3

votes

Why is orthorexia a problem?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 25, 2012 at 3:47 AM

I don't think the name should even end in "exia." I don't get why caring about your health is a problem, and I would argue that any really intelligent, intellectual, passionate person approaches problem solving (ie: What should I eat) with intensity and focus. And after all, what we eat is no small thing! We eat three to five times every single day! It is a HUGE part of life!

Many of the scientists who made seminal discoveries were obsessed with their work. Does that qualify as a disease?

Imagine if 80% of the world was orthorexic? Imagine the positive change.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on June 26, 2012
at 03:51 PM

ps Chinaeskimo I loved your blog and think you are doing wonderful work. The world needs more people like you in it.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:22 AM

TY...Reading now

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:22 AM

Ah, okay, so maybe I have been misunderstanding. Thank you!

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on June 25, 2012
at 03:26 PM

Balanced Bites just published a relevant article about Paleo perfection: http://balancedbites.com/2012/06/paleo-perfectionism.html

44f0901d5b0e85d8b00315c892d00f8a

(273)

on June 25, 2012
at 02:58 PM

Like other eating disorders, orthorexia starts to negatively impact many areas of an individual’s life and, in some cases, can even lead to severe malnutrition or death, as the person increasingly eliminates food types from his or her diet.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on June 25, 2012
at 10:57 AM

Starve, or see an opportunity for an impromptu IF? :) Yes, of course, if the only choice was to eat junk food or not eat anything for more than a week, I'd eat the junk food. But if it's, say a party and there's only junk food, I'll skip it.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 25, 2012
at 10:53 AM

Hannah, I think you are right about misuse of the word, but it's misused here because it is misused in the media and in most places people come in contact with the term. I'm sure that makes it difficult for the people who actually suffer from the eating disorder to get and accept proper treatment.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on June 25, 2012
at 09:43 AM

I agree Shari.....

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on June 25, 2012
at 08:06 AM

Thank you for your comment.

Cf4e7d927a48582cc22adbe59bfd0b2d

(753)

on June 25, 2012
at 05:33 AM

But I don't know for certain, ha.

Cf4e7d927a48582cc22adbe59bfd0b2d

(753)

on June 25, 2012
at 05:33 AM

The nervosa (at least when paired with anorexia/bulimia) means it's associated with a mental illness, such as a preoccupation with food and restriction in anorexia nervosa or the guilt of the binge/purge cycle in bulimia nervosa, whereas without nervosa, it could just be an emaciated, starved body (anorexia) as a result of medication decreasing one's appetite, or causin them to puke (bulimia). I would say that, perhaps, orthorexia could be obsession with food and avoidance of food deemed unhealthy because of some medical condition or intolerance, whereas nervosa would be as you described.

A1a0baccef58499acf9ceb3c874997f2

(675)

on June 25, 2012
at 04:40 AM

I think folks in this community misuse the word. Orthorexia nervosa is a mental disorder in which the person is so filled with anxiety and obsession regarding their health, that it becomes a detriment to his/her daily functioning. To say that orthorexia is simply someone who is extremely passionate about their health devalues the sad reality of the disorder.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on June 25, 2012
at 04:20 AM

I guess I am mildly orthorexic

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on June 25, 2012
at 04:13 AM

Really? Does it negatively impact your life? (this somehow sounds sarcastic, but I don't mean it that way, I honestly would like to know)

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on June 25, 2012
at 04:11 AM

caring about your health is not orthorexia. just like drinking is not alcoholism and dieting is not anorexia.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on June 25, 2012
at 04:11 AM

Caring about your health is not orthorexia. Just like drinking is not alcoholism.

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5 Answers

11
35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on June 25, 2012
at 04:39 AM

Orthorexia is a problem when it causes you anxiety and makes your life miserable.

When I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and was a member of the raw vegan community I would occasionally attend community potlucks. I noticed that those people were among the most neurotic people I had ever met and many looked quite unhealthy for all the bragging they did about their way of eating. It's one thing to care about your diet, to read everything you can about it, to eat as healthy as you can but when diet becomes the center of your life to the point where you isolate from others, or live in fear of going out to dinner because that piece of fish might have been farmed, or spend your energy judging others to the point of being miserable, or get sick from your diet and think that means you have to blindly follow it even more strictly, then I think it's a problem.

I've been there, done that. I've relaxed A LOT since my days of crazy food obsession. Now, I'm only moderately obsessive about food and I make it a point when I'm with family or friends at their homes or at a restaurant to enjoy what's available even if it's, gasp, glutenous.

