Orthorexia

Do you think the likes of clean eating regimes and mfp can lead to an excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy, and/or an obsession with logging every calorie?

I have only recently come across the term 'orthorexia' and wonder what leads this fixation.
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Replies

  • Sued0nim
    Sued0nim Posts: 17,456 Member
    a natural tendency to obsessive behaviour
  • barbecuesauce
    barbecuesauce Posts: 1,779 Member
    Eh, I was briefly overly obsessed with counting calories and is-a-calorie-really-a-calorie when I first started this. -61 pounds later, the charm has worn off.

    So if you're posting this because you feel this way, ask yourself: do you tend to fixate on new hobbies and interests and then move on? Or do you get stuck in obsessive mindsets?
  • Orphia
    Orphia Posts: 7,097 Member
    Yep, a predisposition to obsessing over things makes you more susceptible to it.

    The media, celebrities, and fashion don't help, but most people can ignore all that and get overweight, so we can't blame those things entirely.
  • AJ_G
    AJ_G Posts: 4,159 Member
    It's all about how you approach eating food. If you externalize everything and look at the food as the cause of things, you will begin to demonize certain foods. If you internalize it, you'll realize that you are in control of what you eat, and how active you are and you can understand that there aren't good foods and bad foods, healthy foods and unhealthy foods, there are just foods with different macro and micro nutrient makeups, and if you combine them correctly, you can always come up with a healthy diet.
  • Sued0nim
    Sued0nim Posts: 17,456 Member
    AJ_G wrote: »
    It's all about how you approach eating food. If you externalize everything and look at the food as the cause of things, you will begin to demonize certain foods. If you internalize it, you'll realize that you are in control of what you eat, and how active you are and you can understand that there aren't good foods and bad foods, healthy foods and unhealthy foods, there are just foods with different macro and micro nutrient makeups, and if you combine them correctly, you can always come up with a healthy diet.

    like this
  • SoulOfRusalka
    SoulOfRusalka Posts: 1,201 Member
    Predisposition combined with circumstance combined with specific events. It's hard to draw the line, too, with orthorexia specifically since it can be perceived externally as just healthy behavior, and it's not necessarily clear to others or even yourself when it's impacting your life negatively.
  • missiontofitness
    missiontofitness Posts: 4,074 Member
    Ohmum wrote: »
    Do you think the likes of clean eating regimes and mfp can lead to an excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy, and/or an obsession with logging every calorie?

    I have only recently come across the term 'orthorexia' and wonder what leads this fixation.

    I absolutely think so. Some people take it to an unhealthy extreme, where there is anxiety or pushback against anything that isn't a "clean" diet. I've seen some very extreme examples in some raw food/vegan gurus on Youtube who promote different lifestyles that border on the extreme with food. I follow them not because I want to do the lifestyle, but it's very...curious to see their views on food (some of which are misguided and not backed by science).
  • BoxerBrawler
    BoxerBrawler Posts: 2,041 Member
    Yes I think this happens to a lot of people, myself included. In the beginning I became obsessed and demonized entire food groups. But as I learned through trial and error and educated myself the orthorexia stopped. The biggest thing I learned is that it's about my own personal journey and it just doesn't matter what others think, say, eat or feel about what I'm doing. Don't waste time worrying about what others are putting in their bodies. These days I truly enjoy tracking my calories and seeing desired results. It's the coolest thing in the world to use food as fuel in certain combinations and at certain times to achieve specific goals. I also eat 80% raw and 90% clean but I don't eliminate or demonize food groups because... what's the point? I also used to be very "food judgy". It would drive me crazy to be in a grocery store and see the garbage that others were buying. These days it still bugs me every now and then but I've learned to just ignore it for the most part LOL! I do wonder sometimes why people don't just automatically know the difference between good calories and empty calories (Please note, I don't mean good foods and bad foods... food is food). I just mean the calories and nutrients contained in say a piece of lean protein vs. a snickers bar lol! But to each their own. The only time it comes up these days is when someone asks me specifically what I think about certain types of foods, I'll tell them exactly how I feel about it from a self-educated, non-professional opion based upon my own personal experience with this journey. If you think you're heading in that direction you might benefit from talkiing to someone about it or seeking out some education on nutrition. I had many great discussions with the manager of my work fitness center. The biggest thing that changed me was learning that even the healthiest of healthy people, those who I would normally put on a "clean diet" pedastal don't have perfect diets :smile: My personal trainor who used to basically lived on fish, chicken, broccoli and asparagus (during her training years), takes every weekend off... she doesn't count or log her calories and enjoys whatever foods she wants. It doesn't hurt her progress in any way, shape or form.

