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Calorie Count Blog

Orthorexia: Obsessed with Healthy Food


By Mary_RD on Sep 28, 2010 10:00 AM in Tips & Updates
Edited By +Rachel Berman

Katherine Hepburn said, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”  Orthorexia doesn’t sound like fun.  It is about eating cleaner than it needs to be.

Rigidly healthy

"Orthorexia nervosa" is the informal name of an eating disorder – more precisely, an aberrant eating pattern – defined by an extreme obsession with healthy eating food.  According to an article in The Guardian, the term was coined by Steven Bratman, MD in 1997. He combined the Greek “ortho” - straight and correct - with the medical prefix “orexia’ - appetite -  to describe a “pathological fixation on proper eating”. 

People with orthorexia may feel virtuous about their “good” food choices, but vile and self-loathing if they should stray.  They may spend hours and hours planning what to eat, and opt for nothing if the right food is not available.  The Guardian says the pattern is typically seen in “well-educated, middle class, adults over 30”…who have rigid rules about which foods are pure and good. The pattern may start with food allergies and diets where foods are systematically eliminated until only a small number remain. It is also seen in bodybuilders during the competition season followed by an all out binge later on.

Healthy eating: another ED?

When does a tight grip on eating turn into a problem?  Many doctors don't accept orthorexia nervosa as a legitimate diagnosis.  They say aggressive cases may be obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), an anxiety disorder characterized by fear, intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors, with food as the obsession.  And at times, "orthorexic" individuals may meet the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa when amenorrhea, emaciation and a pathological fear of becoming fat coexist.

In his book, Health Food Junkies: Orthorexia Nervosa: Overcoming the Obsession with Healthful Eating, Dr. Bratman uses this screening tool for orthorexia that has not been validated but may be useful for identifying issues in need of deeper review.  If you answer "yes" to two or three of these questions, then you may need to loosen your grip on food.

  • Are you spending more than three hours a day thinking about healthy food?
  • Do you always skip foods you once enjoyed in order to only eat the "right" foods?
  • Does your diet make it difficult for you to eat anywhere but at home, distancing you from friends and family?
  • Do you look down on others who don't eat your way?
  • Does your self-esteem get a boost from eating healthy?
  • When you eat the way you're supposed to, do you feel in total control?
  • Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?
  • Is the virtue you feel about what you eat more important than the pleasure you receive from eating it?
  • Has the quality of your life decreased as the quality of your diet increased?

The Bottom Line:  One of the hardest parts about dieting is learning where to draw the line between the rules and the fun.  At one end is a careless diet of highly processed, non-nutritive foods and at the other end is clean eating to the point of social isolation and malnutrition. While it is important to plan and practice a new eating style when starting to make basic diet changes, one should not be fixated on healthy eating or on looking a certain way.

Your thoughts....

Where do you draw the line?  Do you know anyone with orthorexia?



Comments


Wish I had orthorexia, at least a mild case anyway. I think most people feel self-loathing when they don't eat the way they should.



When does concern about eating healthy go from being a good thing to an obsession?  My guess is that people with this obsession also have other obsessions, and suffer from OCD in some form.  For instance, washing your hands is a good thing, but it can become an obsession that disrupts your life. 

All forms of disordered eating are problematic, but in a society where obesity and food-related diseases abound, concern about eating healthy is generally a good thing! 

 



sounds like just another thing out there to make people think there's something wrong with them.. all so we buy a product (this doctor's book) to solve our 'problem.'



Well this article total made me feel as if I have a problem because this is exactly the way I eat most of the time. But when I eat crappy food and I have gastro problems I would rather have this problem than potty problems!!



I love to eat cleanly...I answered yes to most of the questions above but I think it's wrong to diagnose this as an illness!  I have lost almost 50 lbs eating cleanly, inspired by a disgusting binge at Hooters and now I live for farmers markets, grass fed meats and a lack of preservatives whenever possible.  Yes, this does make me a tough one to eat out with..but shouldn't the restaurants in our country change to fit healthy eating rather than me feeling guilty for not wanting to eat it?  I DO feel virtuous about my food choices because I know that what I am eating has not been filled with trash and fillers in order to feed someone else's wallet..I feel virtuous because I know that my body is clean and I am supporting local sustainable agriculture as well.  I DO look down on others who eat Doritos and McDonald's fries...and they look down on themselves.  So before we start calling folks who love to eat good food pariahs, let's stop and think about how they look and feel versus the person who chooses to eat corn fed crap. While I might have answered yes to MOST of the questions above...my life has improved tremendously through my "orthorexia"...so let's say hooray for orthorexia! :)



I agree with Suzy; this guy's screening tool is way off base, everyone who's trying to eat healthy has answered yes to one or more of these questions at some point in time.  But for me, that's simply what keeps me on track.  I do try and eat healthy a large portion of the time, so therefore yes, if I go to McDonald's and chow down on a supersized combo or two (yes you heard me, two), I do feel guilt afterward.  But I get past it and I move forward; I don't punish myself and the guilt doesn't last.  It stops the feeling of deprivation and overall I've been successful in my journey.



"Yes, this does make me a tough one to eat out with..but shouldn't the restaurants in our country change to fit healthy eating rather than me feeling guilty for not wanting to eat it?"

