Even healthy eating can become problematic.
Orthorexia is a term coined by American physician Dr. Stephen Bratman in the 1990s. It describes an unhealthy fixation with eating only ‘healthy’ foods. It is not to be confused with anorexia, an eating disorder focused on severe caloric restriction.
‘Orthos’ is the Greek word for right.
The condition begins as individuals focus on improving their diets for the sake of their well-being. This, of course is an excellent goal.
It becomes problematic, however; when people become obsessed with eating only ‘pure’ foods. People will avoid foods suspected of containing pesticides and additives, or other ingredients such as salt, fat, and refined sugar.
Often, people with orthorexia will eliminate certain food groups completely, thinking that they are not ‘pure’ enough.
Orthorexia is linked to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In some cases, people can develop nutritional deficiencies , weight loss and weakness.
Social isolation can also result, as individuals may avoid dining with others for fear of being exposed to unhealthy foods.
Orthorexia suffers may become judgemental, and look down on people who eat less healthy foods. (Mac ‘n Cheese, anyone? )
God has created an abundance of foods for our enjoyment.
Let us pray for the grace to be prudent about our diets without developing ‘food fear’.