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 Post subject: Re: Many of us have orthorexia!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:02 am 
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Elephant

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Why is this a disorder, and may very well be in the DSM V? Because it's not regarded as the norm of behavior. Most folks don't think about what they eat or sweat about even being able to go out to restaurant and order something. Lets not even get into concerns about soy or sugar or a host of other ingredients. What will become of folks with allergies? They've got to be concerned about ingredients. Is a biological threat a reason to be diagnosed with some kind of mental disturbance? (I don't think so). I can't wait until there is a disorder for trying to be ethical. It sounds so completely absurd but there will be one eventually. The affluent world has been hyperdiagnosing itself for a very long time.


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 Post subject: Re: Many of us have orthorexia!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:13 pm 
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I completely agree that we over diagnose and over medicate.

However, I think that people are missing the point that this is a disorder only if it reaches the point of obsession and interferes with the ability to live one's life. Like it's not necessarily bad to wonder if you left the stove on, but if such thoughts become invasive and you can barely leave the house because you have to go back and check 5 times whenever you go out, then it's a disorder.

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 Post subject: Re: Many of us have orthorexia!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:29 pm 
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CollegeB wrote:
I can't wait until there is a disorder for trying to be ethical. It sounds so completely absurd but there will be one eventually. The affluent world has been hyperdiagnosing itself for a very long time.
Actually many meateaters see vegans as being mentally and physically illed. Personally I'm 80% sure what Shelton said is true: ''carnivores are pathologic cases''. I mean, they kill all day long, everyday, without feeling any remorse, they even have fun at killing others, like cats playing with a mouse... Psychopaths. A recent study showed that great white sharks use same methods as serial killers... well that's because predators are all serial killers.




Now this brillant thinker is saying that vegetarians are degenerates... Really ? Then how should we call people that kill animals on a regular basis and eat corpses ?

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 Post subject: Re: Many of us have orthorexia!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:01 pm 
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Formica, the issue of loss of control is a hallmark of most mental health diagnoses.


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 Post subject: Re: Many of us have orthorexia!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:32 pm 
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Gorilla

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FormicaLinoleum wrote:
There's no point comparing cookies to heroin. Heroin is highly addictive, and if you do get addicted to it, it can ruin your life (as in cause you to lose your job, friends, home, etc.), not just make your diet less than ideal.

Seriously, cookies and cake aren't going to kill you. They aren't going to ruin your life. Seeing cookies as akin to herion is blowing things completely out of proportion.

Again, I agree that it's great to aim for a good diet. But a good diet can include nutritionally poor foods. And I don't mean just once a year--we can eat much more junk than that. If you focus on what you do eat and make sure that you get your veg and other good stuff, go ahead and have the cookies as well!

Sure, there are some situations when a person who is trying to make a big change in their diet might need to cut out all junk in order to realign their taste buds so they can start to taste the more subtle flavours of real food and come to enjoy it. But most of us aren't in that situation.


Bad food is probably the most addictive substance on the planet. Hell of alot more obese people then serious drug addicts. It's easy to compare hard drugs to junk food. Both do nothing positive for the body or your life except that temporary imjoyment you get. There's a reason people do drugs and that is it makes them feel great. Whats worse? who knows both have there own problems they casue and it all depends on the person and the usage. Herion addict might sell his house, lose everything and end up on the street. a serious junk food eat will lose his house and everything he owns due to medical bills. Medical problems are the leading cause of bankroupcy in this country. Like i said before no one dies from one cookie or cup cake, but likewise with doing a moderate amount of any substance. the problem inlies when it becomes a daily thing. I know many people that get messed up here and there on some hard drugs and it doesn't effect there life at all becasue they do it once in a while


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 Post subject: Re: Many of us have orthorexia!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:19 am 
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Elephant
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CollegeB wrote:
Formica, the issue of loss of control is a hallmark of most mental health diagnoses.