    Sorry for the long post here... it's funny that it came up. Just yesterday there were foods put on my desk, my desk in the office is like the central hub and anytime there's a department party all of the leftover food is put on my deks for others to enjoy. I was eating my micro-greens and looking at the lemon/poppy cookies and thinking about how awful the cookies looked (fake/plastic) compared to my fresh greens. In the old days I would feel somewhat "smug" at the fact that I was eating beautiful fresh greens that were providing my body with the right nutrients while others were eating processed toxic ingredients. Yesterday I was thrilled to see people enjoying these sweet treats :smile:
  • MamaBirdBoss
    MamaBirdBoss Posts: 1,516 Member
    edited June 2015
    I prefer to call it food fetishism. People falsely attribute magical qualities to food based on arbitrary standards to avoid the actual important things.

    Most people who fetishize food are overweight. There are some who aren't, but for a lot of people, it's to avoid doing the things that actually work. They pretend their huge plat of food is okay because it's organic. Or there's no gluten. Or whatever.

    Others are hypochondriacs who project weird powers onto what they eat as well as onto everything around them.

    Still others are just completely neurotic about everything, with extreme obsessive mentalities. They won't give their kids plastic toys or sugar for the same reasons other people wash their hands eight times and flip light switches. Both come up with reasons. They're both CRAZY.

    I remember one poor family we invited to our kid's birthday party who weren't allowed to have pizza, cake, or soft drinks. Not even for a day. It doesn't just make me sad to see that--it makes me ANGRY. No, your kids shouldn't be eating that every day. But there's no reason to shun it. NONE. And making your kids neurotic, too, is just a really crummy thing to do.

    Cleanse, toxic, artificial, processed, organic, chemical, preservative, dye--when referring to the NUTRITIONAL content of anything, those words are 100% meaningless.
  • Sarasmaintaining
    Sarasmaintaining Posts: 1,027 Member
    edited June 2015
    In my own experience-yes. I've posted before about my experience with eating 'clean' and my Paleo experiment so I won't re-hash here. But yeah it was scary how fast I developed a distorted and unhealthy relationship with food, which also started affecting other areas in my life. Thankfully I realized what was happening and I'm now on the other side of it, but I'm very careful to never label any foods 'good' or 'bad' now.

    eta: it wasn't an MFP thing though, I don't think I was even a member here at the time. I was on another forum at a paleo/primal website.
  • kvcreed
    kvcreed Posts: 29 Member
    Yes.

    Also, a pet peeve of mine is the 'finished day and was under...' or stating in bold red letters that you dared go past the calculated number. I think it might actually promote people trying to eat under the caloric goal, that lead to severe undereating. There is a massive culture of punishment in some diet-lifestyle circles, where the horror of allowing oneself to eat a piece of chocolate is such a failure that people start doing jumping jacks in their living room out of sheer shame. Linking this to shame and failure is such a negative thing. You are not less of a person or lack self control if you allowed yourself to have a scoop of ice cream on a warm day.
    Also, there is a lot of media promoting, madness about this and that being the devil (i.e. diet colas) and other things making you magically stop wanting brownies and lose weight (like raspberry kero-somethings), and food fetishism and some ill thought out ego-relation to what people eat. All that contributes to the pressure and the connection of self image and the 'rightness' of what you are eating.
    I think it's pretty easy to fall into that pit, for some more than others, and we all know there is a lot of seriously dangerous 'diet advice' on the internet.
    Honestly, AJ_G said it best.

    AJ_G wrote: »
    It's all about how you approach eating food. If you externalize everything and look at the food as the cause of things, you will begin to demonize certain foods. If you internalize it, you'll realize that you are in control of what you eat, and how active you are and you can understand that there aren't good foods and bad foods, healthy foods and unhealthy foods, there are just foods with different macro and micro nutrient makeups, and if you combine them correctly, you can always come up with a healthy diet.