My thoughts exactly, nura! It is so difficult to find restaurants that serve healthy options that I opt not to eat out very often anymore, which is a good thing! It is just as fun to host a small dinner party for friends.

Orthorexia may or may not be a real problem, but the criteria above are far too general to be a basis for determining whether or not someone has it.



This really just sounds like any average dieter. Not an illness:P



I think Nura is a bit extreme although I don't see anything wrong with her wanting to eat clean. I'm a firm believer in everything in moderation. Even McDonalds. However; I don't feel great after I have non clean foods. I usually wish I had made a smarter cleaner choice. I do like to eat healthy when ever possible and I answered yes to three of these questions and I don't see myself in that catagory at all. The "test" I agree with bb is far to generalized.

I say eat what you feel good eating. I honestly could care less if you over clean eat! LOL. Best of luck to you all and happy shrinking!



based off these questions, i believe i am definitely an orthoexic...and i'm ok with that.  in america today, the average restaurant meal contains a preponderance of unhealthy fats, bad carbs and too much meat.  when i go out to eat, i take the time to order egg whites, a whole grain bun, a smaller burger or a side salad instead of fries.  i know my orders are difficult, but i am happy knowing that i am consuming nutritious greens, low-fat protein and whole grains with my bacon and blue cheese.  it might be a difficult order, but i'm out enjoying what i eat and who i eat it with...and paying good money to do so!

i agree that the greater concern is the comorbidity with other types of eating disorders, including workout anorexia and binge eating disorder.  my self-imposed dietary restrictions use to be even more rigid than they were now, and i was guilty of abusing my body.  but i've come to a place where i am good to myself, and my fixation on my diet is a big part of that.  personally, i am happier now than i've been in years.  i'm eating a balanced diet and can treat myself without feeling guilty.  and while some might see this as a problem, i believe that each person needs to find the diet that works for them and their personality.  this is mine - and i'm happy with it.



I can see this *illness* making sense for special dieters - i.e. ones that have allergies or underlying conditions. I was eating healthier and healthier before i got pregnant, but pregnancy sometimes (anyway in my case) destroys any eating patterns you have through instant disgust of things you love and love of things you normally wouldn't eat. Pair that to morning sickness and extreme fatigue - therefore very little energy to prepare elaborate meals, i have been eating like the average person for 9 months. The last month i have stopped working and am now spending at least 2 hours in the kitchen to make good lunches and suppers for my husband and I, and i feel SOOO much better. I have fibromyalgia, and if my rhumatologist and OB think its ok, i plan on getting back onto a super healthy regiment as soon as my daughter is born (any day now). pregnancy has kept me away from sprouts, unpasturized products and healthy things like sushi because of risks of infection. I would like to make my own bread again, my own yogurt, cut out milk (seems to be a problem in inflamatory diseases) maybe even limit wheat and meat. I doubt this will become Orthorexia, because i know that a birthday dinner out with friends once in a while won't kill me and i will continue to LIVE. Obsession i think, is more of the problem than the idea of being strict with one's diet.



This is just ridiculous.  Our country's population is overweight and unhealthy....now some guy is trying to make money off of people who choose to eat right????  Insanity and opportunistic!  Yet another way to label and overdiagnose people for something that isn't a problem.



To all posters who think orthorexia isn't a problem, you probably have never tried to live with someone who has the problem.  If you have the problem, you are probably unaware of the stress that your behavior causes other family members.  I have always had a weight problem, but what I eat does not control my life.  But I understand nutrition and have always provided my famly with healthy meals and food choices.  I exercise and encourage other family members to do so also, but it is always with in reason.  My daughter is obsessed with clean eating.  She won't eat what the rest of the family eats.  It complicates the buying, storing and preparing of every single meal that family eats.  It may not be a problem for you, but it is a problem for others.



I KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE THAT THIS IS AN ILLNESS.  ORTHOREXIA IS REAL.  I SUFFERED FROM AN EATING DISORDER AS A TEENAGER.  I WAS A PURGER, I ALSO HAVE OBSESSIVE COMPULSVIE DISORDER.  THROUGH PRAYER AND THERAPY I OVERCAME THIS EATING DISORDER AND WENT ON TO LEAD A NORMAL LIFE.  HOWEVER, I BECAME INTERESTED IN CLEAN EATING AT AGE 28.  IT WAS GREAT, I FELT GREAT, LOOKED GREAT.  BUT BECAUSE OF MY OCD AND MY PAST HISTORY, I BECAME SO OBSESSED WITH THE HEALTHY FOOD THAT I STARTED ELIMINATING ANYTHING THAT HAD MORE NATURAL SUGAR OR CARBOHYDRATES THAN I THOUGHT IT SHOULD HAVE.  EVEN THOUGH I WAS EATING BUCKET FULLS OF MY ALLOWED FOODS, I WAS LOSING WEIGHT UNCONTROLLABLY.  I LOOKED ANOREXIC, MY SKIN BECAME TRANSPARENT, I SLEPT ALL THE TIME.  MY FRIENDS AND PARENTS NOTICED WHAT WAS HAPPENING BUT I WAS IN DENIAL AND HATEFUL AND CRITICAL OF ALL THE PEOPLE I PERCEIVED AS UNHEALTHY AND INTRUSIVE IN MY LIFE.  AFTER A MILD HEART ATTACK AT AGE 30 AND LOOKING LIKE A WWII PRISONER OF WAR, THE LIGHT CAME ON.  I GOT HELP.  I STILL EAT CLEAN, BUT I PUT BACK ALL THOSE THINGS THAT I HAD CHARACTERIZED AS UNHEALTHY, ADDED MORE PROTEIN, AND STARTED WORKING OUT WITH WEIGHTS.  I SEE A NUTRITIONIST AND WORK OUT COACH TWICE A WEEK FOR ACCOUNTABILITY.  CLEAN EATING IS GREAT, BUT IF YOU HAVE OCD OR A PAST EATING DISORDER IT CAN QUICKLY GET OUT OF HAND.  HAVING AN EATING DISORDER IS  KIND OF LIKE BEING AN ALCOHOLIC.  YOU'RE ALWAYS A RECOVERING ALCOHOLIC, NEVER CURED, YOU JUST TAKE ONE DAY AT A TIME.  BUT ONE DRINK AFTER YEARS OF SOBRIETY, CAN SET OFF A COURSE OF BINGE DRINKING ALL OVER AGAIN.  THE SAME APPLIES FOR ANOREXICS, BINGE EATERS, PURGERS, ETC..  CLEAN EATING IS A WONDERFUL, HEALTHY THING, BUT FOR ME, IT SET OFF A PATTERN  THAT TURNED INTO A MONSTER AND ALMOST KILLED ME.  ANYONE WANTING TO DO CLEAN EATING, THAT HAS THE ABOVE HISTORY, NEEDS ACCOUNTABILITY TO SET THE BOUNDARIES OF CONTROL.



again jmajj, I think the issue is OBSESSION, its a problem for ANYTHING at all, whether its clean eating or washing your hands. Some of us just don't agree that the idea of wanting to eat clean is a problem, because NON OBSESSIVE clean eaters will bend the rules from time to time and not try to shove their eating habits down other's throats. If your daughter makes it difficult, she is probably obsessed and YES thats a problem.

I buy white bread for my husband and i make my own; i make my yogurt and buy him chocolate pudding; i make HIM banana choc muffins and i make ME, ww, flax, fiber ladden barely sweetened cranberry muffins... how is that a problem for him? It isn't.



Orthorexia - does it exist? Oh sure. This doctor just gave a name to an obsession. I've seen orthorexia first hand in my own family and the person is not nice or fun to be around. The comment about being difficult at restaurants "but at least I'm eating the right thing", made me smile. Irritate those servers too much and you don't know what they have given you. I would guess that most people who responded to this article are in their late 20's or in their 30's. Been there, done that. The advantage of being much older (and dieting once again) is that I know there are no "strict" answers and what works for one person may not work for another but most importantly -- life comes along and can change everything. I also know that even locally grown, organic food, isn't what it used to be. Nutrients are falling short because of atmospheric pollution. I say we eat the best that we can without feeling superior or making other people's lives miserable, be it family, friends, co-workers or restaurant staff. What goes around, comes around so be careful about feeling too "proud" of yourself or "self-righteous". We all have things happen in our lives and others may not be where you in your life, but that's okay. No need to berate or irritate. As I've said, "been there, done that". (There are great advantages to being over 60.) Keep doing the right things, but just know that you aren't perfect and that you don't have all the answers. Be nice first, eat right second -- life is too precious to put others down for the way they live -- or eat -- or sleep -- or dress or, or or. Relax - Live.



Yeah I do not see why people like myself who are health concious and want to eat clean are being looked down upon and being called difficult to live with. My husband eats no where near like I do so he buys what he likes to eat and I eat what I choose to eat, when I cook a family meal its all clean eating and everyone enjoys it I do not see why anyone needs to comment about people like myself being difficult to live with. People like me should feel good about themselves and proud of themselves for a making a change in their eating habits for the better.



I frequently skip (or try to skip) food that is offered if I don't think it is sufficiently healthy.  I refuse to feel guilty because I don't want to eat some disgusting cheesecake that someone brought to work as a "treat" for the rest of us. 

On the other hand, my daughter is a vegan and I do worry that her world revolves a little too much around food, or the right kind of food.  I think this article fails to convey the persistence or if you will the all consuming nature of an obsession with healthy food, before it can be considered a problem.  Because personally, I think most of us need to be MORE this way, rejecting food because it is unhealthy, not less. 



This article could apply to anyone who pays attention to what they eat.  Very opportunistic.  Yes, folks with eating disorders should be wary, but when do you have an eating disorder vs. paying attention?(finally)!  I pay attention NOW to everything that I consider eating.  Before I would just eat whatever I wanted.  Morbid Obesity or Orthorexia, I'll take the ED - I'll live longer choosing what to eat than I will eating all that I want to eat.



Anyone trying to eat clean, limit carbs or fat or just plain count calories spends a lot of time planning meals, thinking about food or just obsessing about what's in the pantry.  Food companies, grocery stores and resturants that don't provide appropriate nutritional information or any information are to blame.  And some people call it an illness, go figure.



