Utne Blogs > Environment

The Healthy Eating Obsession

 by Julie Hanus


Tags: Environment, green living, health, orthorexia nervosa, eating disorders, nutrition, diet, E Magazine,

Obsessed with NutritionCan eating healthy become an eating disorder?

E Magazine reports on the disputed condition known as orthorexia nervosa, in which people become obsessed with healthy eating habits to the point of developing an eating disorder.

Orthorexia nervosa begins with a benign, even beneficial drive toward improving one’s diet. But over time, “even if physical and emotional health begin to falter, the sufferer continues a harsh dietary regime,” E reports. “Eventually, the all-consuming drive for nutritional purity can become a kind of spiritual quest.”

Not all doctors and nutritionists are convinced that orthorexia nervosa is a real condition. E cites Doctor Kelly Brownell, codirector of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, who writes on WebMD that in 20 years of working in the field, no one has ever come into the clinic with orthorexia.

Other nutritional professionals disagree. Joshua Rosenthal, director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, tells the environmental magazine that he counsels individuals to “look beyond” diet as the only font of health. “I encourage people who become overly obsessed with eating the ‘right’ food to see the impact on their life,” he says. “This condition can impede other important elements of life, including relationships, creativity, and just feeling part of a community.

“I call these elements of life primary food—the parts that fill our soul and satisfy our hunger for living. You can eat all the kale in the world, but if you feel disconnected, how healthy and happy can you be?”

Source: E Magazine

Image by riot jane, licensed under Creative Commons.

alan_3
7/1/2009 12:44:58 AM

I would suggest its one to thing to eat natural foods and quite another to space out on a completly fruit diet. For a short time it will work miracles for you, clean u out and energize u, and add years to your life and life to your years, right before it begins to erode youre muscle tissue and your immune system and open your body up to opportunistic infections. Ive seen it in Hawaii too years ago. But for the record, Ive been eatin whole foods, natural foods, what have u, for 30 some years now, and Im still surfin double overhead waves and climbin 100 ft trees with a chain saw. Not too bad for 59. And from the neck down Im the same guy I used to be..and for the rest, well, I suppose Ive seen too much tropical sun.....but eating like an Adventist or a HIndu is the proven life extension plan. At least a big part of it........


brad_2
6/30/2009 9:51:27 PM

Are there any confirmed ill effects to this "disorder" Ive heard of folks in Hawaii living on an all fruit diet, and going nuts because of protein deficiencies. From what i have heard, River Phoenix was serious into health food, and that may of played a part in his death.