Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Do They Serve Exclusively Grass-Fed Meat at the Funny Farm?

I'll be waiting for the men in white jackets to take me away.

Seems I suffer this new eating disorder, orthodexia, characterized by shunning foods with "artificial ingredients, trans fats or high-fructose corn syrup."

Oh, I also read labels and plan my menus (gasp!) for the week ahead; which according to Dr. Steve Bratman (who coined the name for the condition) is a sure sign I need help.... “If you get a thrill of pleasure from contemplating a healthy menu the day after tomorrow, something is wrong with your focus."

What do you think? Is orthorexia a health concern or hype?


  1. Maybe if more people actually avoided horrible chemicals like trans fats and HFCS, the U.S. would not be the fattest nation in the world.
    What about the disorder called "Unscrupulous Greed" where food companies legally feed everyone poisons that make them sick?

  2. It was interesting that the Chicago Tribune just came across Bratman's work. His book, Health Food Junkies, has been out since 2000!? They are almost a decade behind. I am a nutritionist, I've studied functional medicine with MD's at integrative medicine conferences for over 10 years.

    I personally like Bratman's theory and would suggest people actually read his book before throwing stones. I have no connection to him in anyway, this is just my professional opinion. I've come across alot of clients who don't binge and purge and they aren't anorexic, but they definitely obsess (all the time) about what they eat and don't eat - which I do think is a disorder in and of itself.

    Orthorexia is NOT criticizing people for planning healthy meals, nor is it saying people shouldn't be informed and educated about trans-fats, nutra-sweet, fast food etc. Information and accountability is one thing, obsession is completely different!

    Orthorexia becomes a holier than thou type of existence. The person begins to identify their whole existence and "specialness" with being vegan, having Candida, eating a wheat-free diet, eating raw foods, only eating organic etc. Of course this becomes a very slippery slope to identify when someone has gone too far versus they just want to clear up their Candida by consciously eating different foods. But this is why I like Bratman's book. I think it offers very good guidelines, thoughts and questions to clarify the difference between health and obsession!

    Again if you haven't read the book, I recommend doing so before negating this theory. The bottom line; food is one way to nourish ourselves! Its very important to pay attention to what you eat and I find food and nutrition a fascinating study (and always will)! However, I also believe a person can be eating the most "perfect diet" in the world but if they don't have "nourishing" relationships, their finances are a mess, they don't exercise, hate their jobs, don't take time to have fun and relax, volunteer and help others, connect to something greater and bigger beyond themselves etc, etc, all the organic green salad in the world will not make them "healthy", which is the point behind orthorexia! Over compensating with "perfect" food and diets does not fill the voids and nourish the other starving and deficient areas of our lives. Balance is key.


  3. Anonymous4:37 PM

    It's just one more way to medicalize and diagnose everyone with some sort of mental illness, then get everyone on some pill, if you ask me. We're almost there too, with something like 65% of the population taking one or more prescriptions daily now.

  4. Anonymous8:23 AM

    I agree with Jolene. Obviously, labeling all conscientious eaters as orthorexic would be like labeling everyone who plays the lottery gambling addicts. You have a problem if it's swallowing up your identity and your quality of life is deteriorating.

    Prime examples of orthorexia in action (IMO) can be seen on eating disorder recovery boards. Many people truly heal and recover, but there are many, many "dry drunks" who trade the deadly behaviours for a different addiction.

  5. Anonymous4:40 PM

    It's just one more way to medicalize and diagnose everyone...


    “If you get a thrill of pleasure from contemplating a healthy menu the day after tomorrow, something is wrong with your focus."

    Really? Some people get a "thrill of pleasure" from contemplating long-range financial planning and a healthy bank balance.

    Some people even get paid (quite well) to contemplate next year's agenda at a major corporation -- or maybe design a new building. You have to focus obsessively on LOTS of details to do this well.

    Old cliche: Failing to plan... is planning to fail.

    Applies in every area of life -- nutrition and diet included.