I DO look down on others who eat Doritos and McDonald's fries...and they look down on themselves.

i lost 35 pounds counting calories & have maintained that for 6 months. i used calorie counting rather than "dieting" so that i could still have mcdonald's & doritos when i want to. i don't believe in giving up anything i enjoy . if i had to do that i couldn't have lost the weight. i don't look down on myself. in fact i'm pretty darn proud of myself for being able to manage my calories well enough that i could enjoy these treats & still lose the weight. i support organic eating & do eat very healthy a lot of the time but sometimes i want mcdonald's & by golly i'm gonna have it.



"Many doctors don't accept orthorexia nervosa as a legitimate diagnosis."

"Dr. Bratman uses this screening tool for orthorexia that has not been validated but may be useful for identifying issues in need of deeper review."

Well done Dr. Bratman for making up a disease hope the book sales go well.

I'm off for a pork pie. Laughing

 



One could argue that all eating disorders are based on obsessive tendancies so I don't think there is anything wrong with calling this its own disorder. The article is about those who go overboard with eating healthy foods. Eating no food when "healthy" food is not available (e.g. going hungry) is not normal. I say this because people who have disorders like this keep widdling away until they eat very few things.

Obviously, those commenting who do "break the rules" or tend (key word here) to eat cleanly are not obsessive. So eating an occasional french fry doesn't make you go into a deep depression.

Anorexia is just as much of a health problem as being overweight. I would argue limiting your foods obsessively (as the Dr. calls it "orthorexia") is just as bad as well because you may not be getting all the nutrients or calories you need.



I have had to come to terms of healhy eatting as my blood pressure went out of control. I ended up having to see a heart specialist! The first thing they did was take me off salt! Wow! what a eye opener! We only need 2,000mg of salt a day and that my friend is only 1 teaspoon a day. You would NOT believe the salt in food today! So yes I have become obbessed! I have lost 32 #'s.  And yes resterants are really not intune to good eating , although I do have to say some are getting the message. Just to let you know a salad (just one serving) at Olive Garden has 201 calories and 784 grams of salt. You may think you are eatting well at a resterant cause you are having salad but think again! Read your spice lables and ceral labels salt is a culpert to may health problems but do remember you DO need salt. Cause things are much better for me I have been able to discontiune 4 medications now with better eatting.



Original Post by: bnjionrek

I DO look down on others who eat Doritos and McDonald's fries...and they look down on themselves.

i lost 35 pounds counting calories & have maintained that for 6 months. i used calorie counting rather than "dieting" so that i could still have mcdonald's & doritos when i want to. i don't believe in giving up anything i enjoy . if i had to do that i couldn't have lost the weight. i don't look down on myself. in fact i'm pretty darn proud of myself for being able to manage my calories well enough that i could enjoy these treats & still lose the weight. i support organic eating & do eat very healthy a lot of the time but sometimes i want mcdonald's & by golly i'm gonna have it.


Thank you. I also thought it was pretty brazen to assume that those who eat those on occassion are looking down on themselves. I'm in the same boat as you.



Original Post by: trancendenz

Original Post by: bnjionrek

I DO look down on others who eat Doritos and McDonald's fries...and they look down on themselves.

i lost 35 pounds counting calories & have maintained that for 6 months. i used calorie counting rather than "dieting" so that i could still have mcdonald's & doritos when i want to. i don't believe in giving up anything i enjoy . if i had to do that i couldn't have lost the weight. i don't look down on myself. in fact i'm pretty darn proud of myself for being able to manage my calories well enough that i could enjoy these treats & still lose the weight. i support organic eating & do eat very healthy a lot of the time but sometimes i want mcdonald's & by golly i'm gonna have it.


Thank you. I also thought it was pretty brazen to assume that those who eat those on occassion are looking down on themselves. I'm in the same boat as you.


I am a former weight watcher..I used to eat kraft free cheese, egg beaters, lean cuisines, progresso light soup..you name it...I lost a ton of weight on the weight watchers plan and gained it alllll back..do you know why?  It is because I never learned healthy eating paterns.  I learned that I could eat a McDonald's happy meal for 11 points plus a slice of pie for 10 points every single day and round it out with spinach and high sodium zero point soup...this is not a healthful way to lose weight or live.  By learning that these foods are not only terrible for us, but just taste terrible too, I am able to sustain a healthy eating lifestyle...not a (dirty word) DIET.  I no longer crave french fries from McDonald's..I look for a place like Evolution Burger where I can indulge but it is also sustainable and agriculturally friendly. If only you knew what went into your chicken mcnugget or dorito...you probably would want to be "orthorexic" as well.



Also, I will clarify, I have gone with no food when a vegetarian option wasnt available. But that's why I bring fruit to meetings or events where there might not be options that I want to eat.



Original Post by: nura85

Original Post by: trancendenz

Original Post by: bnjionrek

I DO look down on others who eat Doritos and McDonald's fries...and they look down on themselves.

i lost 35 pounds counting calories & have maintained that for 6 months. i used calorie counting rather than "dieting" so that i could still have mcdonald's & doritos when i want to. i don't believe in giving up anything i enjoy . if i had to do that i couldn't have lost the weight. i don't look down on myself. in fact i'm pretty darn proud of myself for being able to manage my calories well enough that i could enjoy these treats & still lose the weight. i support organic eating & do eat very healthy a lot of the time but sometimes i want mcdonald's & by golly i'm gonna have it.


