Latest Fad “Disorder”–Eating Well

Really, it makes me want to slap my forehead. Or put my head between my knees and not look up till people come to their senses. It’s the latest fad “disorder,” coming to a doctor’s office near you. It has a name– Orthorexia. Sounds serious, doesn’t it. Know what it is? Eating well. Yep. Orthorexics are largely vegetarians and vegans, people who check labels, avoid junk food, plan menus and eat a healthy diet. The “disease” has even worse symptoms–Orthorexics don’t limit their calories, because they don’t eat junk food. They avoid artificial ingredients, trans fats and high fructose corn syrup.

I’m not making this up. Dr. Steven Bratman made up the disorder’s name in the 1990s. He fretted that these people couldn’t be treated, as they had a mistrust of antidepressants, which is the “cure.” I’m guessing that you then get some sort of treatment to succumb to peer pressure and head for the nearest fast-food place to nom down on cheese fries.

French FriesBratman has a book out (of course) called Health Food Junkies. “if you get a thrill of pleasure from contemplating a healthy menu the day after tomorrow, something is wrong with your focus,” Bratman says.

Today’s “normal” diet consists primarily of highly processed, empty-calorie, industrially produced food. I’d love to see if there was a grant from some giant food processor to help Bratman along. I have not looked it up yet, and am not implying he did. The reason I’d like to know is that the best decisions for giant food conglomerates are certainly not in the good-for-you range of food choices.

Ensure, the wait-gain liquid often given to nursing home patients is mentioned as a food Orthorexics avoid. Well, as Ensure is loaded down with chemicals (the label lists 40 artificial ingredients), it looks like I have a case of orthorexia. Sign me up, and no, I don’t want your antidepressants. I’ll just grab my journal over here, and feel better writing about it.

–Quinn McDonald is married to a persona chef. She is a writer and transition coach. See her work at (c) 2008 All rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “Latest Fad “Disorder”–Eating Well

  1. Orthoexia — “Ortho” from the Middle English meaning “straight, true, correct.” “Exia” meaning “there’s something wrong up in here! Hmmm. So you go to see the doctor for eating straight, true, and correct.” Well dang. I propose two new disorders — Bondelexia Nervosa — the root form from Old English “byndle” meaning wrapping or binding,”exia” see above, and nervous. Bondelexia is what you get from eating too many things that are wrapped and overwrapped. It is a nervous disorder caused by having to break into all that packaging, wondering if cooking in the plastic container is going to kill you, wondering if that little symbol on the package means you can recycle it, or feeling guilty about adding to the massive pile of discarded plastic already out there. And then there’s Bondelexia Digestus — the “binding” effects of eating too many boxed,wrapped, convenience foods. Do you think I’ve got the makings for a book?

    —This is wonderful! Absolutely, a book of new disorders of all kinds. Fake food allergies, odd demands, whining as a musical trend. I laughed so hard at the plastic containers in the microwave, but my favorite was the disorder of eating too many overwrapped things. It’s just perfect! –Q

  2. I’ll be right there to sign up for the support group! I’ve been cooking from scratch for (hmmmm I’m gonna confess to the world, the truth being more important than safely hiding in the kitchen….) I’ve been cooking from scratch for about 40 years = I’m only 52! Yikes! Yessiree, my Mom was a full time RN as I grew up with three sibs, someone had to do the cooking! Thing is, I kinda liked it, I continued even after leaving home, and my own kids have been reared on ‘real food’ as much as they complain that their peers eat the stuff in boxes. I’m no zealot – I adhere to a rotation diet in a very general way, no recipes but I do know my food groups! The other rule is the 80/20, we eat really well most of the time and maybe one meal a week at a restaurant (just to live dangerously!).

    —-Cooking from scratch is a lot easier than people think. I plan my menus by what’s in the fridge. Tonight I had broccoli slaw topped with leftover chicken, jicama and apple matchsticks, a handful of mixed nuts, and chutney. Nom! Your approach sounds normal, healthy and calming (I find cooking relaxing if it’s just normal stuff). but tell me about the 80/20, cause the only 80/20 one I know is the marketing one! –Q

  3. The symptoms of the disorder must be better health and longer life. Now I understand why I get those funny looks when I say I cook from scratch. Unfortunately price off coupons never do me any good, because I don’t eat packaged stuff.

    I think I need some help. Anyone know a good support group?

  4. OK. Let me get this right. Being healthy, wanting to eat healthfully is being pathologized. Um. Right.
    This isn’t even people pushing their food preferences on others, just people who want to eat whole, unprocessed foods.
    Our country’s ability to pathologize everything astounds me! 🙂
    –Liz (who drinks way too much organic herbal tea and clean water.)

    ====> I was. . .disappointed to find out that peer pressure is more important than eating healthy. That “normal” is now, ummm. . .eating overprocessed junk food, so we get sick and get to be consumers of medicine. Why is it so warm in here? And why are we in this handbasket?

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