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Common Sense Eating VS Eating Disorders

February 8, 2013

I recently was having a discussion with a friend and we were venting a little about the inflexible militant food types that discard all food choices but their own. I pondered if it was some kind of mental illness as it’s almost an unwillingness to hear anything that in any remote way “challenges” or seems to oppose their view. This can be something as simple as saying everyone has food choices – even those people who choose differently than we do.

“We won’t talk about that here!” Really? So how does that disprove my idea when to mention having a cookie, or piece of pizza, or fast food meal is akin to injecting poisons into the body? Beyond that the source of the food is at issue. Fear factor foods anyone?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnyone who has read for any length of time here clearly sees what we *do*. Hopefully there’s some understanding that we serve but one part of the food chain – one small parcel of 308million people is all we can do. Even if we served a minute portion of 1% it’s 30,000 people – which we’d have to be much bigger to do! Even .1% is a stretch.

Any article on food in public forums brings out the extreme views. One must not eat <whatever I don’t agree with> because it’s poison. It will KILL you! So will not eating at all. But humor me…don’t take my word for it – go look at comments on, say Kellogg‘s Facebook page or pick a type of eating – be it vegan, vegetarian, paleo, fruitarian, even “ethical” eating…look at comments that boil down to “everyone else is wrong!” It may come with “you’re not doing it right” or “you must do it for the right reasons. recently stated on their page “Half of being an effective activist is successfully hiding your contempt and disgust. And the other half is spending a half hour in the morning, on a regular basis, figuring out how you can step up your game.”  You see, it’s not about food choices, it’s food activism. Must. Change. Others.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes it’s more direct. “please don’t take offense but you really seem not to want to be here.. AT ALL.. you may be small but you have a big ag wannabe attitude that just seems counter to all we stand for and I have seen this on other pages you frequent too. We don’t seem to be your people why are you even here.. besides the fact you follow Megan around?”  This was after saying people choose what they want to support, which dictates what’s available, and that I speak from my own experience.

It goes beyond food choices, and yes there are people with allergies that must be diligent about what they eat. I get that. But there comes a point when it seems an increasing number of people cross into an obsessive unhealthy quest for certain foods or avoiding certain foods. This is, admittedly, the opposite of food choices and common sense food. And it has a name.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“”Orthorexia” is defined as an obsession with “healthy or righteous eating”. The phrase was first created in 1997 by California doctor Steven Bratman, and refers to people who create severely limited diets in the name of healthy eating. It often begins with someone’s simple and genuine desire to live a healthy lifestyle. The person may choose to stop eating red meat, but eventually cuts out all meat; then all processed foods, and will eventually eat only specific foods that are prepared in very specific ways.”

Another says “Orthorexics commonly have rigid rules around eating. Refusing to touch sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, 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.”

I can hear the shrieks. “But Jan you don’t want people to eat healthy?” I didn’t say that. 🙂 Food choices says “I’m choosing this for my life because ____” – it’s not obsessive, it doesn’t demand everyone else agree or be subjected to ridicule and personal attack.

Put another way Steven Bratman, MD says: “But the emphasis is intended to be on “unhealthy obsession.”  One can have an unhealthy obsession with something that is otherwise healthy. Think of exercise addiction, or workaholism. I never intended the expression to apply to anything other than extreme cases of over-focus, particularly where the person themselves would rather lighten up and stop thinking about it so much.”

Some of the symptoms of orthorexia are confining, not a freeing common sense way of eating. Balance. When food defines you, when you pick friends and allies based on what you eat (or don’t eat), when you can’t accept someone else’s choices that are different it goes beyond food choices. When the majority of your time is spent obsessing about food it’s not balanced.

Food choices are awesome! By all means make them, act on them, empower them! And understand that we’re all entitled to them – even if someone else chooses differently.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 8, 2013 10:27 AM

    Reblogged this on Slow Money Food and commented:

    Can healthy be too much of a good thing? Maybe

  2. hanger17 permalink
    March 21, 2013 2:49 AM

    Reblogged this on Time for Action.


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