What is Orthorexia
What is Orthorexia? New Rules of Clean EatingBy Tom Venutowww.BurnTheFat.com
Clean eating has no official definition, but it’s most often described as avoiding processed foods, preservatives and artificial ingredients.
Clean eaters select natural foods, the way they came out of the ground or as close to their natural organic form as possible. Vegetables, fruits, 100% whole grains, egg whites, fish, and chicken breast are clean eating staples. Clean eating is a desirable and sensible goal. Eating clean is what we should all strive for in order to achieve optimum health. The answer is mostly yes, but more and more people today are asking: "is it possible to take clean eating too far?"
Physician Steven Bratman certainly thinks so. In 1997, Bratman was the first one to put a name to this obsession with healthy eating and called it orthorexia nervosa. In his book, Health Food Junkies, Bratman said that whether they are trying to lose weight or not, orthorexics are obsessed with eating healthy food and avoiding anything artificial.What is Orthorexia
Bratman says, orthorexics are not only fanatical about eating the cleanest, healthiest, most nutritious foods available, they often feel a sense of righteousness in doing so.
Whether orthorexia should be officially classified as an eating disorder is still highly controversial. The term appears in published medical scientific journals, but it’s not listed in the DSM-IV as anorexia and bulimia are. Opponents wonder, "Since when did opting for a lifestyle that eliminates junk food become a disease?"
Media coverage about orthorexia has increased recently. Websites such as the Mayo Clinic, the Huffington Post and the UK-based Guardian added their editorials into the mix in recent months on the topic of orthorexia.
In most cases, mainstream media discussions on orthorexia have focused on extremes of health food practices such as eating raw foods, detox dieting or 100% pure organic eating, where some people were reported as saying they would rather starve to death than eat a cooked or pesticide-sprayed vegetable.What is Orthorexia
But what about the bodybuilding and fitness crowd?
In their quest for adding muscle mass and burning fat, many fitness enthusiasts have become obsessed with eating only the "cleanest" foods available. Like the natural health enthusiasts, physique athletes usually avoid all types of processed foods and they put entire food groups on the "forbidden" or "black list".
According to Bratman’s criteria, one could argue that almost every competitive bodybuilder or physique athlete is by default orthorexic.
As you can imagine, I have mixed feelings about that because I am a natural bodybuilder.
Thus, if I set a rule for myself to limit my junk food intake to only 10% of my meals, does that make me orthorexic or would that be considered a prudent health decision?
If I plan my menus on a spreadsheet, does that make me an obsessive nutrient micromanager or am I simply detail-oriented?
If I make my meals in advance for the next day, does that make me obsessive compulsive, or am I simply just being prepared?What is Orthorexia
If I make one of my high-protein vanilla/apple/cinnamon oatmeal pancakes and take it with me on a flight because I don’t like eating airline food, does that make me a neurotic? Or, does it make me the smartest guy on the plane?
Some people are probably shaking their heads and saying: "you bodybuilders are most definitely OCD". Personally, I prefer to call it being dedicated. But perhaps we are a bit obsessive, at least before competitions. But aren’t all competitive athletes, to some degree, at the top level of most sports?
All kinds of athletes – not just bodybuilders - take their nutrition and training programs far beyond what the average Joe would require to stay healthy and fit.What is Orthorexia
If you don’t want to be average – if you want to be world class maybe putting hours of practice a day into developing a skill or discipline is a bit obsessive-compulsive.
So, now that I’ve defended the strict habits of the muscle-head brother and sisterhood, allow me to address the flipside - being too strict.
Where do average health and fitness enthusiasts draw the line? How clean should you be eating? Do you need lots of structure and planning in your eating habits? Or perhaps as Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher said, making too many rules only creates more rule-breakers. What is Orthorexia
Debates are heated over these questions and there has actually been somewhat of a backlash against "clean eating". Why would something like that possibly happen? Eating "clean" is eating healthy, is it not? It's a good thing, right?
Almost everyone agrees that it’s ok to have a "cheat meal" sometimes, but some experts - after baring witness to how many people are becoming totally neurotic about food - are now pointing out that it’s not necessary to be so strict.What is Orthorexia
The diet pendulum has gone from:
"Eat a balanced diet with a wide variety of foods".
"You HAVE to eat clean!"
"Eat as much junk as you want, as long as you watch your calories and get enough essential nutrients like protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals".
So, now we’ve got people who have pride in taking up a healthy, clean-eating lifestyle and on the other end we have people who thumb their nose at clean eating and say: "Chill out dude! Live a little!" What is Orthorexia
Whether the goal is to optimize health, to muscle building or fat burning, there’s no doubt that many individuals sometimes take their dietary restrictions to extremes.
In certain cases, I can see how swinging to an extreme with pure food could lead to distorted views and behaviors that border on eating disorders. If you don’t believe it’s a clinical problem, then at least, you may agree that nutritional extremes can restrict social activities and create inconvenience and require lifestyle sacrifices that are just not necessary.
I believe there’s a middle ground. A place where we can balance health and physique with a lifestyle and food plan we love and enjoy. What is Orthorexia
If you'd like to learn about the rules that bodybuilders and fitness models follow to "eat clean" and stay lean, then visit www.burnthefat.com
About the Author
Tom Venuto is a fat loss expert, lifetime natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder, independent nutrition researcher, freelance writer, and author of the #1 best selling diet e-book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle: Fat-Burning Secrets of The World’s Best Bodybuilders & Fitness Models (e-book) which teaches you how to get lean without drugs or supplements using secrets of the world's best bodybuilders and fitness models.
Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and increase your metabolism by visiting www.burnthefat.com
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