Thank you. I also thought it was pretty brazen to assume that those who eat those on occassion are looking down on themselves. I'm in the same boat as you.


I am a former weight watcher..I used to eat kraft free cheese, egg beaters, lean cuisines, progresso light soup..you name it...I lost a ton of weight on the weight watchers plan and gained it alllll back..do you know why?  It is because I never learned healthy eating paterns.  I learned that I could eat a McDonald's happy meal for 11 points plus a slice of pie for 10 points every single day and round it out with spinach and high sodium zero point soup...this is not a healthful way to lose weight or live.  By learning that these foods are not only terrible for us, but just taste terrible too, I am able to sustain a healthy eating lifestyle...not a (dirty word) DIET.  I no longer crave french fries from McDonald's..I look for a place like Evolution Burger where I can indulge but it is also sustainable and agriculturally friendly. If only you knew what went into your chicken mcnugget or dorito...you probably would want to be "orthorexic" as well.


I'm going to go out on a limb and say: wow, your life must be pretty boring. I like that you make assumptions that 1) I dont know what is in a dorito/nugget and 2) that I would want to live a pathetic existence where I can't enjoy the foods I eat.

I'm not on weight watchers nor would I ever NEED to be on a weight loss program like that. I started my weight loss journey with exercise while I was eating vegetarian and I realized that I didn't want to be both vegetarian and exercise strenuously so now I eat meat when I feel. I wanted to do a triathlon so I started by trying to run a mile. Despite being an avid swimmer, I never developed running skills. I couldn't even go half a mile. Now I run 3-6 miles every day or every other day (depending on weather/pollution outside) or bike on cross train days.

I'm not losing weight just by eating and I'm not NOT getting all my nutrients, except potassium, which I'm finding is very difficult for me.

So please, take your lousy assumptions and "diet" advice somewhere else. An occasional hot dog is not going to kill me and I'm sorry that you can't eat something un-clean every once in a while without starving the rest of the day.



*My point with that was that if you are going to make assumptions I can make my own about you.

Those who don't want to eat "unclean" foods should be able to do so without feeling bad. I personally, don't like that lifestyle/diet so I don't live entirely that way. Please don't tell those that sometimes eat a frozen dinner that we should "feel bad" everytime we do it and I won't tell you that I think restricting foods and not enjoying food is stupid.



Does this include people who obsessively eat only "nonfat" stuff under the delusion that it's actually healthier than real fat. (What they flavor that "low/nonfat" stuff with is worse for you, and won't help to boost your metabolism like fat does. But that's besides the point...)

People, this ~is~ an eating disorder, that I'm glad there's finally a name for. Let's put it this way. Some of you diet by limiting the kinds of foods you eat. Some of you diet by counting calories. When someone limits those calories to 30-200 a day (and sometimes less), they are anorexic. Is that also a problem that should be welcomed because most of this country is obese?

When an already healthy (or maybe even underweight, or malnourished --just because they're eating healthy foods doesn't mean they're eating healthy) person continues to diet strictly, accompanied by a poor self image and distress when allowing a little indulgence, it's a problem. Furthermore, an obsession with anything is bad, and can lead to stress (ie, cortisol levels, weight gain/ unhealthy weight loss, heart disease.)

If you're getting offended by this article (especially if you're at what a doctor would consider a healthy weight), you are in denial that it is a problem, and you may need to look inside yourself and gain some self confidence (or even psychological counseling if it's really bad).



In my opinion every piece of food you eat is unclean and poison. Most nutrients in foods have been already destroyed by the time it hits your produce section at the grocery store. No matter if it is healthy or not it really comes down to the calories. If you eat too many healthy or unhealthy food it will cause dis-ease.  The rest is just an emotional connection that we have with certain foods and how they make us feel. Whether we over do it or not is our choice.



Original Post by: trancendenz

*My point with that was that if you are going to make assumptions I can make my own about you.

Those who don't want to eat "unclean" foods should be able to do so without feeling bad. I personally, don't like that lifestyle/diet so I don't live entirely that way. Please don't tell those that sometimes eat a frozen dinner that we should "feel bad" everytime we do it and I won't tell you that I think restricting foods and not enjoying food is stupid.


Actually, I am now able to eat freer than I ever was before when I was restricted by fake foods and low calorie processed crap.  I was restricted to counting every single calorie, hoping that I was eating the correct amounts of proteins, fats, etc...Now I just eat whole foods and KNOW that I am getting every nutrient I need. I am not saying that I NEVER allow myself to eat a treat...just a few weeks ago, I treated myself to delicious cupcakes from a famous bakery in my city, however I rest assured knowing that these cupcakes don't have preservatives and additives and frankly taste better than anything you would find in a vending machine or in the central aisles of your local grocery store.  I am saying that I have replaced processed and cheap foods with ones that use more whole and clean ingredients and they taste better and make me feel better.  Lucky for you that you do not have to watch your weight and count calories...but for the majority of folks on this website, we do...and I simply want to share my experience as a reformed faux-food eater to someone who takes a more orthorexic approach.  I enjoy cooking and find that the treats I am able to create in my own home with fresh grass fed meats, locally grown vegetables and whole grains are better than the cheap, high fat, high sodium junk food that pollutes our country.  Sounds like a pretty pathetic existence to me...funny enough, I am NEVER hungry.  The things that I eat provide me with so many nutrients that junk food never can...



