This week, we’re talking about Orthorexia — an eating disorder in which a person becomes so obsessed with what they think of as “healthy” eating that they over-limit their diet and become unhealthy as a result.
Dedicated healthy eaters sometimes write off orthorexia as nonsense, seeing the diagnosis as just another way of marginalizing the sensible choices made by many not to consume certain types of foods they are sensitive to, or simply don’t want to eat.
But as we share here, orthorexia is a real thing — definitely not your garden-variety picky eating — and for some, it can become life threatening.
So we talk about what orthorexia is, the rigid thoughts and beliefs that can predispose people to suffering from it, and how you can steer clear of its grip.
We share some of our personal experiences and professional insights about this condition, and as always, we offer you some experiments to help you reconsider the attitudes you hold about food, and the healthy-eating decisions you choose to make in your own life.
“Orthorexia” Episode Highlights
- The National Eating Disorder Association’s list of orthorexia’s warning signs and symptoms
- Why some restrictive eating approaches don’t fall into the category of obsessive healthy eating — and some do
- Orthorexia as another anxiety-producing neurosis that needs to be approached with compassion
- Getting clear about the real reasons you choose to eat the way you do — the first step in resisting unhealthy defaults
- The value of what Pilar calls “Amplified Awareness” — the first Core Competency of Healthy Deviance
- How scarcity mentality can lead to compulsive food thoughts and actions
- Applying the “orthorexic” label carefully, and understanding when it’s being used to undermine healthy eating choices
- How food and diet obsessions may be keeping you from giving the world your best gifts
Create an open space for dialogue about food by choosing one of these experiments:
1) Ask a close friend of family member what impression they have of your eating habits.
2) With an open mind, ask someone you know who restricts their diet what their motivations are.
Take Food Renegade’s “Am I an Orthorexic?” quiz. If your results trouble you, give some careful thought to how your food choices affect you — are they improving your life, or creating anxiety?
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- Warning signs and symptoms of orthorexia from the National Eating Disorders Association
- The Living Experiment’s “Eating Meat” episode
- Pilar’s discussion with eating-disorder survivor and conscious-living advocate Geneen Roth in “This Messy Magnificent Life, Part 1” and “Part 2”
- From Experience Life magazine: A recovering orthorexic’s path to healing, and “Fearless Health”
- The effects of scarcity mentality in Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means so Much by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir, and our “Enough” and “Fasting” episodes
- Dr. David Ludwig’s Always Hungry?
- “Orthorexia is Bullshit: A Lesson in Intellectual Laziness” from Medium
- From the “101 Revolutionary Ways to be Healthy” — Revolutionary Act #98: Make It a Party
- The “Am I an Orthorexic?” quiz from Food Renegade
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