Am I an Orthorexic?

The first time I heard about orthorexia was while reading Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food. The term was coined by California doctor Steven Bratman in 1997 and used to describe those with a “healthy eating disorder.” In other words, it’s meant to describe those people who are “obsessed” with making healthy food choices.

I tried to imagine the average orthorexic. What does it mean, after all, to be “obsessed” with eating healthy, real, nourishing foods? And could it be a bad thing? Perhaps the average orthorexic never or rarely eats out because they know the food they’re being served is the product of the industrial food chain. Or maybe they refuse certain foods at social functions because of the food’s indeterminate origins.

Oh wait. That pretty much describes me and about half my friends. Does our desire to feed ourselves and our children the healthiest food possible mean that we’ve got a mental disorder? I didn’t think so.

I continued trying to wrap my head around how healthy eating could be a mental disorder. Maybe I should get more creative in my imagination. Maybe orthorexics are so obsessed with eating well that they don’t eat anything at all? They’d rather starve than eat crap?

Then I found this quiz. It’s the one Dr. Bratman published in his book Health Food Junkies: Orthorexia Nervosa: Overcoming the Obsession with Healthful Eating which is supposed to tell you if you’re orthorexic or not. I failed the quiz, and that struck me as quite funny.

So, I’m sharing it here for you.

The Orthorexia Quiz

1) Do you spend more than 3 hours a day thinking about food? (For four hours give yourself two points.)

The time measurement includes cooking, shopping, reading about your diet, discussing (or evangelizing) it with friends, and joining Internet chat groups on the subject. Three hours a day is too much time to think about healthy food. Life is meant for love, joy, passion, and accomplishment. Absorption with righteous food seldom produces any of these things.

2) Do you plan tomorrow’s food today?

Orthorexics tend to dwell on upcoming menus. “Today I will eat steamed broccoli, while tomorrow I will boil Swiss chard. The day after that I think I’ll make brown rice with adzuki beans.” If you get a thrill of pleasure from contemplating a healthy menu the day after tomorrow, something is wrong with your focus.

3) Do you care more about the virtue of what you eat than the pleasure you receive from eating it?

It’s one thing to love to eat, but for an orthrexic it isn’t the food itself; it’s the idea of the food. You can pump yourself up so giddily with pride that you don’t even taste it going down.

4) Have you found that as the quality of your diet has increased, the quality of your life has correspondingly diminished?

The problem with orthorexia is that healthy food doesn’t feed your soul. If you spend too much energy on what you put into your mouth, pretty soon the meaning will drain out of the rest of your life.

5) Do you keep getting stricter with yourself?

Like other addictions, orthorexia tends to escalate, demanding increasing vigilance as time passes. The diet of yesterday isn’t pure enough for tomorrow. Over time the rules governing healthy eating get more rigid. And if you are an orthrexic, you get a grim pleasure from this.

6) Do you sacrifice experiences you once enjoyed to eat the food you believe is right?

Because of it’s confused scale of values, orthorexia leads to a crazy allocation of interest. Have you fallen into this trap? Will you turn down an invitation to eat at a friend’s house because the food there isn’t healthy enough for you? Do you find that obsessive thoughts of healthy food occupy your mind while you watch your child perform in a play at school?

7) Do you feel an increased sense of self-esteem when you are eating healthy food? Do you look down on others who don’t?

One of the seductive aspects of orthorexia is that it allows one to feel superior to other people. After all, healthy eating is everywhere extolled. Orthorexia seems to be right up there with good work habits and a clean life. In this, orthorexia has an aspect that can make it harder to shake than other eating disorders: While anorexics and bulimics feel ashamed of their habits, orthorexics strut with pride. “Look at those degenerates,” the mind says of everyone else, “hopelessly addicted to junk.”

8) Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?

If you are an orthorexic, you feel guilt and shame when you eat foods that don’t fit the anointed diet. Your sense of self-esteem is so linked to what you eat that tasting a morsel of forbidden food feels like a sin. The only way to regain self-respect is to recommit yourself to ever-stricter eating, to despise yourself when you stray from the path of food righteousness.

There are times in life when it’s worthwhile being ashamed. When I’ve lost my temper at a child, betrayed a secret, insulted a friend behind his back, I’ve committed an actual error worthy of actual guilt. But eating pizza is fairly low on the scale of moral lapses. No one on her deathbed looks back and says, “I’m filled with regret that I ate too much ice cream and not enough kale.”

9) Does your diet socially isolate you?

Once you’ve reached a certain point, the rigidity demanded by orthorexia makes it truly difficult for you to eat anywhere but home. Most restaurants don’t serve the right foods, and even when they do, you won’t trust that it’s been prepared correctly. Even your friends inexplicably fail to cater to your personal preferences.

A common strategy is to bring your own food in separate containers and chew it slowly, looking virtuous and soulful while everyone else gulps down garbage. Or, like a solitary alcoholic, you can decline the invitation and dine in the loneliness and comfort of your own home.

10) When eating the way you are supposed to, do you feel a peaceful sense of total control?

Life is complicated, unpredictable, and often scary. It is not always possible to control your life, but you can control what you eat. A heavy-handed domination over what goes onto your fork or spoon can create the comfortable illusion that your life is no longer in danger of veering from the plan.

As to these, the only ones I couldn’t answer in the affirmative were #3 & 4. That’s because, for me, I derive a lot of pleasure from eating my food. That pleasure is, in fact, one of the reasons I eat this way. Let’s face it. Real Food tastes better. Raw milk tastes sweet, creamy, and alive. A freshly picked summer tomato is exquisite. Eggs from pastured hens taste, well, egg-ier. And choosing to source, eat, and prepare these foods well adds to, rather than detracts from, my life. Remember how I once said that Real Food is ennobling? To me, the pleasure is more important than the virtue, although it’s somewhat tangled up in a sense of being virtuous.

For all the other questions, I found myself — in some ways at least — answering “yes.” I may not have agreed with Dr. Bratman’s explanatory statements or questions, but an honest answer to the question required a positive response.

Supposedly, answering 4 or more in the affirmative means you need help. Answering 8? I must be totally off my rocker.

Could this be true? Perhaps this one quiz is particularly skewed. What do other doctors have to say about orthorexia nervosa? In this interview with the UK’s The Guardian, I read:

“I am definitely seeing significantly more orthorexics than just a few years ago,” said Ursula Philpot, chair of the British Dietetic Association’s mental health group. “Other eating disorders focus on quantity of food but orthorexics can be overweight or look normal. They are solely concerned with the quality of the food they put in their bodies, refining and restricting their diets according to their personal understanding of which foods are truly ‘pure’.”

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.

“The issues underlying orthorexia are often the same as anorexia and the two conditions can overlap but orthorexia is very definitely a distinct disorder,” said Philpot. “Those most susceptible are middle-class, well-educated people who read about food scares in the papers, research them on the internet, and have the time and money to source what they believe to be purer alternatives.”

Deanne Jade, founder of the National Centre for Eating Disorders, said: “There is a fine line between people who think they are taking care of themselves by manipulating their diet and those who have orthorexia. I see people around me who have no idea they have this disorder. I see it in my practice and I see it among my friends and colleagues.”