I think the only valid question in the list is:  "Has the quality of your life decreased as the quality of your diet increased?"

The thing about calling trying to eat cleanly a disorder is that it's so subjective and judgmental.  Anybody going to Weight Watchers or anyone following a specific kind of diet such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, whatever, who doesn't cheat would have to answer Yes to several of those questions.  I'm vegan and I have vegan friends.  We talk about food all the time.  We're concerned about the state of our food and water.  I post articles on Facebook about vegan diets, and now I post them about Bill Clinton having gone mostly vegan for health reasons.  I cook a lot.  Between all those activities, I'm probably spending more than three hours a day thinking about clean eating.  I occasionally cheat, but I have a vegetarian friend who I have never seen cheat.  Her husband has never seen her cheat.  Does that make her obssessed?  I don't think so.  She has set her standards and she adheres to them.  The quality of her life did not decrease as the quality of her diet increased.  She had one day planned to make an apple pie to bring to a party.  She was unable to find any organic apples at the time, so she made a different dessert because she didn't want to use nonorganic.  Does she suffer from orthorexia?  No, but I'd bet Dr. Bratman would say yes, she does.



Good for you!!!  I have a family history of adult-onset diabetes, but my fasting blood sugar went from 106 to 80 with a change in diet.



62boatlady said:  "Cause things are much better for me I have been able to discontiune 4 medications now with better eatting."

Good for you!!!  I have a family history of adult-onset diabetes, but my fasting blood sugar went from 106 to 80 with a change in diet.



nura85, i can see avoiding mcdonald's & doritos completely is you have strong self control issues. i don't, so it works for me. you can't say what will work for someone else, my way doesn't work for you, yours doesn't work for me & apparantly not for trancendenz. that is all.



Why are we making assumptions about each other? If those of you who must assume or berate other people only feel good about yourself when you do that, then go for it. You hurt yourself more, but then maybe you who are busy berating others for what they do or say, haven't had enough life experiences yet to know better. It's okay, two year olds don't know how to share either, but they will eventually learn or live a mighty difficult life. On the other hand if you can only feel good about yourself by putting others down, then it might be a "condition" a "disease", not something that might be "outgrown". It is then something that needs help. If you eat differently and let others eat their way, you are okay. If you can go in a McDonalds (yuk) and sit down with an obese friend, pull out your food, let them eat their way, and have a great conversation about something other than food, then you are a healthy person emotionally. An obese person might be very intelligent and very interesting, just as a very fit, healthy person might be very boorish, narcissistic, and tedious. So why assume? By the way, those who have anorexia, orthoexia or any other type of condition like that, go through a personality change. It isn't pretty. 



Nanadel - save your "I'm older and wiser and therefore right" attitude for someone who cares. By adding (yuk) into the sentence, you are making a judgement call on those who eat those foods. By saying yuck, you mean "gross" and the really meaning is "you are gross for eating that nasty food". That's EXACTLY what the article is trying to say.

People who have this disorder get pleasure from telling others they are wrong. And the desire is to feel better about themselves.

And my comment was to point out how ridiculous it is to assume that someone who doesn't eat 100% "perfect" all the time is feeling bad. Obviously, your response is name-calling, which further proves my point.

Denajo - That's precisely the point, though. If more time is spent determining whether a food is exactly perfect than enjoying and living life, then it is clearly an obsession. Making a decision not to buy conventional apples isn't obsessive and not the same thing as the article is talking about. By even calling it "cheating" one makes the assumption that eating "unclean" on occasion is evil/wrong/terrible because being a cheater is bad.

Nura - good for you. I'm glad you get all you need. I never said you personally didn't. I also never said I don't need to watch calories. I count mine just like everyone else. But I also am not relying on foods for my weight loss. I don't want to be "skinny fat".



*I mean just like everyone else on calorie count. Although, maybe not everyone on calorie count logs their calories.



You are what you eat!

It is a good thing to make every effort to eat what is good for our bodies.

For health sake and in doing all that we can to help prevent diseases and digestive issues etc. that  can happen because of all kinds of additives, processed , fatty, artery clogging foods.

That's why it's call it junk food !!!!!

I find it very  offensive that the people who are careless about what they put into their bodies call people who care; healthnuts or now it's orthorexia?

Sorry, but there is no excuse these days to not understand why eating cleaner and or to watch what you eat is  important.

It's about self-control, at least try to be aware. Get educated in what are the good foods and what are the damaging foods.

This could only be called orthorexia  if you aren't aware of what to eat ,and what not to eat.

I eat right because I love it for the right reasons.



Some years ago this guy (Bratmen) had a website (he still may, for all I know).  They people he described as orthorexic were so obsessed with everything being, healthy, pure, untainted, etc., that some of them barely ate anything--one woman he wrote about extensively actually starved to death--because nothing was "good" enough for them. 

IIRC (I didn't go back to try to find this; going only from memory), he wrote about living on some sort of commune and having to keep utensils that were used for one thing from even touching those used for another, i.e., and just about how crazy it got.  He was a real health food junkie.  That experience made he rethink this.

