We all know that bulimia and anorexia are eating disorders. But did you know about the newest one? Orthorexia is a term coined by Steven Bratman MD, to denote an eating disorder characterized by excessive focus on eating healthy foods. It comes from the Greek word orthos meaning “correct” and orexis meaning “appetite”. Bratman describes orthorexia as an unhealthy obsession with what the sufferer considers to be healthy eating.
True orthorexia results in malnutrition because the sufferer is in search of the perfect diet and will choose not to eat consistently instead of eating particular foods they are avoiding (“I'm cleansing again”…or is that just SoCal?). In my field, I have run into this time and time again with all kinds of people following all kinds of specific diets. While I certainly don't exclude myself from chasing down the worlds cleanest diet, I have learned to let go.
It is one thing to seek out clean food, organic, natural, free range, etc – but another entirely to have your search for the perfect diet impede your health (mental and physical) and your relationships. That is simply not worth it.
Our food supply is improving because as more people become educated, change is the only option. Until then, my advice is to embrace the 80/20 rule. Be healthy when you can and let it go when it is not possible, feasible or available. Trust the amazing machine you were born into. All will be well with the world when you return to your healthy way of eating tomorrow, the next day or even next week.