Of course I realize that some folks here have real problems with gluten, casein, and other things, and get sick when they eat those things. I'm not saying those people are orthorexic or that they have a problem.

It's not so much what you eat or how much you analyze your food that makes you or me orthorexic. It's when diet consumes you and other important elements of your life (mental, emotional, spiritual, family. relationships) are ignored. I work hard to keep non-food areas in balance because I believe that in my case they're more important to my life than what I eat.

I do think that PaleoHacks attracts those of us who are at risk for being orthorexic because the culture of this community is that it largely treats food as if it's the one thing to pay attention to. Unfortunately, it also encourages those of us who are out of balance already in relationship to food to continue to stay out of balance.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on June 25, 2012
at 08:06 AM

Thank you for your comment.

3
98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

on June 25, 2012
at 09:23 AM

It's a big problem in this community (as well as other food communities like the vegans). Here's a good piece from Sisson. Orthorexia Nervosa and Dietary Obsession

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:22 AM

TY...Reading now

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on June 25, 2012
at 09:43 AM

I agree Shari.....

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on June 26, 2012
at 03:51 PM

ps Chinaeskimo I loved your blog and think you are doing wonderful work. The world needs more people like you in it.

2
C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on June 25, 2012
at 04:30 AM

CrowLover, I believe Orthorexia nervosa is orthorexia.

Chinaeskimo, Orthorexia is a mental disorder according to Wikipedia. I am kind of hard core about certain foods not entering my body, sometimes more hardcore than at other times, but that is very different from orthorexia. An example might be a vegan who has had their blood tested and even though they are told they're severely deficient in essential vitamins and are sick because of it they continue eating the way they 'believe' is healthy. It may sound straight up 'stupid' but it's not. It's a mental illness, not just an extreme commitment to healthy eating.

From Wikipedia: Orthorexia nervosa (also known as orthorexia) is not mentioned in the DSM[a] first used by Steven Bratman to characterize people who develop an obsession with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy.[1][2] Orthorexia nervosa is believed to be a mental disorder.[3] Bratman claims that in rare cases, this focus may turn into a fixation so extreme that it can lead to severe malnutrition or even death.[4] Even in less severe cases, the attempt to follow a diet that cannot provide adequate nourishment is said to lower self-esteem as the orthorexics blame themselves rather than their diets for their constant hunger and the resulting cravings for forbidden foods. [5]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthorexia_nervosa

Cf4e7d927a48582cc22adbe59bfd0b2d

(753)

on June 25, 2012
at 05:33 AM

The nervosa (at least when paired with anorexia/bulimia) means it's associated with a mental illness, such as a preoccupation with food and restriction in anorexia nervosa or the guilt of the binge/purge cycle in bulimia nervosa, whereas without nervosa, it could just be an emaciated, starved body (anorexia) as a result of medication decreasing one's appetite, or causin them to puke (bulimia). I would say that, perhaps, orthorexia could be obsession with food and avoidance of food deemed unhealthy because of some medical condition or intolerance, whereas nervosa would be as you described.

Cf4e7d927a48582cc22adbe59bfd0b2d

(753)

on June 25, 2012
at 05:33 AM

But I don't know for certain, ha.

1
Medium avatar

(10663)

on June 25, 2012
at 04:17 AM

Imagine a scenario where, for the rest of your life, all you have to eat are Cheetos, Twinkies, and Coke. The problem with orthorexia is when you'd rather starve than eat any of those (this is an extreme case).

Other than that, it is okay to want to eat as healthy as possible. But it is important to be rational and accept the fact that eating some "unhealthy" food is inevitable.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on June 25, 2012
at 04:20 AM

I guess I am mildly orthorexic

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on June 25, 2012
at 10:57 AM

Starve, or see an opportunity for an impromptu IF? :) Yes, of course, if the only choice was to eat junk food or not eat anything for more than a week, I'd eat the junk food. But if it's, say a party and there's only junk food, I'll skip it.

1
4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

on June 25, 2012
at 04:11 AM

Orthorexia is not a problem per se as you describe it. Orthorexia NERVOSA however, is.

Its a fine line for some of us.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on June 25, 2012
at 04:13 AM

Really? Does it negatively impact your life? (this somehow sounds sarcastic, but I don't mean it that way, I honestly would like to know)

44f0901d5b0e85d8b00315c892d00f8a

(273)

on June 25, 2012
at 02:58 PM

Like other eating disorders, orthorexia starts to negatively impact many areas of an individual’s life and, in some cases, can even lead to severe malnutrition or death, as the person increasingly eliminates food types from his or her diet.

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