Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I was recently sent a link to a CNN Health article.  If you have the time, read it HERE.  I'd like to know your thoughts.  Below is my quick response I posted via Facebook.  I got mixed responses, but I know my blogosphere is a bit more biased towards the athletic/health end. 

Do you feel there is a legitimate cause for this psychiatric label?  Given the foods marketed to us on a daily basis that it was inevitable for someone to start perceiving "healthy eating" and disruptive to a 'normal' life?  


Orthorexia: A term used to describe people who develop an obsession with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy; believed to be a mental disorder.

WHAT?! Are you Serious?!

Since when did 'eating healthy' become a disorder? I never heard people consider those on Weight Watchers in need of a psychiatric evalution (though if you believe in commercial dieting, a nutrition class might help).

Call me "sick." I eat healthy and I know it impinges on my daily life!


1.  Do your healthy eating habits alter your daily life in any way?

2.  For those who strive for healthy diets, where would you place yourself on a scale of 1-10, 1 being "aware of healthy versus non-healthy foods" and 10 being clinically obsessed.
This is a tough one, but on a normal day I'd consider myself about a 6.  

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard.  


Anonymous said...

I've seen this and personally it pisses me off. This is their response to people standing up for the garbage we've been told is HEALTHY. They are idiots! ARRGGGG!!!!!

Stephanie said...

Hahahaa. Ryan and I laugh about this term all the time. The thing is...it makes people who already justify poor eating habits see healthy role models as now potential diseased people. It's just stupid. Ryan says at least he knows what he is and can sleep well at night if its his only "condition." haha

Anonymous said...

I see your point about this term, but take me for example. I have a history of bullimia and anorexia and although I am better as far as those are concerned. I find myself obsessing over "healthy" foods to the point that it can disrupt my daily life. I run on average 70-80 mpw and something as simple as a cookie can send me into a fit of tears. I would love to be "normal" and enjoy the occasional cookie,cupcake,beer etc., but I only eat foods that I have deemed healthy.
It's not the healthy eating that is the disorder, but the thought process behind it.

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

To Anonymous,

Before I make my reply, I want to say "thank you" for commenting. My main goal in posting such blog entries is to stir up a discussion, which would have been very one-sided without you.

I understand and agree with your point. I do agree that there is a point at which you CAN take healthy eating beyond a normal limit. However, my issues with Orthorexia are two-fold.

First, if the "disorder" is based upon obsessive behavior, then why not call it something like OCD?; and this goes for any psychiatric term. Calling it a healthy eating disorder creates a preconceived notion that healthy eating is the issue when it has nothing to do with healthy eating, but a more basic obsession. In my mind, this is why the masses wrongly label individuals; they simply don't understand the terminology. CNN also did, in my mind, a poor job of portraying the issue.

Second, given the food that is marketed to us today - fast food, arguments for how high fructose corn syrup being healthy, processed sugar, prepackaged and preservative-packed foods - it seems inevitable that a term such as Orthorexic would be coined. Whether it be the person that 50 years ago was simply considered 'highly health conscious' or the modern overweight fast food junkie that finally realized how to be healthy and chose a diet to better his/her life, the term represents to me a badly twisted nutrition system in our nation. I won't get into it, but just look at the food pyramid; what a load of political BS!

I agree that people can be overly-obsessive about food, but the bigger question is what caused them to become so?

Jenny Davidson said...

To be fair, they do mention OCD in the article. It didn't rub me the wrong way as a piece - I see a lot of my students, in particular (college age and 20s, NYC), get into the sort of situation Anonymous is describing, where they are in an extreme state of tension around any sort of circumstance where someone might be expecting them to eat anything off a very short restricted list. In my life in NYC, I would say that disordered relationships with food are much more prevalent than lack of sense of healthy eating, and I think anyone with either OCD or eating disorder history should be very careful about undertaking a strict version of vegan/raw/paleo/any other diet that ends up limiting what one can consume off a 'normal' menu or dinner table.