A Healthy Food Obsession

Are we overly fixated on “righteous” eating?

Is being obsessed with healthy eating a virtuous act? or an unhealthy preoccupation?


I am currently reading Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, and it has really got me thinking about health, food and eating in general.

In a section of his book In Defense of Food Pollan describes a newly diagnosed eating disorder termed Orthorexia.  This disorder is characterized by an obsession with healthy eating.  While other eating disorders focus on quantity of food, orthorexia is focused more on the quality of food that one puts in their body; refining and restricting one’s diet according to their personal understanding of which foods are truly ‘pure’.


Some examples cited are the restriction of sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, corn and dairy; or any foods that have come into contact with pesticides, herbicides or contain artificial additives are also out.

Doctors who diagnose this disorder say that orthorexia is more about restriction than it is about “health,” but where does the distinction lie between obsession and a the real desire to eat what we deem to be healthy for our bodies?

I don’t have an answer for this, for me it’s an ongoing thought process.

Upon first reading about this disorder I thought, “how could this be a bad thing?” but then a thought more and questioned what could define “going too far.”  I guess, like other eating disorders, an obsession with healthy eating could go too far if one is anxious and insecure about eating situations that they can’t control or feeling guilty after eating foods that are not “pure.”

But I’m still unsure.

The majority of food blogs that I read are focused on healthy eating, eating clean, exercise etc. (a positive health obsession) and I see this as a good thing.

We are constantly bombarded with books, tv shows, and dvds that promote that next “best” diet, which only helps to encourage our anxieties about food and eating.   Since when did only drinking lemon juice and maple syrup or eating foods that are determined healthy because of my blood type become normal. Our culture’s perception on food and health can be so skewed sometimes, so I am thankful to be a part of a blogging community that strives for “real” health.

What are your thoughts?

How far is too far when it some to healthy eating? Do you think that this disorder is definable?

Is being obsessed with the quality of your food and health a bad thing?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Take Care,


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14 thoughts on “A Healthy Food Obsession

  1. I think people want to put a medical term on everything and anything to be perfectly honest with you. I love clean eating, eating healthy, and making sure my food is pure. If that makes me an orthorexic, so be it. I know what’s good for my body and how my body works at its optimal levels when I fuel it properly. I don’t not eat other unhealthy things though. Take for example, I had some cake for my mom’s birthday this past weekend. You want to kno wwhat? I felt like I was hung over all day Saturday. Feeling like that isn’t worth it to me!

    • Well stated!
      I totally agree with you. We do have to listen to our own bodies and do what is right for our own well-being.

  2. I think it comes down to the mindset. Most professionals agree that any eating disorders are not actually about the food – it’s about the feelings of power and control or alternatively the lack of power and control.It’s like you said C. if feeling anxious because you can’t control what you eat every now and then and that consuming you then you are serving the disordered thoughts instead of your health. I guess I think it comes down to how and why you view what you are eating. Good post – it’s definitely worth a thinking about.

  3. I don’t think that it’s a bad thing up to a certain point, but once you cross a line it could be considered an eating disorder in my opinion. So what if you splurge on a piece of cake? It’s all about a healthy balance 🙂

  4. I’ve heard great things about Michael Pollan’s book – I need to pick that up. Also, I saw something about orthorexia on the Rachel Ray show, and I can definitely see how it could become and obsession…especially for type A foodies like myself.

  5. I suffer from an ED and have so for many years. My ED started out as Orthorexia I would say and each time I get into moments of recovery, I switch back to that. I cannot eat anything “unhealthy” without telling myself Im a bad person, worthless, etc.

    I also think that if one is a ‘healthy eater’ (and I put that in quotes bc I honestly think BALANCE is healthy. oats w/nut butter one day, an Egg McMuffin the next…) and the majority of the day is consumed with thoughts of food…well that is blocking something else out. One focuses on food to avoid thinking about something else.

  6. I think being “obsessed” with ANYTHING is a bad thing. It’s important to be aware, but if you become obsessed you probably need to relax. We’re all going to die of something and we may as well enjoy life 🙂 That’s just my theory!

  7. I just finished that book the other day!
    Yea, all of the nutritionist science is getting out of hand. People should just focus on eating whole, natural foods rather than just “getting in your omega-3’s!” etc.

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