students.” Journal of eating disorders vol. 3 2. 24 Feb. 2015, DOI:10.1186/s40337-015-0038-2 

3. Dell’Osso, L., Abelli, M., Carpita, B., Pini, S., Castellini, G., Carmassi, C., & Ricca, V. (2016). Historical evolution of the concept of anorexia nervosa and relationships with orthorexia Nervosa, autism, and obsessive-compulsive spectrum. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 12, 1651–1660. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S108912

4. Gorrasi, I., Bonetta, S., Roppolo, M., Abbate Daga, G., Bo, S., Tagliabue, A., Ferraris, C., Guglielmetti, M., Arpesella, M., Gaeta, M., Gallé, F., Di Onofrio, V., Liguori, F., Liguori, G., Gilli, G., & Carraro, E. (2019). Traits of orthorexia nervosa and muscle dysmorphia in Italian university students: a multicentre study. Eating and weight disorders : EWD, 10.1007/s40519-019-00779-5. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-019-00779-5

5. Koven, N. S., & Abry, A. W. (2015). The clinical basis of orthorexia Nervosa: emerging perspectives. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 11, 385–394. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S61665

6. National Eating Disorder Association. “Orthorexia.” Accessed June 1st, 2020.

7. Turner, Pixie G, and Carmen E Lefevre. “Instagram use is linked to increased symptoms of orthorexia Nervosa.” Eating and weight disorders: EWD vol. 22,2 (2017): 277-284. DOI:10.1007/s40519-017-0364-2. 
8. Barthels, Friederike, and Pietowsky, Reinhard. “Orthorectic Eating Behaviour – Nosology and Prevalence Rates.” Psychotherapie, Psychosomatik, Medizinische Psychologie, 2012. Accessed June 1, 2020.

Black Lives Matter

The events of the past few weeks– the protests, violence against peaceful demonstrations, and especially the egregious deaths of George Floyd, Ahmoud Arbery, Breona Taylor, and so many others before them–have affected all of us at Bright Road Recovery.  

Like so many in our country and across the world, we find ourselves in a whirlwind of emotions, careening between horror, outrage, grief, empathy, compassion, love, and hope. For many of us coming from a place of privilege, we know the pain that has been visited on our fellow humans based on their skin color is not our pain. At the same time, we know that what hurts one of us, hurts us all.

Bright Road Recovery is committed to our mission to ease suffering, to create a safe and healing space for all those seeking to recover from an eating disorder and the trauma that inevitably precedes the disorder.  Recent events have caused us to once again question whether we are doing enough to create an inclusive and informed environment for our patients.

We are heartened by the many declarations of support that have come from all sectors of the nation, as well as the denunciations of brutality and violence against and the oppression of the black community.  We stand with all who demand an end to these racial crimes and injustices, and we are proud to add our voices to the rising chorus of those demanding change.  It gives us hope that our nation will finally rectify the inequalities that have brought so much harm to so many, and for so long.

We understand, too, that hope is not enough. Bright Road Recovery has recommitted to understanding and utilizing our privilege to speak up, challenge the status quo, and provide an avenue for those whose voices have been silenced to be heard and receive help.  

Our work starts with listening. It will continue with concrete changes to support our black patients, staff, and community. Everyone deserves to be safe and included.

On behalf of all of us at Bright Road Recovery:

Black Lives Matter. Your life matters.

Tamson Overholtzer, LMFT, CEDS-S
Executive Director/Founder

Allergies, ARFID and Eating Disorders


This infographic was created by our most recent dietetics intern, Teresa Landing. Teresa is completing her internship with the Cal Poly Pomona Dietetics Internship program, as she works to become a Registered Dietitian. Bright Road Recovery is proud to be a rotation site for the Cal Poly Pomona program, providing excellent training for new professionals in eating disorders and eating disorder treatment.

Food Allergies & Eating Disorders: A Dietitian’s Personal Story

Joseph Bartolone, RD shares his experiences on a podcast.

