Orthorexia Nervosa Symptoms

Orthorexia Nervosa Symptoms
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When an eating “disorder” can save your life.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Orthorexia Nervosa” is an “unrecognized…eating disorder in which the person becomes obsessed with eating…healthy…foods.” “Whereas…recognized eating disorders,” like anorexia, deal with the quantity of the food, orthorexics care about “the quality of their food. “Many researchers have raised questions about the validity of [orthorexia as an entity],” but I always try to give the benefit of the doubt. A medical case report was published on orthorexia in a critical care journal about eating disorder emergencies. Okay, I’m listening. So, they’re talking about cases of bona fide eating disorders, like this woman with anorexia collapsing from self-induced vomiting and laxatives after years of throat and rectal bleeding. I mean, that is indeed a tragic eating disorder emergency. Okay, so what’s their orthorexic case like?

A 53-year-old man who had a triple bypass two years ago comes in for a check-up. His physician recommends seeing a dietitian, since his BMI is down to like 18.5, which is right on the cut-off for being underweight. He’s evidently been eating so healthy he’s “lost a significant amount of weight. He states that since his diagnosis of coronary heart disease and high cholesterol, he only eats ‘natural and organic foods.'” Therefore… he probably has a psychiatric illness. “He clearly is preoccupied with food and judges others based on their food choices,” when in fact, he very well may be saving his own life. To me, the craziest thing this guy did was get a triple bypass. I mean, imagine lying on a psychiatrist’s couch and being like, “Yeah, I know I could switch to bean burritos, but I’d rather pay someone to slice my chest open with a knife, maybe saw my breastbone in half, put me at risk for stroking out, ya know, instead of dealing with the underlying cause, what do ya think, doc?”

Then, we see some orthorexics becoming “evangelical as they share their feelings of disgust or disappointment towards their family, friends, and even children for their normal food choices.” I mean, it’s bad enough they care about their own health, but caring about their family and friends—their children? Off to the funny farm you go. I mean, it’s not like what we eat is the #1 cause of death in the United States or anything, killing hundreds of thousands more Americans every year than cigarettes. Oh wait, it is. And also the #1 cause of disability, but you may have a mental illness if you’re disappointed that your kids are eating multi-colored marshmallows for breakfast.

If you recognize these warning signs, what should you do? You should confront the person. I know it’s not easy, but if you see someone obsessively trying to avoid unhealthy foods—and worse, trying to get others to do the same, then confront them. “[T]he possibility of helping them save their own life…far outweighs uncomfortable emotions.” The irony, of course, is that they’re trying to save your life. Imagine if you were able to talk Mr. Triple Bypass out of his healthy eating obsession. You’d probably kill him.

To his credit, even Steven Bratman, the guy who “coined the term orthorexia”, has backed off, saying that he never “intended to propose a new eating disorder.” As an “alternative medicine practitioner,” he just wanted his patients to “relax the dietary corset and live a little.” I mean, where did people get this idea that he was trying to coin the name for a novel eating disorder? I mean, if you go back to his original article he just said he was trying to… coin the name for “a novel eating disorder.” An eating disorder he saved himself from: “saved from the doom of [his] eternal health food addiction” with the help of “tacos, pizza, and a milkshake.”

One of the directors of the Yale Center for Eating Disorders is “skeptical.” “We’ve never had anybody come to our clinic with [orthorexia], and I’ve been working in this field for at least 20 years.” “Without research to back his theory, Bratman is simply another guy trying to make a buck off the health-conscious public.” “They invent some new term, a new diet, a solution to a problem that doesn’t even exist. The burden should fall to the authors to prove that what they’re saying is correct, before they start unleashing advice on the public.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: olindana via Adobe Stock photos. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Orthorexia Nervosa” is an “unrecognized…eating disorder in which the person becomes obsessed with eating…healthy…foods.” “Whereas…recognized eating disorders,” like anorexia, deal with the quantity of the food, orthorexics care about “the quality of their food. “Many researchers have raised questions about the validity of [orthorexia as an entity],” but I always try to give the benefit of the doubt. A medical case report was published on orthorexia in a critical care journal about eating disorder emergencies. Okay, I’m listening. So, they’re talking about cases of bona fide eating disorders, like this woman with anorexia collapsing from self-induced vomiting and laxatives after years of throat and rectal bleeding. I mean, that is indeed a tragic eating disorder emergency. Okay, so what’s their orthorexic case like?

A 53-year-old man who had a triple bypass two years ago comes in for a check-up. His physician recommends seeing a dietitian, since his BMI is down to like 18.5, which is right on the cut-off for being underweight. He’s evidently been eating so healthy he’s “lost a significant amount of weight. He states that since his diagnosis of coronary heart disease and high cholesterol, he only eats ‘natural and organic foods.'” Therefore… he probably has a psychiatric illness. “He clearly is preoccupied with food and judges others based on their food choices,” when in fact, he very well may be saving his own life. To me, the craziest thing this guy did was get a triple bypass. I mean, imagine lying on a psychiatrist’s couch and being like, “Yeah, I know I could switch to bean burritos, but I’d rather pay someone to slice my chest open with a knife, maybe saw my breastbone in half, put me at risk for stroking out, ya know, instead of dealing with the underlying cause, what do ya think, doc?”

Then, we see some orthorexics becoming “evangelical as they share their feelings of disgust or disappointment towards their family, friends, and even children for their normal food choices.” I mean, it’s bad enough they care about their own health, but caring about their family and friends—their children? Off to the funny farm you go. I mean, it’s not like what we eat is the #1 cause of death in the United States or anything, killing hundreds of thousands more Americans every year than cigarettes. Oh wait, it is. And also the #1 cause of disability, but you may have a mental illness if you’re disappointed that your kids are eating multi-colored marshmallows for breakfast.

If you recognize these warning signs, what should you do? You should confront the person. I know it’s not easy, but if you see someone obsessively trying to avoid unhealthy foods—and worse, trying to get others to do the same, then confront them. “[T]he possibility of helping them save their own life…far outweighs uncomfortable emotions.” The irony, of course, is that they’re trying to save your life. Imagine if you were able to talk Mr. Triple Bypass out of his healthy eating obsession. You’d probably kill him.

To his credit, even Steven Bratman, the guy who “coined the term orthorexia”, has backed off, saying that he never “intended to propose a new eating disorder.” As an “alternative medicine practitioner,” he just wanted his patients to “relax the dietary corset and live a little.” I mean, where did people get this idea that he was trying to coin the name for a novel eating disorder? I mean, if you go back to his original article he just said he was trying to… coin the name for “a novel eating disorder.” An eating disorder he saved himself from: “saved from the doom of [his] eternal health food addiction” with the help of “tacos, pizza, and a milkshake.”

One of the directors of the Yale Center for Eating Disorders is “skeptical.” “We’ve never had anybody come to our clinic with [orthorexia], and I’ve been working in this field for at least 20 years.” “Without research to back his theory, Bratman is simply another guy trying to make a buck off the health-conscious public.” “They invent some new term, a new diet, a solution to a problem that doesn’t even exist. The burden should fall to the authors to prove that what they’re saying is correct, before they start unleashing advice on the public.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: olindana via Adobe Stock photos. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

In case you missed my previous video, check out Is Orthorexia a Real Eating Disorder?. Stay tuned for The Orthorexia Nervosa Test. You simply won’t believe how they “diagnose” this thing.

While, as I think you’ll clearly see after watching the entire three-part series, orthorexia cannot be considered a legitimate eating disorder, there are very real and very serious eating disorders (such as anorexia and bulimia) that should not be taken lightly. If you or a loved one suffers from one of these diagnoses, please seek immediate help from a professional.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

267 responses to “Orthorexia Nervosa Symptoms

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  1. I usually enjoy your videos, but I feel like you’ve oversimplified a complex matter. This is really disappointing. It isn’t really a subject that should be made into a joke.

    1. There may be people whose anxiety and or obsessive compulsive personality disorders are manifested through their attention to diet but that does not mean that there actually is such a thing as orthorexia.

      The term was clearly invented by people seeking to justify their own unhealthy dietary choices as normal and people seeking to eat healthy diets as somehow mentally disturbed. I feel to see why you are disappointed by Dr Greger pointing this out in a humorous way.

        1. Don’t you wish there was a way to edit comments when you see errors too late? Yours was minor and easy to figure out but there have been one or two today that I flat out could not comprehend :)

          1. I seem to recall there was an Edit feature on this forum engine-thing at one time. I also remember a bold/italicize feature a while back. Maybe it was too much overhead for the web people.

            I have a self-imposed, firm Rule about sending any and all emails: I Compose and then Save as Draft for at least 4 hours before Sending. (It’s really hard to keep that rule.) You’d be surprised how many emails I nuked after 4 hours instead of sent when I complied with that rule…

            Just sayin’

      1. Thank you, Tom. Your voice of logic and reason is always refreshing, particularly on this topic where there has been so much hypersensitivity and failure to see the point of the video which is “orthorexia” and not eating disorders or mental illness.

        1. Agreed. Always appreciate you, Tom.

          The fact that the medical journal example case was someone trying to reverse cardiac disease who was within normal weight and was being judged as being extreme by his doctor, who obviously never studied nutrition and out of the doctor lacking the nutritional education, he wasn’t applauding him for succeeding and had become worried about him at that point in his health versus before then. This issue is exposing people who are anti-Whole Food Plant Based.

          My brother’s wife got so angry that I was trying to feed my brother vegetables when he got cancer. She has won and the doctors are on her side that it is okay for him to go back to his diet of pizza and hot dogs and hamburgers and diet has nothing to do with cancer in their estimation.

          She announced that she would not be changing her diet from “normal” eating and that she didn’t think that changing from “normal” eating was healthy or a good idea for my brother with his kidney cancer. Nobody had lectured her. She was threatened by me making Whole Food Plant Based meals for him for lunch. She doesn’t believe in it as a solution and obviously, neither did the heart doctor in this case.

          1. Deb, that is sickening. The unqualified blanket term “orthorexia” only reinforces that selective ignorance and the type of medical advice that leads people to death. I’m disturbed by some of the comments here… society has gotten so ridiculous, to put it nicely.

            1. S, when he got to the word “normal” with regards to eating, my first thought was how much “normal” has changed in the past 2 decades.

              1. Ha, good point Deb! Deb, you may have brain problems as you’ve explained, but you are a breath of intelligence among those who do not.

                  1. Awwww, thank you both. That is sweet.

                    I can be a talkative pain-in-the-you-know-what, but I love Whole Food Plant Based and have been using it to heal my brain and see it as part of the solution.

                    If we came against psychiatric drugs and made the use of them a type of mental health diagnosis, psychiatrists would suddenly be so up in arms and would feel so threatened and it may well be “crazy” to take some of them.

                    They are coming against Whole Food Plant Based and now have created a diagnosis and people who have OCD or Anorexia now will have a fear of going too far in this walk and what I will say is that over the past year and a quarter, I have used nutrition to heal my blood sugar, lower my homocysteine, heal my gut microbiome so that I can have more serotonin, eat so that I can have more precursors to serotonin and more tryptophan and melatonin, lower inflammation so that I can have less depression, get aluminum out of my brain which cured me of hallucinations and significantly lowered night terrors. I have learned how to eat to increase brain plasticity and to increase lutein for my eyes and brain and increase circulation to my brain by lowering cholesterol and unblocking my arteries and I have learned what nutrition my brain needs to function and that I need B-12 and D3 and Omega 3 and that I need to get my B6 from food, rather than supplements so that I don’t have a storm, and that gut microbiome can affect behavior and that RoundUp can wipe out gut microbiome and I learned that things like blueberries and saffron and certain smells can improve my brain function and my mood. I could keep going on how all of those are increasing my mental health and I can eat seeds to help with social anxiety.

                    I have come here and learned so much and it is working. Slowly. But people COULD still diagnose me.

                    They won’t all know to wait and see what happens when I heal my immune system and limbic system and adrenals and thyroid and all of it one after another and I can’t even wait to see what happens now that I have a tool to see my brain improve.

                    I believe so much that this diet is even MORE important to people with eating disorders. They NEED it even more.

                    If they have fears of things, it may be that they have watched so many confusing videos online all contradicting each other and having an official diagnosis coming against WFPB won’t help them clear those things up.

                    It took me a year to figure out soy and gluten and lectins and phytates all of it and the doctors plural warring made it so much more frightening. You can’t tell me that a good part of the people who have real food fears didn’t come from the fear-mongers and adding a diagnosis and pushing them away from WFPB breaks my heart.

                    1. And if it is the diet war, soy police, lectin police, phytate police, gluten police, carb police, everything good is bad for you police…..
                      with authoritative experts disagreeing vehemently from every direction while industry makes up studies to make things more confusing and doctors sell out and sell products…. and THAT is what really needs a mental health diagnosis.

                      That and Hollywood standards of beauty, where little girls already are wanting to diet to match the size zero model image by the time they are 7 years old….

                      That is changing. More companies are showing women from all different sizes as beautiful. I still get a plus size women’s clothes magazine and I looked at it and the women are finally after all these years a mix of regular and plus size. After seeing that, I went to their site online and they had women who were so large wearing their clothes with beaming smiles and I mean women well over 400 pounds and they were so beautiful. No shame on their faces. No condemnation.

                      I know that WFPB is about healing people’s bodies and taste buds and health and mental health, but I was so happy to see people loving themselves right where they are. I want them to find out about WFPB and actually lose the weight and lose the eating disorders.

                      I used to have an eating disorder and I don’t have one anymore.

                      I used to be suicidal and I am not anymore.

                      I used to be devastatingly insecure and shy and I still am shy and probably still am insecure, but it isn’t an identity.

                      I never thought I could lose weight and thought my thyroid was not functioning and thought so many things and this is helping and I want the people who left vegan to find out that it is okay for them to do an imperfect Whole Food Plant Based and that there are things like lowering glutamate to lower OCD, which might help some. And that it might take time, but there is hope.

                    2. Deb I so agree! Well said.

                      “I believe so much that this diet is even MORE important to people with eating disorders. They NEED it even more.”

