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Understanding healthy eating behaviours that become maladaptive in physically active females with a review of orthorexia and its current diagnostic criteria.

Jade Brady is a student completing a Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy with the Irish College of Humanities and Applied Sciences. Her dissertation focuses on orthorexia.

Contact details

Phone: 0858229802

Research supervisor: Michelle Stone

Study recruitment flyer – download Word doc


  • To explore literature surrounding orthorexia and current diagnostic criteria.
  • To explore individuals experience of their history with orthorexia.
  • To identify diagnostic characteristics which are prevalent within participant’s experience with orthorexia.
  • To establish future criteria for possible diagnoses.


Participants are asked to partake in a semi-structured interview that will last between 45 minutes to an hour.

Participants are asked to partake in the interview if they answered yes to 2 or more of the below with questions which are used to highlight the most common areas of concern for those with this maladaptive eating behaviour:

-Do you avoid certain food groups from your diet? (e.g. Fats, GMO, processed foods)

-Do you avoid occasions where you are unsure of the types of foods available ? (e.g. birthdays, meals out, etc).

-Do you only consume food groups which you deem to be healthy ?

-Does consuming foods outside of what you consider healthy cause any sort of anxiety or fear ? (e.g. Excessive exercise post consumption, fasting or juice cleanses)

Participants, once identified, will be narrowed down using inclusion criteria which has been checked by the ethics committee.

The inclusion criteria:

-Must be aged 19+.

-Physically active (more than twice a week).

-Identifying one’s own eating patterns within the recruitment statements.

-Reporting signs of stress and anxiety in relation to food not for weight reasons

The exclusion criteria:

-Must not have or been previously diagnosed with an eating disorder/OCD/anxiety disorders

-Must not be competing for sports which would affect dietary consumptions.

-Females under 18 years of age.

-Medical diagnoses which would affect the types of foods they can consume.

-Reporting signs of stress and anxiety in relation to food for weight and aesthetic reasons only.


Participant’s names will not be used on any records nor will they be asked to divulge locations or such information which may allow for recognition. Participants will be given codes when data is analysed. Participants will be given a summary of the findings before any publications are made if they so wish.

Participants may withdraw from the study at any time and may request that no information given will be used in the study. Participant’s identity will be hidden from all documents and no questions will be asked which may divulge specific information which may make it possible for them to be identified. Any participants who withdraw from the study will be offered a place for therapy if they so wish at the Ballymun Child and Family Resource Centre. This will also be offered to all participants if they so wish. Careful monitoring will be put in place to ensure no participant becomes upset/agitated/unwell during interviews.


This study has received ethical approval from the Irish College of Humanities and Applied Sciences.