The Current

Orthorexia Nervosa: Extreme clean eating, possible new disorder

Orthorexia Nervosa may not be an official disorder but it is a growing unofficial problem. Doctors, nutritionists and psychologists see people so obsessed with "clean eating" that they are malnourished. Observers say it's time to make Orthorexia an official eating disorder, as sufferers are wasting away.
Orthorexia nervosa, or the "clean eating obsession," leaves its apparent sufferers wasting away. (Robert Gourley, Flickr cc)
Orthorexia Nervosa. When a passion for eating right... goes terribly wrong. (Jennifer/Sweet on Veg/Flickr cc)
I'm scared of gluten. I'm scared of grains... even eating a sweet potato for breakfast, I wonder how much sugar is in it.-  a woman who believes she suffers from Orthorexia

If you're looking for a healthier way to eat, there's no shortage of diets to follow out there... from Paleo to Raw Food, to going all Organic or Wheat- or Dairy Free. But the quest to eat right can become... all consuming.

Twenty years ago, Dr. Steven Bratman coined the term "Orthorexia Nervosa" to describe the condition when a person becomes obsessed with so-called "clean eating." He is a physican who practices alternative medicine. In the course of writing his book, "Health Food Junkies," Dr. Bratman says one woman's story in particular had a major influence on him. It was a high-profile case. Back in 2003, a vegan food blogger named Kate Finn died after battling her own eating disorder.

Orthorexia Nervosa is not a condition that's recognized in the Diagnotic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But some believe that it should be... and it's the subject of much debate.

Thom Dunn is a psychology professor at the University of Northern Colorado, and Staff Psychologist with the Denver Health Medical Center. He is one of the few North Americans to study Orthorexia Nervosa. He joined us from Greeley, Colorado. 

Casey Berglund is a registered dietician and a spokesperson for Dietitians of Canada. She was in Calgary.

Mélanie Olivier is also a registered dietician whose company is called Vivai, in Montreal. 

What do you think of the so-called clean eating disorder, Orthorexia? Have you ever found your efforts to eat healthy have gone too far? ...or even gotten un-healthy?

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​This segment was produced by The Current's Sonya Buyting. 


Orthorexia Nervosa - National Eating Disorders Association

Why healthy eating may be the new eating disorder - Daily Mail