                      I AGREE! With my OCD and many eating disorders as a result of the OCD, I can tell you that while I did become too worried about being “perfect” in an unhealthy way (BUT this was actually triggered by EXACTLY what you explained above… all the confusing misinformation on the internet stated as facts about lectin, phytates, etc. etc…), I also had eating disorders before going vegan, they surrounded SO many forms of eating, but it was all due to one problem for me which was OCD. When I started learning about the science, it put all the confusion to rest. Once I knew what to eat, it became a lot easier. I then only had to deal with my OCD weird way of doing things, and it made it easier knowing the FACT that as long as my diet is built up of whole plant foods, I don’t have to worry and everything is good, even if I feel anxiety about weird ideas of “perfection.” Plus, eating this way has helped my brain chemistry so much, so it’s played a huge role in me battling OCD and taking my brain back.

          2. “My brother’s wife got so angry that I was trying to feed my brother vegetables when he got cancer. She has won and the doctors are on her side that it is okay for him to go back to his diet of pizza and hot dogs and hamburgers and diet has nothing to do with cancer in their estimation.”
            Deb

            Proverbs 13:20 KJV
            [20] He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

            1. Rudy,

              Thank you for sharing scripture with me. I am a Christian. My relatives aren’t Christians and they also don’t eat healthy foods. My friends from school – half are Christians and half aren’t and none of them eat healthy foods either and my Christian community friends and some relatives pretty much went Keto or are SAD diet-oriented. My coworkers aren’t Christians and they don’t eat WFPB or believe in it. My town has some Christians and some not Christians and I have yet to meet anyone who is WFPB or Vegan either in town or in the neighboring towns.

              I guess I am working on trying to be “light of the world” hoping that if I try to stay loving, and actually care, that they will be less hostile to it eventually.

              Maybe.

              1. Not to mention the hypocrisy in being the demand to the horrors that go on to the animals and being Christian. But that is an entirely different topic. And to make it clear, in no way was I attacking Christianity with my comment, I’m a Christian as well, actually.

              2. Deb, I would think your successful ‘alternative’ treatment of your dog would wake them up. I admire oyour courage and persistance in helping him. How is he btw?

                1. The vet just saw him and said that he looks great!

                  The vet is medical model and doesn’t agree that anything I have done has changed the prognosis. He thinks that my dog is an outlier and still doesn’t want to do a scan of him to see if the things I did got rid of the tumor.

                  All the lab tests came back normal and my dog is doing well and that is what I am focusing on.

                  He said that if he is still alive over the year mark, we can talk about things again.

                  He would like me to put him back on steroids but said that the fact that his red blood cells are normal that it is okay if I don’t do it and some of us aren’t going to do it.

                  1. Deb, that is fantastic news! So happy for you and your fur baby! Don’t know why the Vet thinks steroids would help when they depress the immune system.
                    But it’s sad that your Vet (and your Brother) haven’t learned anything from this.

              3. Deb,

                I posted that because it seems your brother is destroying himself due to his companions (wife and doctors). If it weren’t because of them (especially his wife’s hostility), perhaps your influence on him would have been greater.

                You should present him the evidences Nutritionfacts has given.

                1. If your sister-in-law’s statement about the views of your bother’s doctors is correct, then it strongly suggests that they are ill-informed.

                  The World Rancer Research Fund has posted the evidence underpinning its recommendations on cancer and diet which are
                  Eat a diet rich in wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and beans
                  Limit consumption of ‘fast foods’ and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars
                  Limit consumption of red and processed meat
                  Limit consumption of sugar sweetened drinks
                  Limit alcohol consumption

                  https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/recommendations/evidence-our-recommendations-work
                  https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/contents

                  In the US, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network reports
                  ‘ there is strong evidence that a plant-based diet cuts the risk of cancer overall. Many epidemiologic studies have shown that people who eat diets rich in fruits and vegetables and sparse in meat and animal fat have lower rates of some cancers, including lung, breast, colon and stomach cancers.

                  The mechanisms at work are still being explored, but studies indicate that red meat promotes inflammation in human tissue; this inflammation is believed to stimulate the growth of cancerous tumors. Plant foods, on the other hand, contain antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E, which protect the cells from free radicals – unstable molecules that damage healthy cells and are linked to aging and disease.

                  Phytochemicals, also found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains, are compounds that may thwart the action of carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) and aid cells in blocking the development of cancer.’
                  https://www.nccn.org/patients/resources/life_after_cancer/nutrition.aspx

                  While the American Society of Clinical Oncologists’ cancer.net states:

                  ‘Most nutrition recommendations include eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The effect of specific dietary factors on cancer survival rates is not as well understood and is actively being studied. However, a healthy diet is important for cancer survivors because they may be at increased risk for other health conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and weakening of the bones.

                  To reduce the risk of other diseases, doctors generally recommend that cancer survivors follow common recommendations for good health. These include eating a nutrient-dense and plant-based diet, ‘
                  https://www.cancer.net/survivorship/healthy-living/nutrition-recommendations-during-and-after-treatment

                  There really is no excuse for clinicians stating that diet is either irrelevant or unimportant fpr cancer patients.

                  1. Thanks, Tom.

                    I believe that the doctors mostly didn’t want him to try a nutritional solution and feel that nutrition doesn’t help after you have it.

                    They don’t see it as he could eat better and change his odds of getting it back.

                    My sister-in-law has a similar need to be “normal” as this man. My father has that, too.

                    I didn’t think of it right away, but this man obviously felt “healthier” eating “normally” and had stress eating “healthy foods” and my family has that same sense of WFPB being “not normal” and that they feel healthier fitting into the culture and I feel healthier separating myself from it.

            2. No matter who they are, people who identify a problem and then profit from a solution to that problem must be subject to some skepticism

          3. Deb – I, too, had to stand back and watch my brother’s wife – the Nurse – feed him the SAD while he spent his last 9 years with brain cancer. He drank milk numerous times per day to have something “substantial” in his stomach to allow him to take his Dilantin and Tegretol per her “expert” advice. It was excruciatingly painful. I had to constantly remind myself that he was an adult and was free to make his own choices in life and he chose her. She was also deathly jealous of me, the sister, and threatened by our close relationship. I miss my brother terribly. I think I understand a little of what you must be going through . . . . and I’m so sorry.

            1. Ruth,

              Thank you so much! Yes, it is devastating.

              I didn’t understand how important to her it was that I didn’t feed him WFPB meals. It didn’t make sense. I thought she thought that he wouldn’t eat it, but she is hostile about WFPB the same way so many people are hostile against vegan. It flew over my head until we had a showdown. It wasn’t really even an argument. It was her getting furious and me getting quiet. Then, her calming down and giving me a list of excuses and finally, her saying that he didn’t have to change his diet that much as long as he had surgery. Then, after his surgery, she said that the choice was his, but she would not change her diet.

              She is good for him in 10,000 ways and they have been together all their lives. School sweethearts. First girlfriend. I knew that she was hostile about vegan, but I thought if I could find foods he would like that she would be happy. He liked everything and she was not at all happy.

        2. I can’t help but notice that those who are sure this is a real diagnosis, (and where are your credentials if you say it isn’t), totally ignored what a person with real credentials had to say.
          Kelly Brownell, is the co-director of Yale Center for eating disorders, with 20 years experience. And what does Brownell say???

          1. Marilyn Kaye,

            “and where are your credentials if you say it isn’t,”

            I could say likewise, where are one’s credentials if they say it is? (in fact, at least one of the more generous commenters under this series have took it upon themselves to diagnose some of the other commenters), but would prefer to respond by pointing up to the video… there are the credentials, right in the video where it quickly educates us on what this term was made to mean, who made it, and why they made it. There are no other credentials needed. And exactly, as you’ve pointed out, a professional and expert in eating disorders is a part of that video.

      2. You are wrong there. If there are meaningful commonalities between those OCD people with severe attention to diet, often to the point of self-harm, we can just call it orthorexia and it exists.

        Whether that is the case remains to be seen and the handling of the term by psychiatry is piss-poor (eg. the ORTO-15 questionnaire having ludicrous questions and lacking internal consistency, with dubious discriminatory value), but neither of these anyhow “disprove” orthorexia. The same is true of the present video. Where we have been accustomed by Dr. Greger to expect high quality scientific studies, this video presents only slander and hearsay.

        Your last assertion is also unsubstantiated. How do you infer it was “invented by people seeking to justify their own unhealthy dietary choices”? For what we know, Dr Bratman is almost the exact opposite. And BTW, people don’t need to justify their unhealthy diet, they just eat it. And yes, “unhealthy dietary choices” are normal, under any definition of “normal”. Give a human a cake or broccoli – he takes cake almost all the time. The same with meat. This fact is nothing to scoff at, or deny.

        1. JP, you are SEVERLY lacking an understanding of OCD. That’s insane. By that so-called logic, hygiene and cleanliness is a disorder and needs a special name, using numbers for anything is a disorder and needs a special name, setting things down in a place is a disorder and needs a special name, exercise is a disorder and needs a special name, eating in general is a disorder and needs a special name, etc… etc… etc… OCD is a SERIOUS disorder with REAL science to define it and treat it, and it can mainifest in any way you could imagine and any way that you can’t imagine. Please learn about these real things before posting such ignorant comments.

          I didn’t even read the rest of your comment and am not going to.

    2. I agree. We don’t need a new term but disordered eating can look like an obsession with healthy eating. You get very black and white about what is the right thing to eat, isolate yourself, etc. I recognize that I used to use “healthy” as a mask for my disordered eating, and one of the things I had to unlearn was this black and white thinking about food. I wish Dr. Greger had been more sensitive to that reality. I didn’t have anorexia. I wasn’t dying from hunger. But I was not OK and had a very unhealthy relationship to food and diet.

      On a similar note, when I hear people obsessed about intermittent fasting, I often think that they might also be fooling themselves the way I used to. I also used to tell myself, “I’m fasting today,” just to binge the next day and “fast” the next. It wasn’t healthy even though my weight was, and I’m glad I got help.

      1. K., due to severe OCD, I also had a very unhealthy approach to diet (and life and everything) in so many ways for so long, and finally in trying to eat “perfect” for all kinds of fears, etc. taken over by OCD. THAT ALL HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS TOPIC. This is about an unqualified term that is broad and allusive enough that it could be applied to anyone eating for their health, which is the point of eating in the first place.

        We do not need people to walk on egg shells because we went through stuff. Let us be OBJECTIVE and intelligent people, not hypersensitive, irrational people because we or someone we know had gone through something. Mental illness, anxiety disorders, eating disorders… none of these things are what this series is about. It is about the TERM ORTHOREXIA and the diagnosis.

      2. K. – thanks for your comment. I’m curious about your experience with intermittent fasting. I’ve only just started experimenting with fasting, but from what I am reading it seems like a perfectly healthy way to eat, as long as you meet your caloric and nutritional needs over time. It may well be healthier to concentrate feeding periods (“binges”) interspersed with fasting periods, compared to more conventional continuous feeding, from what I understand. What from your experience felt unhealthy about fasting? Genuinely curious as I’m trying to learn all I can about IF. Thanks, KB

    3. He’s referring to all of us. All our friends and family think we’re nuts because we want to eat healthy. It should be made fun of silly.

      1. Quoting from the Bratman (2017) article:

        “It is important to state that most alternative healthy eating beliefs can be adhered to safely; most followers of alternative diet theories do not have orthorexia. Bill Clinton is a vegan and Jeb Bush follows a paleo diet. Gandhi was often a raw foodist, and followed a variety of other extreme dietary beliefs. The development of orthorexia is a separate stage”

        So no, “he” (whoever you meant) is not referring to “all of us”. Not looking into the articles, yet inferring conclusions – doesn’t that make YOU silly?

      1. I agree with this statement.
        ——————————————-

        Debbie, which statement? The way this forum is laid out it is almost impossible to know where in a thread a comment is situated.

        1. I too have noticed a problem with the discussion layout and linking a series of remarks. I wonder if there is a technical improvement that could be made. Sometimes I quote remarks for clarity but that’s cumbersome

    4. So much to do about nothing. We have become so hypersensitive about everything! And this one is so ridiculous and obvious. Do what is right for you. I am in love/obsessed with the flavor of cooked veggies with no seasoning and tea with no sugar. Whoever thinks I am nuts… so what! We are PC ing even obvious health benefits. If the doctor wants to add humor to folks actually developing a term for doing the right thing so what. If you are doing what is right for your body and people think you are nuts, you will have the last laugh. Just another way for us in this current time to be divided. Healthy eaters vs. junk foodies when there really is no argument when it comes to the obvious benefits of one over the other. Let’s talk and tackle real issues of obesity in our country. I can count on one hand the number of people each day that I see that are lean. The elephant is always in the room.

    5. I agree, Katie. Many people face a large amount of anxiety, at times to the point of tears or avoiding pleasurable social activities, when trying to “perfect” their eating. Although this is admirable in theory, at what point does it become worth our mental health/thoughts/feelings towards ourselves and to judge others? Is that mindset truly healthy?

      1. Michaela, that is a separate issue…. it has nothing to do with the blanket term “orthorexia.” Are people not paying attention here? Mental illness and anxiety exists and can manifest in a great number of ways. That does not make nonsensical over generalizations a real thing. Dear god people.

    6. Lighten up, its a spectrum of truth, but also realistic. My niece, who has a terrible diet and overweight, accused me of having a disorder like this, but not using a term for it, and said its the opposite of her eating disorder. We laughed about it, and it really was true.

      1. Umm, jeri, that makes absolutely no sense, it’s quite insane, really. Your premise is that someone who is unhealthy because of poor eating habits has an eating disorder and so then too, someone who is healthy because of proper eating habits, has an eating disorder…. That is literally an insane way of thinking and under that thinking or lack thereof, there is no way to not have a disorder. Then everything is a disorder and also disorder means nothing….. oh. my. god. This world…

    7. Agreed. Please, Dr. G, report the research, you appear to be cherry-picking ridiculously extreme cases instead of presenting research which challenges the idea of “orthorexia” . While it remains unrecognized and undefined, this perhaps amounts to fighting ghosts, but being dismissive and sarcastic undermines your own credibility and outright makes you look bad.

      Would it be useful perhaps to look at some of these cases which have been labelled “orthorexia” and suggest other possible causes for healthFUL eating being taken to extremes?

