I was watching 20/20 the other night and happened to tune in to an episode that really got my attention. It was talking about orthorexia. I had not heard of such a thing, however, it really made me sit up and listen. Orthorexia is an obsession with healthy food or a "fixation on righteous eating." When healthfood junkies progress to the point where it crowds out other activities and interests, impairs relationships, and even becomes physically dangerous, then it might be a true eating disorder. Now this concerned me a little. My daughter and son-in-law are very health conscious (which can be a good thing) but it also worried me a little. What starts out as a relatively good thing, could turn into something very dangerous. Eating healthy is a good thing, right? However, when it begins to take over your life, there could be a problem. Here are some questions that you may ask yourself to see if you are just health conscious, or may have a serious problem.
Do you wish that occasionally you could just eat, and not think about whether it's good for you? Has your diet made you socially isolated? Is it impossible to imagine going through a whole day without paying attention to your diet, and just living and loving? Does it sound beyond your ability to eat a meal prepared with love by your mother-one single meal-and not try to control what she serves you? Do you have trouble remembering that love, and joy and play and creativity are more important than food? Have you gotten your weight so low that people think you may have anorexia?
According to Dr. Steven Bratman, if you recognize yourself in these questions, you might have orthorexia.
Coming from a family that centers their life, activities, holidays, and pleasure around food, I believe there is reason to believe that food obsession could be a problem in my family. I thought I understood most of the problems associated with food. Overeating, Bulemia, Anorexia. But this one seems even scarier. How can they get "healthy" when they keep eating healthier and healthier food, until there is nothing left healthy enough to eat!