Yes, that was exactly my point. People are acting like 'orthorexia' is some diagnosis that would apply to anyone who tries to eat healthy. Without commenting on the validity (or lack thereof) of this diagnosis, I am just trying to point out to people that they are getting it a bit wrong. The diagnosis would apply only to people who had obsessive or invasive thoughts and behaviours surrounding food.

It's like saying anorexia isn't a valid diagnosis because it could apply to anyone who goes on a diet or tries to lose a little weight. Anorexia doesn't apply just to people trying to lose weight--there are far more severe criteria than that. Similarly, orthorexia wouldn't apply just to people trying to eat well.

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 Post subject: Re: Many of us have orthorexia!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:58 am 
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Gorilla

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Yeah if they use it when it's appropriate then it's fine becasue some people are obsessed to the point they
ll freak themselves into a panic attack eatting some bad food. but from the articles i've read on it and the times i've seen it talked about on TV they make it out to be anyone that restricts there diet and won't go off that diet. They call it a disorder i call it a commited deadicated indivdual that wants to do the best they can.


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 Post subject: Re: Many of us have orthorexia!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:10 am 
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Elephant
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Couture547 wrote:
FormicaLinoleum wrote:
There's no point comparing cookies to heroin. Heroin is highly addictive, and if you do get addicted to it, it can ruin your life (as in cause you to lose your job, friends, home, etc.), not just make your diet less than ideal.

Seriously, cookies and cake aren't going to kill you. They aren't going to ruin your life. Seeing cookies as akin to herion is blowing things completely out of proportion.

Again, I agree that it's great to aim for a good diet. But a good diet can include nutritionally poor foods. And I don't mean just once a year--we can eat much more junk than that. If you focus on what you do eat and make sure that you get your veg and other good stuff, go ahead and have the cookies as well!

Sure, there are some situations when a person who is trying to make a big change in their diet might need to cut out all junk in order to realign their taste buds so they can start to taste the more subtle flavours of real food and come to enjoy it. But most of us aren't in that situation.


Bad food is probably the most addictive substance on the planet. Hell of alot more obese people then serious drug addicts. It's easy to compare hard drugs to junk food. Both do nothing positive for the body or your life except that temporary imjoyment you get. There's a reason people do drugs and that is it makes them feel great. Whats worse? who knows both have there own problems they casue and it all depends on the person and the usage. Herion addict might sell his house, lose everything and end up on the street. a serious junk food eat will lose his house and everything he owns due to medical bills. Medical problems are the leading cause of bankroupcy in this country. Like i said before no one dies from one cookie or cup cake, but likewise with doing a moderate amount of any substance. the problem inlies when it becomes a daily thing. I know many people that get messed up here and there on some hard drugs and it doesn't effect there life at all becasue they do it once in a while

This is getting pretty far off track.

What I have been saying is that for people who already have healthy diets and are already committed to eating well, having some junk food now and then is not a big health risk and not something to worry about. What I am talking about are people who otherwise are quite similar to the type of person who is described in that article—people who try to eat whole foods, organic foods, etc.—but who do not aim for complete and total purity and eat ‘junk’ on occasion and don’t feel guilt or anxiety about doing so. Those people are not going to be affected in any meaningful kind of way by that bit of junk they allow themselves.

That’s it—that’s my point. The rest of what you have said doesn’t really address that point, but I’m going to respond to them anyway.

I’m not talking about people whose diets revolve around junk food and who eat little of nutritional value. I’m not talking about people who are obese. Yes, this is a major problem in the US and many other countries, but the reasons for that are much more complex than junk food being addicting. Some of the factors that go into this ‘epidemic’ are that there are lots of people who have been raised on poor diets and who find anything else weird and funny tasting, our lives being largely inactive unless we make the effort to get exercise for the sake of exercise, junk foods often being easier to find and much cheaper than whole foods, many of us being busy so we don’t cook and therefore rely on prepared foods and restaurants. But again, this is not the issue I am talking about. I’m not talking about people whose diets are all-around crap and who are sedentary and who would need major education and lifestyle changes to become healthier.