Jade believes the condition is on the increase because “modern society has lost its way with food”. She said: “It’s everywhere, from the people who think it’s normal if their friends stop eating entire food groups, to the trainers in the gym who [promote] certain foods to enhance performance, to the proliferation of nutritionists, dieticians and naturopaths [who believe in curing problems through entirely natural methods such as sunlight and massage].

“And just look in the bookshops – all the diets that advise eating according to your blood type or metabolic rate. This is all grist for the mill to those looking for proof to confirm or encourage their anxieties around food.”

Is it really a mental disorder to try to source pure food? To realize your body functions better when you eliminate grains, GMOs, or industrially refined crap?

Laughably, the answer these days appears to be yes. Natural News’ Health Ranger had this to say:

You’re not supposed to question your food, folks. Sit down, shut up, dig in and chow down. Stop thinking about what you’re eating and just do what you’re told by the mainstream media and its processed food advertisers. Questioning the health properties of your junk food is a mental disorder, didn’t you know? And if you “obsess” over foods (by doing such things as reading the ingredients labels, for example), then you’re weird. Maybe even sick.

That’s the message they’re broadcasting now. Junk food eaters are “normal” and “sane” and “nourished.” But health food eaters are diseased, abnormal and malnourished.

So, my dear readers, how off your rockers are you? Take the Orthorexia Quiz and let us know!

(photo by anabadili)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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69 Responses to Am I an Orthorexic?
  1. shelbylyn1982
    July 1, 2010 | 2:26 pm

    LOL RT @FoodRenegade: Are you mentally ill b/c you like to eat healthy, #realfood? Take the Orthorexia Quiz n find out! http://bit.ly/c8X1R9

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. Rebecca
    July 1, 2010 | 3:01 pm

    I WISH that more people I was close with were orthorexic… it would make my life so much easier ;).

    I’m orthorexic. One of the things I notice though is this idea that we’re making huge sacrifices to eat the way we do. When people hear that I don’t have TV so that I can afford healthy meat their reaction is bordering on funny. “OHMIGADS you have such willpower, I can’t believe you make such sacrifices, etc etc”… whereas I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything– my food tastes amazing, my life is richer, I’m intimately connected to the earth and the seasons, I live a slower-paced lifestyle free of the same stressors that give other people degenerative diseases. I look at it thinking “Sacrifice? Really?”… in many ways I wish I could delve further into living this lifestyle… do the whole farm thing, y’know? *daydreams about leaving Los Angeles one day*

    But anyway, it’s amazing to me how society seems to have ‘stimulation’ confused for ‘nourishment’ (in so many ways), and how we are, of course, suffering from a disorder by demanding more from our lives.
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog post …Lavender-honey ice cream =-.

    • KristenM
      July 1, 2010 | 5:04 pm

      This is the part that gets me, this idea that we are “suffering from a disorder by demanding more from our lives.”

      I tend to dislike a lot of modern psychology anyway, believing that many things diagnosed as “abnormal” are, in fact, well within the realm of normal (if not socially acceptable). So that, too, is probably coloring my judgment on this topic.

      • Judie McMath
        January 23, 2013 | 3:33 pm

        I have a masters degree in behavioral science, and I can tell you that, as far as I know, orthorexia is not a legitimate diagnosis of the DSM-IV Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and is not planned to be included in the upcoming DSM-V. It does NOT qualify as “science” or as legitimate modern psychology.

  3. Jill
    July 1, 2010 | 3:43 pm

    According to the quiz I guess I too am orthorexic. Isn’t a “condition” something that one suffers from? The way I see it, I’m not suffering at all by being particular about what I eat and where it comes from. In I think I stopped suffering the day I started caring about my food.
    And I know food is fuel and all, but what is so wrong from deriving pleasure from meal planning, preparation and eating? I can understand if it becomes a life-inhibiting preoccupation (as in I can’t bathe my kids now because I’m too busy counting tomorrow’s dinner’s calories), but I get an immense amount of pleasure from all aspects of food.

    • KristenM
      July 1, 2010 | 5:07 pm

      I think that’s where I’m at in my understanding, too. I *can* imagine ways in which it would be “life-inhibiting” as you described. Nevertheless, the terms and phrasings of these three doctors on the subject make it sound just like normal healthy eating (at least what’s normal for me). They don’t make it sound abnormal at all.

      I wonder what the actual diagnostic criteria for orthorexia nervosa are. Perhaps they are more extreme than what these doctors have summarized.

      • heather
        July 2, 2010 | 3:29 pm

        There is no actual diagnostic criteria for orthorexia nervosa–it isn’t a recognized eating disorder according to the DSM. Some psychologists unofficially consider it an offshoot of anorexia, others an offshoot of OCD, and others don’t recognize it as legitimate at all.
        .-= heather´s last blog post …I Wish the World Cup Happened Every Year =-.

  4. Jenn
    July 1, 2010 | 4:30 pm

    The term orthorexic offends me, both as a former anorexic, and as someone diagnosed with OCD that tends to revolve around food. Being worried that you will be less healthy if you eat HFCS regularly (e.g., eat a sandwich made with commercial bread everyday for lunch) is not a disorder — it’s reasonable. Having crippling anxiety that keeps you from getting to sleep at night because you ate a cookie at work is a disorder.

    This crap is just one more way in which the industrial food system tries to make people who eat real food feel marginalized. My mother has bought into it hardcore, complaining to my grandmother that I “won’t eat anything.” I told grandma that I would eat meat, I would eat potatoes, I would eat butter, I would eat vegetables, I would eat pretty much everything she serves except maybe the canned crescent rolls. But, no, when mom offers frozen pizza and cake-from-a-mix, I won’t eat that.

    Okay, comment-rant over.
    .-= Jenn´s last blog post …Mindful Menus- The Personal Challenge =-.

    • KristenM
      July 1, 2010 | 5:10 pm

      We are marginalized, aren’t we? On the fringes? If it weren’t true, my blog wouldn’t be called “Food Renegade.” Nevertheless, like you, I do think describing something perfectly reasonable as a mental disorder is quite excessive and offensive.

  5. Off my rocker
    July 1, 2010 | 4:33 pm

    As someone who struggles with orthorexia, your post is coming off as pretty rude and insensitive. For some of us this is a very real disorder that affects us on a daily basis.

    Turning it into a big paleo circle jerk (sounds harsh, but I’ve been on that high horse before) only shames and stigmatizes any thoughts some of us might have about being truly sick.

    I understand wanting to be healthy and eat well at a rational level and that eating with blinders on shouldn’t be the norm, but please consider that it’s surprisingly easy to fall at the other end of the spectrum and lose perspective. This isn’t some “other” that can’t touch us, something to giggle about while we all eat fritatta and pity those with less information or dietary willpower than us.

    I’ve worked at a veg co-op, seen kids raised vegan and macrobiotic, but this kind of ascetic, puritanical mindset to food is often mirrored in the paleo/primal/WAPF community too.

