Can 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?”