  • Gianfranco_R
    Gianfranco_R Posts: 1,297 Member
    Ohmum wrote: »
    Do you think the likes of clean eating regimes and mfp can lead to an excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy, and/or an obsession with logging every calorie?

    I have only recently come across the term 'orthorexia' and wonder what leads this fixation.

    According to Steven Bratman, who is the one who "discovered" the orthorexia: The basic “clean eating” diet, which focuses on organic whole foods, free of preservatives, antibiotics and GMOs, barely qualifies as a restrictive theory of healthy eating and only occasionally leads to orthorexia. More risk accrues as increasingly practices related to the history of clean eating theories are added, such as detoxes, juice fasts and other “cleanses.”

    In general:

    Adopting a theory of healthy eating is NOT orthorexia

    http://www.orthorexia.com/healthy-eating-vs-orthorexia/
  • SLLRunner
    SLLRunner Posts: 12,943 Member
    AJ_G wrote: »
    It's all about how you approach eating food. If you externalize everything and look at the food as the cause of things, you will begin to demonize certain foods. If you internalize it, you'll realize that you are in control of what you eat, and how active you are and you can understand that there aren't good foods and bad foods, healthy foods and unhealthy foods, there are just foods with different macro and micro nutrient makeups, and if you combine them correctly, you can always come up with a healthy diet.

    This. :drinker:
  • SLLRunner
    SLLRunner Posts: 12,943 Member
    I prefer to call it food fetishism. People falsely attribute magical qualities to food based on arbitrary standards to avoid the actual important things.

    Most people who fetishize food are overweight. There are some who aren't, but for a lot of people, it's to avoid doing the things that actually work. They pretend their huge plat of food is okay because it's organic. Or there's no gluten. Or whatever.

    Others are hypochondriacs who project weird powers onto what they eat as well as onto everything around them.

    Still others are just completely neurotic about everything, with extreme obsessive mentalities. They won't give their kids plastic toys or sugar for the same reasons other people wash their hands eight times and flip light switches. Both come up with reasons. They're both CRAZY.

    I remember one poor family we invited to our kid's birthday party who weren't allowed to have pizza, cake, or soft drinks. Not even for a day. It doesn't just make me sad to see that--it makes me ANGRY. No, your kids shouldn't be eating that every day. But there's no reason to shun it. NONE. And making your kids neurotic, too, is just a really crummy thing to do.

    Cleanse, toxic, artificial, processed, organic, chemical, preservative, dye--when referring to the NUTRITIONAL content of anything, those words are 100% meaningless.

    thumbs-up.jpg
  • senecarr
    senecarr Posts: 5,377 Member
    Ohmum wrote: »
    Do you think the likes of clean eating regimes and mfp can lead to an excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy, and/or an obsession with logging every calorie?

    I have only recently come across the term 'orthorexia' and wonder what leads this fixation.

    According to Steven Bratman, who is the one who "discovered" the orthorexia: The basic “clean eating” diet, which focuses on organic whole foods, free of preservatives, antibiotics and GMOs, barely qualifies as a restrictive theory of healthy eating and only occasionally leads to orthorexia. More risk accrues as increasingly practices related to the history of clean eating theories are added, such as detoxes, juice fasts and other “cleanses.”

    In general:

    Adopting a theory of healthy eating is NOT orthorexia

    http://www.orthorexia.com/healthy-eating-vs-orthorexia/

    The cleaning eating ideas he listed might not seem very restrictive, but they have the issue of being not grounded in reality, which I would say is just as big an issue. Anorexia has the diganostic restriction that it only applies to people underweight (eating too few calories while overweight is just unspecified eating disorder), in part because the anorexic holds delusional beliefs.
  • bpetrosky
    bpetrosky Posts: 3,911 Member
    The challenge with anyone who has had an unhealthy relationship with food that lead to obesity is that the fix can often be swapping one unhealthy behavior for another.

    If I were prone to impulse overeating due to some underlying compulsive tendency, swapping that for a food exclusion diet can be simply transferring one compulsion for another. Calorie counting could be another compulsion, if that number becomes something that affects daily life.