    Please consider the impact this kind of ignorant behavior and misinformation has on people who might be in a different situation. Mental health problems are not there for your entertainment.

    • KristenM
      July 1, 2010 | 5:18 pm

      I’m sorry you view my post as rude. I’m honestly trying to wrap my head around what orthorexia really could look like in real life. The three doctors I quoted all made it sound quite normal to me, and I found that kind of offensive in a laughable sort of way.

      If their descriptions are the diagnostic criteria for orthorexia, then I’ve apparently got it too. And if I do, then I’m not bothered by the fact that I do at all. I don’t believe my orthorexia is something to struggle against, or something that takes away from my life. Instead, it adds to it, and actually gives it a sense of purpose, beauty, and virtue.

      If, however, their descriptions aren’t adequate descriptions of orthorexia, then why shouldn’t I poke fun at how watered down these doctors have made it sound? Don’t they deserve to be called out for generalizing and simplifying a serious mental health problem so much that those of us with healthy perspectives about eating healthy food also fall under their descriptive umbrella?

  6. Stephanie
    July 1, 2010 | 5:24 pm

    While I try to feed my family healthfully, I can’t imagine taking an obsession with food to such an extreme that it interferes with relationships. In my philosophy of life, people comebefore everything else, including even health. If I’m turning down meal invitations because the food isn’t healthy enough for me, then I would have to ask myself why eating perfectly pure food is more important than the people in my life. People in my family have food allergies to common foods, allergies that will cause them to be quite I’ll if they consume those foods–yet we don’t allow it to keep us from relationships. So from a spiritual and emotional perspective, I believe this obsession could be a bad thing, yes.

    • KristenM
      July 1, 2010 | 5:42 pm

      I also can’t imagine letting it interfere with relationships. Generally speaking, I always smile and eat whatever’s served to me with thanksgiving. If it’s more like a buffet, then I try to be pickier. But at a sit down meal, I just eat and am grateful. If someone *asks* if I have preferences (much the way any host does to make sure they provide for vegetarian or allergic guests), then I give them a few basic ones. But I’m by no means pushy, nor do I count it against them if they don’t “get it.”

      That said, eating this way *does* socially isolate me. It does make me eat out at restaurants less, or at least be particular about which restaurants I give my money to. And it often *does* result in my bringing separate snacks & food for the kids & I rather than having us be dependent on buying less-than-ideal snacks & food out. So, even though I don’t feel like I let it interfere with relationships, I definitely feel that eating this way is socially isolating. So, I had to answer yes to that question.

      • Amy
        July 2, 2010 | 7:07 am

        Food does interfere with our relationships. We are a family of six. Our youngest at seven y/o,has severe food intolerances. Since we have figured out her problems. She has gained her health which she never had. She is able to learn now. She does not have a swollen belly anymore. Her teeth are starting to straighten out. But yet, it offends many when I bring her food along with us. Our families are starting to come around after 2 years and things have improved. But food is a touchy subject. I rather have my healthy daughter then relationships with others. The good news, the six of us have grown so much closer as a family and we have met and made good friends that are going through the same thing.

        I am so sick of labels though. Everything has a label. What is normal? We all have are battles to fight. I believe as long as God is the center of your life and nothing takes that spot, that is what is right.

        Where pioneers Orthorexia? People have been obsessed with food since the beginning of time. I do not believe that this then could be called a “new” disorder.

        I also spend more then 3 to 4 hours a day with food. We have a orchard, garden, chickens, a milk cow, put up most of our own food, and cook from scratch 98% of our meals. How could you not spend that much time on the above activities?

        Am I sick? If so, I never felt so good being sick!

  7. Katie
    July 1, 2010 | 5:30 pm

    Orthorexia is not about wanting to eat healthfully. It’s about being so obsessed with it that your life resolves around little else. If any WAPF’er spends 3-4 hours per day thinking about food, I think that’s way overboard. Of course you personally need to research to write your blog posts, but after your average person has a comfortable level of knowledge and experience with traditional food preparation methods, I think it is excessive for them to still be thinking about it 3-4 hours per day.

    Of course traditional foodists need to plan our meals so that we can start the necessary preparations/fermentations/soaking, but this is talking about having an obsessive need to control what we’re going to be eating.

    Part of the problem with orthorexia comes when a person is not sure which diet to follow. Can you imagine trying to strictly follow WAPF principles AND raw veganism, for example? All you’d be able to eat would be raw vegetables! With so much conflicting information from the two camps, you’d feel like you couldn’t eat anything, because no matter what it would be somehow wrong. I had a friend who got down to a very dangerous weight over this. No matter what she wanted to eat, she didn’t think it was ‘right’.

    • KristenM
      July 1, 2010 | 5:48 pm

      Really? 3-4 hours a day is obsessive? Even when that time includes menu planning, ingredient sourcing, food preparation time, & eating time (as the quiz said it does)? I spend at least 2.5 hours a day just preparing and eating food. Then I blog about it here, and do nutrition coaching, and read internet forums about it. And I also set aside time to flip through cookbooks and menu plan. And I spend time sourcing my food well: going to farmer’s markets, picking up food at food drops from local farms, and even trying to make informed decisions at the grocery store. The only way I can think of to spend less than 3 hours a day thinking about, preparing, or eating food is to put my brain on hold and eat out all the time, or at least eat a lot of boxed convenience foods.

      And yes, that’s part of what I was getting at when trying to imagine someone who’s orthorexic (before reading what these 3 doctors had to say — which perfectly described ME), this idea that perhaps the orthorexic is someone who’s so obsessed with eating the right foods that they’d prefer to starve than eat “crap.”

  8. Local Nourishment
    July 1, 2010 | 6:14 pm

    Wow. What a variety of responses! I tend to be a bit obsessive about things, it’s just part of who I am. Those who love me and understand me accept this and help me accept it as part of me.

    Most of the criteria definitely apply to me, but I don’t “suffer” in any way. I wouldn’t say I’d rather starve than eat “crap” because I’ve been known to eat “crap” very happily when the situation called for it. But yeah, we pack healthy snacks when we go places, I offer to cook when visiting friends, and I have, on occasion, enjoyed a homemade meal before going to meet a friend at McDonalds. I don’t let it socially isolate me, and while I’m sitting there eating my packed meal, I’m not martyring myself, I’m offering everybody bites of my more delicious food!

    I cook for seven people everyday. Three meals and a snack (for the little growing ones anyway.) 3 hours is barely an hour a meal! I spend three hours preparing food everyday. On Friday, my menu-making day, I spend more. On Wednesday, my farmers market day, I spend more. I spend extra minutes in my (food) garden every day. When I blog, I spend more. When I read up about things like genetically modified salmon, the Supreme Court nominee who is baffled by our right to choose foods for ourselves and the latest raw milk debate, I spend more. I don’t just plan TOMORROW’s food today, I plan next week’s! Duh! I’m thinking the doctor who thought up this quiz 1) doesn’t cook for a family, 2) has no clue what the difference is between a UHT pasteurized glass of milk and a chocolate Yoohoo, and 3) is funded by the Corn Grower’s Board.