The people he refers to were obsessed far beyond what is described here.  Again, IIRC, he also seemed to think that a lot of it is really a mask for anorexia (people who don't want to eat, but don't want to be labled anexoric--they use the ruse of "eating healthy" in order to eat little or nothing).  He did not really address whether this was intentional or not. 

IMO, people can followwhatever diet they want.  However, for myself I've taken steps this time on the diet merry-go-round to be a lot less obsessed.  Although I want to stay within a certain calorie range and need to eat healthfully enough to work, exercise and get through my day (and it does matter what you eat in this case) I don't care about much else.  I have junk sometimes; I rarely buy organic; and I try to stay a little loosened up about this.  In the past, I'd be so bloody strict, clean, etc., that when life intruded and I had to deviate (and this does happen to everyone) I'd fall completely off the wagon and have a hard time getting back on (usually did not get back on).  Nowadays, what used to be a "slip-up" is just normal and I adjust and continue, not relapse and start over.

Mary

 



If you can go in a McDonalds (yuk) and sit down with an obese friend, pull out your food, let them eat their way, and have a great conversation about something other than food, then you are a healthy person emotionally.

what a weird picture to paint. if there's a point to this strange scenario, i missed it. Undecided



I used to suffer from this - or something very similar. Some sort of OCD related to healthy eating. Not fun. At all. It will make you neurotic.



Well, how amazing! CC has a bunch of orthorexics who go off when you label them. I'm amused. Because happily I do not live with anyone doing that.

By coicidence a friend of a friend posted a big email today about her rules for eating and why she eats "healthy" instead of for "taste." This is so weird, I was delighted to see that there is a name for this insanity, and a quick list of questions to corral these attitudes into a syndrome.

I know I'm not the only sane person on CC, but posts like most of the above do make me wonder. :)



Why is everyone so hell-bent on criticizing each other? 

We are all entitled to our opinions, but this discussion has deteriorated to a level where it's not even a discussion anymore - these articles should inspire an exchange of ideas in civil terms, not personal attacks. 

Would you really say these things to each other's faces? 

This is an interesting phenomenon and sometimes, I find myself being quite rigid about the quality of the food I eat and what I serve my family.  I am sorry to say that I do (privately) look down on some of my aquaintances for the things that they choose to eat (lots of high fat and fried foods).  However, my criticism is not what they need and though I know that they struggle with weight issues, they are adults and have to live their own lives.  It's none of my business and I would rather enjoy the interaction and avoid the food issues. 

I think what this is about is that people with compulsive tendencies in other areas of their lives can also become compulsive in what they eat to the point where self-control is more important than their health.  There is no balance for them.

The rest of us are just trying to find a balance between good health and enjoying something that may not be so great every once in a while. 

I went to a street fair the other day and had 3 of the best mini donuts in the world - with cinnamon and powdered sugar - made right there on the street.  They were so light and fluffy and warm - I enjoyed every bite!



This article is ridiculous. As a personal trainer I recommend this site to all my clients, but if this is the quality of information I can expect from this site going forward, I'll stop sending my clients here. In a country with skyrocketing obesity rates like ours, I need all the help I can get to help change the mindset of my clients so they can stop viewing "eating clean" as extreme and start informing themselves on the consequences of bad food choices. If this really were a disorder (and I doubt that) it would affect so little of the population in this country it certainly wouldn't be worth showcasing here.

I began a lifestyle change to start eating clean about 5 years ago and it has completely changed my weight, dramatically improved my health (cholesterol dropped 100 pts, triglycerides dropped 400 pts, and I lost 50 lbs), and has been an awesome journey. Now I help others who want to do the same. Geez, I must be orthorexic...lock me up.



Are you spending more than three hours a day thinking about healthy food?

Well, maybe.  I don't time it, but I'm thinking about healthy food when planning my menus, I'm thinking about healthy food while cooking my healthy food, I'm thinking about healthy food while eating my healthy food, I'm thinking about healthy food while shopping for healthy food....

Do you always skip foods you once enjoyed in order to only eat the "right" foods?

Not 'always' but yes, most times.  I have to face it, most of the foods I once enjoyed were craptacular for my body.  I may have a bit of them every once in a great while, the ones I really really love, but most times when I see them now I just see piles of sodium and saturated fat and clogged arteries and other things so unappealing that I lose my desire to ingest them.

Does your diet make it difficult for you to eat anywhere but at home, distancing you from friends and family?

Yeah, but then my friends want to eat pizza, my family wants to eat meat, and most resturants want me to eat a plate o' sodium.  Take Applebee's for instance, with their under 500 calorie plates, and then you look at their nutrition information, enough sodium for a week!  Yeah, no thanks!  Besides, why pay someone to make what I can cook better and cheaper in my own home?  But I don't let it distance me.  I bring my own meals when I go to a friend's house or to a family dinner.  My income more than my nutrition restrictions keep me from dining out.  One does not equal the other.  Difficulty and distancing should not be clumped together.

Do you look down on others who don't eat your way?

No, I hate that judgmental crap.  To each their own.

Does your self-esteem get a boost from eating healthy?