Growing up with food allergies always made me feel like there was something wrong with me. I felt like I was constantly being judged, and it was weird that I could not eat or enjoy all the foods that everyone else was eating. This led to lots of shame around the foods that I did eat. I constantly felt like there was something wrong with me because people viewed me as that boy who had to bring his lunch pail with him everywhere.

It felt like everyone was watching me every time I ate because I felt like I was doing something wrong; I felt like I was wrong. I felt that I was not made for this world and eventually I would be found out and get taken from this world sooner rather than later. I constantly heard comments about how healthy the food is that I was eating. But I always took those comments extremely personally. I felt like they were saying, “Wow, you eat so healthy”, but actually meant “Wow, you have to eat healthy because you do not deserve to enjoy food like everyone else”.

I learned how to make my own food at a young age, and this caused me to experience even more shame. When my mom would look at the foods I was cooking, I would get uncomfortable and look at her with disdain. When she asked what I was making, I would respond to her in a very condescending way. My thoughts were, “You know what I’m making, something that I have to eat because I do not deserve to eat the food that normal people enjoy”.

My food allergies led to extreme fear, a need for control, and a life that involved only wanting to stay alive out of spite for the ill health I believed that I had. I could hardly hang out with friends because if too many hours went by, then I would eventually have to get something to eat. Even in the rare event that I built up enough courage to hang out with friends, I still could not be present. All my thoughts revolved around being somewhere in which I knew there were safe foods I could eat. If I did ever go out with friends I would pack meals and snacks to get me through the hours that I was with them. This led to a life that was pre-determined, a life that required 1-2 hours of food preparation before I could go and hang out with my friends. A last-minute event was completely out of the question. I could not go unless I have enough time to pack my food, so that I know I am safe.

My life began to be controlled by food and fear. There was no time for fun or enjoyment. Besides, there was something wrong with me so I didn’t deserve that anyway. This was the narrative: I am not normal, and that when something good happened it was a mistake. I was not meant for this world, I was never meant to enjoy anything, and I can only eat foods for survival not enjoyment.  

Only after beginning work as a registered dietitian at an eating disorders center did I realize that patients experienced the same kind of feelings around food. I realized that a lot of the judgement around the foods I ate was not coming from other people, rather it was coming from myself. I saw that patient’s struggle with the same kind of issues with control and feeling different. I saw the same fears that have haunted me for most of my life, and I felt extreme empathy. I began to learn how food allergies and eating disorders were related.

Throughout this process I have gained tremendous insight into the similarities that those with food allergies and those with eating disorders experience. I noticed that they were both fueled by the fear of not having control. I noticed that they were both focused on the feeling that there is something wrong with me. I noticed that avoiding foods and perfect eating were prevalent in both for different reasons. I noticed that food was viewed as something negative, rather than something that can be enjoyable. I noticed that the curiosity and search for answers can get out of hand when looking in the wrong places. I noticed that both people that struggle with food allergies and people that struggle with eating disorders do not have something wrong with them. They are actually both very good at coping in a way that they know in order to survive. But just the coping mechanism used was not sustainable.  

Eventually, after about 20 years of being allergic to foods, something happened. I got an allergy test at the doctors one more time at the age of 30. The test revealed that I was no longer allergic to all of the foods that I had to avoid for most of my life. Peanuts, wheat, soy, dairy were the main allergies. When I got the test results, I questioned the doctor and told him that the test was probably false. I did not believe that what I knew my whole life was no longer true, and most of all I feared having to step into the unknown. 

I eventually began to reintroduce all of the foods I could not have for so long. And through reintroducing and enjoying the foods I was unable to have for so long I finally felt what I have been missing most of my life when experiencing food: gratitude. I realized that the foods I enjoy now are all of the foods that I could not have before. Foods containing dairy, wheat, soy, and peanuts are now some of my favorite foods. I still love all of the foods that I enjoyed before as well.  