    Puhleeze.
    .-= Local Nourishment´s last blog post …What do real food bloggers eat =-.

    • KristenM
      July 2, 2010 | 9:03 am

      Yeah, the whole 3 hours a day thinking about food thing really set me off when I first started reading this. I thought: this person must not have a family, or must feed them by eating out of boxes all the time. And if that’s the case, do I really want him (via the quiz he created) to be the judge of whether or not I’m mentally ill?

  9. Andrea
    July 1, 2010 | 6:47 pm

    I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that people (Dr.’s) are getting offended at those who choose to actually look after their own bodies instead of depending on drugs to fix everything. Since when was meal planning obsessive? Even many non-health concerned people do that. As for spending more than 3 hours thinking about food, I must be insane for making my own bread as I mix the sourdough the night before to rise, then in the morning I make the loaves then wait another 3 hours before baking. Yes, I think about my bread during that time. I must be sick – oh wait, I am. That is how I seriously got started on trying to help my body in the first place. If I don’t “obsess” about food I would be totally bed-ridden and unable to do much at all. Oh, wait that’s what drugs and painkillers are for, silly me. So no, my quality of life is greatly increase (#4), isn’t that why we all choose to eat like this? I was greatly encouraged that there are “significantly more orthorexics than just a few years ago.” Hopefully more people will learn that “you are what you eat”.
    Thanks for the post.

  10. Raechelle
    July 1, 2010 | 7:44 pm

    This may have already been said, but in my opinion, the only reason they have made healthy eating a disorder is so that people that don’t eat healthy don’t feel so bad…hehehe. The “good doctor” has obviously never eaten a meal prepared by someone who enjoys and takes pleasure from good, real food…me thinks the doctor is missing out on allot!

    love your blog…good stuff!
    cheers!
    .-= Raechelle´s last blog post …TASTY TUESDAY- =-.

  11. Staci
    July 1, 2010 | 8:46 pm

    Yes, I spend more than three hours a day planning, sourcing, preparing, and eating healthy real food. I guess it would be better if I spent that time getting a manicure and a pedicure, because that would be far less obsessive. Or maybe I should spend that time going to the gym and spinning for an hour, because that’s not nearly as obsessive. Or may I should start watching TV instead, because it isn’t nearly as obsessive to religiously follow who is dancing with the stars or who will be the next Idol (nothing obsessive about an idol!) Or maybe I should spend less on healthy food so that I can spend more on the latest best-selling novel or a tanning salon membership or Nexium or Lipitor or Ambien, because supporting those artificial industries isn’t obsessive at all. But, supporting local farmers who really are obsessed with growing something real that we must have to survive? That’s obsessive! Shall I go on? :)

    • KristenM
      July 2, 2010 | 9:08 am

      All good points, particularly about TV viewing in today’s culture.

  12. wwwebbs
    July 1, 2010 | 8:57 pm

    Healthy is sick. No doublethink THERE! http://www.foodrenegade.com/am-i-an-orthorexic/

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  13. wwwebbs
    July 1, 2010 | 8:58 pm

    Are you mentally ill if you make menus and shop from a list? Apparently so. http://www.foodrenegade.com/am-i-an-orthorexic/

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  14. Cherie
    July 1, 2010 | 9:00 pm

    I guess I’ve been Orthorexia for about seven years, after I watched my father slowly die from Parkinson’s which was accelerated from the quadruple by-pass surgery he had done because he couldn’t stop eating the “standard American diet & the bogus low-fat diet his doctor’s recommended. I was then 180lb and had many health issues too. I’ve maintain a healthy weight of 130lb and I’m very healthy now. I laugh at how many of the social gatherings end up discussing someone’s diet related illness & how much their medications cost to treat them (and they want your sympathy as they pig out on all that garbage)!!! I love what I eat…so delicious, and I eat to live. I want to be healthy when I’m 70 & 80 and will be able to play with my future grandkids and watch them grow up. I’ll spend my time preparing healthy food for myself & my family, not spending all my time & money on doctor’s & medical procedure & their meds. My heart does go out to those of you who truly struggle with the disorder, but feel they will try to label far too many of us who don’t, because they don’t want to lose any profit! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Bryan - oz4caster
    July 1, 2010 | 9:44 pm

    Maybe we should coin a word for those who don’t care about the nutrition or lack thereof in the food they eat. How about “healthorexia” as in health o wrecks ya :)

    I’m afraid way too many people are healthorexic. Maybe that’s why so many people seem to be so unhealthy today. The good news is that no drug can ever fix this problem … all it takes is becoming orthorexic instead :)

    • KristenM
      July 2, 2010 | 9:18 am

      That brings me back to my favorite rant about labeling: why is it that we have to go out of our way to label something organic, local, naturally-raised, grass-fed, preservative-free, etc.? This is the way food has always been grown/consumed until about 60 years ago. So, shouldn’t all the new-fangled things bear the labels pesticide-laden, adulterated, genetically-modified, etc? Why label the “normal” stuff?

  16. liz
    July 1, 2010 | 10:14 pm

    This quiz might help people who are already starting to believe they have a problem, but I don’t think anyone who is living a full, happy life should take it seriously. The key is to be realistic; you can’t attempt to eliminate all “sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, corn and dairy foods…any foods that have come into contact with pesticides, herbicides or contain artificial additives” all at once. If you do, you might be a true orthorexic. I can’t imagine how anyone would have the knowledge, skills, or resources at hand to do that from the get go.

    Here are my results, and I am positive that I don’t eat nearly as naturally as some of you others:

    1) Yes. Foods always been a passion for me, I’d love to make a career out of it someday, and I enjoy the challenge of recreating ‘convenience staples’ from scratch.

    2) Yes. I make slightly more than minimum wage, go to school full time, and generally only cook for myself. I wouldn’t be able to sustain myself if I didn’t plan my meals a few days, if not weeks and buy/prep for the month ahead of time…unless I only ate prepackaged meals that could last for years on my shelves.

    3) N/A. They go hand in hand… healthy food that tastes good.

    4) No. I don’t agree with the description of the question either.

    5) Yes. I’m taking it in steps and am proud of my accomplishments. Although this blog has showed me there are ways to reincorporate more of my ‘bad’ favorite foods in a healthy way.

    6) No. I was raised to believed turning down food that was prepared for me was rude and will probably always live by that virtue. I think about food at weird times, but like I said, I love it.

    7) Yes. I’ve worked at the ‘healthy’ fast food place for 4 years, and when I truthfully answer simple questions about menu items (“Is that whole wheat bread?” and such), I am sometimes told I didn’t know what I am talking about.. It’s hard not to get frustrated with people when you deal with that daily.

    8) Yes, but not in a way that affects my self esteem. I try to create ways I could curtail those cravings with something more natural.

    9) No, eating out at sit down restaurants is my freebie. See question 6.

    10) Yes.. and I think anyone with a hobby or passion would say the same thing. I feel the same way while playing guitar, or knitting, or making jewelry.

    6/9.. question 3 is too vague for me to consider.