      It must get tiresome and frustrating to calmly and rationally deliver, over and over, a reasoned and science based nutrition. In a way I can see a possible benefit for using humour and ridicule where reason has not prevailed. Isn’t that rather risky, though?

      Dr. G has gained a lot of respect for presenting the science behind WFPB, it would be disastrous to see that ruined by what some readers who have commented here see as intemperate disrespect for people whose practice of healthful eating led to destructive behaviour.

      Please dont tell me that he is attacking the possibly absurd diagnosis and not the people who have been given that diagnosis. It is the MANNER of the attempt to rebut or debunk the diagnosis which is the issue.

      Is there no objective research that can be presented? I was hoping this second instalment would contain some substance, but it is really just a rewrite of the first episode.

      Please do not sacrifice all the gains made in popularizing WFPB and presenting the underlying science. You will simply play into the hands of the extremists (what are their motives, i wonder?). Someone will coin a term for “orthorexia advocacy” and try to justify THAT as a medical disorder!

      1. I know of one case who was showcased on 1000 ways to die. A guy who became obsessed with this syndrome. He started juicing and blending large amounts of carrots. The soon changed colors. He was drinking close to a gallon of carrot juice a day. He went to his Dr and dr told him his liver would fail if he didn’t change his this carrot habit. But the man was convinced he would be saved because his food was so “healthy”. Needless to say his liver failed and he died because he was the definition of this disorder. So it’s possible others are doing or have done the same.

        End

        1. Sounds to me like the carrot juice man’s problems could be attached to an existing mental health diagnosis, the juicing was just the manifestation – the symptom, not the cause

          1. The way the show portrayed his situation was that when he started juicing it it helped him. He felt better more energy and less inflammation or pain. So as he increased beyond his livers ability to detox the vitamin A, he didn’t think the dr’s were right until he became so obsessed that he had the cure he wouldn’t listen to reason. Much like trying to cure a drug addict or a alcoholic.

            End

          2. “carrot juice man’s problems could be attached to an existing mental health diagnosis… the juicing was … symptom, not the cause”

            That’s just nitpicking. You can say the same argument about hypertension, atherosclerosis and CVD, yet suggesting hypertension isn’t real is just crazy. Arguing about whether it is a “cause” or a “symptom” is a discipline reserved mostly for those who want to deceive you that things aren’t as they seem, when they totally are. Think about Paleo people saying high cholesterol isn’t harmful, because it is only an antioxidant that the body makes in response to inflammation (ie. a symptom).

            Whatever it is, the man’s dietary habits clearly killed him, whereas those supposed underlying mental health problems probably wouldn’t have (most OCD people don’t die of it…). That itself makes this diagnosis worthwhile (although you could probably call it another subtype of anorexia nervosa).

        2. DArmstrong, definition of this disorder? In no way is that how this so-called disorder is defined. People are just taking specific things that they FEEL fit under this broad, vague generalization and saying “oh yeah! it’s orthorexia.” It’s basically the equivalent of a psychic reading… OF COURSE it’s true, because it fits with something! AS IT’S DESIGNED TO.

          1. Shaylen, What is your level of expertise in this field. Your presenting yourself as an expert on psychosis, and clinical study. So I need to understand where your coming from. I see both sides. People think I’m over the top in eating right and not giving kids shit for food. My brother in law got mad at me because I told his 5 year old that donuts cause heart disease. So he took him out to get a donut. (Face palm). But a few weeks later he was diagnosed with fatty liver disease. I’m not even close to being at the level some of the people on this site. But family Think I’m the one over the top. But on the same side people who like the “carrots guy” got carried away, and is the definition of this disease and and several on here indicate dr g is making light of this condition and not giving it its due by using weak examples. Its like saying it’s not a possibility for carrot guy to be real.

            End

            1. DArmstrong, the point is that the one who invented this so called ‘disease’ has no creds in psychiatry either! And he sure has an opinion. Popular because he is telling people what they want to hear!

              1. Ya maybe, but it’s real, however it’s probably being over used already and might become more overused by the general public who is the epitome of an eating disease. But thanks.

                End

            2. DArmstrong,

              I seriously challenge you to provide one example of me trying to present myself as an expert on psychosis in my comment above. Literally all I did was make some common sense statements based on what is an obvious made up term by an unqualified person for opinion-based reasons as made evident in the first two parts of this series. Since when does logical thinking require credentials? I might also point out that while I mentioned nothing about clinical studies in my response to you, there have BEEN no clinical studies in the case of so-called “orthorexia,” so I might then ask, what the hell are you even talking about?

              Both sides of what? There is no side, the topic is “orthorexia,” who made it, why they made it, and what are considered symptoms of it and these things are all clearly without reason or merit.

              “But on the same side people who like the ‘carrots guy’ got carried away, and is the definition of this disease and and several on here indicate dr g is making light of this condition and not giving it its due by using weak examples. Its like saying it’s not a possibility for carrot guy to be real.”

              First of all, this is not a recognized disease. Second, there is no definition but rather a vague generalization to which literally anyone, including you, eating for health purposes to any degree would fall under the diagnosis of.
              No, it’s not at all like saying carrot guy couldn’t possibly be real. This has nothing to do with legit disorders. I suffered many eating disorders over my OCD and eating “perfect” I guess you could say, was one of them. In no way was I suffering from a made up term by an unqualified individual, I was suffering one of many manifestations of my very real anxiety disorder.
              Those suggesting that Dr. Greger is making light of this are failing to recognize the entire point of this series. I personally do not understand how.

              1. You made several comments as to facts. So I’m looking g to see if those are based on your expertise in the field or they are observations of your opinion and “common sense”. Looks like I’ve touched a nerve here with you.

                But in this case, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40519-016-0310-8

                The author points to vegan parents under Nourishing a child who was malnourished under the low 3 percentile , and semi unresponsive. Yes, there is not a clear definition and it’s far less reaching than the pervasive passiveness of the SAD diet, and even kills less people too by far. Reason is because most people don’t give a shizzle what’s in front of them unless is crap, ultra processed, food smothered in chemicals, preservatives, and additives. But that doesn’t mean…, IT’S NON EXISTENT. So stop already defending it.

                End

                1. DArmstrong, you seem to be making judgments quite readily based on your own made up assessment on things in this particular conversion. Where exactly does it appear you’ve stricken a nerve? I mean lack of reason in the face of reason is certainly annoying to me, I’ll readily admit that although I don’t try to hide it.

                  I asked you to provide an example of where I tried to present myself as an expert on psychosis, and you made a vague reply of “you made several comments,” that dose not qualify as an example my dear. You also do not need credentials to be educated on something or have an understanding of something or have had experienced something, I think you’re getting confused.

                  Btw, in regards to your response to Marilyn of ” Ya maybe, but [orthorexia is] real” … No, it’s not, have you watched the videos?

                  That would be a case of severe neglect, their neglect was not because of “orthorexia,” a made up term.

                  I’m not defending anything, in fact you are. I’m pointing out the same thing Dr. Greger has demonstrated by showing us where and why this term came about and how it’s defined and it is a joke. It has nothing to do with real disorders that might manifest around healthy eating and diagnosing someone as orthorexic who has a legit disorder isn’t going to help them deal with what is causing their unhealthy behavior, this I know from my own experience in dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder and common sense. But moreover, according to the broad definition of orthorexia, it doesn’t take UNHEALTHY behavior to be deemed mentally ill. In fact, all it takes is some unqualified guy to decide you need to “live a little!” whether you want the milkshake or not.

                  This really can’t be made clearer, but who knows… stick around for video number 3.

              2. This whole concept of ‘orthorexia’ is equivalent to rationalising poor personal hygiene practices by inventing a special name for people with OCD who obsessively wash their hands.

                In my opiniuon, the problem is mental disorders such as anxiety and and obsessive compulsive behaviour not a desire to eat a healthy diet and avoid unhealthy foods. In fact, there is even a school of thought that identifies recognised eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia as manifestations of anxiety and OC disorders.
                https://iocdf.org/expert-opinions/expert-opinion-eating-disorders-and-ocd/

                The fact that some people who practise good personal hygiene and eat a healthy diet, do so to excess so should not be used by people with poor personal hygiene and dietary habits to attack everybody who practises good personal hygiene and eats a healthy diet, This is pretty much self-obvious when it comes to personal hygiene but not so when it comes to food choices. Perhaps that’s because so many health professionals and media pundits want to jusitify their addictions to bacon, doughnuts and other fast foods. And the meat, diary and processed food industries are hugely influential.

      2. M. Lauriston, I could only stand to read the first or some of the first sentence of your comment so that’s all responding to here… Pay attention! He literally showed what the man who coined or tried to coin the term defined it as and why he decided to come up with it which was nonsensical dribble… and incidentally pointed out the fact that this man who even retracted his premise when called out by professionals, has no qualifications to create a new eating disorder term in the first place!
        There isn’t enough evidence in the world for someone who refuses to reason! So please do make a video or write an article of your own citing evidence to prove this meaningless bit of insanity. Good luck with that.

    8. I stopped the video a couple of times to get some context of the original article in Yoga Journal of October 1997. At 4:01 (4 minutes, 1 second) and at 4:07. It looks to me that the original article was never meant to be serious or scholarly. Rather, looks to me like a fun, tongue in cheek article appropriate for the journal in which published.

      Dr. Gregor’s exposed professional and scholarly journals taking a joke as a description of fact. This video was so funny that I had to share the video with friends and family.

      My take on the video is: Don’t feel guilty for eating healthy.

    9. Katie,

      I don’t believe that Dr Greger id trying to oversimplify anything, but I do understand why you might say that.

      Does the fact that the doctor who invented the term never meant for it to become a diagnosis matter?

      Does the fact that he coined the term because he stopped believing that Whole Food Plant Based can reverse diseases and that he wanted to eat normal again and he defined normal as animal products and sugary drinks and believed that eating and drinking those was healthier than eating Whole Food Plant Based exclusively even though the science shows the opposite, but he didn’t have science as his standard matter?

      Does the fact that they immediately are diagnosing a man as having a mental illness for how carefully he is trying to reverse his heart disease matter?

      Do you think that Dr Gregrr’s grandmother living because of changing her diet might be why this topic being told from that direction might be so incredibly important?

      Or the fact that Whole Food Plant Based is so successful at helping mental health issues and that this would put a pressure on people to not do this diet is already so extreme matters?

      Is the fact that anorexics already had diagnoses before coming to vegan and this adding an extra diagnosis might harm them by pressuring them away from something which can help?

      Some of us had brain problems before coming to this way of eating and a psychiatrist might not like how focused I am on this process but it is slowly healing my brain and a diagnosis separating me from it would harm me.

      All of the definitions given are Whole Food Plant Based. Not anorexia or food restriction.

      That is why Dr Greger is coming against it.

      The man who invented it came against the diet which Dr Greger has dedicated his life to.

      1. Your thoughts are a little incoherent but to answer your questions – NO. No, it doesn’t matter what Bratman (really) thought, or whether he believes WFPB diet reverses diseases. All that matter in reference to orthorexia is whether people having it can be reliably identified and whether their condition takes on an predictably similar course. Also, it is false that he “wanted to eat normal again” or that he wrote that article because he stopped believing in dietary medicine – that happened only about 10 years later, the original Yoga journal article clearly says he still believes dietary approach has value, even though he questions it. Also, he didn’t “define” normal, and never as “sugary drinks”.

        The man “carefully trying to reverse his disease” was underweight, ffs. He may have been diagnosed as anorexic instead, but try not sugar-coat it.

        Dr Greger’s grandmother or his involvement with WFPB diet also don’t matter. This site, and the videos, were announced as representing accurately nutrition science, so we don’t have to peruse it. This particular video doesn’t do any of it. There are no references to reputable studies, just slander and hearsay. What studies might it be – for example Mic the Vegan in one of the videos referenced a study in which (IIRC) vegans scored lower on some test for orthorexia (ie. less orthorexic than others, mainly due to them being less concerned about their weight) – although it might have been about anorexia and I don’t think highly of such studies, it’s still better than nothing in this video. If Dr Greger’s personal biases prevent him to represent the science, he should just leave this topic be.

    10. Um. Is it not the point that its a healthy complaint. The outcome being extended qialuty lifespan whislt all those who do not ‘suffer’ the complaint are significantly more likely to see deterioration of health due to chronic desease of their own making. And the biggest irony of all is those advocating ‘treatment’ might cause the patient to join the ‘normal’ is their slow pace self harming.

    11. I feel somehow the same way. I know how it feels being in a position where you only allow yourself to eat the good food (like eating kilo’s of vegetables each day) and really freak out when you eat out and there is a little oil in the food or you can’t have what you normally have. I think it’s more complex…

    12. I agree. I’m usually in Dr. G’s corner, but as someone who has struggled with two eating disorders and known countless people with disordered eating patterns, I can attest that this issue is much, much more complex. It’s one thing to want to eat healthy and to be concerned about others’ health; it’s quite another to obsessively avoid foods to the point of crippling fear.

      It appears the real issue here is people slapping an “orthorexia” label on actual healthy eating patterns instead of making the distinction between the *desire* to eat healthy and the *terror* of making a “mistake” and eating a food one has personally labeled off-limits. I cannot express the level of psychological torment that occurs in individuals with that sort of problem. It doesn’t save your life — it consumes it.

    13. I agree with Katie.
      You over simplified a complex matter. The psychology of eating and having a healthy relationship with food and body is complex.

      While orthorexia is not an official ED diagnosis – it’s commonly seen along side another ED diagnosis. the man in the first case study you mentioned was below a natural healthy body weight- which means he is failing to meet his nutrition needs while eating healthy. Just from this fact alone he meets the criteria for ARFID. He may have swung too far on the pendulum and he may be afraid of so many foods that now he cannot maintain a healthy weight- which is an Eating Disorder.

      I’m a big fan of yours. But you clearly don’t fully understand the complexity of eating disorders.
      The idea of Orthorexia is not a threat to your work and making healthy informed choices. It seems like this video may have been a reaction and defense.

    14. Please! The only “joke” is claiming that someone has a disorder because they are serious about eating a healthy diet!. Dr. Greger… you da man!!!

