Orthorexia: Obsession with Healthy Eating…Really?

Lo and behold, there is a new classification of eating disorders, “Orthorexia” which is defined as an obsession with healthy or righteous eating.

According to an eating disorder site,  “it often begins with someone’s simple and genuine desire to live a healthy lifestyle. The person may choose to stop eating red meat, but eventually cuts out all meat; then all processed foods, and will eventually eat only specific foods that are prepared in very specific ways.

Before I go any further, I feel obliged to explain that I’ve had the opportunity to work with several clients who, through a combination of learning to follow the healthy, balance of Paleo diet along with therapy of one sort or another, were able to address their anorexia and its causes in each of their lives.   The reason I bring this up is to illustrate that I’ve seen what these women have gone through, and the strength they demonstrated in dealing with it, and to add an ‘obsession with healthy eating’ to the same category (an eating disorder) seems offensive, ignorant and belittling to me.

As if one’s desire to live a healthy life and eschew foods that have been scientifically and anecdotally shown to be bad for one’s body is a problematic issue!

Granted, if someone becomes ultra restrictive with calories, or opts to eat none of the carbohydrates via veg and fruit, or the healthy fats both of which are an integral part of Paleo, then there may be an issue at hand, but they wouldn’t be following Paleo (a), and they wouldn’t be making food choices for the right reasons.

The same site goes along to explain that “there’s still some confusion as to whether or not it should be classed as an eating disorder” and  “some medical experts believe it’s actually another form of obsessive-compulsive disorder“.  It later states that “less intense forms of orthorexic behavior aren’t dangerous and is based on an obsessive fixation on food, just as with anorexia or bulimia…a person with orthorexia will think about the overall health benefits as well as how the food was processed, prepared, etc. Because of this, opinions have begun shifting in the last few years and orthorexia is now believed to be its own condition, separate from obsessive-compulsive or other eating disorders.”

Ok, so being interested in what we put in our bodies, where it came from and how it was prepared is a mental health concern?

I choose not to eat dairy, grains and legumes because I know the harm they’d pose to my body, and they make me feel ill.  Instead, I eat a bountiful diet of a balance of fresh veg, wild proteins and natural fats and no processed junk.  According to this idea of orthorexia, that would mean I have an eating disorder because of the foods I want to eat and those pretend foods I don’t.  Or that I have OCD and the ‘behavior’ of wanting to eat properly is akin to needing to wash one’s hands repeatedly throughout the day. Really?

This concept does nothing but further my disgust with the absolute state of disarray of our country’s approach to healthcare and what we view as acceptable or not.  This is beyond ridiculous.