I still don’t think that poor foods can be compared to hard drugs. We all have to eat; we all need to take in food. We all have to make choices about what foods to eat and how much of it to eat. Taking drugs is not a basic biological need that we need to fulfil in order to stay alive. We can all simply ignore drugs and have nothing at all to do with them if we wish. We can’t ignore food. You try to draw a solid line between ‘good’ food and ‘bad’ food and treat ‘bad’ food as drugs, but all food is really on a continuum of goodness/badness and we all have to decide where to draw a line. Junk food might not contain much in the way of nutrients, but it will give you energy if you are in need of it. So it can indeed provide something your body needs. If I’m really, really hungry and all there is to eat is chocolate chip cookies, eating some will make me less hungry, will make me feel better, and will provide my body with energy it needs. It’s not as black and white as you are trying to make it—junk food can indeed provide us with useful things, physically and socially.

As for junk food doing nothing positive for your life other than providing temporary enjoyment, the same can pretty much be said for everything we do. If I go on holiday to the beach, no matter how much I enjoy sitting there watching the sunset, all it is giving me is temporary enjoyment. All enjoyment is temporary.

Finally, I want to point out that people who eat well and exercise can get ill and lose their houses to medical bills if they don’t have insurance as well. We all, regardless of what we eat, are going to die in the end. And the vast majority of us are going to get medical treatment as we approach that end. Sure, if your lifestyle is ‘perfect’, your chances of getting cancer at 50 are lower, but you aren’t invulnerable to it. And maybe instead of cancer at 50, you’ll have dementia at 92. (Yes, I know that a person who has a very unhealthy lifestyle will be more likely to need more extensive than someone who has a very healthy lifestyle, but medical treatment is by no means the domain solely of those who eat poorly and don’t exercise.)

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 Post subject: Re: Many of us have orthorexia!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 11:02 am 
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Gorilla

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Yes i agree, it's what you do most the time that counts not what you do here and there. from personal exerpiance i know and i know people that are similar and that is if i eat one it's going to be a slippy sloap to more and more bad foods. When i have a streak of only healthy foods it's extremely easy to stay on requiring no will power, but then when i slip up it's really hard to get back on. I guess it depends on the person


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 Post subject: Re: Many of us have orthorexia!
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:55 pm 
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Orthorexia Nervosa is a term coined by Dr. Steven Bratman, M.D.. Basically, it is being obsessed with eating healthy to the point of harming your health or harming your life. Below is his original essay he wrote for the Yoga Journal. It looks a bit long, but it is well worth the read.

I think the important point not to miss is that a diet isn't being criticized, it is being compulsive or obsessive about diet to the point of hurting your health or having your diet becoming the focus of your life........instead of having a life.


From
http://www.orthorexia.com/index.php?page=katef

The bolding in the quoted article is mostly mine.

Steven Bratman, M.D. wrote:
What is Orthorexia?

Original Essay on Orthorexia
First published in the October 1997 issue of YOGA JOURNAL.


Twenty years ago I was a wholehearted, impassioned advocate of healing through food. In those days I was a cook and organic farmer at a large commune in upstate New York. Today, as a physician who practices alternative medicine, I still almost always recommend dietary improvement to my patients. How could I not? A low-fat, semivegetarian diet helps prevent nearly all major illnesses, and more focused dietary interventions can dramatically improve specific health problems. But I'm no longer the true believer in nutritional medicine I used to be.

Where once I was enthusiastically evangelical, I've grown cautious. I can no longer console myself with the hope that one day a universal theory of eating will be discovered that can match people with the diets right for them. And I no longer have faith that dietary therapy is a uniformly wholesome intervention. I have come to regard it as I do drug therapy: as a useful treatment with serious potential side-effects.

