Can Healthy Eating Become Obsessive?

By Arezow Doost, CBS 11 News

IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – Anna Gonzalez looks at her trophies and pictures of when she was a competitive body builder.

“I was really happy the way I looked,” she explains “I wish I looked like that now.”

Gonzalez says it took extreme work outs and a strict diet for her to get ready for her competitions.  “It kind of overtaking me and I know it’s not good,” says the Irving mother.

Gonzalez admits she became obsessed with eating healthy before her first competition.  She started by boiling everything from vegetables to meats “I even weigh all my food and then I boil it.”

She refused to go to restaurants and wouldn’t eat at family gatherings.  “I would go and not eat I would sit in the living room while everybody is eating and just stare and be in a bad mood,” says Gonzalez.

But she slowly started realizing she had a problem.  And though she didn’t have a name for it experts call what Anna was going through as Orthorexia.  It’s an eating disorder with an obsession of eating healthy.

Orthorexics restrict their diets to foods they consider pure, natural and healthy.  “It becomes life limiting in that the amount of time thinking about food becomes excessive,” explains Emily Haeussler who is a Nutrition Therapist in Fort Worth “The person can become nutritionally mal-nourished.”

Anna says she’s not competing right now and just wants to take a break.  Her focus is getting back on track and feeling healthy.  “I’m actually giving myself more flexibility.”

Some have taken dieting to such an extreme that doctors have diagnosed two new eating disorders.  Another eating disorder getting attention is Adult Selective Eating.

It doesn’t have an official name yet, but like kids adult picky eaters limit themselves to things like white or pale colored pasta or cheese pizza, french fries and chicken fingers.


One Comment

  1. Wade says:

    This is a ridiculous story that takes away from real eating disorders. Way to be a news organization.

  2. wade says:

    Dear people using the term Orthorexia, stop. It is not a real disease or syndrome. You are taking the spotlight away from real disorders like bulimia or anorexia nervosa. There is no such thing as “eating too healthy” that is like saying you have too much O2 in your breathing air and not enough CO2. If your “eating disorder” causes you to become malnourished you are anorexic or bulimic, as defined by the DSM.

  3. 2sister says:

    it isn’t an official medical term. It is used to describe a specific set of symptoms some doctors have noticed. Anyway, the term doesn’t matter. She has an eating disorder. It almost sounds like it could be related to obsessive compulsive disorder.

  4. Just Annie says:

    Dear self-appointed doctor Wade: Orthorexia is a real disorder, recognized by the medical community. Also, oxygen toxicity is real and brought on by breathing a mixture of air that has TOO MUCH oxygen (O2) in it. Why don’t you look things up before putting misinformation out there? There are many kinds of eating disorders. Orthorexia is one of them. Just because this article wasn’t helpful to you doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful to others.

    1. Linda says:

      Please see comment by “Linda”, below for accurate information.

  5. Heidi Best says:

    Dear Wade: When you become obsessive with your diet it is a form of an eating disorder. An eating disorder is an unhealthy preoccupation with food and dieting. I think this woman’s description qualifies for that. I think you may be suffering from the same thing the way you are so defensive about it.

  6. Kevin says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I just cannot understand how anyone can get ANY eating disorder. I mean, how little self control does a person have to have? It’s not that hard to pick up something and eat it, nor is it hard to not stick your own fingers down your throat. And this? This is just something that someone is doing to help their own arrogant self stand out.

    1. 2sister says:

      People who have eating disorders aren’t arrogant. Most of them probably have low self-esteem. which would seem to be the opposite of arrogance.

  7. Moe says:

    I love the “Tiny Fine Print Disclaimer” at the bottom of the Orthorexia Quiz. The quiz is a link to someone’s personal blog, she only posted the quiz because she thought it was funny.

  8. Linda says:

    Orthorexia is not listed in the DSM IV TR or the ICD 10, the manuals used by the medical and mental health professions as well as third party payors such as insurance companies for diagnostic criteria. New diagnoses take years and extensive research before they are included in either manual. To the best of my knowledge (as a therapist I do keep up with it), neither is considering the addition of “orthorexia.” The behaviors described would be diagnosed as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or Impulse Conntrol Disorder. It was irresponsible reporting to imply that people who choose their food carefully to avoid toxins are eating disordered. I can’t help but wonder if our agribusiness big money wants to lure us away from criticizing their products. After all, the term orthorexia has been around for years, although no one has been calling it an eating disorder.

  9. Sunny says:

    All “mental health disorders” that are about being obsessed with self are based in pridefulness, not low self-esteem. It is in pridefulness that people become obsessed with how they look, etc. In this recognition is their only hope.

  10. Danita says:

    No over eating can make you this way…

  11. Kenna says:

    Anything you eat must be done in moderation.

Comments are closed.

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