OK, I teach nutrition. I lecture on eating disorders. And one of the unofficial disorders is orthorexia, which has a slightly different definition depending on who you talk to. Basically, those with orthorexia are fixated on what they feel is “eating right” or “healthy”. Some are preachy about it to others, and any slip-ups are ridden with guilt. You can imagine that it’s becoming a bigger and bigger issue…

Now, think of those of us who have medical issues which may or may not be controlled through diet… but, sure as heck, we’ll try out specific diets if we think it’s going to help our symptoms. I went gluten-free for a while to see if it would help my migraines. (It didn’t. Back to bread and pasta!) Of course, there’s strong evidence that all omega-3’s, whether fish or plant based, help those of us with MS. (Bring on the salmon and walnuts!) So… you might think that, if we get desperate enough, those of us with chronic health conditions might border on orthorexia, too?

Hm. Maybe.

But we have justification, right? There’s scientific research to back me up. I need my daily leafy greens and my regular doses of flax meal. Get out of my way–I need my KALE!

Where does one draw the line, though? Don’t all orthorexics say that they have “justification”? That they’re eating the way they do to “stay healthier” or because they’re afraid of becoming unhealthy? At what point is the obsession with food justifiable, or a psychological problem? Not saying that we shouldn’t eat healthfully to support our diseases and disorders…

Just some food for thought. 🙂


2 Responses to “ortho-what?”

  1. 1 Steve Yool

    I had not heard of this; but it seems that true orthorexics are those for whom the search for healthy eating becomes unhealthy, including an increasingly decreasing ‘palate’ of acceptable foods or food groups (i.e., a negative theory of food). Searching for foods that mitigate disease symptoms seems like a positive theory of food. Thanks dear for posting this thought-provoking analysis! Interesting! :- )

    • Definitely true… but it could definitely be taken too far. What about those who have multiple disorders… maybe hypochondriac… who eat a certain way to avoid symptoms? Maybe vague symptoms such as fatigue… ?? It could be real, or imagined, or… We’ll never know. In the end, whatever makes them happy. 🙂 (Issue being–restricting one’s diet may also restrict essential nutrients.)

      My eating habits sometimes backfire on me, too. I have a post coming out in a few days (what? I write posts ahead of time? GASP! Secret’s out) that talks about a current dietary issue…

      Keeping everyone in suspense ’til then. 🙂

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