The extreme desire to eat pure, uncontaminated, healthy food has now been diagnosed as a mental disorder known as orthorexia nervosa, as per a new medical labeling trend.
According to The Guardian: “Orthorexics commonly have rigid rules around eating. Refusing to touch sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soy, corn and dairy foods is just the start of their diet restrictions. Any foods that have come into contact with pesticides, herbicides or contain artificial additives are also out.”
Ursula Philpot, chairperson of the British Dietetic Association mental health division, was also quoted voicing her concerns over the seeming “rise” in the number of orthorexics nowadays: “I am definitely seeing significantly more orthorexics than just a few years ago. Other eating disorders focus on quantity of food but orthorexics can be overweight or look normal. They are solely concerned with the quality of the food they put in their bodies, refining and restricting their diets according to their personal understanding of which foods are truly pure.”
“Those most susceptible are middle-class, well-educated people who read about food scares in the papers, research them on the internet, and have the time and money to source what they believe to be purer alternatives,” she added.
Now, take a look at this logic: If you’re a well-educated person concerned about the quality of food you put into your body, you have a mental disorder — how insane can the mental health system be?
The “symptoms” of orthorexia nervosa
Do you want to know if you’re suffering from orthorexia nervosa? Well, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (yes, it does exist), here are its symptoms:
- Do you wish that occasionally you could just eat and not worry about food quality?
- Do you ever wish you could spend less time on food and more time living and loving?
- Does it seem beyond your ability to eat a meal prepared with love by someone else – one single meal – and not try to control what is served?
- Are you constantly looking for ways foods are unhealthy for you?
- Do love, joy, play and creativity take a back seat to following the perfect diet?
- Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?
- Do you feel in control when you stick to the “correct” diet?
- Have you put yourself on a nutritional pedestal and wonder how others can possibly eat the foods they eat?
“If someone cuts out processed food…they can become malnourished or underweight”
Some health advocates, despite the seemingly ludicrous premise of this new “disorder” supports the diagnosis of orthorexia. Quoting Jennifer Culbert (SAR ’09), a registered dietician:
“So if someone cuts out processed food, or things that are genetically modified, or not grown organically, the danger is that they can become malnourished or underweight.”
Culbert said it plain and simple: You need genetically modified, processed food to prevent malnutrition.
Now, if that were the case, I would rather be called an orthorexic than a GMO fanatic. Would you?