  2. I think the inventor of the concept of “orthorexia” has done a real dis-service to those of us who are trying to eat a truly healthy diet so that we can stay disease free. Although there are serious eating disorders that do need some kind of professional treatment, eating a healthy diet is not one of them! By describing people who eat healthy as having a “mental problem”, he may have discouraged many people from changing their diet from the abysmal junk food diet which many people think is “normal”. Those who have been discouraged will now be more prone to serious chronic diseases.

    It takes a lot of effort and courage on the part of us whole plant food eaters to go against the norm while being ridiculed by our SAD eating friends. And now being labeled as having a mental illness, we are further burdened in our effort to stay healthy.

    As pointed out in this video, the inventor of the concept has backed off on his initial definition when he was called out on the flaws of his initial definition, which had no scientific basis.

    As quoted in the video: “One of the directors of the Yale Center for Eating Disorders is “skeptical.” “We’ve never had anybody come to our clinic with [orthorexia], and I’ve been working in this field for at least 20 years.” “Without research to back his theory, Bratman is simply another guy trying to make a buck off the health-conscious public.” “They invent some new term, a new diet, a solution to a problem that doesn’t even exist. The burden should fall to the authors to prove that what they’re saying is correct, before they start unleashing advice on the public.”

    1. Darwin,

      Yes, him coining a term because he doesn’t like people being too health conscious in their food choices and his feeling it is healthier to add in unhealthy foods and people trying to overcome diseases being seen as mentally ill is the last thing people trying to transition from a SAD diet, which is genuinely killing them needs.

      1. Barb, thanks for posting. I thought his beliefs are summed up in this sentence.
        “I am no longer persuaded of the preventive benefits of a low fat, semi-vegetarian diet. And I now feel that focused dietary interventions only help specific health problems in rare situations”.

        1. Wow, Marilyn, THAT sentence is what it felt like. It felt like the person who invented this was directly coming against WFPB and it turns out that they really were.

          Analyze it though: “I am no longer persuaded of the preventive benefits of a low fat, semi-vegetarian diet. And I now feel that focused dietary interventions only help specific health problems in rare situations”.

          He has a belief system of “a low fat, semi-vegetarian diet” doesn’t have benefits.

          THAT is EXACTLY what my sister-in-law and brother believe. Diet doesn’t matter at all.

      2. Bratman’s suggestions about whether you might have “orthorexia” have a lot of merit, they help identify extreme and harmful behaviour.

        Even more revealing, however, is the first comment after his “list” in which someone presents their own case. I think anyone reading it would conclude that the person had medical issues that were far deeper than supposed “orthorexia” ! The “orthorexia” diagnosis was possibly HARMFUL because it obscured the deeper causes. It was treating the symptoms, not the cause.

        Like the treasure hunters at Oak Island, people need to “dig deeper” than the orthorectic label in a search for the truth.

      3. I wasted some time on that guys website and found this gem:
        “…People who eat perfectly, exercise constantly and take herbal and other supplements still get cataracts, arthritis, wrinkles, cancer, dementia and heart disease. They become old and frail. They die.”

        So he is ignorant and misinformed.

    2. Darwin, you are right, and, of course the answer is let’s prescribe drugs. We can make some money for the pharmaceutical companies. And if we can convince people that eating a really healthy diet is abnormal…..
      Well, then we’ll also sell other types of drugs and medical services. Being healthy isn’t good for business.

      1. Not to mention sustain the meat/eggs/dairy industries, Marilyn. A whole world of industries is threatened at the notion of evidence-based medicine and an educated public.

    3. Amen. Most people are not critical thinkers. They read a blog or see a tv show on Orthorexia and assume it’s a legitimate psychiatric disorder that can be attributed to anyone who is concerned about healthy eating.

  3. We are in the age of manipulators who know if they can not convince you to do their bidding with actual reality, they start throwing in all the made up pseudo ‘facts’ they can to confuse as many people as possible so less people know what to really believe.

    1. I know some people can be obsessive and compulsive about healthy eating – I know I felt that way when I was on the Weight Watchers program and was constantly adding up points and calculating how much food I could eat each day. The apps that help you track your nutrition can create the same mindset. But, when I switched over to just a whole food plant based way of eating (not a diet) I felt free to just eat good whole food for the first time in years – no confines. Just eat the plants people – don’t worry about the rest.

  4. I’m sorry to say, that while I agree with the main philosophy behind this article; there IS such thing as stressing too much about healthy eating. While a wholefoods plantbased diet should be the standard worldwide, it isn’t, and sometimes being “too strict” generates anxiety, isolation and depressive thoughts.
    I am ALL about WFPBD and comply 90% at the time, like you yourself said Dr.Greger sometimes it is just not possible! Being a bit less obsessive about it has allowed me to not feel guilty or overeat (I was a borderline compulsive WFPBD eater due to the anxiety this need for perfect eating induced in me).
    Now, if I eat out Ill likely eat something with oil, or salt, or sugar and worry LESS about it. I had to make a conscious decision that while “perfect” eating should be my goal, location, work, and other logistics and social aspects get in the way that is fine.
    I wouldnt say it was a huge disorder but it definitely had a life-altering impact to some extent. My two cents.

    1. Mary,

      Dr. Greger and all of the doctors do say that this walk is not about perfection. They also help people communicate what they need to say to get oil-free, sodium-free and sugar-free foods even eating out. Diabetics and people with heart disease already have to do the process. Do you look at those groups and say, “You would be healthier if you just ate a little salt and a little sugar and not worry about it?” Or do you say, “Here are the strategies for how to socialize with your health conditions?”

      You have chosen the solution of eating the oil and the salt and sugar, but 90% of Americans are trying to break off the addiction to those things and people slip back into things like junk-food. I gained 10 pounds by letting in a little oil. It became a habit for a few months and suddenly it became weight gain. Now, I have gone off of it and have lost 9 of the 10 pounds back. Was I healthier not worrying or am I healthier to figure out how to organize my life in a way which succeeds?

    2. Mary, I’m not trying to refute your thoughts here, but rather offer some “food for thought” about what you wrote, another point of view, perhaps.

      [ stressing too much about healthy eating]

      I think I stress too much about debilitating diseases like congestive heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. I am fearful about ingesting Monsanto’s chemical legacy floating around in the world’s oceans. I suspect fears like these have compelled me to be a WFPB zealot.

      One of my two brothers had a triple bypass in his early 60s; my other brother had five stents inserted in his coronary arteries when he was only in his 50s. Being on the WFPB side of the equation relieves me of the stress of being similarly burdened.

      [Being a bit less obsessive about it has allowed me to not feel guilty… if I eat out Ill likely eat something with oil, or salt, or sugar and worry LESS about it.]

      I think many of us grew up being indoctrinated by these three palate stimulators, oil, salt, and sugar. Ever since I was a child I was groomed to like foods laced with these three filler substances. Consider a typical GM lunch (Greasy Macs): double cheeseburger, fries, and soda pop. These represent the unholy trinity of taste sensations which many of us became addicted to over our lifetimes – they are not nutritional, sustaining foods; they are essentially ‘delivery systems’ for saturated fats, salt, and sugar. (I use the word “addictive” advisedly – I suspect some of these are truly addictive substances.)

      Consider also that the reason why GM sells so many of these quasi-foods might be because of this addiction. The more we are driven to eat them, the greater are their gross profits from sales. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

      1. I love this sentence: “These represent the unholy trinity of taste sensations which many of us became addicted to over our lifetimes – they are not nutritional, sustaining foods; they are essentially ‘delivery systems’ for saturated fats, salt, and sugar. (I use the word “addictive” advisedly – I suspect some of these are truly addictive substances.)”

        I agree with you that when I was eating those things, plus, food additives and unnatural flavorings, I genuinely felt addicted to food.

        Wanting food and craving food and thinking about the lust for food added a whole lot of stress, too. So that the deep passionate obsession with trying to heal my health through diet was replacing another unhealthier focus and that pre-WFPB mind-focus was even more stressful and had more guilt and more other negative emotions.

        Now, I just have to figure out the complex topics, which I have sites like this to help me with and feel guilty when I am around my friends and family and I don’t eat “normal” and it makes things more complicated and guilty that this takes too much thought-processing, but I would have made so many mistakes and done so many things wrong if I hadn’t jumped all the way in the WFPB water and gotten over-my-head.

        The people around me would have convinced me that soy was toxic and potatoes were poison and all sorts of things and I wouldn’t have had the information to defend myself from their “wisdom.”

        1. So, “I think about junk food all of the time and crave it all of the time” got replaced by “I think about learning about eating healthy food all of the time.”

          1. I still have friends who contact me regularly to try to get me to get off lectins and to eat fish and oil.

            Information is protection.

            1. My stress used to be about: Am I going to get Cancer? Am I going to get Diabetes? Am I going to have a Heart Attack? Am I going to get Alzheimer’s? Am I going to eat this whole sleeve of cookies and gain weight and how long will it take to gain enough weight to have to spend all of my paycheck on new clothes?

              Now, the stress is, “Is my father going to make fun of me at the next social gathering?” “How can I remember all of these details?” “Can I eat one piece of birthday cake and not fall backward?” “Why is the print on these containers so confusing?”

    3. Mary,

      I’m impressed that you thought you could be perfect, or reach perfection. I’ve never been, and never could be, perfect in anything. My goal is “good enough,” or “pretty good.”

      Actually, I like the Pareto principle: getting 80% of the benefits with 20% of the effort. The other 20% of benefits? I’ve learned to let them go. I save a lot of time and energy that way, not to say a lot of angst.

      I hope we can all eat our foods with gusto and enjoyment.

    4. I think it’s important not to judge others for the strictness with which they approach their diet. I, for example, had cancer in 2001 to include surgery and radiation. I don’t ever want to go down that path again. For that reason, and also because I am elderly now with increasing cancer risk, I am very strict with my diet and dislike others who try to get me to worry about where I get my protein, whether a little taste would be acceptable, whether it’s okay to eat things with oil in them, and the like. I ask that others please not judge the severity with which some of us approach our dietary intake. One might not know what the other dietary “zealot” has endured.

      1. Liisa,

        I think you are right. Many of the people who would be seen as “extreme” are trying to reverse health conditions or addictions.

        The “price” of failing in the process might be death and many of the people already almost died or had “death sentences” put on their lives by medical professionals.

        Or they lost things like relationships or job opportunities or self-esteem or mobility from food addictions or obesity related to food addictions.

      2. WFPBLiisa, absolutely. And what’s ironic is that more often, the types you’re describing are the ones who accuse others of trying to control what they eat. Among the absurdities of the diagnosis of this ridiculous thing, it’s very belittling and demeaning.

    5. An occasional diversion from healthful eating is in itself healthful as it can relieve a lot of stress. Knowing that you can on occasion indulge in something “sinful” can actually make it easier to stay “on the wagon”

      Speaking of “on the wagon” reminds me that I find it helpful to focus on what is healthful rather than things I must for the most part sacrifice because they are not.

  5. The difference between people wanting the quality of their diet to be healthier and orthorexia is the word “obsessed.” In the same way that anorexics are intensely preoccupied with calories and weight gain, orthorexics are compulsively preoccupied with foods that may be impure or unhealthy. They may become preoccupied with supplements or a single “miracle” food. Their food choices can become increasingly limited as they seek dietary perfection. They often become excessively thin and their health risks overlap with those of anorexia nervosa. They begin having problems socializing with others because so much socializing is around food–and orthorexics may become adverse to being around ‘impure’ foods and/or may proselytize to others to such a degree that it is off-putting. Orthorexics also become socially isolated because their preoccupation overtakes most other interests.

    So, the issue is one of degree. Most of us who hang out at this NF space are devoted to a healthy plant based diet. Many identify as vegans. When we first “come out” as plant based or vegan, we are often enthusiastic or passionate about sharing the benefits of our newfound diet. We enjoy learning more about nutritional research findings. But we are not spending the majority of our waking hours feeling anxious about whether a food is pure enough. About whether a certain food has more nutrients if consumed raw or steamed or baked. When friends let us know that we’re going a little overboard in preaching the benefits of coconut oil, we back off.

    It’s true that medical folks may may be defensive or reactive when asked nutritional questions due to their lack of knowledge/training and too quick to label a person a “health nut” or an “orthorexic.”

    In my experience, orthorexia is uncommon, but should be taken seriously. (Note: my perspective is based on living in a progressive community with lots of plant-based, vegetarian and vegan folks as well as working as a psychotherapist who has treated people with various eating disorders/issues.)

    1. “In my experience, orthorexia is uncommon, but should be taken seriously.” Thank you. I only have an extremely limited personal experience, but absolutely agree and appreciate someone with your background and experience explaining it so clearly.

      1. I did not read seedycharacter’s comment, but just your quote from it. Orthorexia is NOT REAL, the man who made it was not qualified to make it nor was it based on any type of science or psychology. It was vague, ridiculous and that is why it was being called out by actual professionals. It is not real. Disorders of many kind are real, orthorexia and its absurd diagnoses is not.

    2. Seedycharacter,

      My concern is that the person who coined the term doesn’t think it is an eating disorder and because he coined the term, you do think it is one.

      Do you feel like the man in the medical journal had a mental illness for doing a process which people with diseases already have to do?

      Notice that the story wasn’t, “A man saw some health teachings on the internet and then became so health-focused that he sold his house to buy an organic farm in California, leaving his family and friends….” Or some other story.

      I will use the example where someone mentioned “over-exercising” and could look like someone exercising 8 hours a day, like the Biggest Loser, but what would it look like if someone ate no oil or never used salt or never ate foods with RoundUp? How much harm did that process do to them?

      1. I say that to you and I do know people, more than one, who bought grass-fed animal farms after going Keto and who are changing careers and left family and friends and who pester everybody who listens to try to get them to go Keto.

        Is that a mental illness?

        1. Is it unhealthy to set boundaries from people who want you to participate in unhealthy behaviors?

          Laughing. I would have to set boundaries against everybody. Absolutely everybody.

          And, no, I don’t do it, but alcoholics and drug addicts and people trying to reverse being 600 pounds often have to set boundaries against people pressuring them to do unhealthy behaviors to save their lives.

          Is that process mental illness? Then why are all these professionals teaching people to do that?

