12% of Us Suffer from the Disorder of Healthy Eating?

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Psychiatry Advisor discusses “orthorexia nervosa,” the “disorder” of “obsessively” researching about and eating healthy foods. About 72% of Americans search for health information online, and with respect to the prevalence of the new “disorder” in the general population Psychiatry Advisor quotes Karmpaul Singh stating that “generally 5-12% is something researchers can agree on.”

The name for the “disorder” was reportedly coined by a physician in 1997, and is not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Singh is a PhD student in psychology at the University of Manchester who has been studying health behaviors.

When Searching for Medical Information Becomes An Unhealthy Obsession (Psychiatry Advisor, May 11, 2015)

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Ted and SE,

    Since I disagree with you on the treatment for being obsessed about healthy eating, can I refer you to drug company backed citations that prove my case?

    AA (who is really getting carried away with making fun of this situation which actually is quite tragic)

    • AA,
      I don’t know what the “cure” for the healthy eating disorder is. But if it is the SSRI’s, then those will eventually cause the antidepressant adverse effects. And, according to the new and improved DSM5, those adverse antidepressant effects do warrant a lifelong, incurable, genetic bipolar diagnosis. And that diagnosis will, of course, lead to the antipsychotics anyway. So, maybe it just doesn’t matter.

    • Find me one disorder in the DSM which is not being treated with SSRIs and anti-psychotic in at least part of the population. They always find a reason to prescribe these off label for pretty much anything like say being a human being.

    • I didn’t know there was a rule I couldn’t joke around. I mean come on, some of these articles are so absurd, they are definitely onion material even though on the other hand, what is presented is so sickening. But you know what they say, better to laugh then cry, right?

  2. “Karmpaul Singh stating that “generally 5-12% is something researchers can agree on.””

    I think he should look up for what the word “researcher” is supposed to mean. A hint: it’s not synonymous to pharma shill.

  3. On another website, about two years ago, a “counselor-psychologist” who allegedly helped sufferers on that website to lose weight; stated in an article that the word. “eat” was in the “death” This is definitely a perversion and he is paid to help people. I canceled my association with that website and wrote a scathing report on him and said that they should “fire” him; because he was harmful. This little article just shows how “screwed up” we have become in our society about everything. Eating healthy is as “diseased” as eating unhealthy. It is just another reason to subdue us with dangerous, deadly pharmaceuticals that cause illnesses that weren’t even there in the first place to begin with. When did healthy become unhealthy in the eyes of a controlling authority such as the psychiatrist/big pharma industry? When did being naturally human become sick and evil? This is against God and nature and I like the other posts I read I cry at the damage being done. Speak up and let everyone know it is no sickness to be a human being!

  4. You guys are wrong about this. Orthorexia really does exist. I have known people who have literally been paralyzed by indecision or suffer so much from rigidity in their eating that they can never go to a restaurant. I can tell you what causes it. Usually, it’s exposure to some form of eating disorders “care” or even the rigid OA groups that insist one must eat perfectly according to a “meal plan.” Some end up that way due to dieting or weight-related bullying or discrimination. I went though such “meal plan” terror for a while and it felt like slavery. Many ED care centers claim that we are too perfectionistic but in the same breath admonish anyone who does not eat “100%.” The absolute reign these staff have over us will shock many people who think they saw it all in psych “care.” This is nothing to joke about. I had a roommate in “care” who had this healthy eating obsession and it was tearing her marriage apart. She was older than me, over 60. She drove me crazy, too! I don’t think for one minute that there’s a physical cause of orthorexia, nor do I for one minute suggest drugs for it. Education and facing the foods one fears is the best approach I think.

    Again, if you know anyone who suffers from any type of eating problem who wants to speak with someone who has been there, please contact me at [email protected]. I have no other qualifications than 3-1/2 decades of first-hand experience.

    • Is “exists” the right word to use in this instance? You seem to be talking about something else. “People who have literally been paralyzed by indecision”, and the literally gives me a problem, too, “or suffer from so much rigidity in their eating that they can never go to a restaurant”, perhaps certainly might be said to be affected by something else beyond healthy eating, independent of healthy eating. If healthy eating were a disorder, the shame of it is more of us aren’t “afflicted” with it. I seriously doubt many instances of healthy eating killing an individual can be found whereas the chances of healthy eating extending a person’s time on the planet I imagine much more prevalent. With regard to the effects of health unconsciousness, or health subconsciousness, I refuse to speculate, keeping my focus entirely on health consciousness. Healthy eating need not be confused, in any event, with “unhealthy” thinking, or, again, “unhealthy” habits.

