From the Guardian:
"Eating disorder charities are reporting a rise in the number of people suffering from a serious psychological condition characterised by an obsession with healthy eating.
The condition, orthorexia nervosa, affects equal numbers of men and women, but sufferers tend to be aged over 30, middle-class and well-educated."
As someone who has been involved with nutrition for decades, who had a weekly radio program on the subject, the paragraph above struck me as either a parody or an attack by the food industry. However, I've always been a believer in balance when it comes to healthy eating (extremism doesn't lead to health in any areas) and I started remembering all the nut-cases I had to deal with when I did the radio program so I decided to see what the guy who came up with the term orthorexia nervosa had to say. It's a very interesting, thoughtful account. The only problem with it (and it's not its fault) is that the anti-health food forces can easily twist it to their purposes.
Here's the beginning of his article:
Health Food Junkie
Obsession with dietary perfection can sometimes do more harm than good, says one who has been there.
by Steven Bratman, M.D.
Originally published in the October 1997 issue of YOGA JOURNAL.
Reprinted by permission of the author.
Twenty years ago I was a wholehearted, impassioned advocate of healing through food. In those days I was a cook and organic farmer at a large commune in upstate New York. Today, as a physician who practices alternative medicine, I still almost always recommend dietary improvement to my patients. How could I not? A low-fat, semivegetarian diet helps prevent nearly all major illnesses, and more focused dietary interventions can dramatically improve specific health problems. But I'm no longer the true believer in nutritional medicine I used to be.
Where once I was enthusiastically evangelical, I've grown cautious. I can no longer console myself with the hope that one day a universal theory of eating will be discovered that can match people with the diets right for them. And I no longer have faith that dietary therapy is a uniformly wholesome intervention. I have come to regard it as I do drug therapy: as a useful treatment with serious potential side-effects.
My disillusionment began in the old days at the commune. As staff cook I was required to prepare several separate meals at once to satisfy the insistent and conflicting demands of our members. All communes attract idealists; ours attracted food idealists. On a daily basis I encountered the chaos of contradictory nutritional theories..."
And click here for the rest of the article.