The determination of what foods are healthy and which foods are bad for the human body seems to fluctuate with the tides. One month coffee is deemed healthy, the next it is bad for our health. The same can be said for a multitude of other foods and drinks. Despite the ever wavering evidence for and against the benefits of some foods, the common factor has always been that eating healthy is good for all humans and animals. However, Dr. Steven Bratman termed the phrase orthorexia nervosa in 1997, claiming that the obsession with eating healthy can actually lead to poor overall health.
Dr. Steven Bratman coined the term orthorexia nervosa in 1997 after spending time in a commune in upstate New York, according to Newsweek. He found that his obsession with eating healthy had begun to control his life, becoming an obsession that started to affect his health. He became aware of his obsessive behavior while digging in the dirt for some raw vegetables to eat and attempted to break the habit. However, he soon realized that the habit was hard to break.
“All I could think about was food. But even when I became aware that my scrabbling in the dirt after raw vegetables and wild plants had become an obsession, I found it terribly difficult to free myself. I had been seduced by righteous eating.”
Bratman claims that three types of health food aficionados are susceptible to orthorexia nervosa: those that eat raw foods, clean eaters, and those on the paleo diet. He claims that individuals known as “paleo pushers” may be the most susceptible since their mood drastically drops into a depressive state after accidentally eating foods that contain gluten, such as bread, according to the Daily Mail. Raw food eaters and clean eaters, meanwhile, may stress over obsession for proper foods that meet their desired dietary needs.
Although orthorexia nervosa is not recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA) as an eating or mental disorder, Bratman claims that it is a disorder all its own. Researchers from Italy created a questionnaire called the ORTO-15 that allows an individual to decipher if he or she may suffer from orthorexia nervosa. Dr. Bratman also created his own test, as well as a means to seek support for the disorder.
To determine if you suffer from orthorexia nervosa, click here to take Dr. Bratman’s test.
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