  5. By all means I do not support orthorexia as a psych label. I think I made that clear. I don’t think psych labeling is valid and I think it only harms people. I’m only saying that the label is NOT given to people who eat healthy, or want to. The label is given to those who are super rigid. If it is now given to people who eat healthy then this is reflective of the pervasiveness in Western society of pathologizing normal behavior. On the other hand, if anyone here has ever been enslaved by a meal plan or by those supporting the meal plan or “diet,” you know what I am talking about. The mentality of rigid eating is caused by either treators who act as food police, diet organizations that criminalize or bully those that go off the diet, etc. Walk into an open “Gray sheet” meeting of OA and you might see examples. Or spy on an eating disorders treatment center, but trust me, they don’t allow anyone to witness the cruelties in such places. You might be shocked. This ain’t no horse farm…….

    • Thanks for clarifying this, Julie. I also figured that it is the ‘obsessive’ part that would be significant, but specifically obsessed with healthy eating seemed to one of those oh-so-many fabricated ‘illness’ based on what is actually sound. I get what you’re talking about now– how the system’s over-control creates these fears and obsessions in particular via what they call ‘treatment’ or some such nonsense.

      I’ve come to the conclusion that this is not about ‘the system,’ in general, as that is too impersonal at this point, and quite vague. This is about the people who have direct contact with clients working on healing, recovery, and personal growth. Somehow, the front lines have landed in the hands of toxic people. This is what needs to change, more than anything, as it is obvious they have no idea what they are doing, as far as healing support goes, not in the slightest. I think that’s as clear as a bell.

      Thanks for your expertise, Julie. It’s from people like you, with conscious awareness of your own experience, that I learn the most.

  6. My experience is that we cannot always fault those that have direct patient contact. Often, these folks go into the field or get jobs with rather altruistic ideals, but they end up working for crooked or corrupt organizations. Some nurses may disagree but are terrified to speak out. If they do, they are threatened with more than job loss, they are threatened with loss of license, or even forced into psych prisons. As examples of corruption, some of these ED treatment organizations may be taking money from Big Pharma or from, say, Carnation, a provider and promoter of fake foods as “healthy.” We were forced to eat single-serve, individually-wrapped Oreos, Nutrigrain bars, Rice Krispie bars, Fig Newtons, potato chips and Doritos and so on in “care.” Literally forced. Where did these samples come from? Tube feed, Ensure, and Boost are also made and sold by big Ag companies. Tube feed was forced into us via a tube. In many places, they tie patients down and tube feed them. I’ve seen patients forced to stay in bed where their muscles atrophied so much they could no longer walk or even stand up. I saw them give my roommate refeeding syndrome and then she died a year and a half later. Some facilities may start out with good ideas but turn into very bad places due to corruption. There are individual abusers who work in such places, too. It’s so traumatic for a young person to end up in such a prison that they end up far sicker than they started out. They develop bad habits, including habitual lying, just to get by in that harsh world. Or they learn disgusting table manners. I have been trying to get people to listen to me for years about the abuses in ED care.

    • Anyone who knows about corruption and doesn’t speak up about it contributes to it. I lost my job for calling out corruption, and all sorts of other things, but I don’t regret a moment of it. As a result of speaking my truth and standing firmly in it, trusting from one moment to the next, my path became clear and things got better and better. Plus, the corrupt agency which I challenged is no more, because they lost their funding.

      Now, I help others find the courage to know and embody their truth, and to speak it when they feel it is the right thing to do for themselves. To me, that is healing, and what defines our sense of self as empowered and self-respecting.

      Front line people have the power to stand up for what is right. If they do not, then they are not serving their clients, and are fear-based, which is unsafe for clients, because betrayal is rampant in fear-based environments.

      Overall, I get that it is one double bind after another, I went through all of this. So we have choices, but each one seems to sacrifice something that shouldn’t be sacrificed. This is why I think the entire system is shit and serving no one, other than lining pockets of some not very nice people.

      That was MY experience!

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