      2. Deb, I don’t know if “orthorexia” should be a distinct diagnosis in the DSM-5 (the handbook of mental disorders). The disorder is currently included in the DSM-5 under the umbrella of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). Dysfunctional preoccupation with quality of foods often seems to co-occur with OCD, in my professional experience.

        Do you believe there are ANY people whose lives become mentally or physically unhealthy and unbalanced due to an extreme preoccupation with nutrition and pure foods? If you believe that some of these people exist, how would you prefer to describe their condition?

          1. I suspect that she might suggest that you guys are confusing cause and effect.

            Mental health problems lead to obsessive behaviour whether that behaviour has to do with diet, cleanliness, counting or whatever. Arguing that an entirely rational desire to confine one’s diet to healthy foods is somehow pathological is ludicrous. Which is, I suspect, the point of Dr Greger’s video

            It’s not like this particular deception tactic hasn’t been tried before either. Carnists, Atkins types, low carbers and omnivores generally have loved to point to the association between vegetarianism and mental disorders arguing, or at least implying, that vegetarianism causes mental health problems. Simple associations don’t prove anything about cause and effect, of course. However, it’s an exremely convenient rationalisation for continuing to eat meat etc. In fact, there was a study that looked at the date of adoption of vegetarianism and the date of the onset of mental disorders.

            ‘The analysis of the respective ages at adoption of a vegetarian diet and onset of a mental disorder showed that the adoption of the vegetarian diet tends to follow the onset of mental disorders.’
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3466124/

            This suggests to me that ,many people with mental health problems may adopt vegetraian diets for therapeutic reasons.

            Both the claims behind orthorexia and the claims about vegetarianism leading to mental health problems seem to be cut from the same cloth. They confuse cause and effect (or make assumptions about causation that are unsupported by the evidence) in order to rationalise the authors’ own commitment to unhealthy diets. And they probably do it entirely unconsciously – rather than it being a deliberate attempt to consciously deceive others.

            1. Laughing.

              Tom, she would talk circles around everybody to get out of them affecting her belief systems negatively because she is in the middle of trying to change her brain through brain plasticity and everything she is reading says that accepting the wrong diagnosis is so detrimental that she doesn’t want any extra bad diagnosis added on.

              Here is a good article on how powerful accepting the wrong diagnosis can be as demonstrated through the multiple personality diagnosed community:

              http://www.dingtwist.com/power-of-belief-dissociative-identity-disorder/

              1. And I laugh because I know that it isn’t a good article as in a high-quality science study, so I now have to go look for it on PubMed.

                For me, the multiple personality community having those dramatic shifts would be reason enough to not just let negatively-framed belief systems in.

                The thing is that professionals already immediately accepted a faulty diagnosis from a guy who just wanted to eat animal products again, but who had to shift reality to keep being superior and he succeeded by knocking Whole Food Plant Based down a peg AND by saying that it doesn’t actually work and he was probably superior eating Whole Food Plant Based and now he is even more superior for not eating it. Rather than bringing his perfectionism in line and sticking with Whole Food Plant Based as an ideal.

                Some of the professionals seem to like having that box and now that it is defined, they are already using it professionally and now they won’t give it up.

        1. would your point be even clearer with the adddition of one word?

          “Do you believe there are ANY people whose lives become mentally or physically unhealthy and unbalanced due EXCLUSIVELY to an extreme preoccupation with nutrition and pure foods? ”

          I’m sure many of us have seen a big tree blown over in a storm because it grew on top of a big rock. The storm may have been the immediate cause but the rock was underlying.

        2. Seedycharacter,

          Dr. Greger did a teaching on how people with anorexia tend to be drawn to vegan because it is low in calories and when the vegan community analyzed the “ex-vegan” movement, they were pointing out that all of them had tried extreme ways of eating and none of them had tried eating a well-balanced plant-based diet, but all of them rejected vegan as if they believed they had tried it and it failed.

          This man who coined this term stopped believing that diets can heal people and that was his agenda for stopping eating so carefully and he felt that eating tacos and milkshakes had healed him of trying to be so health-motivated.

          Do I believe that people can be unbalanced about food and nutrition, yes, but since there are studies by people like Dr. Ornish where he was able to heal people of depression using just diet and there are studies where people in prison become less violent with improved diets and people are much less likely to get PTSD with improved diets and things like schizophrenia can sometimes have a dietary cause and even when it isn’t the cause it can be improved with a healthy enough diet. Autism can be improved with diet and so can social anxiety. Food addictions are being improved with diet. All of these things are by having the people become MORE vigilant with eating healthy.

          They did a study of people who were locked in institutions where they were trying to kill themselves regularly and they changed their diets and they stopped trying to commit suicide.

          I say all of that because improving the diet is the solution to so many of these situations and the man who made up this condition stopped believing that is real and that is why he made up the condition in the first place.

          I have brain problems and had such serious brain problems, but the more I eat healthier and cleaner, that is improving. I stopped having hallucinations and night terrors and all sorts of things. I also stopped having food cravings and eating disorders by going clean. I also stopped having depression, where I was suicidal growing up and drank antifreeze and other poisonous things. I stopped cutting myself and stopped all kinds of things.

          I drank Fiji water and just getting the aluminum out of my brain was enough to stop the hallucinations.

          I believe that most of these psychiatric disorders and health problems are probably caused by poor diet in the first place, so a movement against that movement feels genuinely threatening to me. They are going to have people back up from WFPB when I want them to draw near and get healthy.

            1. The phrase that comes to my generally not-terribly-religious mind is, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” But I had abstained from posting that till now since religion brings a lot of criticism in this forum. But that phrase is so apt so often!

          1. WFPBLiisa, the term for them is normal, I think, lol. Until society catches up which what with “orthorexia” and all, they’re trying to prevent as much as possible.

    3. From my experience, what people have is OCD or anxiety disorders that they are expressing in dietary matters. I have never met anyone who seemed over-obsessed with a healthy diet who did not have other obsessive behaviors in their lives. It can be tricky to see if they are obsessing on dietary issues at the time, but if you know someone a while, you can see them move the same behavior on to other areas. It’s the single-minded obsession and anxiety that is the mental illness. Don’t blame the healthy food (or the video games, trains, car makes, doorknobs that must be touched, word that must be repeated, TV show minutia).

      I also don’t consider that people new to WFPB who spend much of their attention on learning about eating healthy foods to be part of this group. That’s just how people learn a new skill.

      1. Well said, Anne. I’m actually one of those people who had various forms of eating disorders due to OCD, I’d say your comment is spot on.

  6. I’m about 5 weeks into the PBD after being diagnosed with prostate cancer (slow growing, gleason 6, PSA 6.3). I’ve completely eliminated meat, dairy, although I try not to feel guilty about having salmon once a week. I’m finding more restaurants than I would have guessed that serve vegan-approved meals, or at least close. Red Robin actually has a pretty good garden burger when you hold the cheese, and even comes with bottomless broccoli.

    My wife thinks I’m obsessive when I decline a dish that calls for an egg yoke, but she understands for sure. But the whole concept of a defined disorder for eating healthy seems on the face of it absurd.

    1. Vic
      ” But the whole concept of a defined disorder for eating healthy seems on the face of it absurd.” That’s because it is absurd.

    2. Vic Hardy,

      I wish you all the best in your healthy eating! I hope that your wife eventually joins you.

      I met my husband 11 years ago, two months after he was treated for prostate cancer (brachytherapy). As a widower for over 4 years, he was happy to eat my vegetarian cooking (we did eat dairy and eggs). Then, after I was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago (with my family history, I had a better than 1 in 2 chance of getting it), I started reading about nutrition, stumbled upon this site, and we eventually transitioned to plant based whole foods eating.

      We love our food, and we like our lifestyle. We can still do what we enjoy doing at ages 68 and 76 (hiking, bicycling, walking for errands, yard work, gardening, snow shoveling — ok, maybe not that last one so much — etc), knock wood. Which to me includes WFPB eating.

    3. Vic,

      I agree with you. As Whole Food Plant Based has become more mainstream, there are so many more vegan options and low oil and low salt and low sugar options.

      When I was a young person, I developed an allergy to meat and the only place I could go to get “meat substitutes” was a specialty health store, which was expensive and which only had one version of a garden burger and not much else.

      I remember trying to go to restaurants in the 1990’s with my family and when I asked if they had salad or something I could have, they would say, “No, our salads have chicken in them and our marinara has meat in it.” That still is true of many of the restaurants, but I now have gone Whole Food Plant Based, which is so much more restrictive than my allergic to meat vegetarian diet and there are foods I can eat so many places.

      Vegan becoming popular changed the landscape. Every grocery store has whole sections of foods which are vegan and multiple selections of sodium-free foods and sugar-free foods.

      I had an elderly relative who had Diabetes when I was young and there wasn’t any selection for them back then either.

    4. Thanks Vic Hardy for the possibly unintentional but nonetheless welcome bit of humour in your comment:
      ” I decline a dish that calls for an egg yoke”

      A bit of humour can do wonders, and I’m not yolking.

  7. I for one really enjoyed this video. As a long time sufferer from both Borderline Personality Disorder as well of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I can become extremely obsessed with people, places and things including what food I do or do not eat. Extremely obsessed! Thankfully, my obsession with living a healthy lifestyle — including a whole food based diet — has been a good thing. No more heart pains, etcetera! And, given all the issues I do have, I don’t need someone in a white coat trying to get me to knock my obsession with food down a few notches by calling it a mental disorder. Because, without this particular obsession, I’d most likely be facing serious health issues right about now. So, thanks as always Dr. Greger for bringing this truth to the light!

    1. Randy,

      Thanks for sharing! Your voice is welcome!

      I am someone who gets single-focused for long seasons and that can be pretty close to OCD at times but looking at this series and examining myself, I would say that I always have an OCD-appearing learning curve when I am learning new things or I don’t learn them.

      Also, when I break off habits, I generally have to go all the way to not doing the behaviors. I can’t eat a little sugar without eventually ending up eating a lot of sugar. I have always tried to figure out ways to set up “rules” like “I can have sugar on holidays” and obey that, but that would usually become that, after Christmas, I would end up going back to eating candy bars every day. Pre-Whole Food Plant Based. But, since WFPB, I can eat sweets on holidays and not get triggered back into wrong eating. These foods don’t cause food cravings in me and they seem to be protective over other food cravings. That is my theory.

      I found out though that watching too many candy commercials or looking too long at packaging can start to increase the vulnerabilities. I found that out when Dr. Greger showed the pot in candy wrappers video. I suddenly had almost a “Jonesing for a Reeses Peanut Buttercup” experience. This concept would say to eat one, but I won’t eat one when I am “Jonesing” for one. I did eat some dark chocolate and some natural peanut butter and that was months ago, but I watched one too many Easter commercials and felt the same thing, but don’t feel the need to go buy one at all and that is because the foods are protecting me from cravings. Big Ad industry is not protecting me and I heard them say, “Not sorry” either and they should be.

  8. Yes, Mary, like you, 90%. My brothers, in their 60s and 70s, roll their eyes at me even as they accept scalpels and chemo. Then again, I roll my eyes in the middle grocery aisles. What??? My social circle and support systems have also shifted, old style potlucks are history, and fewer visitors now that my kitchen is WFPB. Feeding takes longer, even though I go chop chop and make future meals at the same time. Can’t go back, though it takes some focus and effort to find that middle path in relationships with carnivores. As to obsession, nutritionfacts is my go-to medical resource now. Perhaps I have Gregerexia.

  9. I guess if you have craporexia you have to invent a term for people who care about themselves and what they eat. Either that or it’s yet another concocted “illne$$” to medicate with psychiatric drugs.

    1. Vegetater, I think you’ve hit upon a winner here with your new mental disorder. I can just envision some enterprising young psychiatrist seeing your post and coming up with the new mental disorder called “Craporexia Nervosa”. This disorder would apply to all those who are addicted to twinkies, good ole salty potato chips, sugary soda, ice cream, etc., etc. They would have a steady stream of patients, and the disorder would be backed up by tons of science showing that this eating addiction is unhealthy. And by curing them of these addictions, they would actually be saving many patients from the ravages of chronic diseases! A win-win situation for sure.

      1. Laughing.

        Hal, I think Vegetater was giving the diagnosis of the people who make up these diagnoses, but you are right that the name works very well for the people who eat crap. It couldn’t work for Keto though because they would need a “Craporexia Nervosa Minor” to be in line with their smaller, cuter crap.

        It would have to be more like “Controlo Nervosa Major” for the ones who diagnose it.

      2. Hal,

        The good doctor used the phrase “I mean” six times in his transcript. I felt compelled to count.

        I ‘spect either he or I (or both of us) have a disorder of some kind. :-)

    2. Craporexia… could this be the counter? QUICK, someone get an equally unqualified person as the one who coined “orthorexia” and a yoga journal! Let’s make this happen people…

      Hilarious, Vegetater.

  10. It was interesting to me that the article about the triple-by-pass guy was being criticized by the medical people for “judging others” as they sat “judging him”, not for unhealthy, self-destructive behavior but for making healthy choices which were presently improving his life. The pseudo-tolerance phenomenon has swept our country – that is, I tolerate your views only so long as your views are exactly or very close to my views. If you deviate by one Standard Deviation from my view, you are bad, stupid, wrong, inappropriate, etc.and I get to bash you publicly. Whatever happened to live and let live. If your choices do not impact me and mine, with the possible exception of crime and political correction, it is probably not mine to judge.

    1. Jabrou,

      Yes. The doctor and person who wrote the research paper saw that man as such an anomaly that this research paper exists and it got published.

      That doctor not being happy that the man had lowered his risk factors so much is astounding. Totally misdirected focus.

      You can’t tell me that the very same doctor doesn’t have thousands of SAD patients and he isn’t turning that into a study.

  11. I also disagree with Dr. Greger’s conclusion here and is woefully oversimplified. As a Registered Dietitian who has attended seminars on eating disorders and orthorexia nervosa specifically, I have seen that there is a need to distinguish between following a strict diet for health reasons and allowing that obsession to reach a degree of causing severe anxiety, social isolation, or extreme food restriction .

