Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Orthorexia- When eating right is all wrong

These days its fashionable to don the uniform the health police and tell others what NOT to eat.

They frown as they pump the following bullets into your guilty frame...

"What ... do you still eat red meat?"
"The sugar from that dessert with stick to your arteries and choke you".
"Did you wash those vegetables in salt water or potassium per magnate?"
"How can you ever think of consuming an egg yolk!"
"We don 't eat fish in months which don 't spell with an 'R '.

There is an endless list of admonitions and recriminations.

I have just learnt to politely mumble vaguely , sigh inwardly and repeat to myself the wise maxims EVERYTHING IN MODERATION ,
Now seriously...

When eating right is all wrong

A new type of eating disorder is emerging where people are becoming obsessed with eating to improve their health. According to the Swiss Food Association, this new wave of nutritional obsession, known as ‘Orthorexia’ or ‘Orthorexia nervosa’, from the Greek “orthos” meaning right and correct, and “orexis” meaning appetite, is reaching worrying proportions.
In a quest to cure themselves of a specific disorder, or simply just taking healthy eating to extremes, orthorexics develop their own increasingly specific food rules. Working out how to stick to their self-imposed dietary regimen takes up more and more of their time and they are compelled to plan meals several days ahead. They tend to take a ‘survival kit’ of their own food with them when they go out, as they cannot eat readily available foods for fear of fat, chemicals or whatever their particular phobia might be. Sticking to their regimen takes strong willpower and they feel self-righteous and superior to people who do not have such self-control. “Someone whose days are filled with eating tofu and quinoa biscuits can feel as saintly as if they had devoted their whole life to helping the homeless” states Dr. Steve Bratman, the man who initially described orthorexia back in 1997. By contrast, if the orthorexic breaks their health-food vows and succumbs to a craving for a ‘prohibited’ food, they feel guilty and defiled. This drives them to punish themselves with ever stricter dietary rules or abstinence. This behaviour is similar to those who suffer from anorexia or bulimia nervosa, except that anorexics and bulimics are concerned with the quantity of food consumed whereas orthorexics are concerned with the quality.

We are now bombarded with information about what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ for us all the time. Food scares and the organic movement have added to the complexity of decisions people need to make about the food they eat. Dr. Bettina Isenschmid, consultant for food disorders at L’Hôpital de l’Isle in Berne, believes that this focus on good and bad foods is problematic and fuels an increasingly neurotic relationship with food in modern western society. Health is now an important consideration for many Europeans when menu-planning . How do we get the right balance between eating healthily and healthy eating obsession?

As with most aspects of diet, moderation is the key. Changes in food choices should be made gradually and in a way that fits in with a person’s tastes and lifestyle. Eating more healthily should have a positive effect on health without reducing the enjoyment of life or affecting relationships with others. To check if someone has healthy eating in perspective, or is becoming obsessed, try the ‘Bratman Test for orthorexia’.

The Bratman Test for Orthorexia
Do you spend more than 3 hours a day thinking about your diet?
Do you plan your meals several days ahead?
Is the nutritional value of your meal more important than the pleasure of eating it?
Has the quality of your life decreased as the quality of your diet has increased?
Have you become stricter with yourself lately?
Does your self-esteem get a boost from eating healthily?
Have you given up foods you used to enjoy in order to eat the ‘right’ foods
Does your diet make it difficult for you to eat out, distancing you from family and friends?
Do you feel guilty when you stray from your diet?
Do you feel at peace with yourself and in total control when you eat healthily?
Yes to 4 or 5 of the above questions means it is time to relax more about food.
Yes to all of them means a full-blown obsession with eating
healthy food.

Orthorexia Nervosa isn 't common in India

but its growing like other eating disorders.

Let me end in a lighter (pun intended) note.

for posting a photo of a
restaurant somewhere in New York which is
named after me. LOL

16 Fertilize my soul:

Sita said...

Oh girl, this is hilarious...love the cartoon!

Unknown said...

Amrita, thank you for this post. A timely word.

Thank you for the reminder to be moderate...as the scripture tells us.

I loved the cartoon!

Julie said...

When I was dieting heavily I could say yes to all those questions. It was an obsession.

ChrisB said...

I'm not personally obsessed but I do people who are. This was an interesting post.