I remember the first time that I reintroduced a food that I was previously allergic to. It felt like it was a life changing experience. It felt like all my problems had gone away, it felt like I can finally be normal. However, after a while of being able to eat the foods that I was previously allergic to, I started to realize that this had become my new normal. The feeling that there was something wrong with me did not magically go away when I started to eat foods that I could not eat in the past. The feeling was still there, but the way I reacted to it started to change. The thoughts changed from people are judging me for eating the foods I am not allergic to, to people are now judging me for eating foods I used to be allergic to. I realized that the magical event I had wished for my whole life had happened, and yet nothing had changed.  

Food freedom is a concept that everyone should strive for, but there is no magical event or circumstance that will give it to you. Not until after I was given a magical gift to eat whatever I wanted, did I realize that I still did not have food freedom. I still had the judgement that I put on myself, and it didn’t magically go away. This made me realize that food freedom is not the ability to eat any foods that you want; it is the ability to eat what you want, when you want, without judging yourself. And this freedom can only be achieved by letting go of the thoughts that weigh you down.  

Joseph Bartolone is a Registered Dietitian with Bright Road Recovery. His work with individuals seeking to heal their relationship with food and their bodies is informed by his own experiences as well as a deep desire to create a safe and accepting environment for his patients. See his bio on our website to read more.

When Eating Disorders Complicate Pregnancy and Postpartum

It is not uncommon for women to experience mixed emotions during pregnancy.  One moment, a woman may find herself feeling extremely excited for her new bundle of joy and the next moment worrying about the changes with her body and weight gain.  For some who have a preexisting eating disorder, pregnancy could exacerbate their symptoms and behaviors while some who have a history of eating disorders may find themselves fearful of a relapse.  Women who do not have an eating disorder history may find themselves experiencing disordered thoughts related to food, eating, and body image during pregnancy, which can be a disconcerting development.

The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) states that according to national surveys, 20 million women in America are estimated to have an eating disorder at some point in their lives [1].  These disorders include anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), binge eating disorder BED), or OFSED (other specified feeding or eating disorder).  NEDA notes that an eating disorder can be triggered by pregnancy itself. 

In addition to the emotional ups and downs of pregnancy, when a woman is faced with the challenge of discontinuing eating disorder behaviors, the battle between the disorder and the need to protect their unborn child can be intense.  Many women adopt a ‘mama bear’ stance once they become pregnant: they focus on their baby’s needs for nutrition and care, and this determination helps them to abstain or reduce behaviors in order to protect their baby’s health.  

Joanie S. (not her real name), who received treatment for her eating disorder in a partial hospitalization program, shared her experience.  “I didn’t want my baby to have issues and I just needed to be healthy for nine months. There was an end date”, she said. By reminding herself about the importance of her baby’s needs and the fact that pregnancy is time-limited, she was able to hold on to the ‘mama bear’ mentality .  Although this perspective may help some women refrain from using eating disorder behaviors, others find that being pregnant and having an eating disorder cannot be separated and “ were bound to interact” [2]. 

After her baby is born, a woman’s body image dissatisfaction as well as negative attitudes toward food and eating can increase [3].  For individuals recovering from an eating disorder, negative body image is the greatest predictor of relapse.  In fact, 80% of women who had a postpartum relapse reported significant body image distress and dissatisfaction [4].  Many women find themselves trying to lose the “baby weight”, and are in danger of triggering or exacerbating their eating disorder.

Joanie described her relationship with food and her body during pregnancy as being singularly focused on taking care of her unborn child.  Becoming a “mama bear” during pregnancy staved off the eating disorder, and she didn’t experience a resurgence in behaviors until after the birth of her child.  Joanie explained that it became easy to rationalize restricting her food intake during the postpartum period.  “I felt better about myself when I wasn’t eating. I was taking care of my baby.  I was losing weight.”  Being a busy mom focusing on the needs of her infant child became an effective cover for Joanie’s eating disorder, while she was putting her own health at risk.  

Although weight gain and body changes due to pregnancy are usually associated with something natural and/or positive, for women who have an eating disorder it can be difficult to grapple with how triggering their pregnant body shape can be.  Many reported feeling fearful around weight checks with obstetricians during and after their pregnancy. Some women describe feeling fearful about how the information about their weight gain was shared with them by their physician [2]. While the postpartum period is an important time to attend to in their own healthcare, women with an eating disorder will often avoid physician visits out of shame and anxiety.