    The latter is what orthorexia nervosa is really about, and an example that I remember from one of the seminars is a patient who was so extremely fearful of white bread (and would only eat whole wheat bread) that they refused to eat anywhere or anything that had food they would otherwise eat in the same room as a closed bag of white bread. This kind of extreme thinking that white bread is that bad and even proximity to it must be avoided is a mental illness that requires treatment. Unfortunately, orthorexia nervosa is not an officially recognized eating disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is therefore is poorly defined in the general public’s knowledge, and is incorrectly being used to describe people who engage in normal eating behaviors in an attempt to eat healthier.

    1. That’s interesting. I recently looked at a loaf of white bread. The ingredients read like a chemical company catalog. Never really thought too much about it before but am quite glad I bake all my own whole grain bread. No, mine doesn’t have a six week shelf life. But it freezes well.

    2. Barbara,

      Wheat flour is reconstituted from white flour (the starchy endosperm) and bran (the seed coat), so it’s still missing the germ (baby plant), which is relatively high in oil and thus can go rancid with long term storage. Whole grain flour is flour ground from the whole grain, usually by stone mills, which contains the white flour, the bran, and the seed coat — i.e., the whole grain.

      I agree with Blair: I bake my own sourdough whole grain bread, from grain I grind at home. Because I looked at the ingredients of commercially produced bread — and even as a former research biochemist, I didn’t know what some of those ingredients were, much less why they were added. (I now know they are added to speed, speed, speed fermentation, to prevent spoilage, to give the bread some flavor — not developed due to fast fermentation — to preserve the bread, and to add some nutrients — e.g., fiber). But I started with white flour and yeast, using the No Knead method (very easy!!) — and that bread was better than anything that I could buy!

      Good bread is made from water, flour, starter culture (or yeast), and salt. Some additives, such as nuts or seeds or dried fruit or herbs, are fun. But not necessary.

    3. I can tell you that I know somebody who has that same thing and it is because she has a gluten allergy and she read that she shouldn’t even go into places which bake breads or use wheat flour. She carries her own knife with her whenever she goes to parties. I know some nut allergy people who do the same process. They won’t eat any foods if there are nuts anywhere in the room.

        1. I actually have 2 friends who won’t go into places like pizza parlors and people’s houses if they bake because of gluten floating in the air, but there are professionals who tell them to do that.

      1. People with severe allergies can die from cross-contamination and even breathing in foods can affect some people. I personally know people sickened by peanut butter left over in the crevices of a butter knife that went through a dishwasher. This is may not be irrational behavior.

      2. Deb,

        Barbara was referring to a person who avoided white bread — but ate whole wheat bread. So that person could not have gluten sensitivity, since gluten is present in whole wheat flour (as well as whole grain flour).

    4. I wouldn’t eat white bread ever and I don’t think I have orthorexia nervosa. What do you call the sick people who DO eat white bread? Or the people who continue to eat ill-chosen foods in spite of knowing they cause illness? What is their mental condition? Do you have a name for that disorder?

      1. So WFPBLisa, what do you do as an informed person going to the food bank only to recoil at the labels even on the beans?! (hfcs, and 2 other sugars, just as an example)

        1. Well, fortunately although I am on Social Security, I am not compelled to go to the Food Bank. I have purchased $100 worth of vegetables year round from an organic CSA so I only have to buy incidentals.

          But perhaps you misunderstood my comment. I was responding to people who seem to be critical of people who are strict about what they eat. Having had cancer and the resultant surgery and radiation in 2001, I am strict, and it is the reason I will not eat white bread and rebell about oil, sugar, and other unhealthy additives. I would resent being named as having a mental condition due to my adherence to a strict diet.

          1. Of course Liisa, I do not question the strictness of anyone’s diet since I am in similar straits…. it’s all good. But you did raise a good question. I am a stealth shopper as well, and a good cook, so I do very well on little . But if it happens there is no money, I can’t ‘unknow’ what I know. My choice so far has been to water fast/green tea/porridge type thing. I try for the healthiest ‘nothing’ I can manage.

    5. Barbara,

      I just had a flash of thought that I know other people who do that not going places if some food or alcohol are there.

      Addicts.

      Going is too tempting.

      I don’t go to events where I know that I would just be tempted to eat things which would lead me in the wrong direction.

  12. I agree with Dr. Greger’s assessment. As a clinical diagnosis, othorexia nervosa is nonsense.

    That being said, most of us have encountered people who seem overly attentive the minutiae of healthy eating. Likewise, many of us who frequent NF have friends or family who think *we’re* obsessive about food.

    It’s quite difficult to accurately assess risks and benefits of dietary choices, not only because of the uncertainties inherent in scientific measurement but also because various commercial interests promote biased viewpoints. That’s what makes NF such a valuable resource. Dr Greger and his team stick to the science and still manage to keep it interesting and, at times, downright funny.

    Still, it’s very easy to get lost in the weeds. It may be that black walnuts are better than english walnuts or acai berries have more of certain antioxidants than amla, or vice versa but the impact of choosing one or the other is likely to be undetectable in the context of a WFPB diet.

    My personal takeaway from all that I’ve seen and read here is:

    Eat a varied mix of unprocessed foods — greens, beans, vegetables, grains, fruit, nuts and spices. Avoid or at least minimize oils, sugar, salt and animal products. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

    1. Bravo! Minutiae can be just as dangerous as looking at things over-broadly!

      We don’t have to worry which side of the mountain it grows on, whether it was hand picked at dawn by people wearing gloves and masks, then magically transported to us with no container or expenditure of energy…

  13. I agree – there are people who try really hard to pay attention, follow the research and how they feel, and spend time and energy to eat a healthy diet. There are also people who are carried off by the term “healthy” without inner knowing – following the headlines and trends until they’re so confused and overwhelmed and insecure they become afraid to eat very much at all. I mean kale is great! But not raw or it’ll wreck your thyroid… Nuts and beans! But the phytates steal all the minerals… Almond milk over dairy! But all the water to grow them…. On and on – there’s such a wild amount of fear and insecurity being stoked by opposing interests. It can make a person full of anxiety that becomes a real psychiatric condition, for sure. We here, and Dr Gregor have come to a confident place of inner belief that informs our behavior in spite of all the cultural noise and intentional contradictions. I’m grateful for that… and also sensitive to those who get swept up in the trying into a place of obsession or restriction (real restrictions not restricting candy and bacon). I think this is where the tone of this series can trigger people. Yes, calling eating healthy a disorder is ridiculous. And at the same time yes, it’s easy to get paralyzed by fear and have it take over your life in a very unhealthy way. My thoughts…

    1. A well-reasoned response. The problem I see is the armchair psychiatrists (or nutritionists masquerading as mental health professionals) who want to label another’s healthy eating as a mental illness for their own ulterior purposes.

      1. ” armchair psychiatrists (or nutritionists masquerading as mental health professionals) who want to label another’s healthy eating as a mental illness for their own ulterior purposes.”

        I try to be charitable. Though the ones you describe do exist, I think most of them don’t have ulterior or malicious motives but are simply stupid :P Remember, ignorance is not knowing something. If you have the facts but cannot use them, that’s “stupid” :P

    2. Diana I love your comment but it scared me at first, lol. I thought you were making those statements about phytates and crucifers before reaalizing you were just pointing out some of the sea of misinformation prone to drive anyone mad before learning from almost anyone mad before learning.

  14. I’m 42 years old and I have been struggling with bulimia for over 25 years. I have been following the WFPB diet for a year and a half. I would say it has cured my bulimia 99%. I am 99% WFPB but I eat until I’m full and it doesn’t make me want to throw up because I KNOW that what is in my body is there to nourish me. When I saw this video, I wondered to myself, maybe I haven’t cured anything, maybe it’s just a different form of my disorder. Regardless, there is no denying that this is WAY healthier for me and my family. My husband, who also adopted this way of eating has lost 30 lbs and lowered his cholesterol. Our friends continue to eat their usual way, but I always bring a WFPB dish to our gatherings to show them that eating this way is not obsessive and that there are lots of replacement comfort foods that can be equally enjoyed. I refrain from being preachy about it, unless asked, and even then I save my judgements because we are all on our own journey and I can’t change anybody but myself. In my opinion “orthorexia” has changed my life for the better and I recommend it to anyone who is struggling with another eating disorder.

  15. Should I see a psychiatrist for Orthorexia Nervosa? At 50, i had 2 cancers with a poor prognosis, plus 2 pre-cancers of the upper and lower GI tract. I also had uncontrollable HTN, hypertriglyceridemia, and metabolic syndrome. I transitioned to a WFPBD and am alive and well 20 years later with no signs of cancer. Maybe I should have seen a psychiatrist at 50. At least I would have died in peace instead of having to eat this delicious food, surf, play tennis, and hike. I live in Costa Rica and each morning lean back and look skyward through the trees, watch my breath, see the monkeys, hummingbirds and other beautiful birds, red and grey squirrels, flowers, and more. Such drudgery! Such a mistake! Orthorexia Nervosa is such a terrible disease!

    1. I was bothered by the etymology of “orthorexia” so looked it up. “ortho” means “straight” – “orexia” means “pertaining to appetite” – so I concluded, its not the “ortho” that wrecks ya , its all these fallacious diagnoses that make me Nervosa.

  16. Just because you haven’t experienced this personally or know someone personally who has experienced this doesn’t mean it isn’t real. It is and it’s as dangerous as anorexia. The orthorexic folks are obsessive. I’m not talking about you or I who may be very “rigid” about our food choices, I’m talking obsessive. Yes, our uneducated friends may call US obsessive but they are coming from a cultural view that meat etc is necessary for health and a little bit of animal product isn’t going to kill us. And while they may be correct, I don’t want to eat any but I don’t feel at all obsessive about it. I may compromise on somethings occasionally. Some people may not. An orthorexic will never compromise and what they permit will be more restrictive than the average PB person. Don’t make fun of something you know nothing about. This post and some comments sadden me, they are disrespectful of something u obviously are uninformed about.

    1. @kayte
      In your view, what distinguishes orthorexia from OCD? Are there any peer-reviewed case reports where extreme avoidance (like the patient who wouldn’t eat in the same room as a closed bag of white bread) is the ONLY obsessive behavior?

    2. kayte,

      “Just because you haven’t experienced [orthorexia] personally or know someone personally who has experienced [orthorexia] doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”

      When it is invented by an unqualified person for reasons that are purely opinionated and not backed up by any form of science including psychology, and it lacks any useable definition apart from a blanket generalization to which anyone eating for health purposes in any remote sense would fall under, that indeed does mean it isn’t real.

      “It is and it’s as dangerous as anorexia.”

      That is just an insane, baseless statement. In fact, I think you were one of too many to take offense to this series if memory serves, how hypocritical then, that you would compare a legitimate eating disorder named and diagnosed by qualified professionals that has ended lives, to a silly little vaguely put together idea.

      Anorexia kills, the broad spectrum of what would qualify as orthorexia would actually save lives.

      Your whole comment is based on emotions and opinions about something that is completely made up…. Oh, I’m saddened by a lot of the comments here, too, but for different reasons than you are.

      Btw, I actually did suffer from being obsessed with eating “perfect” among other disorders (and it freaking sucked), but not due to a ficticious illness, but rather due to a real obsessive compulsive disorder.

      “Don’t make fun of something you know nothing about.”

      Umm, we know about it quite well… “it” being “orthorexia” which is what this video series is about. The entire creation and definition of it was just explained in the above video.

  17. An attempt to characterize this as a true disorder would have to line up behind hundreds of other “obsessions”. For instance, there are people who save up for years, in self-sacrificing ways, in order to pay off a mortgage early, or increase their travel dream-fund without the credit card. They make it a daily, consistent effort and it stays on their minds. Others may think of their frugality as unhealthy, and try to convince them that living debt-free should not be so prioritized, and certainly not preached because it could cause someone else to begin worrying about debt. And yes, both these groups “run the risk” of influencing others. Are either of them disordered? Or do they simply see things differently?

    I don’t believe any doctor who remembers there’s a whole world out there, could think “orthorexia” was a real disorder. Only someone who has forgotten all but the western world could actually warn another person that they cared too much about nutritious eating.

    1. Harriet, You must surely recognize that the person saving to be debt-free could go to an extreme and unhealthy place, e.g. they could spend hours every day calculating their mortgage pay-off date, or could avoid treating serious medical conditions because that would “waste” money that could pay off their mortgage. Surely you would recognize the difference between a person who is a clutterer and a hoarder: a person (like me) whose books and papers are stacked in a few places, and a person who does not dispose of anything, including objects of no value, and whose house is unlivable and hazardous due to the massive quantity of saved objects. Orthorexia is a condition where there is extreme preoccupation with pure eating so that the person’s life is increasingly reduced to analyzing the health value of, shopping for, preparing and eating pure foods. Social relationships wither and die–even with fellow WFPB eaters–because the orthorexic does not feel others are pure enough. One CAN “care too much about nutritious eating.”

      1. I love the little black and white pic of the patient and the psychiatrist — the psychiatrist who hits himself on the forehead with his notes! :D

      2. Ok, I stopped reading here: “Orthorexia is a condition where“

        Orthorexia IS NOT A CONDITION. Did you WATCH the video where it’s shown who made it up, why they made it up, and what the insane so-called symptoms are of this made up term?

      3. But seedycharacter, you would give them a disorder for each behavior that they do.

        So, someone with OCD would suddenly have a mental illness for each behavior they exhibit AND for the solutions that they were trying out to fix the original issues.

        Meaning the OCD Standard American Diet would be one disorder and them trying to fix that with Whole Food Plant Based would become a second disorder.

        The clutter, which can become hoarding (some of us have many hoarders we have helped clean their houses and they often are cluttered and then they shut down and it crosses over) Then, if they become over-organized to not fall into hoarding again, that would become a new disorder.

        Then, if they get frustrated with being labeled with all of those disorders, that might become a new disorder still.

        I say it because they had a recent study on genes and when people were told that they had dirty genes by professionals, the minute they had that label they had their hormones change in a negative direction. Just having that negative label harmed them at a biological level.