Yes, and why shouldn't it?  I'm doing something wonderful for myself, and if I may say so, eating healthy in America on a consistent basis is quite an accomplishment.  I should get a boost from that!

When you eat the way you're supposed to, do you feel in total control?

Um, yeah, I like to control what goes in my body.  I like to know what's going in my body.  I also like a clean house, unwrinkled laundry, being the only person in my lane on the interstate....

Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?

No, I shrug and move on, but I try not to let that attitude penetrate my eating habits or I'll be straying on a daily basis and not feel motivated to stay the course.

Is the virtue you feel about what you eat more important than the pleasure you receive from eating it?

The virtue I feel contributes to the pleasure I receive from eating healthy.

Has the quality of your life decreased as the quality of your diet increased?

On the contrary, my quality of life has improved as the quality of the food I consume has improved.  The two share a positive correlation.

Ok, for real, who made up these questions?  These questions don't reflect any sort of obsessive and/or sickly behavior! 



I think the point is more for the obsession side of it rather than people just wanting to eat clean. Eating clean is fine, its when it starts to affect other people that it becomes a problem. Its those who cant or won't eat anything else that it starts to become a disorder.

I also answered yes to a lot of those questions but I know I dont have an eating disorder. I still love to indulge a lot but I do feel a lot better physcially and emotionally when I do eat clean. I could never eat 100% clean, major factor being money.



Actually you all have good points. Eating healthy is good. However it can be taken to extremes.  

I have a few friends on OA. They talk about it incessantly. It's extremely difficult to be around them. I can only imagine how hard it is for their families. They "preach". Everything is always related to "food".

I have recently lost considerable weight to lower my BP by exercise and counting calories within a balanced diet. They never once asked me how I did it, they just assumed if it isnt EXACTLY their way then it's bad. It's a good thing i dont need their validation. 

And G-d forbid you suggest a luncheon, they act like you're trying to kill them. 

These are my friends (i know, find new friends) and I'm glad they are getting healthier and happier...what friend wouldnt want that? However, they have simply traded one obessesion (eating poorly) for another (talking about food).

This article is not so off based.              



Original Post by: trancendenz

Original Post by: nura85

Original Post by: trancendenz

Original Post by: bnjionrek

I DO look down on others who eat Doritos and McDonald's fries...and they look down on themselves.

i lost 35 pounds counting calories & have maintained that for 6 months. i used calorie counting rather than "dieting" so that i could still have mcdonald's & doritos when i want to. i don't believe in giving up anything i enjoy . if i had to do that i couldn't have lost the weight. i don't look down on myself. in fact i'm pretty darn proud of myself for being able to manage my calories well enough that i could enjoy these treats & still lose the weight. i support organic eating & do eat very healthy a lot of the time but sometimes i want mcdonald's & by golly i'm gonna have it.


Thank you. I also thought it was pretty brazen to assume that those who eat those on occassion are looking down on themselves. I'm in the same boat as you.


I am a former weight watcher..I used to eat kraft free cheese, egg beaters, lean cuisines, progresso light soup..you name it...I lost a ton of weight on the weight watchers plan and gained it alllll back..do you know why?  It is because I never learned healthy eating paterns.  I learned that I could eat a McDonald's happy meal for 11 points plus a slice of pie for 10 points every single day and round it out with spinach and high sodium zero point soup...this is not a healthful way to lose weight or live.  By learning that these foods are not only terrible for us, but just taste terrible too, I am able to sustain a healthy eating lifestyle...not a (dirty word) DIET.  I no longer crave french fries from McDonald's..I look for a place like Evolution Burger where I can indulge but it is also sustainable and agriculturally friendly. If only you knew what went into your chicken mcnugget or dorito...you probably would want to be "orthorexic" as well.


I'm going to go out on a limb and say: wow, your life must be pretty boring. I like that you make assumptions that 1) I dont know what is in a dorito/nugget and 2) that I would want to live a pathetic existence where I can't enjoy the foods I eat.

I'm not on weight watchers nor would I ever NEED to be on a weight loss program like that. I started my weight loss journey with exercise while I was eating vegetarian and I realized that I didn't want to be both vegetarian and exercise strenuously so now I eat meat when I feel. I wanted to do a triathlon so I started by trying to run a mile. Despite being an avid swimmer, I never developed running skills. I couldn't even go half a mile. Now I run 3-6 miles every day or every other day (depending on weather/pollution outside) or bike on cross train days.

I'm not losing weight just by eating and I'm not NOT getting all my nutrients, except potassium, which I'm finding is very difficult for me.

So please, take your lousy assumptions and "diet" advice somewhere else. An occasional hot dog is not going to kill me and I'm sorry that you can't eat something un-clean every once in a while without starving the rest of the day.


I agree.  I dieted to lose 20 lbs to fit into my wedding dress and once the wedding was over and I went back to my old eating habits I gained 15 lbs back.  I just dieted.  I didn't learn how to eat better or how to eat the things that I love in moderation (like Peanut Butter).  I still eat some of the same foods that I used to, I just don't pile it on my plate.  I have my treats within my calorie amount. I'm even planning on making No Bake Cheese Cake, just eat half of what the box says is one servings size.  No need to never eat any of that stuff again, tried that and it didn't work.  All in moderation is good.



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