Many physicians do not screen for eating disorders or understand how to treat them.  Due to ambivalence about asking for or receiving treatment, women are often reluctant to disclose diagnoses and/or behaviors. Further, there are often gaps in coordination between maternity care and other care providers.  Joanie S., who is diagnosed with an eating disorder, stated, “I wasn’t educated about my eating disorder during pregnancy and after having my daughter.” She explained that she received an abundance of information on what to expect in terms of her child’s health and development, but did not receive any support for her eating disorder during pregnancy or postpartum.  Like Joanie, women with an eating disorder benefit from professional before, during and after pregnancy to improve their health without harmful dieting and eating disorder behaviors.

According to ANAD, eating disorder symptoms may decrease during pregnancy, which could lead to the false assumption that all is well [5].  While women are busy with their newborns, revealing their difficulties and seeking help for their eating disorder can become even more challenging.  However, eating disorders are serious disorders, and self-care is essential.  Women are encouraged to talk to their obstetrician, gynecologist, or primary care doctor about any issues that arise during and after their pregnancy.  Bringing in a list of questions/concerns during a postpartum visit is recommended.  A postpartum visit should include a full assessment of physical, psychological, emotional, and social well-being.  Reproductive life plan, including birth control, health conditions or pregnancy complications, etc. are discussed during postpartum visits. It is also important to consult with a registered dietitian, seek individual therapy and/or support groups during this time.

If you believe you have an eating disorder, there are many online screenings. Bright Road Recovery offers a screening as well as the option to print up a letter to take to your doctor.

About the author:

Joanna Bosque, LMFT-Clinical Therapist at Bright Road Recovery

Joanna Bosque, LMFT is a clinical therapist for Bright Road Recovery.  She is passionate about working collaboratively with her patients to explore their lives on a deeper level and gaining insight on how their experiences influence the choices they make. She believes in empowering patients, assisting them in achieving their goals, strengthening their relationships, and supporting them in developing a healthy relationship with food. 

When she is not working, she spends most of her time with her two children and husband. She also enjoys finding great deals, baking, catching up on TV shows, and listening to music.


1.NEDA. What Are Eating Disorders. The National Eating Disorder Association. 2018

2. Claydon, E.A., Davidov, D.M., Zullig, K.J. et al. Waking up every day in a body that is not yours: a qualitative research inquiry into the intersection between eating disorders and pregnancy. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 18, 463 (2018).

3. Kimmel, M.C. Ferguson, E.H. Zerwas, S. et al. Obstetric and gynecologic problems associated with eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders. Mar2016, Vol. 49 Issue 3

4.  Astrachan-Fletcher E., Veldhuis C. et al. The reciprocal effects of eating disorders and the postpartum period. A review of the literature and recommendations for clinical care. J Womens Health (Larchmt) 2008, p227-230

5. Santucci, P. Eating Disorders and Pregnancy: A comprehensive book for women and healthcare professionals. The National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders (2019), p129-130

Bright Road Recovery Response to COVID-19

Updated 3/19/2020: Bright Road Recovery’s PHP & IOP Services provided online!

The safety of our patients, medical, clinical and administrative staff is always our top priority. We are closely monitoring the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and we are doing everything we can to reduce the risk of infection at our treatment facilities. We have moved our programming for IOP and PHP levels of care to an online format while COVID-19 remains a concern.

We are able to admit new patients to our online program and will arrange for medical clearance and oversight as appropriate for each new patient’s needs.

We know how important community and connection are and the part they play in recovery. We plan to return to in-person treatment as soon as it is advisable to do so.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns. We remain open and available as we navigate these uncertain and challenging times together.

To keep up to date with the latest information, please see the helpful links below:




Inland Empire’s Premier Eating Disorder Treatment Program Awarded Behavioral Health Care Accreditation from The Joint Commission

Bright Road Recovery announces that it has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation by demonstrating compliance with its performance standards. The Gold Seal of Approval is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to providing safe and effective care.
CLAREMONT, Calif. (PRWEB) December 02, 2019 —Bright Road Recovery Eating Disorder Treatment and Recovery Program announced today that it has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards. The Gold Seal is a symbol of quality that reflects a health care organization’s commitment to providing safe and quality patient care.