        My friend sent me an article this morning about the person with multiple personalities where all of their personalities, except for one, get hives and serious allergies to orange juice, but one of their personalities can drink orange juice without getting hives and there is a biological mechanism to that.

        https://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/28/science/probing-the-enigma-of-multiple-personality.html?pagewanted=all&utm_campaign=Chris%20Kresser&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=71593528&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_FMB9ZQ50rv9aM0eKYf8eVYLBZx77nZag70BNWejpe3Fn6F7rrxrBSjL6o8GVYSmTwlP_TPS2xn9rUHf6bVy9wsh9ICpH9Dcs5SjI8-fz_KzMDB4E&_hsmi=71593528

        Psychiatrists and professionals want boxes for every possible condition and yet this condition was already immediately used against a man who was trying to reverse his heart disease after surgery and was trying to save his own life and was succeeding, but professionals labeling him mentally ill might do things like increasing his cortisol or ruin his resolve to keep eating healthy foods. He might slip back into something like RoundUp and end up killing his gut microbiome and end up with decreasing his serotonin and increasing his inflammation and suddenly he could become depressed and then, they can move which mental illness to diagnose him with.

        1. To those of us who don’t trust psychiatry more than we don’t trust medical model, I think it is beginning to feel like the diagnosis process is becoming, “There’s a diagnosis App for that” and just wait until the younger generation takes over the diagnosis process.

          Anyway, I think I just would want to know if there is a biological mechanism which can be fixed through dietary changes before we accept a diagnosis and accidentally turn on a few negative genes.

          1. Also, if I accepted a diagnosis like this one, I would feel an “authoritative figure over me has sent a signal that I have to eat something with RoundUp or oil or sugar or salt to be considered normal” peer pressure.

            If the studies, which Dr. Lisle quoted are comparable to what people actually do in real life, 65% of people will consider just accepting the definition and they will just obey it.

            That is how professionals control things in society and some of us grew up in the sixties and want to fight back with logic, but know that if the Press agrees with you, it will become “This is the normal way to eat” and if people are outside of that they become in the “spectrum” YES, lets throw in spectrum and we can sweep everybody into it and make more money for research.

  18. Actually, I once saw a practitioner who somehow “hypnotized” me into believing I had tp eat everything he said or something horrible would happen.
    It took about 36 hours to wear off.
    I went back to him to see what he was doing. There was something about the way he looked at me.
    I quickly liked away and he stopped doing it.

  19. My life consists of avoiding 98% of the food in any supermkt.
    That does not make me happy.
    But I wear it as a badge of honor!
    ORTHOREXIC PRIDE!

  20. I am so happy to see the groundswell of anger toward Dr. G’s dismissive video of this latest medical and psychological crisis to hit the world. I’m sure those of you who share this sense of outrage will be interested in a new condition, recently identified. It is called Memorthorexia Bratmania; it has been traced to the consumption of a diet consisting primarily of tacos, pizza and milkshakes. The first reported incident of this tragic condition was in 1996. The primary symptom is a loss of memory as to what one has said or written, in the past. Watch the skies!

  21. OMG this is hilarious! I love the way Dr. Greger is exposing the irony here. I am laughing so hard. What a crazy world we live in which any behavior can be a potential market for hysteria.

    Can you imagine medicating someone for eating well and getting healthy? I suspected the meat lobby to have created this order, ha ha.

    Thank you for my morning smile, Dr. Greger.

    A proud and healthy monthly supporter of Nutritionfacts.org. :)

  22. Average cost of bipass surgery: $117,094.

    Average additional cost of eating a heart healthy diet: maybe some social ostracization by the mainstream

    Now let’s talk about “affordable care”.

  23. How does eating healthy make one feel socially isolated. I can only think if one makes
    a big deal about what a healty eater he/she is and that others are eating crap. Whether
    true or not, being a sanctimonious jerk in whatever circumstance is generally conducive
    to social isolation.

    1. There seems to be a presumption that “social” must involve eating, which is obviously not the case.
      I agree that the “zeal of the converted” can be odious.
      Like “orthorexia” social isolation can have many underlying causes even if you are a missionary for healthful eating.

      Sometimes we load up the horse and leave the cart empty :P

  24. As someone who suffered from anorexia and bulimia for many years, I can say from my experience that “how you do anything is how you do everything.” For me the internal obsessiveness was the source of the symptoms. When I learned to address the underlying issues and emotional pain creating my suffering, the symptoms fell away. I eat WFPB pretty scrupulously, and my health is excellent (my A1C dropped back down from borderline pre-diabetes) and my energy is great. WFPB eating has given me ease, peace, and good health.

  25. Still, there’s something wrong with people who post their reed thin bodies, food plans, exercise programs, with no qualifications whatever. Narcissism?

  26. What kind of title is that!?
    “When an eating “disorder” can save your life.”
    I feel like you’re being incredibly insensitive to a serious matter.
    Eating disorders are painful. It’s also easy to have an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. I’m feeling like you are coming off super shortsighted on this topic and potentially encouraging a toxic mindset to eating disorder sufferers.
    I 100% think that orthorexia could be real.

    1. Bridget, you’re being irrational and hypersensitive. No one is making fun of eating disorders, but rather the quack fictitious term fabricated by an unqualified person for neither scientific nor phychological reasons but his own opinion on why milkshakes are good! Please rewatch the video and think.

  27. Great video. Made me laugh. I’m sure we are going to see this term used even more, with the push back of people with bad eating choices, who refuse to look at the detriment of SAD on their family and friends and neighbors.
    A friend of mine who is a cyclist (at least pretends to be healthier even though his diet is crap) just had heart surgery. The day he got out of the hospital he was talking about going to get ice cream. For shit sake, What does it take to wake someone up.

    Oh Dr G, you forgot to mention after cutting your breast plate, the hydraulic jack the stick in your chest to separate your chest plates. They used to crack it apart one pump at a time. People should have to witness a heart surgery while in their teens and 20’s.

    1. My close friend gorges herself on fatty cheese at most meals, eats a lot of highly processed junk, white bread and chips and desserts and a fair amount of processed meat. I more or less stick to a Daily 12 diet and enjoy every bite I put in my mouth. But my close friend has “diagnosed” me as the one with an eating disorder/mental illness. Bizarro world. Orthorexia definition: a pop culture “diagnosis” that can be imposed on friends and family members who eat healthy. Imposing this diagnosis will make one feel better about their own bad choices (it’s like Dr. Greger frequently says, people love to get good news about their bad diet).

  28. Okay, these videos are really getting out of hand. Someone can have symptoms of orthorexia and not be WFPB with their eating. The guy with the triple bypass was eating “natural and organic.” He could have been eating organic chicken for all we know. And if he was WFPB and lost all that weight, orthorexia wouldn’t/shouldn’t be a diagnosis unless his food choices and habits were causing HIM significant distress of some kind. (The only valid point to this video would be if the triple bypass guy was fine with everything and the doctor was alarmed, because according to the DSM, something becomes a disorder if it causes someone significant dysfunction, distress, or inflexibility.)

  29. I am continually struck that people use junk food to celebrate birthdays etc.

    Even Whole Foods and health food stores carry a majority of foods which contain sugar (often disguised with another word).

    I live in a desert containing tons of food, but virtually no healthy food.

    One has to search for healthy food.

    But, again, I wear it as a badge of honor,

    ORTHOREXIC PRIDE!

    1. Sydney, I do agree. I’m sad every time I hear someone’s getting cake for their birthday, or celebration. It’s so sick we don’t even realize what we’re doing as society. My brother in law has t2 diabetes, and his own sister wanted to make him a cake for his birthday. WTH?? Your going to poison him to celebrate. The people at his work got him a big cake for the same reason. I think that itself needs to be diagnosed as a mental disorder. People feeding this crap to their kids and family, and diabetics is the definition of mental.

      End

      1. Agreed. Eating disorders cause harm, no? How is that not a disorder. Hell, “normal” diets in westernized countries kill more people than anorexia.

      2. DArmstrong:

        Interesting – Can a society be diagnosed with a mental disease?

        Certainly there are other ways societies do things which are (negative?/sick?/destructive?)

        Look at shoes. I saw a film of hunter gatherers in Papua New Guinea. There was a clear shot of the foot of a hunter walking though the mud. His foot was “triangular”. Why aren’t ours? Because we slam restrictive shoes on infants! I maintain our deformed feet weaken us. Yet we continue mal-forming our infant’s feet just as we cook cake.

        Is that controversial?

        1. Wow, Sydney, that’s interesting. I remember reading about how Eskimos who had twins (at one point in time) if they had twins would kill one of them. Our society thinks this was horrible, and inconceivable. But the reality was if they didn’t the whole family would die, because resources were just that low. I make the argument they were more sane than are cake feeding counterparts.

          End

          1. Murdering your babies cause there’s two of them as a survival tactic being sane or remotely ok?! Oh hell no. Option 2: stop reproducing. Option 3: if it’s THAT kind of society then how about one of the elders honorably off themselves for the sake of the tribe.

            1. S:

              Peoples who live in environments with little food do not have the luxury of wondering if it is sane to practice infanticide. They also do not have condoms. in fact, they may not be aware that sex = babies. Elderly people who can no longer hunt or tell stories as a culture bearer in such societies may in fact be given a knife and told to take a walk out on the ice.

              Nothing like a little reality.

              1. Sydney, they do have the option to not engage in sexual activity, though. They also have the option to attempt to migrate to a different area for survival which would be a good idea in general due to the high animal fat diet causing serious health problems and premature death as a rule among these people. They also have the option to starve before killing little ones. The easiest and most immediate seems to be abstinence, maybe not appealing, but if we’re willing to kill people for the sake of the tribe, then abstinence shouldn’t be THAT hard to wrap one’s head around.

                Lol, I’m pretty sure that even the “primitive” tribal types realize that sex is the cause of reproduction.

                Nothing like a little reality indeed, as opposed to baseless suggestions about “maybe the elderly ARE given a knife and told to go kill themselves.” I think it would take some actual knowledge for us to begin to accurately discuss the belief system and way of life of a particular people. However, in no way whatsoever do I condone murder of anyone for any reason other than that which would not be murder such as basic self defense.

                1. I don’t know you very well , only from this group, but it appears to me as if your working under the Dunning-Kruger principle.

                  End

                  1. Isn’t that just a fancy (if not immature) way of lashing out at someone you disagree with? One that anyone who disagrees with anyone could accuse the other party of? Maybe even compensation for losing an earlier debate? Can’t argue so try to demean the other party, so to speak. You could attempt at maturely disagreeing with someone or stepping down from a debate if your point can no longer be argued. Mind you I’m referring to our above debate not this mini conversation which wasn’t an argument but an exchange of thoughts.

  30. I found a write up https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/when-does-healthy-eating-become-dangerous. At first, it sounds reasonable: “Orthorexia is when wanting to be so pure and righteous leads to important nutrients being excluded and your mental and physical wellbeing being negatively impacted.”

    Okay, I would agree that anything that causes harm to one’s wellbeing is a problem. But the “warning signs” (pasted below) are mostly laughable. And the article says that if you have “any” of the warning signs, you need to get help. Okay, so I choose not to eat artificial colors (some of which are banned by entire countries) so I am mentally ill and a danger to myself? Same if I do not eat dairy? If my health diet causes weight loss?

    It seems like one person’s healthy eating is another person’s Orthorexia.

    “Warning signs:”

    The avoidance and ultimately the elimination of certain types of food that the sufferer may not view as “pure” such as artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, and foods that may have been genetically or chemically modified or treated with pesticides
    The avoidance of certain food groups that society has deemed “unhealthy”
    A decrease in variety of foods
    Weight loss
    Refusal to eat food for which they are unclear about preparation or what it contains (ex: at a restaurant)
    Refusal to eat food they have not prepared themselves
    Refusal to eat foods that weren’t produced or prepared in a way they consider pure (ex: food must be farm to table)

    1. Observant Hindus, Jews and Muslims must all be orthorexics then. I can’t think of any other groups that routinely define foods as ‘pure’ or ‘impure’. Healthy or unhealthy – yes – but pure or impure …………. no.

    2. I agree those criteria are ridiculous, and that is a shame because I think there is a genuine phenomenon where psychological issues can mascerade as “healthy eating”, I’m thinking of criteria along the lines of:
      -spends hours every day obsessing over which foods are “pure” or “toxic”
      -feels a great amount of anxiety when accidently eating a small amount of the “toxic” food (not including cases of allergies :) )
      -feels guilt and self-loathing when eating a “toxic” food
      -greatly limiting the types of food one eats, to the point of malnutrition (e.g. eating only bananas and apples)
      Things like that probably point to underlying issues beyond healthy concern for one’s health.

    3. I agree those criteria are ridiculous, and that is a shame because I think there is a genuine phenomenon where psychological issues can mascerade as “healthy eating”, I’m thinking of criteria along the lines of:
      -spends hours every day obsessing over which foods are “pure” or “toxic”
      -feels a great amount of anxiety when accidently eating a small amount of the “toxic” food (not including cases of allergies :) )
      -feels guilt and self-loathing when eating a “toxic” food
      -greatly limiting the types of food one eats, to the point of malnutrition (e.g. eating only bananas and apples)
      Things like that probably point to underlying issues beyond healthy concern for one’s health.

  31. If people fail to see the insanity over the diagnosis of orthorexia and the fact that it is literally a created “disorder” to which anyone educated on nutritional science and applying an educated approach to eating falls under the category of, you’re either not really paying attention here, or you’re out of your mind.

    All this hypersensitive, irrational, emotional based way of jumping the gun, is the reason this world is so CONFUSED in the first place. Emotions do not trump reason, they do not and they CANNOT for a functional society. You are not doing anyone any favors by reacting out of text and shaming from there.

  32. I think you took orthorexia out of context. I’ve seen patients whose nutritional beliefs present much like those of obsessive compulsive disorders. The extremism is not about caring that they, and their loved ones eat well, it’s a self motivated neurosis. They don’t present as physically ill, and don’t recognize the psychological component of their righteousness. And it does interfere with relationships. It’s NOT just about healthy eating in my opinion. Whether it’s a true “diagnosis “ or not, I’m glad it’s being recognized.

    1. Lindsay, did you watch the videos? Doesn’t seem like you have. The unqualified man did not create a term which fits what you’re describing and his reasons behind it were absurd.

      As someone with OCD, I know that a legit disorder needs to be addressed, not a fabricated distraction of the underlying cause for unhealthy behavioral patterns.

