Are “eating healthy” and “obsessed” synonymous?” [part 1 of 3]

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl (from Linda):

“I just received an e-mail earlier today from a friend who considers herself a very healthy eater (she’s a nurse) with a link to the following article “New Eating Disorders: Are They For Real?” about newly discovered or classified eating disorder, Orthorexia.

“It says: ‘Orthorexia is Latin for ‘correct eating.’’ Here, too, the focus isn’t on losing weight. Instead, sufferers increasingly restrict their diets to foods they consider pure, natural and healthful. Some researchers say that Orthorexia may combine a touch of obsessive compulsive disorder with anxiety and warn that severely limited “healthy” diets may be a stepping stone to anorexia nervosa, the most severe – and potentially life-threatening – eating disorder.’

“Linda continues: Okay, I say, but I am not “severely limiting” my healthful foods, I eat quite a variety, probably more than the average adult. My weight is well within normal limits, and I do not worry too much about calories or restrictions, other than making a clear attempt to eat unprocessed whole natural foods, as much raw as I can.

“So, this doesn’t seem to apply to me…. But then the article goes on to say…”Orthorexics: Those affected may start by eliminating processed foods, anything with artificial colorings or flavorings as well as foods that have come into contact with pesticides. Beyond that, orthorexics may also shun caffeine, alcohol, sugar, salt, wheat and dairy foods. Some limit themselves to raw foods.”

“Hmmmm, like that is something bad, say, compared to eating unlimited junk food, highly processed food and foods with pesticides? But that was not enough: the article goes on to describe the TREATMENT the newly classified Orthorexic needs in order to be “cured”, I guess, of their disease/condition! Wow, this is the kind of stuff that I find myself running up against since I took up a whole foods, high raw diet just over two years ago.

“I say very little at this point to anyone about what I choose to eat or not, and this is very sad to me, since I am trying to just be the example of what good fitness/nutrition can be. This just seems to put the ultimate stamp of “disapproval” on the way many of us are choosing to eat to circumvent GMO, pesticides, processed foods and additives. Robyn, I have to give you credit that you can keep up the good fight despite resistance, but would love to know what you do when confronted with this type of information?

“This is the link:”

Robyn’s answer: in my next post!

21 thoughts on “Are “eating healthy” and “obsessed” synonymous?” [part 1 of 3]

Leave a Comment
  1. My husband pointed this out to me too and I had to defend myself 🙂 The world will always think you need to be cured of something as if you are broken. If you feel comfortable with how you eat, let it be. I would say don’t let what others think of you be more important than following your heart.

  2. This irks me on so many levels. First, because people have never before HAD to be this concerned about what they eat because the level of junk has never been higher.

    I’m not sorry that I’m vigilant about how my family eats. I’m not sorry that we’re taking many dietary precautions against debilitating disease. I’m not sorry that it makes people uncomfortable when it’s almost impossible for me to order in a restaurant. I’m just flat out not sorry.

    Second, I’m truly annoyed as someone who had a REAL eating disorder at one point. To minimize how serious anorexia, bulimia, and related disorders are with this faux “disease” feels dismissive.

    Third, I hate the blamestorming. You’re obese and eat Kraft dinner three times a week? Fine, it’s your life. But instead of trying to make yourself feel better by pointing the finger at my focused eating, how about just owning that you eat crap? You feel judged because, in your heart of hearts, you know you’re not doing the best you can for yourself.

    Sometimes I get tired of working so hard to get good food, of spending the money on good nutrition. Sometimes I grow weary in well-doing for my four kids, but I persevere because I know even in my weariness this is what’s best. To label me with some disease because I care deeply about my nutrition, my faith, etc, pushes the laissez-faire attitude that we actively fight in our family. We just won’t allow a sub-standard deadness to pass for life around here. It is what it is!

  3. I read this same article! I bring it up all the time to my husband and we laugh our heads off about it! Orthorexia!!! Funny that “they” never seem to think drinking 8 sodas a day isn’t an eating disorder!

  4. I read this same article!! I bring it up to my husband all the time and we laugh our heads off about it!! Funny that their hasn’t been an eating disorder created for those that drink 8 sodas a day, everyday! Roybyn, I think you need to come up with a name for these types of people! This is just really funny to me!! And the really funny thing is that so many people will believe it!

  5. Wow, that might be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve read in a long time. Heaven forbid we abstain from highly processed and / or chemically treated food. I am sure we are deficient in some sort of nutrients by doing so. Think of all those poor people living in 3rd world countries who have no access to a standard supermarket where they could buy frito-lay and nabisco products galore. I am sure they’d be much healthier if they could. Sarcasm off now. What a sad state of affairs!