    • KristenM
      July 2, 2010 | 9:19 am

      I love reading your responses. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Susan
    July 1, 2010 | 11:01 pm

    Interesting post. I can totally relate to the confusion. I’ve been undergoing treatment for mental illness the past three years and am recovering from orthorexia so maybe I can help a little.

    Anyone can look at a list of diagnostic criteria for a certain disorder and be like “I have that!” But simply meeting the criteria doesn’t mean you actually have the disorder. You could simply just have a few quirks or eccentricities. The normal becomes abnormal when the “eccentricities” become a problem, as in they take over your life and impair your day-t0-day functioning.

    One could meet all the criteria for orthorexia and not actually have it. If you avoid non-foods to the point of obsession but still function properly day-to-day, you don’t have orthorexia. But if your need to eat healthy foods takes over your life, then you might have it. There has to be a problem in order for there to be a disorder. No problem, no disorder.

    Orthorexia is just as bad as other eating disorders, it’s just not as recognized. Orthorexics have severe anxiety and depressive episodes that can lead to suicide. They worry about food and their health all the time. Orthorexics will restrict their diet to such extremes that they can become severely malnourished. Some will purge if they eat something “bad”. Others will become anorexic. Orthorexics hear that same “voice” in their head that anorexics and bulimics hear. The one telling them they’re fat/unhealthy/ugly/etc. The one yelling at them for eating something “bad”. The one that torments them every. single. day.

    Orthorexia, like all ED’s, is hell. If you meet the criteria but are not in hell, you don’t have orthorexia. Hope that made sense…..

    Any hoo, I absolutely LOVE your blog. Keep up the good work!

    -Susan
    .-= Susan´s last blog post …Rx drug withdrawal candida die off PMS hell =-.

    • KristenM
      July 2, 2010 | 9:20 am

      “Orthorexia, like all ED’s, is hell. If you meet the criteria but are not in hell, you don’t have orthorexia. Hope that made sense…..”

      Now see, THAT makes sense! Why couldn’t the doctors just SAY that instead of describing this condition in such vague, all-inclusive ways?

      • Susan
        July 2, 2010 | 8:42 pm

        Oy I know! It’s like they want you to be confused.

    • Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life
      July 2, 2010 | 12:53 pm

      Susan, I’m glad you took the time to make this comment. It really puts things in perspective.

      Wanting to eat healthier, striving to eat healthier is not a problem unless it’s *causing* problems in your life. Real food should be a blessing, not a burden. If eating real food is causing someone to feel burdened or overwhelmed they should take a step back and readjust their priorities. When someone comes to me for advice I always without exception give them just enough to get to the next level. Changing your diet isn’t always easy and for some it can become incredibly frustrating if it’s not handled with some measure of patience and graciousness.
      .-= Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life´s last blog post …Detox Month Post Round-Up- 10 Exciting Posts on Detoxification =-.

      • Susan
        July 2, 2010 | 8:47 pm

        “If eating real food is causing someone to feel burdened or overwhelmed they should take a step back and readjust their priorities.”

        I completely agree. Making changes is very overwhelming at first. Many people, myself included, try to do it all at once instead of taking baby steps.

  18. aurelia
    July 1, 2010 | 11:15 pm

    Honestly, 1,2 and 10 sound like good housewifery to me.

    This past weekend I went to a family reunion. Friday night was a pizza party so I ate before going. Guess what, I got to spend all my time going from table to table and visiting with my family.

    Saturday was the picnic in the park. I made sure the side dishes I took were low carbohydrate with healthy fats, and they were eaten right up. I ate the brisket and my sides and the fruit salad my low-carb eating cousin brought (berries and stone fruit and melon, yum). Later in the afternoon I split two pieces of cake with husband. Aunt makes a luscious lemon cake and great-aunt makes hummingbird cake. I had planned for some treats and made sure to pick out what would be the most satisfying.

    I spent six hours today making food for us to eat while we are traveling over the three day weekend. I suppose that kind of frugal planning, so we can avoid spending money in restaurants while eating healthfully and well, is pathological. If so, sign me up.

    Overall, I think medicalizing and patholagizing healthy choices is simply insulting my intelligence. Frugal, careful housewifery must be wrong. Perhaps I would be healthier if I didn’t stay at home to take care of my family. I could certainly buy lots more consumer goods. Wait, maybe that’s the point.

    • KristenM
      July 2, 2010 | 9:26 am

      I agree. Even if you’re not “eating healthy,” if you’re being a good manager of you’re home you’re going to answer yes to 1,2, & 10.

  19. miriam
    July 2, 2010 | 1:27 am

    Like other areas that require tertiary education, psychology probably has links with drug companies funding univerities and colleges. (Yes i get cynical when funding for conventional health is concerned.)

    We’ve seen it with tobacco, we will eventually see it (I hope) with pesticides, we see some of it with junk food – enough PUBLICLY released evidence to prove that these things are no good for our (collective) health.

    I’m a permaculturalist – ie sustainability supporter and endevouring to live a more sustainable life – what sort of illness will they bestow on greenies?!

  20. Becks
    July 2, 2010 | 9:55 am

    I kind of think this post is rude too, and it’s mocking an eating disorder that is real and problematic. It’s like “healthful eating” gone wrong. It’s NOT about eating good/good for you food anymore. It’s about control, it’s about obsession, it’s about guilt and shame and applying a moral schema to food. Noone should feel so bad about eating non-organic tomatoes, or non-raw dairy, or farmed fish, that they by extension are bad and evil people. That’s a real psychological problem, and if you can’t distinguish your high standards from a mental disorder, please at least don’t mock people for whom this is an actual problem.

    Some friends of ours are struggling with this eating disorder, and it has gotten to the point where they will just NOT eat, or NOT feed their children, if they cannot or do not have access to food that are “pure” enough. They don’t have enough money to afford all the food that is up to their standards, so they just don’t feed their children or themselves if they can’t afford it. In addition to that, it has made it almost impossible to socialize with them, because of this eating issue. We can’t have them over for dinner, because we don’t use 100% organic CSA produce or grassfed organic meat. We can’t go out to eat or grab a quick bite anywhere, because there is nowhere they will eat out.

    I am all for eating healthfully, but when you get to the point where you are so strict that you can’t even enjoy a meal with friends, and you would rather let your children go hungry than feed them non-organic vegetables or pasteurized milk, you’ve got a problem.
    .-= Becks´s last blog post …A Year In Hair- Babys First- er Third- Haircut Yeah- =-.

    • kc
      July 3, 2010 | 7:54 pm

      Perhaps this questionnaire could be taken more seriously if it wasn’t so difficult and time-consuming to locate unadulterated foods in our society. I spend a lot of time tracking down safe food (I consider corn-free food safe). Also, it would help if the adulterated food wasn’t SO bad for you (as in toxic – it may take a while to kill you, but it will kill you nonetheless). In a food system as totally backward and reeking of GMOs and approved toxic food additives as the one in this country, it only makes sense to avoid eating “just any old thing”. My children and I are allergic to corn so you can imagine how high my score was. It takes meticulous planning and extreme measures to locate, prepare and travel with enough corn-free food. Sometimes you just have to give up on certain foods because there isn’t a corn-free version available anymore locally (chicken). It also takes a lot of sacrifice to be able to afford it (no TV here, either). Don’t even get me started on relationships……imagine my 15 yo daughter wondering how she will ever date when she in unable to eat in any restaurant or even anyone’s house and she reacts to strong scents like Axe deodorant and popcorn fumes. I tend to believe that we aren’t the ones with a mental problem but all the consumers that will feed their kids all of the toxic food-like substances even after learning the truth about the contents. It’s going to take a little obsessive behavior on the part of savvy consumers to save enough of the real farmers and real food from being stamped out by the industrial food machine to feed us when that machine fails (and it will either because of the price of oil or GMO crop failure).

