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Are “eating healthy” and “obsessed” synonymous? Part 2 of 3

Robyn Openshaw - May 22, 2011 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

Regarding faux diagnoses: I’m always frustrated when someone wants to create a pathology out of something healthy, as with this “orthorexia” thing that a number of readers wrote us about.

Fact is, before we had artificially-colored Cheez Whiz and a few generations of exposure to it, that kind of “food” would have been shunned. If you’d squirted a blob of it on a plate and put the can next to it, folks in 1875 would have skirted it, poked at it, maybe sniffed it…..but wouldn’t they have been terrified to actually eat it? They certainly would have never seen that color before. Imagine being at an 1875 farmhouse and explaining the ingredients of Cheez Whiz to the inhabitants.

If your senses weren’t dulled and changed by ubiquitous processed foods, wouldn’t Cheez Whiz seems like a really terrible, crazy idea? Yet now we are 180 degrees from there, where you have an eating disorder if you WON’T eat the Cheez Whiz.

So if we go back to eating the way people did for thousands of years–before cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases became common–now we are mentally ill.

I’m sure you’re not surprised to learn I reject coining the word “orthorexia.”

But. The way folks have made a healthy idea pathological is through “guilt by association.” Fact is, a lot of people who are really healthy eaters are ….. no offense if this hits close to home for anyone …… kinda neurotic people in general. In fact, their healthy eating comes from being a rather paranoid, fear-based person.

So, because some people who eat all-raw are, um, kinda “weird,” by mainstream America’s standards ….. then eating high-raw, by association, is weird. So goes the logic. And bam, we’ve got ourselves a new diagnostic label to toss around the internet.

Okay, so this is a tricky subject. I’m not naming any names. But just by nature of the subject matter on this site, I get TONS of email from people who sound like they’re losing a lot of sleep, over food. Lots of regular people read this blog, but some folks struggle with excesses of uptightness. They worry about all kinds of details, trying to find the “right” diet.

An older reader recently mentioned on this blog that her new learning curve about health and nutrition has resulted in family members calling her “obsessed.”

I replied that I think that’s what it looks like, when your eyes first open. It’s pretty natural to upset the equilibriums in your life initially, when you learn truths that you may have known nothing about for 50 years. You’re shocked, you’re excited, you feel like the scales have fallen from your eyes and everyone else around you is still in the dark!

You overachievers don’t do things in a small way. So suddenly you are voraciously reading everything you can get your hands on. You read all 12 steps in my course and try to do it all overnight. You listen to the audio files from 12 Steps in your car (for the 4th time) and feel resentful when a family member makes a snide comment. You carry your high-lighted, battered manual in your purse for when you get a spare 10 minutes to plan your groceries. You find yourself having a conversation with a stranger in the grocery store line about The China Study.

Sound familiar? (If so, it’s because I’m not making this stuff up. I’m taking it as examples from things y’all have told me, at classes or in emails.) More tomorrow about how “weird” I was when I started on this journey and what a healthier place looks like, once all the pieces settle into awesome habits.

Posted in: Lifestyle, Mind/Body Connection, Whole Food

8 thoughts on “Are “eating healthy” and “obsessed” synonymous? Part 2 of 3”

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  1. Just want to say we attended your lecture in Bakersfield this week and you were WONDERFUL. We LOVED every minute of it. We have been talking about it ever since. I had been following your blog for years now, and it was so fun to actually meet you. (We were the ‘older’ couple sitting on the front row to your far left.)

    You were well worth the 4 hour round trip and over night stay. I regret we didn’t buy your dvd so we could watch it all again. So I will look into that. Thank you again!

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Jill, thank you so much for coming–I am so humbled and honored that you not only came, but that you traveled so far. God bless you,


  2. Anonymous says:

    THANK YOU! all that talk has had me horrified that people actually think I have a problem because I refuse to put crap in my body.

  3. Anonymous says:

    this makes total sense, I was all weird and gun hoe in a crazy way when I started, and now I’ve mellowed, figured out what works for me, and it’s all good!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I was so gung ho too! But once u get into a rhythm it becomes more natural. I am to the point where I am not telling everyone about the china study, (yes, that was me telling anyone who would listen) :). And now I know how to give little hints and those around me know where to come when they r ready.

  5. Anonymous says:


    This “orthorexia” sounds like a case of one calling good “evil” and evil “good.”

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Michael, totally get that, totally agree.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I heard about the China Study on Dr. Oz’s show one day so I ordered the book from Amazon and read it cover-to-cover in one day. I felt so betrayed by the food industry and our government agencies who are supposed to “protect” us. Shortly after that I went to Costco and there was the BlendTec, which to me was a sign that fit right in with the changes I wanted to make. Then the demo guy at Costco is the one who turned me on to I’ve watched all your videos, bought your green smoothie book, and down loaded yet another recipe book. Your information, in conjunction with the book Clean Food is all I needed to make changes for a brighter future. I figure they will be asking me “what have you been doing? you look great”, that’s when I’ll share information.

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