New Eating Disorder Takes Healthy Food Too Far

We all want to eat healthier, right? Whether we’re cutting out animal products or choosing organics, the idea is that these food choices are better for our bodies and for the planet. Eating mindfully is one thing, but what about when those choices start to hinder our daily lives and impact our relationships?

There’s an eating disorder on the rise characterized by a focus on “pure” food. Orthorexia nervosa sufferers have such strict rules about what they will and won’t eat that they can become malnourished and experience severe stress about their food choices. These rules can also strain relationships with friends and family.

Dr. Steven Bratman first named the condition back in the late 90′s, but diagnosis has been on the rise in recent years. Doctors used to include folks with this condition under the generic category for unspecified eating disorders, but due to the number of cases cropping up it’s starting to be diagnosed more and more.

My concern with this spike in diagnoses is that it could put a negative connotation on any type of alternative diet. While orthorexia may be on the rise, not everyone who follows an alternative diet necessarily has this condition. This is a serious illness, and it’s when a fixation with pure foods starts to negatively impact your health and your life that there’s an issue.

If you want to learn more, you can check out Dr. Bratman’s site on orthorexia nervosa. There, you can read his original essay on the disorder and find more resources to learn about orthorexia.

So, what do you think? Is this condition something that you’re concerned about?

[h/t: The Guardian Observer]

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by malias


Dale Overall

Have never met anyone with this disorder but it does exist in some cases. It is not the same as a healthy diet where one tries to avoid highly processed and refined foods and concentrates on organic and non-GMO foods. Eating meat is not unhealthy unless one eats large portions, factory farmed meat filled with antibiotics and growth hormones. There is sometimes debates regarding raw food at times but it is a debate unless carried to extremes. (One woman insisted on eating 3 pounds of raw bok choy each day which lead to health problems that almost killed her. Had she cooked it - no problem.

Roger M.
Past Member 5 years ago


Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

Thank you :)

Angela Morrison

This disorder is saying to us that a person will sit and starve if there is not the foods they eat around them. That is the difference. That is the disorder. If all there is is white bread and a huge GM tomato and that haven't eaten for a week they still won't eat that food because it's not healthy. This disorder is saying people with it would rather starve to death than eat unhealthy. Get it straight.

Ivy J.
Ivy J.6 years ago

I have always been a "picky eater" but this new information has led me to believe I have a serious eating disorder. Perhaps it is just due to enhanced taste buds or whatever but as much as I try I just can't eat food most people eat. Yes, it has taken a serious toll on my social life. People have stopped inviting me to dinners, etc because I eat a mouthful of food, it tastes like crap and I can't eat anymore. I can scarf a plateful of pasta/marinara at home, in private but I can't eat in public. Yes, I am OCD. Am I crazy?????

Charles Webb
Charles Webb6 years ago

Herman Cain for US president!

Mara C.
Past Member 6 years ago

This sounds like an eating disorder for those who don't know where to buy "Safe" food. It's difficult to find healthy non-GM foods, but there are enough choicers out there that can be depended on. Buy organic from local farmers. If you eat meat, buy local, organic grass fed and certified humane raised & handled meats.

Theresa D.
Theresa D6 years ago

To eat a healty diet means we need to be educated on nutrition. I fear alot of people eat on principle alone and do not become educated for health.

Esther Lance
Esther Lance6 years ago

First time hearing of Orthorexia! I have found the best principle is to eat everything in moderation, stop eating before you reach the "stuffed" binges!

Caro M.
Kristy M6 years ago

Orthorexia is very real, but it is important to note it's not the same as just having a specific nutrional programme. Just like how being on a diet is a fary cry from actual anorexia. A habit is not the same as a full-blown illness.