      By the way, we would go hungry before ingesting pasteurized milk (vitamin D = corn) and non-organic vegetables (saturated with corn wax). Maybe some people think that real food is more expensive, but putting your money behind farmers that grow edible crops is the best investment you can make. As for my family, it is not optional. I will necessarily spend more money on real food while oblivious consumers are putting their money behind the factions that are lobbying to wipe out the food that we need to live. Now, that’s offensive.
      .-= kc´s last blog post …Blondies Homemade and Corn-free =-.

  21. Alisa - Frugal Foodie
    July 2, 2010 | 10:36 am

    Orthorexia is definitely a real issue for some, there is no doubt. But this quiz (as many note, especially 1, 2, and 10) reminds me of a “depression” quiz (Do you ever feel down?) or an “ovarian cancer” quiz (Do you ever have any gas or bloating?), or similar types of medical quizes. Of course, most of us are going to answer yes to some or even all of the questions without actually having the problem. I mean seriously, my girlfriends (who do not run food blogs or do anything foodie for a living) will gab about food for hours while enjoying a night out at a restaurant! My husband and I consider an hour and a half grocery shop a relaxing and fun outing. We as humans like to enjoy food.

    But I think some of the wording may be a bit mixed here. It is important to recognize if you have an “obsession” with healthy food or a “passion” for it. I read this blog because it is passionate about good healthy food and I find it inspiring. Obsession is a term used for an unhealthy relationship with something, passion is a love for something. If you are passionate about good food and you love your relationship with it, and it doesn’t negatively impact your life, then you obviously do not have Orthorexia.

    Just my two cents.
    .-= Alisa – Frugal Foodie´s last blog post …Chillin’ with Watermelon =-.

    • Susan
      July 2, 2010 | 8:54 pm

      “But I think some of the wording may be a bit mixed here. It is important to recognize if you have an “obsession” with healthy food or a “passion” for it.”

      Yes! Thank you for saying this, I couldn’t agree more. The distinction between “obsession” and “passion” is an important one to make even for those who don’t suffer from a mental disorder. Obsession is dangerous especially since it sneaks up on you. You don’t quite realize you’re obsessing over something until you’ve dug yourself into a hole too deep for you to get out of.

  22. Christina @ Spoonfed
    July 2, 2010 | 1:33 pm

    I agree with those here who’ve made the distinction between “passion” and “obsession.” Because aside from people who have been diagnosed with orthorexia as a medical condition and serious eating disorder (as so eloquently described by Susan), I do think there are other people for whom healthful eating borders on obsession. That includes not only what they put in their own mouths, but also how they treat other people who don’t share their food views.

    I’ve known people who are so caught up in what they see as virtuous eating, who are so self-righteous and self-congratulatory and evangelical about it, that they have no idea (until it’s too late) that they are alienating people in their lives. That, in my mind, crosses a line.

    I think orthorexia and this guy’s book get a lot of attention in part because it’s sensational and it makes good headlines (“healthy eating is killing people!”). But I also think we’re fooling ourselves if we don’t acknowledge that there are plenty of people who are so blinded by their own sense of right and wrong — or who are so enamored of a particular eating philosophy — that they take it way too far.
    .-= Christina @ Spoonfed´s last blog post …Creating a better children’s menu- A chef speaks =-.

  23. Elisabeth Hartline
    July 2, 2010 | 1:57 pm

    Where I failed miserably with the quiz was with Question 1: Do you spend three or more hours a day thinking about food?
    I have to spend several hours a day dealing with food in one way or another. I’m the only shopper, cook, and researcher for my family. It’s not like the industrial food complex makes that any easier. To obtain good food I must visit several different stores, read ingredients, ask questions, etc… So did my great grandmother…up until the day she was able to hire domestic help. My grandmother also had the benefit of this kind of “behavior” being the norm- along with foods she didn’t have to worry about or scrutinize.
    I think that Dr. Bratman put that quiz together without being aware that people still grow and prepare their own food from scratch.

  24. Cool Beans
    July 2, 2010 | 2:54 pm

    What a joke! So. Because I put some time and effort into feeding myself and my family whole, nutritious foods, I have a mental illness? Wow. I’d better let my husband know about that.

    I do hope that the thrust behind this is aimed towards those people who end up starving themselves rather than eat a food they consider inferior. Clearly, that’s not healthy, and people who do should get some king of help. Or just eat real food.

    I do have a fear that this can be taken too seriously by those in the conventional medical world (the germ theory, vaccine everyone and everything, pasteurize everything, and cook all meats to beyond recognition crowd). It’s possible that it can get to a point where people like us are actually diagnosed with this condition, and will then require “treatment,” most likely some drug or another. But, that’s just a fear, and a small one at that – I’m not losing any sleep over it.

    My score: 7/10. I don’t feel guilty or self-loathing when I eat something I don’t count as good. I might be unhappy about it, but I don’t feel guilty, nor do I loathe myself for it. It’s such a rare problem for me anyways. I don’t have any difficulties saying “no thanks” to something I don’t want.

    On that note: Many people were taught things like it’s rude to refuse something that’s offered to you. I don’t see why that’s so. A vegetarian doesn’t feel guilty when they refuse something offered to them because it may contain meat. They say “no thanks, I’m a vegetarian” and it’s generally accepted. So why should I feel bad about refusing something I wouldn’t normally eat? I will ask what’s in it, and if there’s something I object to, such as soy, I just say “no thanks, I don’t eat soy.”

  25. heather
    July 2, 2010 | 3:48 pm

    This seems like sort of a willful misreading of the concept of orthorexia. The differences between “being informed about what you choose to eat” and orthorexia are as vast as those between dieting and anorexia. The behaviors are often the same; the scale of those behaviors is not. There is a way to be conscious about your food choices without it devolving into an obsession, just as there is a way to lose weight without it devolving into an obsession. The obsessive part is where the eating disorder comes into play.

    It’s easy enough to figure out whether you have healthy eating habits versus an eating disorder by asking yourself whether or not the way you relate to food adds or subtracts from your overall quality of life. Someone who, say, goes vegan and thus discovers a whole new world of vegetables, fruits, and alternate protein sources to enjoy probably won’t end up with an eating disorder. Somebody who goes vegan and hunkers down with the same five vegetables to eat, day in and day out, very well might. Someone who allows their relationship with food to interfere with their relationships with other people generally has an eating disorder. Someone who still shows up to the cookout but brings some of their own snacks probably doesn’t.