Olde Dame Penniwig said...

Oh, those orthorexics. Aren't they irritating! They are so arrogant towards others! I have an ex-husband like that. They aren't just controlling to themselves -- they love to put down others. Fie on them!

I agree with you, eat in moderation, just enjoy, be grateful for the foods!

I hope no orthorexics show up at "your" New York restaurant, Amrita!

Speaking of very naughty eating habits...horrible American Halloween candies are coming your way...

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Amrita:)

Food is an obsession for all of us. We always think of what we will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner apart from snacks. As you said EATING SHOULD BE IN MODERATION. I read sometimes back that we should always get up from the dining table feeling a little bit hungry and never a full stomach.

Volumes and volumes have been written on what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat. More and more will be written on this subject. Every one is really interested in these books but no one really follows it and benefits by it. But every ones knowledge about food is increasing day by day.

People really think about food controls only when they are afflicted with sickness such as diabetes, heart problem etc.or obese. But then it is too late.

You post is really an eye opener. I hope people who have good health will follow it so that they are not afflicted with sickness later on and lead a healthy life.

I wish I could go to that hotel named after you and eat some food:)

Have a wonderful day Amrita:)

Felisol said...

Dear Amrita,
I had 3 yes on your question list, and guess I am allowed to be conscious about what I eat, but not obsessed. Due to Gunnar's food allergies, 30 products he just cannot barely tolerate to the no nos, apples and almonds which might kill him, I just have to think twice before I cook.
It's also a problem when one eats more calories than the body spends.
My osteoporotic skeleton simply cannot take overweight.
I am a firm believer in common sense when it comes to both food and drinking.

I detest the fanatics, be it food or religion who to quote you;
"Sticking to their regimen takes strong willpower and they feel self-righteous and superior to people who do not have such self-control."
Paul said the only judge one should judge, is not judging.
(Did that come out right?)

From my mother I has the attitude that throwing away eatable food is one of the worst sins.
My mother would save all kinds of leftovers and make delicious food of it.
It sometimes happened, though, that my father asked, "Is this food lod enough to walk out by itself?"

He never complained. That's another of my mother's cardinal sins. Complaining over food. We were never allowed to say "I don't like this kind of food."
I hope I have taught my daughter some of those virtues.
From Felisol

Kathryn said...

I enjoyed the cartoon, Amrita. Shared it with the other woman in my office & she enjoyed it as well.

I try to do things in moderation & not freak when i eat unhealthy things. But, i've had two serious allergic reactions to things other folks have made & i'm not sure where to go from here. I probably will become the person who brings their own food to most things. Much safer than becoming seriously ill.

Thank you for sharing this. We do tend to go to extremes on many different things.

Debra said...

One thing is certain...I do not suffer from this eating disorder!

The Dementia Nurse said...

Thanks, Amrita - at the end of a long day, I was ready for a good belly laugh! I'm with Debra - I have a lot of faults, but orthorexia is NOT one of them. Also, I wanted to tell you I've had a crash of my blog site and had to move it. The new address is www.job1925helives.blogspot.com. Stop by whenever you get a chance. I've missed you during my lapse in blogland:)

David Edward said...

hello my friend

The Dementia Nurse said...

Hi Amrita! Thanks for looking for me:)


Becka said...

Moderation?? whats that again??lol,,I'm dying over the picture how to weigh yourself,,
I need that for my freg,,to funny..

Glennis said...

Well written and illustrated. I fall into some of the categories. but I actually believe everything in moderation.
How special to have a cafe with your name on it!

Neha Sharma said...

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Maa Nei Apne Yaar Se Meri Choot Ko Thanda Karvaya

Bhatije Ki Teacher Ne Mujhe Choda Apne Pati Ke Samne

Mere Pyar Wali Dastan Meri Girlfriend Ke Saath

Traffic Lady Ssp Ki chut Aur Gand Mari

Pati Ke Batije Aur Ek Punjabi Loure Se Chudwaya

Maa Ki Chudai Sarpanch Or Uske Dono Bhai Oon Se

Maa Bete Ke Bich Hue Sachi Ghatna

Moti Gand Wali Sundar Aunty ki Chudai

Pakistan Mai Eik Sexy Larki Ko Mazza Dia

Amrita said...

The photo credits on this post are Mike Plambecks