  6. This is so ridiculous. It’s like saying ‘There’s a new dangerous breed of drivers out there. They follow all the rules. They are so concerned about not running stop signs, not driving drunk, letting people merge, slowing down when a ball goes into the street because a child will probably soon follow, that it is actually a problem. Some even go so far as to limit themselves to always wearing their seatbelts, never talking or texting on their phone while driving, and paying for car insurance. We call them Orthodrivers. It’s an unhealthy obsession. These people really need to let themselves off the hook and realize it’s okay once in awhile to blow through a crosswalk with people in it, and even occasionally go 20 miles over the speed limit in construction zones. They need to realize safe driving habits could be life threatening!

    1. mgm, you’re the BEST, and how fun to meet you in person this week….don’t worry, I don’t tell anyone your real name! I always love your posts.

  7. I’ve thought about this article a little after reading it, and discussed it with my daughter some as well, and recently I have read several blogs in relation to eating disorders. I am very pro-raw, even though my journey hasn’t completely accomplished that yet. And I think that article did not completely address the diagnosis or the circumstances of those in that position.

    I definitely agree that there are many who call you obsessive when you make the choice to become raw, or in this day and age, even to eat healthy. But I have seen, with a family member, the dangers of limiting your intake to only “broccoli and cauliflower” out of obsession or ignorance or both. It is very dangerous and this type of disorder cannot be overlooked. This family member is still a young adult and has severe digestive issues, health issues, and a low immune system as a result of lack of balance.

    When my daughter and I discussed this topic she said that because she does not know how to eat only raw or studied it yet that if she went raw today she probably would eat only “broccoli and cauliflower”, at first, because she does not yet know how to balance a raw diet.

    My experiences remind me of the difficultly of this path, also that it is right for me and my body but like most things in life education is power and in this case vital to good health if you are making such a change in your life.

  8. Robyn, what a delight and pleasure to meet you! I was so struck hearing, in person, your story about your little boy and how you hit a dead end brick wall with doctors. Your book is by my bedstand and I read it often, to keep inspired, so I’ve read that story a time or two (or ten.) But in person I really felt the depth and weight of it – very powerful. Especially since I know you have to have told that story many times in seminars, but you are still so fresh, impactful and passionate in the telling – you are truly doing what you were meant to do.

  9. I feel like everyone’s overlooking the fact that they named this because it’s something that’s shown up in people who have severe food issues. The only reason they would take the trouble to name this is because severely ill people are using “pureness” of foods to justify their sickness, not because some otherwise normal people are choosing vegetables over twinkies.

    I was anorexic for several years and had really unbalanced eating habits for several years after that, and I can ABSOLUTELY see how someone would justify their sickness by using “healthy” guidelines as the rules that rule out eating.

    It might not have been necessary to add this as it’s own separate diagnosis, I think it could have just been recognized as a common rationale for some anorexics.

  10. MGM, you’re hilarious! haha, I thought the same thing. Obviously, the people making these things up need to eat some more Omega 3’s because their brains are lacking in nutrition. It’s like middle school or high school all over again. Let’s point a finger at the the nice smart girl/boy to make ourselves feel better.
    All the healthy whole food eating people that I know would never stop eating. We love eating! We definitely don’t go without! In fact we probably munch on snacks and eat more often than others. I will admit, I am definitely super excited about all that I’m learning about being healthy and getting great nutrition, but how in the world is that a disorder? lol

  11. I can see how someone who is already anorexic might use healthy eating as their excuse, but that is anorexia, not a raw foody disorder. If you really are a true whole foods, raw foody person then you know enough to know that you need to eat a variety and eat enough to sustain the body.

  12. What about 100 years ago and more, they didn’t have supermarket with all the crap in it, they ate fresh food out of their garden and everything was home made, does that make them “ORTHOREXIA”…seriously!!!

  13. I agree with Shannon & Kathy — this article seems to have omitted a crucial detail. As is, it clearly says that eliminating “processed foods, anything with artificial colorings or flavorings as well as foods that have come into contact with pesticides… caffeine, alcohol, sugar, salt, wheat and dairy foods” might cause “potentially dangerous nutritional deficiencies… and can lead to the same emaciation and health risks seen with anorexia nervosa, can be socially isolating and can undermine personal relationships.”

    I just had to “say that” “out loud” in order to believe it — SURELY that’s not what they mean. It must be, like Shannon said, those behaviors in conjunction with anorexic behavior? I do have a friend who does THAT, and i am concerned abt another friend who eats nothing green (!!). But

    OMG YOU’RE GONNA LOVE THIS: Her aunt has recently been making & sharing green smoothies that she likes!! Mine are way too “green” for her, but she’s finally at least getting some vegetables into her life!

Leave a Reply