Bright Road Recovery underwent a rigorous onsite review. During the visit, a team of Joint Commission reviewers evaluated compliance with Behavioral Health Care standards spanning several areas including emergency management, environment of care, infection prevention and control, leadership, medication management, and rights and responsibilities of the individual.

“We are glad and honored to have received this accreditation. The Joint Commission is widely recognized for setting the standard for excellence in treatment centers,” said Tamson Overholtzer, LMFT, CEDS, Founder and CEO. “By achieving this accreditation, we are able to demonstrate our commitment to providing excellent care to our patients at all levels of treatment. This helps us carry out our mission to help patients create a life that no longer includes an eating disorder.”

The Joint Commission’s standards are developed in consultation with health care experts and providers, measurement experts and patients. They are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus to help health care organizations measure, assess and improve performance. The surveyors also conducted onsite observations and interviews.

“As a private accreditor, The Joint Commission surveys health care organizations to protect the public by identifying deficiencies in care and working with those organizations to correct them as quickly and sustainably as possible,” says Mark Pelletier, RN, MS, chief operating officer, Accreditation and Certification Operations, and chief nursing executive, The Joint Commission. “We commend Bright Road Recovery for its quality improvement efforts in patient safety and quality of care.”

“I’m so proud of our entire team. Our clinicians and support staff are dedicated in their efforts to provide the best quality of care for our patients,” said Overholtzer.

Bright Road Recovery Eating Disorder Treatment and Recovery Program was founded in Claremont, California in 2014 by Tamson Overholtzer, licensed marriage and family therapist and certified eating disorder specialist. This small, private eating disorder program is focused on bringing eating disorder the full continuum of care to adults 18+; Residential Treatment Center, Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), outpatient psychotherapy and outpatient nutrition counseling. Located in the Historic Claremont Village, Bright Road Recovery focuses on the important work of trauma treatment, evidence based therapies and integrative care. The program includes EMDR therapy, nutrition counseling, yoga and mindfulness training, DBT, CBT, art therapy and other adjunctive treatment modalities.

For more information visit http://www.brightroadrecovery.com or call 909-624-7070 for information and admissions.

Katie Ingram, Marketing and Media Coordinator
Cassie Randazzo, Intake and Admissions Coordinator

Residential Eating Disorder Treatment Center Opens In Claremont, CA

Bright Road Recovery’s new residential eating disorder treatment program, now open in Claremont, CA, means that the Inland Empire community can seek treatment closer to home. Bright Road Recovery, the Inland Empire’s premier eating disorder treatment program, now offers residential treatment in addition to all levels of outpatient care.

CLAREMONT, Calif. (PRWEB) November 19, 2019 — Bright Road Recovery Eating Disorder Treatment Program has announced the opening of their residential treatment center in Claremont, California. As the first to bring residential eating disorder treatment to the Inland Empire, Bright Road Recovery is committed to increasing the local community’s access to excellent eating disorder care.

Bright Road Recovery’s residential treatment center is an intimate and intensive program for adult women who are experiencing an eating disorder and co-occurring conditions such as PTSD, Anxiety, Depression and other mental health disorders. The program utilizes a multidisciplinary team approach to treat the whole person. Group sessions utilize evidence-based therapies such as CBT and DBT, and are enhanced by art therapy, mindfulness, yoga, and other creative and engaging modalities. Individual therapy sessions offer patients the opportunity to benefit from EMDR so they can begin to process trauma that may perpetuate eating disorder symptoms.

Nutrition stabilization, education and counseling are also a large component of Bright Road Recovery’s program. Registered dietitians and the dietetics team guide patients in supported meals and meal preparation. Patients also participate in exposure and response prevention sessions such as meal outings in the community and grocery shopping.