    It’s not wrong to think about food three-plus hours a day–hell, I work in a restaurant, so my coworkers and I are thinking/talking/planning around food all workday long. But it is wrong to think about food three-plus hours a day if that starts to interfere with your relationships, or your job, or your other hobbies . . . That’s what the doctor is getting at.
    .-= heather´s last blog post …I Wish the World Cup Happened Every Year =-.

  26. Kate
    July 2, 2010 | 3:58 pm

    That quote from the Jade woman was actually pretty insulting. Seriously? I have a problem because I like to know where my food comes from? I eat things I “perceive” as better? Is she high? And she “sees it all around her.” Umm, I think she’s the one with the mental disorder, seeing as she doesn’t actually want to know what’s going on around her.

    Yes, I am a proud orthorexic! Ha.

  27. Karen
    July 2, 2010 | 9:11 pm

    Hope I’m not veering off track here, but I’d like to add something about refusing to eat food in social situations. Prior to learning about what is wrong with the SAD, I suffered from moderate to severe arthritis and fibromyalgia-like symptoms (extreme muscle pain and weakness). To me, sugar is poison. Though I try to avoid it at all costs now, before I gave it up completely I could tell within hours if I’d eaten sugar. I could guarantee I’d wake up with a sore throat and joint pain. I suffered and continue to suffer with candida overgrowth and (probably) leaky gut syndrome. To go from being sick and depressed (to the point of being a recluse) to steadily reclaiming my health is a huge thing. Does it make me worry when I eat something I know is not on my diet? Yeah, because I don’t know how it will affect my health. Ditto for my husband, who has been healed of a lifetime of severe allergies through diet. The problem; which former foods caused which former health problems? Does it affect our social life. Unfortunately, yes. We eat restaurant food about once every 3 months, due to failure to plan and/or unforseen events. In our church home group we either eat prior to going or I take food we can eat with enough to share. This is to avoid a steady weekly diet of pizza and sugary desserts. I hear over and over about “how much willpower” I have. Is the desire to live a life without pain “willpower?”
    .-= Karen´s last blog post …Tasteful Tweaks =-.

  28. JonnyCunt
    July 3, 2010 | 2:39 am

    Proud to be Orthorexic! Now gimme some fucking quinoa! http://shar.es/m95w8

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  29. Laura
    July 3, 2010 | 8:17 am

    We live a life of “forced” orthorexia. My children have severe food allergies; they have lost many of their food allergies through GAPS diet, but the anaphylaxis to nuts and some other things has not changed. Also, we are severely affected by gluten, to the point where walking into any restaurant is dangerous, especially for me.

    Is this socially isolating? Oh yes. We don’t really have a choice, though. We even have to sit at our own separate table at family gatherings, and I’m paranoid about touching door knobs because I pick up gluten so easily. We end up staying home a lot, and we never, ever eat in restaurants.

    The only thing that’s really good is that this has caused us to really look at where every bit of our food comes from, and we truly don’t eat any junk. Our health, in spite of the allergies, is incredibly improved, and we feel happier than we did 2 years ago before my Celiac diagnosis.

    I am thankful for understanding family and friends who try to protect us and who wash their hands before touching our children. You can still have a social life this way; it’s just a very different kind!

  30. Blake
    July 4, 2010 | 2:22 pm

    1. Do you spend more than 5 hours a day concerned with the air you breathe?
    this includes all time spent thinking or reading about breathing, as well as any time spent actively breathing, or doing anything that depends on breathing. Life is meant for more important things.
    2. Do you think about making sure you can breath in the future?
    If you’re stuck in a cloud of smoke or underwater, do you start immediately planning how to get out just so you can breathe more? There are better things to plan for.
    3. Do you sacrifice experiences just so you can breathe better?
    Have you ever avoided sticking your head in a plastic bag, just because you wanted to breathe? Or avoided inhaling car exhaust only because it interferes with oxygen intake?
    4. Do you constantly worry about the quality of your air?
    Have you ever worried about what mixing ammonia and bleach might do to the air quality? Have you ever been concerned with smog? You may be worrying too much about your air.
    5. Do you look down on those who don’t breathe?
    Being dead isn’t such a bad thing. You shouldn’t feel more alive just because you’re breathing.

    Seriously. Many of these things are precisely what is wrong with most of the world. Food should occupy more than 3 hours of time a day. If you spend an hour eating dinner, and an hour preparing it, you’re at 2 hours with only one meal, and it was a pretty quick one besides. Spend half an hour picking food for it in the garden, and another half an hour talking to someone about planning for the week’s food (opps just broke number 2 here too!), and you’re already at 3, not even having touched breakfast, lunch, or any sort of snacks. No dessert either! That’s with a fairly “normal” pattern, and not living in a food environment that demands constant weighing and measuring, and trying to see through lies we’re being fed and all of that. That’s 3 hours of “healthy” food time, if we didn’t have to worry about all of what we did. I think someone needs to discover how much of a pleasure food can be.

  31. Steve
    July 5, 2010 | 7:15 am

    Great article!

    If it means that if I’m conscious about what I’m putting into my body makes me have an ‘eating disorder’ then so be it, I’m happy to have this ‘disorder’.

    Does that also mean that in 10-20 years time when an enormous proportion of the population (pardon the pun) are overweight then I will be considered to have another disorder because I choose to stay in shape?

    What makes this even more remarkable is that this comment has come from a doctor who is supposed to be promoting the virtues of a healthy lifestyle not creating terms to describe people who are focused on eating healthy!
    .-= Steve´s last blog post …Fruit Nutrition Facts Calories In Fruit =-.

  32. iplante
    July 5, 2010 | 5:58 pm

    Reading @foodrenegade Am I an Orthorexic? http://tinyurl.com/232rayv

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  33. Emily
    July 5, 2010 | 6:11 pm

    I think that some people definitely do restrict their diets in a way that is not healthy. I don’t think you’re one of them. You are looking for things you WANT in your food: good fats, balanced nutrition. The things you don’t want in your food aren’t really food. People with actual eating disorders are fueled by the act of restriction. You aren’t restricting so much as reveling in having the best food.

    Put another way, food is not your enemy.

  34. Edmund
    July 12, 2010 | 2:57 pm

    Thanks for the heads up.

    My personal philosophy is that anything taken to an extreme can never be too good. The human body’s a very adaptable machine, and it’s been living on the same nutrients for millenia. To cut out something like fats completely, for example, isn’t necessarily healthy, even though excessive intake of fats can be. The key is balance.

    Thanks for drawing attention to that.
    .-= Edmund´s last blog post …Blue Duck Tavern =-.

  35. Michelle (Health Food Lover)
    July 14, 2010 | 3:57 am

    I remember reading about Steven Bratman and orthorexia way back..I first found about the raw food diet because of him funnily enough, from beyondveg.com. They have heaps of articles about people who were vegans and raw foodists and their experiences of those diets (mostly bad).