    Balance can be learned, but it does take effort and some self-awareness about how you approach it.
  • Peachiko87
    Peachiko87 Posts: 45 Member
    ... I'm OCD about locking/unlocking doors, and washing my hands. I wouldn't say I'm CRAZY, it's just something I've always done. As far as relying too much on MFP, and it leading to other unhealthy things... EH? For those who do it, whatever makes you happy is cool. For those who don't, then keep on doing whatever you want to do, too. Balance will come with experience, and nobody just gets healthy overnight simply by switching their foods. It IS a start, though.
  • tomatoey
    tomatoey Posts: 5,459 Member
    edited June 2015
    bpetrosky wrote: »
    The challenge with anyone who has had an unhealthy relationship with food that lead to obesity is that the fix can often be swapping one unhealthy behavior for another.

    If I were prone to impulse overeating due to some underlying compulsive tendency, swapping that for a food exclusion diet can be simply transferring one compulsion for another. Calorie counting could be another compulsion, if that number becomes something that affects daily life.

    Balance can be learned, but it does take effort and some self-awareness about how you approach it.

    It's not always an unhealthy relationship with food that leads to obesity. It's often down to a poor fit between our evolutionary heritage and an obesogenic environment. Spontaneous, unrestricted eating of the food that's most accessible to most working people in the quantities typically served is often what does it. And that kind of eating is the social norm. Both counting calories or food quality are countercultural, abnormal in that sense.

    Re a disruptive preoccupation with either food quantity (cal counting) or quality (observation of nutritional guidelines), I think that's common to many people when they start, because of the learning curve involved. It sticks with some people who may have pre-existing vulnerabilities. But also I think it can exacerbate previously untroubling or mild predilections.

    Here's why: Counting / food evaluation isn't an emotionally neutral activity. It's loaded with expectations about what one's future body might look like, and maybe fear of the past body.

    There are some physical changes that can occur with weight loss that are sometimes accompanied by transient body dysmorphia. That can be as mundane (but disconcerting) as just having a lag in one's mental body map. Or it can be something more loaded. People expect to see a thin/fit body during and at the end of their weight loss, whatever that body is to them, it's something probably idealized, anyway. That ideal may be dissonant with changes they see in their own bodies - scars, stretch marks, loose skin, troubling (because new) changes in fat distribution - that last one can lead to an obsession with body parts that wasn't there before.

    When people are overweight or obese, they often take their bodies for granted. When they're making an effort to lose, and things don't turn out as expected, that can be confusing or disappointing; that confusion/disappointment might well fuel intensified efforts to control what's happening, in the form of preoccupation with calorie amount (or kind).
  • tomatoey
    tomatoey Posts: 5,459 Member
    senecarr wrote: »
    Ohmum wrote: »
    Do you think the likes of clean eating regimes and mfp can lead to an excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy, and/or an obsession with logging every calorie?

    I have only recently come across the term 'orthorexia' and wonder what leads this fixation.

    According to Steven Bratman, who is the one who "discovered" the orthorexia: The basic “clean eating” diet, which focuses on organic whole foods, free of preservatives, antibiotics and GMOs, barely qualifies as a restrictive theory of healthy eating and only occasionally leads to orthorexia. More risk accrues as increasingly practices related to the history of clean eating theories are added, such as detoxes, juice fasts and other “cleanses.”

    In general:

    Adopting a theory of healthy eating is NOT orthorexia

    http://www.orthorexia.com/healthy-eating-vs-orthorexia/

    The cleaning eating ideas he listed might not seem very restrictive, but they have the issue of being not grounded in reality, which I would say is just as big an issue. Anorexia has the diganostic restriction that it only applies to people underweight (eating too few calories while overweight is just unspecified eating disorder), in part because the anorexic holds delusional beliefs.

    Focusing on nutrition is not delusional...
  • tomatoey
    tomatoey Posts: 5,459 Member
    bpetrosky wrote: »
    The challenge with anyone who has had an unhealthy relationship with food that lead to obesity is that the fix can often be swapping one unhealthy behavior for another.

    Ah, I see you're saying the issue is with those previously obese people who did have an unhealthy relationship with food, not with all previously obese people.

    Still, I think it's possible for orthorexic behaviours to creep in, for the reasons I mentioned.