Bright Road Recovery’s new residential treatment program compliments their outpatient program, also located in Claremont. The outpatient program located at 428 Harrison Avenue in the Claremont Village offers outpatient psychotherapy, outpatient nutrition counseling, intensive outpatient program and partial hospitalization program services. Bright Road Recovery professionals treat anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), and can work with adolescents and adults who have eating disorders complicated by other diagnoses such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“Many Inland Empire residents have had to travel a long way to find eating disorder care. We want to make it easier for our community to find the help they need. Adding residential treatment to the services we provide brings a much needed component of care to the adult women in our community who are experiencing an eating disorder,” stated Tamson Overholtzer, LMFT, CEDS, founder and CEO.

Bright Road Recovery is accepting referrals for admission at all levels of care. Those interested can contact the admissions department at 909-624-7070 to learn more.

Bright Road Recovery is the Inland Empire’s premier eating disorder treatment program and was founded in Claremont, California in 2014 by Tamson Overholtzer, licensed marriage and family therapist and certified eating disorder specialist. This small, private eating disorder program is focused on bringing eating disorder care to the community for adults and adolescents. Bright Road Recovery is accredited by the Joint Commission.

Katie Ingram, Marketing and Media Coordinator
Cassie Randazzo, Intake and Admissions Coordinator


When Healthy Eating Becomes Dangerous

By Claire St John, MPH RD

Diet buzzwords are everywhere these days, from eating ‘clean’ to ‘pure’ to paleo to raw veganism. Although these terms have nebulous definitions, many people take up the banner of their personal food plan, encouraging others to do the same.

For some people, eating better means buying whole foods and organic produce when possible. But for others, eating a ‘perfect’ diet becomes an unhealthy obsession that takes over their lives. At its worst, it can result in malnourishment, mental, behavioral and health issues.

It’s ironic that an effort to eat better could compromise health, but that’s what Dr. Steven Bratman noticed in the 1990s when he coined the term ‘orthorexia,’ derived from the Greek for ‘correct eating.’ Before he was a doctor, Bratman lived on a commune with people who argued against cutting vegetables for fear of losing nutrients. Others avoided plants from the nightshade family, such as tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. Although many of his friends and eventually patients touted their healthful diets, Dr. Bratman observed their health declining.

As a Registered Dietitian who works with eating disordered patients, I’ve seen the effects of orthorexia first-hand. People with orthorexia tend to focus on what they eat rather than how much they eat,as in cases of anorexia nervosa. The results, however, are similar. Both the anorexic and the orthorexic tend to be dangerously underweight, and their labs show low iron and low total protein.

“It’s important to know that someone can start out with orthorexia and slip into the psychological symptoms of anorexia,” said Tamson Overholtzer, Director of Bright Road Recovery in Claremont Village and a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. “When this happens, the focus is not just on the perfect diet, but also on fear of weight gain.”

Unlike anorexia, orthorexia can hide in plain sight, and is often unwittingly encouraged by friends and family who admire the orthorexic’s willpower and dedication to diet.The disorder can begin innocently, with something as simple as a resolution to eat better.

Magazine articles, news segments and a billion Internet sites constantly promote the “hot, new diet.” People cut out gluten without knowing what, exactly, it is. Dairy is demonized daily and sugar and carbohydrates are called poison by people with Ph.Ds. It’s no surprise that people don’t know what to eat, and as the headlines pile up, they might cut foods out of their diet almost randomly.

Eliminating entire food groups can lead to nutrient deficiencies, but as health fails, the obsession with healthy eating can intensify. Feelings of fatigue are assumed to be due to toxic foods lingering in the diet. Insatiable cravings for ‘forbidden foods’ are chalked up to the addictive attributes of the American food supply instead of simple hunger and undernourishment.

Because the diet is so restrictive, it becomes difficult to eat at restaurants. The orthorexic might carry his food around with him, because restaurants and stores can’t meet his high standards.

Eating at friends’ houses is out, because it’s burdensome listing all the foods he can’t eat. People don’t seem to understand anymore. They say he’s lost too much weight, but losing weight is a good thing, right? When the right foods aren’t available, the orthorexic will skip meals rather than contaminate his body.