My disillusionment began in the old days at the commune. As staff cook I was required to prepare several separate meals at once to satisfy the insistent and conflicting demands of our members. All communes attract idealists; ours attracted food idealists. On a daily basis I encountered the chaos of contradictory nutritional theories.

Our main entree was always vegetarian, but a vocal subgroup insisted we serve meat. Since many vegetarians would not eat from pots and pans contaminated by fleshly vibrations, the meat had to be cooked in a separate kitchen.

We cooks also had to satisfy the vegans, who eschewed all milk and egg products. The rights of the Hindu-influenced crowd couldn't be neglected either. They insisted we omit the onion-family foods which, they believed, provoked sexual desire.

For the raw-foodists we always laid out trays of sliced raw vegetables, but the macrobiotic adherents looked at these offerings with disgust. They would only eat cooked vegetables. Furthermore, they believed that only local, in-season vegetables should be eaten, which led to frequent and violent arguments about whether the commune should spend its money on lettuce in January.

After watching these food wars for a while, I began to fantasize about writing a cookbook for eating theorists. Each food would come complete with a citation from one system or authority claiming it to be the most divine edible ever created; a second reference, from an opposing view, would damn it as the worst pestilence one human being ever fed to another.

Finding examples wouldn't be difficult. I could pit the rules of various food theories against each other: Spicy food is bad; cayenne peppers are health-promoting. Fasting on oranges is healthy; citrus fruits are too acidic. Milk is good only for young cows (and pasteurized milk is even worse); boiled milk is the food of the gods. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, are essentially rotten; fermented foods aid digestion. Sweets are bad; honey is nature's most perfect food. Fruits are the ideal food; fruit causes candida. Vinegar is a poison; apple cider vinegar cures most illnesses. Proteins should not be combined with starches; aduki beans and brown rice should always be cooked together.

Dietary methods of healing are often offered in the name of holism, one of the strongest ideals of alternative medicine. No doubt alternative health practitioners are compensating for the historical failure of modern medicine to take dietary treatment seriously enough. But by focusing single-mindedly on diet, such practitioners end up advocating a form of medicine as lacking in holistic perspective as the more traditional approaches they attempt to correct. It would be far more holistic to try to understand other elements in the patient's life before making dietary recommendations, and occasionally to temper those recommendations with that understanding.

Orthorexia Nervosa

Many of the most unbalanced people I have ever met are those who have devoted themselves to healthy eating. In fact, I believe some of them have actually contracted a novel eating disorder for which I have coined the name "orthorexia nervosa." The term uses "ortho," meaning straight, correct, and true, to modify "anorexia nervosa." Orthorexia nervosa refers to a pathological fixation on eating proper food.

Orthorexia begins, innocently enough, as a desire to overcome chronic illness or to improve general health. But because it requires considerable willpower to adopt a diet that differs radically from the food habits of childhood and the surrounding culture, few accomplish the change gracefully. Most must resort to an iron self-discipline bolstered by a hefty dose of superiority over those who eat junk food. Over time, what to eat, how much, and the consequences of dietary indiscretion come to occupy a greater and greater proportion of the orthorexic's day.

The act of eating pure food begins to carry pseudospiritual connotations. As orthorexia progresses, a day filled with sprouts, umeboshi plums, and amaranth biscuits comes to feel as holy as one spent serving the poor and homeless. When an orthorexic slips up (which may involve anything from devouring a single raisin to consuming a gallon of Haagen Dazs ice cream and a large pizza), he experiences a fall from grace and must perform numerous acts of penitence. These usually involve ever-stricter diets and fasts.

This "kitchen spirituality" eventually reaches a point where the sufferer spends most of his time planning, purchasing, and eating meals. The orthorexic's inner life becomes dominated by efforts to resist temptation, self-condemnation for lapses, self-praise for success at complying with the chosen regime, and feelings of superiority over others less pure in their dietary habits.

