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Orthorexia Nervosa: When Healthy Eating Takes Obsessive Proportions


Healthy eating typically starts from a place of good intentions. However, when our attempt to eat healthy has us restricting certain essential food groups (i.e., fat and carbohydrates) or religiously following a fad diet (i.e., Paleo diet or Atkins diet) our mission to eat healthy can become an obsession and an eating disorder of its own.

Introducing orthorexia nervosa—a medical term coined by Doctor Steven Bratman in 1997. Dr. Bratman now serves as the Medical Director of Employee Health at California Pacific Medical Center, in San Francisco, California, and characterizes the newest eating disorder as an unhealthy clean eating obsession…

1. What is Orthorexia Nervosa

The term “orthorexia” was derived from the terms “ortho,” meaning right and “anorexia,” an eating disorder characterized by extreme food restriction and the obsession with low body weight.  Although orthorexia nervosa has yet to be recognized as an official condition by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, many medical professionals believe the time is now.

In his book, Health Food Junkies, Dr. Bratman, says that with orthorexia the obsession is not with food restriction to achieve a low body weight, but with restricting certain foods or ingredients that are deemed unhealthy, unclean, or unwholesome (i.e., animal proteins or carbohydrates).

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