Oftentimes, neither the orthorexic nor his family and friends realize there is a problem until it becomes very serious. Because healthy eating has taken on nearly religious status in our culture, those who eliminate ‘bad’ foods are celebrated.

When someone comes to me  for help with their restrictive eating patterns, I start them on a meal plan that includes starches, proteins, fats, fruits and vegetables in amounts that will support their bodies. In Meal Support sessions we eat together, allowing me to help each client through the anxiety of eating ‘forbidden foods.’

In these sessions, I usually remind my clients of the basic nutrition information that they’ve replaced with an ornate structure of food rules, misinformation and fear.

Yes, she knows essential fatty acids are necessary for survival, that protein is required for life, that carbohydrates are the best source of energy and the brain runs on glucose. But their diets were so healthy!

Treatment isn’t always necessary if early intervention is possible. If you or someone you love might be slipping into orthorexia or anorexia, a meeting with a therapist or Registered Dietitian who understands eating disorders can be life-changing..

“It’s hard to overstate the importance of early intervention,” Overholtzer said. “The sooner the symptoms are addressed with a dietitian or therapist, the more likely you are to have a positive outcome and avoid needing additional treatment intervention.”

Many people just need a reminder of what healthy eating looks like, what the body needs for peak performance and some real information about food and nutrition.


–We originally posted this article June 2016.


Bright Road Recovery Now Accepts Anthem Blue Cross and Aetna Insurance

Bright Road Recovery is now contracted with Anthem Blue Cross & Aetna InsuranceClaremont, California:  Bright Road Recovery Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment Center now accepts Aetna Health and Anthem Blue Cross insurance, significantly expanding access to treatment for the Inland Empire. The addition of these insurers makes higher levels of outpatient care, including partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, more affordable and easier to attend for many more individuals who live in Claremont and surrounding areas.

Finding expert eating disorder care in the Inland Empire has been a challenge for many. “We’ve often heard of patients having to drive fifty, sixty miles or more per day—sometimes each way—to receive eating disorder help,” says Tamson Overholtzer, Bright Road Recovery’s executive director and certified eating disorder specialist.  “Now that we are in-network with both Aetna and Anthem Blue Cross, finding and accessing this type of specialized treatment will be so much easier for many who live in our community.”

Eating disorders are among the most serious and complicated psychiatric disorders.

  • Eating disorder prevalence is approximately 2-4% of the total population, meaning that between 80,000 to 160,000 individuals in the Inland Empire will have an eating disorder at any given time;
  • Marginalized populations have an even higher incidence of eating disorders than the general population, yet they tend to be the most under-identified and have the most difficulty accessing care;
  • 4-5% of those experiencing an eating disorder will die as a result of their disorder;
  • Approximately 10% of those diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa will die as a result of their disorder, making it the deadliest of all psychiatric disorders.
  • Eating disorders are treatable—recovery rates increase dramatically with treatment and early intervention.

“With all that we know about how serious eating disorders are, it’s important to make sure that local health care includes access to excellent eating disorder treatment,” asserts Overholtzer.  “Contracting with these two large insurers takes us closer to the goal of making sure that anyone who needs treatment can receive it.”  Other insurance companies use Aetna and Anthem to manage their mental/behavioral health benefits.  “If you don’t see your insurer listed on our website, we still encourage you to call us,” Overholtzer urges. “Sometimes your small insurer is contracted with a larger company like Aetna or Anthem. If not, sometimes all it takes is to hear from a subscriber that they need help in their local community for an insurer to realize there is a need for additional services. We want to help folks who are trying to navigate the system to get connected to resources, whether with us or someone else.”

About the Company: Bright Road Recovery is an outpatient eating disorder treatment center providing care at the intensive outpatient program and partial hospitalization program levels.  Bright Road Recovery also offers outpatient psychotherapy for individuals and families and professional nutritional counseling by registered dietitians. Located in the historic Claremont Village, Bright Road Recovery has easy freeway and Metrolink access.  Parking is easy and plentiful in their private lot. For more information, please visit www.BrightRoadRecovery.com.