This transference of all of life's value into the act of eating makes orthorexia a true disorder. In this essential characteristic, orthorexia bears many similarities to the two well-known eating disorders anorexia and bulimia. Where the bulimic and anorexic focus on the quantity of food, the orthorexic fixates on its quality. All three give food an excessive place in the scheme of life.


As often happens, my sensitivity to the problem of orthorexia comes through personal experience. I myself passed through a phase of extreme dietary purity.


When I wasn't cooking at the commune, I managed the organic farm. This gave me constant access to fresh, high-quality produce. I became such a snob that I disdained any vegetable that had been plucked from the ground for more than 15 minutes. I was a total vegetarian, chewed each mouthful of food 50 times, always ate in a quiet place (which meant alone), and left my stomach partially empty at the end of each meal.

After a year or so of this self-imposed regime, I felt clear-headed, strong, and self-righteous. I regarded the wretched, debauched souls about me downing their chocolate chip cookies and french fries as mere animals reduced to satisfying gustatory lusts. But I wasn't complacent in my virtue. Feeling an obligation to enlighten my weaker brethren, I continually lectured friends and family on the evils of refined, processed food and the dangers of pesticides and artificial fertilizers.

I pursued wellness through healthy eating for years, but gradually I began to sense that something was going wrong. The poetry of my life was disappearing. My ability to carry on normal conversations was hindered by intrusive thoughts of food. The need to obtain meals free of meat, fat, and artificial chemicals had put nearly all social forms of eating beyond my reach. I was lonely and obsessed.

Even when I became aware that my scrabbling in the dirt after raw vegetables and wild plants had become an obsession, I found it terribly difficult to free myself. I had been seduced by righteous eating.


The problem of my life's meaning had been transferred inexorably to food, and I could not reclaim it.


Tacos, Pizza, and a Milkshake

I was eventually saved from the doom of eternal health-food addiction through two fortuitous events. The first occurred when my guru in eating--a vegan headed toward fruitarianism--suddenly abandoned his quest. "A revelation came to me last night in a dream," he said. "Rather than eat my sprouts alone, it would be better for me to share a pizza with some friends."

His plaintive statement stirred me, but I could do nothing to change my way of life until a Benedictine monk named Brother David Steindl-Rast kindly applied some unorthodox techniques.

I had met Brother David at a seminar he gave on the subject of gratitude. I offered to drive him home, and on the way back to the monastery, I bragged a bit about my oral self-discipline. Brother David's approach over the subsequent days was a marvelous case of teaching by example.

The drive was long. In the late afternoon, we stopped for lunch at an unpromising Chinese restaurant in a small town. To our surprise, the food was authentic, the sauces were fragrant and tasty, the vegetables fresh, and the eggrolls crisp and free from MSG. We were both delighted.

After I had eaten the small portion which sufficed to fill my stomach halfway, Brother David casually mentioned his belief that it was an offense against God to leave food uneaten on the table. Brother David was a slim man, so I found it hardly credible that he followed this precept generally. But he continued to eat so much that I felt good manners, if not actual spiritual guidance, required me to imitate his example. I filled my belly for the first time in a year.

Then he upped the ante. "I always think that ice cream goes well with Chinese food, don't you?" he asked. Ignoring my incoherent reply, Brother David directed us to an ice cream parlor and purchased me a triple-scoop cone. As we ate our ice cream, Brother David led me on a two-mile walk. To keep my mind from dwelling on my offense against the health-food gods, he edified me with an unending stream of spiritual stories. Later that evening, he ate an immense dinner in the monastery dining room, all the while urging me to take more of one dish or another.

I understood his point. But what mattered more to me was the fact that a spiritual authority, a man for whom I had the greatest respect, was giving me permission to break my health-food vows. It proved a liberating stroke.