    But anyway..I did read some of an ebook or something (maybe it was health food junkies) he wrote which I seem to not be able to find now..but it made me think of him as really cynical about healthy diets. And you know he practices alternative medicine too? I guess when you see a lot of sick people who don’t comply with (or perhaps incorrectly use) nutritional advice and they don’t get better it can get a bit distressing. I remember in class once how one of my lecturers told us how he had put a patient on an elimination diet but then they liked that diet and didn’t want to change back to a healthier diet. A similar story happened in Steven’s practice (from what I’ve read). But I guess healthy eating is all about compliance.

    To me, orthorexia is when people take what they THINK is healthy eating, to the extreme and don’t listen to their bodies. Some raw foodists I believe could have orothrexia. Many look really emancipated and unhealthy and are probably quite malnourished. (Hope that doesn’t offend anyone)

    A healthy diet, to me at least is one that you enjoy. I personally love food, REAL food. I love how food can not only keep me healthy and taste really great. But I don’t obsess about food. And if I’m out with friends I don’t care what I eat (cause most of the time I have a healthy diet) and I exercise . Healthy living is all about moderation. Though Orthorexia is an unhealthful extreme.
    .-= Michelle (Health Food Lover)´s last blog post …Sweet Breakfast Omelette What To Eat When You Don’t Eat Toast =-.

    • Michelle (Health Food Lover)
      July 14, 2010 | 4:06 am

      Sorry I have more to add haha…

      I guess why people might be so “obsessed” or “orthorexic” is because many people aren’t finding balance in modern diets. People are overweight and sick. And I guess because there is so much misinformation people just don’t KNOW what to eat. Other’s are obsessed with their weight and modern diets make them put on weight…so some just don’t eat (or eat badly)…(I think that’s the only example I have at the moment….but you get my point).

      …..Real Food for the win!
      .-= Michelle (Health Food Lover)´s last blog post …Sweet Breakfast Omelette What To Eat When You Don’t Eat Toast =-.

  36. Michelle (Health Food Lover)
    July 14, 2010 | 3:59 am

    I just scanned my computer and I found Health Food Junkies! If you would like to read it Kristen, let me know and I can email it to you.
    .-= Michelle (Health Food Lover)´s last blog post …Sweet Breakfast Omelette What To Eat When You Don’t Eat Toast =-.

  37. Kristina
    July 16, 2010 | 8:56 pm

    Because I have a dry sense of humor, I took that last quoted commentary as being very tongue-in-cheek. As in, “You aren’t supposed to question your food, just dig in–NOT”. It seemed like a facetious comment.

    It’s true that those of us who want to eat healthy have to put more time into planning, shopping, and cooking than others, research too, but I think what he’s saying is, it won’t kill you to eat an occasional non-nourishing meal if it means you have to isolate yourself from a joyful experience. I’m pretty sure that occasional meal is going to cause very little harm, so stop obsessing about it. It’s about the obsession; I don’t think he is arguing that eating healthy is a sickness.

    I agree real foods taste better too, and I take a lot of joy in eating and preparing them as well, but if I go to a party and there is something non-nourishing that looks good, I’ll eat it and enjoy it, then go back to my normal habits the next day. Whenever I find myself obsessing I remember about the survivors of concentration camps during WWII. Those that survived the horrendous conditions (speaking physically), well, many of them healed and went on to live long lives. I figure if their bodies could heal after all of that trauma, one or two non-nourishing meals aren’t going to throw my health off (if you are a celiac or have allergic reactions to certain foods I’m not advocating eating things you know will screw you up). I tend to live on an 80/20 plan.

    Lastly, joy and happiness in themselves are highly important to health and well-being, so I say, eat the pizza for a change and be happy doing it. You’ll be fine. Anxiety makes you tense and is a precursor to disease.

  38. Kelly
    May 1, 2011 | 1:49 am

    I think for some people if they can manage it and eat all their food groups and work it right, they’ve got it covered, do it well, and it probably gets to a point where it comes naturally. But me… I’m another story. I think they don’t explain it well enough. They didn’t add in my type of orthorexia. I’m obsessed with eating correctly. I don’t eat if its not “healthy” which has led to the fact that I only get a quarter to half the calories I need daily. I’m really afraid that I’m going to die of malnutrition. Some nights I’m afraid to go to sleep because I am afraid I won’t wake up. I know I’m not anorexic because I do love food and I eat, but its just only when its healthy. I want to fix this, but I just don’t know how.

  39. Nadine Feldman
    January 23, 2013 | 1:14 pm

    Anything can be taken to an extreme. If we lose sleep or friends because we’re worried about food choices, I can see that being a problem. I practice yoga, and I see a lot of yogis going WAY overboard. So yes, I think this can be a real illness that requires compassion and healing.

    Whatever we do, though, if we put passion into anything we do in our lives, we risk having someone think we’re obsessed. It’s up to each of us to decide if we’ve crossed a line, and if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, and as long as someone doesn’t try to medicate me or lock me up for feeding my family healthy food, I don’t have to care what they think.

  40. Alicia H
    January 23, 2013 | 1:48 pm

    Hahaha yup totally off my rocker. but that is fine my desire to have healthy food is much better then any other issue

  41. Ginnie
    January 23, 2013 | 1:56 pm

    That’s so funny! My score was 7. Where do I sign up for the support group?

  42. melissa2012
    January 23, 2013 | 2:26 pm

    when I go to the grocery store, I wander around reading labels and it seems that every single food there is not good enough to eat. I pick out a few vegetables then try looking arund the store again. I have enough info to know that lots of foods are bad but not enough info to know what is good or where to get it.

  43. Marthe Worley
    January 23, 2013 | 2:38 pm

    Is this for real? They think it is UN healthy to think and plan your meals? To try to eat as healthy as possible? They are the ones who need help!

  44. Kylie
    January 23, 2013 | 2:45 pm

    I really agree that the quiz is bogus, and all that others have said about passion vs. obsession… but can those who DO fall on the passion/joyful healthy eating side of the spectrum please stop saying “LOL I guess I’m orthorexic”… whether or not it is in the DSM V, there are certainly people out there who do suffer under strict, self imposed eating guidelines who are disrespected by our flippancy.

  45. Judie McMath
    January 23, 2013 | 3:39 pm

    As a diabetic, I absolutely DO need to spend three hours per day thinking about, planning for, shopping for and preparing my foods. This doesn’t include all the times that I am on my website or Facebook page writing posts or articles about food related subjects. If you add that, it probably approaches 6 hours a day. But, this is what I have chosen as my profession. Would you say that a doctor reading medical journals for three hours a day is obsessive? Not if he’s a good doctor. Any diabetic who isn’t meal planning isn’t doing a very good job of minimizing carbs and making sure they can afford healthy foods.

  46. Orlando Alexander
    January 23, 2013 | 7:56 pm

    8/10! >>No to #4 and #9.
    #7 is hilariously true! lol

  47. Nancy
    February 12, 2013 | 8:09 am

    How the hell is planning food ahead of time a bad thing? Seriously? Whoever developed that quiz is the one with a problem. What it says about social isolation is a problem, but I think that a very small number of people would be affected to the point they can’t get out and live life. Those people, their problem isn’t with their desire to eat healthful food, it’s a social problem. -endrant-

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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