Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The New Disease in Town: Orthorexia

Apparently there's a brand new nervosa to join anorexia in the eat disorders family of illnesses. Orthorexics are, according to researchers at UNC, those that obsess over healthy foods. The disease is described as a phobia of "impure" food.

This obsession with organic or biologically pure foods prompts rigid and restrictive eating patterns. Foods that get categorized as unsafe, bad, or wrong, are both avoided and removed from meal plans. If these foods are ever consumed, the person experiences guilt, shame and anger towards self. He/she is likely to self-punish for breaking their food rule and become stricter with their dietary plans. Because these obsessions are real and hold meaning, individuals struggling with orthorexia have a difficult time enjoying social activities or family gatherings where a variety of food (unsafe food) is present.


Hmm... sounds to me like this is just OCD that happens to manifest itself in a person's dietary habits. Of course it has to have it's own name - so it can also have it's own pill, perhaps?
And my cynicism isn't unfounded. Just have a look at the below piece by the lauded Mr. John Stossel of TV news magazine 20/20.

At around 5:15 Stossel is dismissive to the point of insult at the suggestion that fear is consumed along with the meat of animal raised in a big business farm. His attitude makes him sound like a man who's still insisting the world is flat.

Orthorexics commonly have rigid rules around eating. Refusing to touch sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, corn and dairy foods is just the start of their diet restrictions. Any foods that have come into contact with pesticides, herbicides or contain artificial additives are also out.

This is the description of a "disorder?" Frankly, it's all sounding like a load of propaganda. As more of us awaken to sad reality of what's considered a normal American diet, the push back is to paint health-conscious folks as crazy zealots.

It's true that being obsessed with anything - even with making sure you get healthy food is bad news. When your body is general in balance, it can handle the occasional toxin and pass them out of your body safely. However, the fact is that we should be concerned about what's in our food. These gluttonous multi-national corporations would like us all to bury our heads in the sand and trust them have our best interests at heart. I think not, Monsanto!

photo: metroactive.com

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