Yet more than a month passed before I finally decided to make a definitive break. I was filled with feverish anticipation. Hordes of long-suppressed gluttonous desires, their legitimacy restored, clamored to receive their due. On the drive into town, I planned and replanned my junk-food menu. Within 10 minutes of arriving, I had eaten three tacos, a medium pizza, and a large milkshake. Too stuffed to violate my former vows further, I brought the ice cream sandwich and banana split home. My stomach felt stretched to my knees.

The next morning I felt guilty and defiled. Only the memory of Brother David kept me from embarking on a five-day fast. (I fasted only two days.) It took me at least two more years to attain a middle way and eat easily, without rigid calculation or wild swings.

Anyone who has ever suffered from anorexia or bulimia will recognize classic patterns in this story: the cyclic extremes, the obsession, the separation from others. These are all symptoms of an eating disorder. Having experienced them so vividly in myself 20 years ago, I cannot overlook their presence in others.

A Menu or a Life?

Consider Andrea, a patient of mine who suffered from chronic asthma. When she came to see me, she depended on several medications to stay alive. But with my help, she managed to free herself from all drugs.

First, we identified foods to which Andrea was sensitive and removed them from her diet. Milk was the first to go, then wheat, soy, and corn. After eliminating these four foods, the asthma symptoms decreased so much that Andrea was able to cut out one medication. But she wasn't satisfied.

Diligent effort identified other allergens: eggs, avocado, tomatoes, barley, rye, chicken, beef, turkey, and tuna. These too Andrea eliminated and was soon able to drop another drug entirely. Next went broccoli, lettuce, apples, and trout--and the rest of her medications.

Unfortunately, after about three months of feeling well she began to discover sensitivities to other foods. Oranges, peaches, celery, and rice didn't suit her, nor did potatoes, turkey, or amaranth biscuits. The only foods she could definitely tolerate were lamb and (strangely) white sugar.

Since she couldn't live on those foods alone, Andrea adopted a complex rotation diet, alternating grains on a meal-by-meal basis, with occasional complete abstention to allow her to "clear." She did the same for vegetables with somewhat more ease, since she had a greater variety to choose from.

Recently, Andrea came in for a visit and described the present state of her life. Wherever she goes, she carries a supply of her own food. She doesn't go many places. Most of the time she stays at home and thinks carefully about what to eat next, because if she slips up, the consequences continue for weeks. The asthma doesn't come back, but she develops headaches, nausea, and strange moods. She must continuously exert her will against cravings for foods as seemingly innocent as tomatoes and bread.

She was pleased with her improvement and referred many patients to me. But I began to feel ill whenever I saw her name on my schedule. The first rule of medicine is "above all, do no harm." Had I really helped Andrea, or had I harmed her? If she had been cured of cancer or multiple sclerosis, the development of an obsession might not be too high a price to pay. But when we started treatment, all she had was asthma. If she took her four medications, she also had a life. Now all she has is a menu. She might have been better off if she had never heard of dietary medicine.

I am generally lifted out of such melancholy reflections by success stories. I have another client whose rheumatoid arthritis was thrown into total remission by one simple intervention: adding foods high in trace minerals to his diet. Before he met me, he took prednisone, gold shots, and anti-inflammatories. Now he has gone a full year without a problem. Seeing him encourages me not to give up entirely on making dietary recommendations.

But my enthusiasm will remain tempered. Like all medical interventions--like all solutions to difficult problems--dietary medicine dwells in a grey zone of unclarity and imperfection. It's neither a simple, ideal treatment, as some of its proponents believe, nor the complete waste of time conventional medicine has too long presumed it to be. Diet is an ambiguous and powerful tool, too complex and emotionally charged to be prescribed lightly, yet too powerful to be ignored.

— Steven Bratman, M.D.

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 Post subject: Re: Many of us have orthorexia!
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:56 pm 
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Stegosaurus
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I stumbled across this interesting piece from a news show about Orthorexia. It includes a segment interviewing the doctor who coined the term and who wrote the essay in the post before this one.


Part 1


Part 2

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