  33. When I saw the term Orthorexia Nervosa, the first thing that came into my mind was the Ortho chemical company that sprays homes with chemicals to kill bugs. I assumed someone had found a connection between the bug poisons and the home owners contracting some nerve damage called Nervosa.

    I fear I am unable to un-think the reaction and will react the same way any time I hear or read the term Orthorexia Nervosa.

  34. I’m convinced that this topic has attracted animal agriculture industry trolls, at least one or two, as many past videos have, because there is no other explanation for this level of irrationality as shown in too many of the comments in this series.

    1. I’ve read through all the comments so far. There are definitely some that veer considerably one side or the other of concensus, but that is a good thing. If everyones experiences and opinions were the same, I would fear that we had fallen victims to “groupthink”

      1. M Lauriston, it’s really not a matter of opinion, the point is that this fabricated term is in no way based on any science or psychology and was invented by an unqualified individual and lacks logic among other things. It’s really not a debatable topic, it’s kind of a common sense thing.

        1. S,

          Thumbs up for bringing it back to the reality that a man made up a definition, which now has grown legs because of the studies.

          It is interesting that it is the professionals who don’t back up when they hear that man’s motivation and the fact that he backed up.

          To them, it has become a disease.

          I don’t think they are industry shills. I believe them when they are using their “professional” opinions and those opinions have been affected by having this diagnosis available.

          We don’t get into the box with them, but us accepting it as a condition hasn’t changed them from just defining what it is to them. Dr. Greger’s previous video and this one is defining what it is to the inventor and to the researchers and that already caused me to back up from it, but most of the professionals have a “No, you are using the wrong doctors’ opinions of what it is, when it really is this” phenomenon going on.

          I think it is because we don’t need a diagnosis for every single thing because that isn’t what our framework is.

          I see serious risks particularly to the Vegan and Whole Food Plant Based community by accepting this diagnosis. I also just don’t think it can work in this society where Keto thinks Vegan is extreme and everybody else thinks Vegan is extreme and Whole Food Plant Based and Vegan think that Keto people are extreme and both point fingers at each other about having mental illness.

          No matter what, the list Dr. Greger read in the first video and the one YR listed above are all healthy behaviors and I will be so upset when the Press starts drumming on all of the healthy behaviors and demonizing them and they eventually will. It will be on WNPR eventually and on The Doctors and The View and The Talk and Dr. Oz and it doesn’t matter that somebody made it up.

          They were talking about hologram concerts which are big nowadays where you can still go and see your favorite performers perform even though they passed away a long time ago. The holographic elephant of diagnosis has entered the room and everybody who judges their relatives for what they eat now has a name for it.

            1. S,

              Watching the professionals, what I see is the need to quantify everything and assign everything its own box.

              I don’t have that.

              With my brain problems, it was okay in my estimation to not have a diagnosis as long as I could find ways to improve my brain function. Diet helped my brain so much but it took so many tries.

              Months of Blueberries, beets, kale to register a difference.

              I am getting a brain gage tomorrow and I already have been part of a community who wants me to quantify everything and to have a diagnosis box to check.

              I did my best, but mine is things like failing the peanut butter left nostril test and it taking me 3 years to deal with my grandmother’s probate when there were only 7 things to do. My list of progress looks more like: I couldn’t do the business taxes for 2 years, but since going WFPB I did both years at the same time and finished or something like my calendar was off by a year and a quarter or a year and a half and now it is on the right month. Or I bought 4 instants, a rice cooker and a crockpot and ended up not being able to figure them out, but now I have figured out why.

              Professionals don’t count any of it, but now I will have a brain gage and will know exactly if my blueberries or beets make a difference.

              To me, I stopped buying things and 3 of my rooms are still clutter-free is already all that mattered and it is what my OCD about nutrition is about because the brain plasticity people said that it doesn’t work unless you do it OCD.

              That is how stroke people get function back and function matters and diagnosis only matters if I have to make people believe that diet works.

              1. What I noticed is that the box maker diagnosed guy didn’t define it as: ”I wanted to drink a milkshake and need to invent a condition which allows me to feel superior than the ones who don’t drink milk, but there wasn’t any box available to put the disconnect so I made one up.”

                There are official psychiatric words and I can go to the vegan community explaining the ex-vegans and animal lovers who eat meat to get the word but it means, ”I am feeling like a hypocrite right now, so I need to invent a justification so that I can go get that taco and since I am a public figure, lets float the concept out on the internet.”

                I also noticed that he had a box called, ”normal eating” and that WFPB wasn’t it.

                I adopted the WFPB as the normal eating box and will keep it there even if I ever use the 4 containers of halo ice cream coupon they gave me at the checkout.

                1. “There are official psychiatric words and I can go to the vegan community explaining the ex-vegans and animal lovers who eat meat to get the word but it means, ‘I am feeling like a hypocrite right now, so I need to invent a justification so that I can go get that taco and since I am a public figure, lets float the concept out on the internet.'”

                  Exactly!

                2. He also has a different standard of judging whether WFPB works or not.

                  He isn’t using studies as the standard.

                  He is anecdotal and a taco and milkshake made him feel healthier.

                  I have the studies in the standard to measure by box.

              2. Deb, I think your way sounds the most proactive! It really sounds like it’s been working for you, too.

                But you’re not doing it OCD, doing something in an obsessive compulsive disordered way is a serious mental illness that does not accomplish things, it’s a very fake universe to do things in OCD’s way and it’s extremely destructive, much like drug addiction is. Doing it in an obsessive way may be a more accurate way of putting it. People often misuse OCD for diligence or dedication, etc.

                1. A,

                  I am sorry. I know that it was described that way and that I am used to that word being used in an imprecise way culturally, where people will say, ”I am so OCD” about themselves and it will mean that they have every happy meal toy or something like that.

                  I have people around me who have children who are locked in mental institutions and have spent time there and know how very serious mental illness is.

                  When my brain went bad, I thought about those people so often. It is so terrifying to have a bad brain and they have not received much kindness and compassion for it. People back up and judge their behavior.

                  I feel so blessed that my brain keeps improving.

                  I will try not to use it that way again.

                  A, you are so precious and so fabulously scrappy. I love that!

                  1. Aww, thanks Deb! I knew your heart was in the right place, I wasn’t at all offended, I just wanted to point that out. It’s an easy thing to fall into the use of a word when everyone uses it that way. You are awesome Deb, thanks for your kind words! I’m so glad things are getting better for you and I really respect your proactive way of taking care of yourself and others!

  35. Just weighing in, someone posted outrage on an Eating Disorder site in my social feed referencing nutritionfacts.org video on orthorexia. As a follower of nutritionfacts and daily dozen app, I was surprised anything negative associated with the site. As an eating disorder specialist for 30 years and research fanatic I was drawn to nutritionfacts and How Not to Die because of it’s sensibilities and not for profit status, but I have to say…completely off base this time. I treat orthorexia, gateway “drug” to anorexia and other Eating Disorders. It’s the obsessive nature and anxiety driven process that is so dangerous. Rigidity to the point of interrupting relationships, work and other life events. In the book, Dr emphasizes that daily patterns and what we eat mostly has the greatest impact. These individuals have full blown panic attacks if they mistakenly consume a gram of sugar or refuse a “bite” of their own wedding cake. I feel great full for finding the daily dozen, easy to follow, lacking obsessiveness around food. Of course food is medicine, but certain personalities is is their poison if not treated, I hope you are not so short sighted next time when discussing mental illness.

    1. KARL ANDERSON:

      “Rigidity to the point of interrupting relationships,”

      If a woman cooked a cake for my birthday, should I continue in a relationship with her?

      “These individuals have full blown panic attacks if they mistakenly consume a gram of sugar”

      Two experiences: 1) Reading something and trying to understand if a paragraph in an otherwise straight column is tilted or if it is my “Hypoglycemia”; 2) Walking down the street and desperately understanding that the sidewalk is NOT tilting under me. I cured myself by realizing that the problem was I am afraid of being angry, so that the same chemicals that mobilize the body to function and raise the blood sugar are the same chemicals that mobilizes the body to be angry so that when I felt those “angry” chemicals in my body, it causes such wild symptoms. NO DOCTOR FIGURED THAT OUT.

      But an essential part of my journey to mental health was to not eat anything with ANY form of added sugar (I found a website with 90 words mfrs use to hide the fact that sugar is added to their food pproduct).

      So I say again:

      ORTHOREXIC PRIDE!

  36. I am no Einstein, but, on the occasion of the first photograph of the black hole at the center of our galaxy I am reminded of Albert Einstein and his comment, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” In light of the current discussion on orthorexia nervosa I believe Mr. Einstein also said, “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” It takes all types of people to make a world. Choose wisely.

  37. I looked at the paper “Eating disorder emergencies: understanding the medical complexities of the hospitalized eating disordered patient” which Dr. Greger mentions in this video.

    The author writes

    >Characteristics that separate the orthorexic from the health-conscious person are an extreme preoccupation with food, associating food choices with virtue, eating only specific foods deemed healthy or pure, judging others based on their food choices, experiencing social isolation because of diet, and feeling guilt or self-loathing if diet is not followed correctly.

    And she goes on to describe the actual case of probable orthorexia nervosa:

    >When L.B., with his wife, visits his general practitioner for a check-up, the physician recommends a consultation
    with the dietitian, because L.B. is 5’9″ tall and weighs 125 pounds.

    So his BMI is 18.5, which is borderline underweight.

    >He has lost a significant amount of weight during the last year. …

    The author doesn’t say that he was ever overweight. He may not have been.

    >L.B. states that since his diagnosis of coronary heart disease and high cholesterol, he only eats “natural and organic foods.” Foods such as dairy products, sugar, and wheat are
    “forbidden” because they are “dangerous.” L.B. comments on the dietitian’s lunch of Caesar salad with chicken—”meat stays in the bowels for 7 years.” L.B. proudly states that his system has “been cleansed by fasting and consuming only raw foods and unpasteurized juice.” He reports a recent bout of “stomach flu.” L.B. does not work because of “stress.” L.B.’s wife comments that they rarely socialize or eat out because most people “do not understand L.B.’s health problems.”

    And the author goes on to comment

    >Patients diagnosed with heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses, often seeking a form of control, occasionally follow very restrictive diets for a short period after diagnosis. Orthorexic patients typically follow restrictive patterns over a longer period of time and exhibit specific personality characteristics outlined previously.

    As presented, it does sound like L.B. has developed an eating disorder in reaction to being diagnosed with heart disease. My first thought reading it was that it’s quite a shock for someone to get such a life-threatening diagnosis, and having an extreme reaction could be normal and maybe doesn’t really amount to an eating disorder. But the author did address that issue.

    And his diet of “raw foods and unpasteurized juice” is probably quite unhealthy. Dr. Greger seems to think L.B. was inappropriately pathologized when he was saving his life with a healthy diet. But his diet was likely endangering his health. The author also comments that his bout of “stomach flu” was likely from the unpasteurized juice or raw, unwashed food he’d eaten.

  38. I’m a Dietitian and ran the nutrition element of Ornish’s program. It’s very rare that someone loses too much weight on WFPB. This cardiac patient – so long as his weight settled and he’s getting all the nutrients he needs, I would not be concerned. I might explore adding some weight training (if he’s cleared), and set him up w an exercise physiologist to protect his bones.

    I do see people who are overly obsessed w eating healthy, and self select down to few foods out of fear, but that’s typically not WFPB, usually they’re reading too much misinformation on the internet.

    1. Tina, when I went wfpb, I went from 134 lb to 103 Lb, and my cholesterol dropped, albeit temporarily. When Dr Greger mentioned the cardiac patient, two things came to mind. One is that a person does not take the decision tp undergo heart surgery lightly, even under emergency cases. Being a smaller person means there is added risk of losing too much blood (it happened with me). Keeping weight up is essential for survival in some circumstances. Also, the flippant tone of bean burrito or heart surgery was not refelecting what goes on with heart patients. Having a 90% blocked LDA and four orher blocked arteries for example) I was athletic, I did eat healthy, and a bean burrito would have done zip.

      And I have to agree with Tamar on a point he is making. While the video present the idea that orthorexia is a nonexistant condition, you only have to sit back a bit and look at the overall tone of the comments to see that something is amiss. For many people, eating is an emotionally charged (and challenging) topic. Wether they come to plant based eating because of a serious disease diagnosis, are in the midst of disordered eating, or placating a fear of disease, there is an enormous amount of anxiety, (for me, depression too) surrounding the idea of eating effectually.

  39. I understand your criticism and agree with it partially, in that there is a problematic tendency to pathologize behaviors that are far from the norm, when in fact there’s a lot of pathology in normative behavior (waging war, enslaving and exploiting animals). What you showed in this video is obviously a ridiculous basis from which to draw the conclusion that the man suffers from an eating disorder, and I can see the misuse and misinterpretation that can easily follow from inventing this disorder.
    That said, I think your video made a caricature of something real that I think does exist. If a person spends hours every day obsessing over what is “toxic” to eat and what is good, and feels a great deal of anxiety if one day they weren’t able to fulfill every last category of food in the daily dozen, and/or restricts their food to a very narrow range only (only bananas and apples, or something like that), then I think it is reasonable to say there are underlying issues there, going beyond a healthy concern for healthy living. Not sure I would classify it as an eating disorder per se (it seems more similar to obsessional/anxiety disorders) and not sure a new category of disorder needs to be invented for it, but certainly something that can cause a lot of distress.

  40. I am a dietitian who has experience with eating disorders and it’s disappointing that this topic is being presented in such a manner. I have worked with young women who weigh 80lbs, are amenorrheic, and won’t eat any type of fat besides avocado because they feel it isn’t “healthy” for them.

  41. I would invite you to read the article, ” School of Public Health study links UNhealthy diet to mental illness ” by James Ponder
    of the Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA. Article can be accessed in the Pacific Union Recorder, page 32, April, 2019 issue.
    Summary listed, ” A study has found that poor mental health is linked with poor diet quality — regardless of personal characteristics
    such as gender, education, age, martial status, and income level. ”
    This article was originally published in the February issue of the International Journal of Food sciences and Nutrition.
    Jim E. Banta, PhD, MPH, associate professor at Loma Linda University School of Public Health was the lead author.
    See also news.llu.edu

  42. Hello. I couldn’t find a place to make a general comment. There has been quite a frontal attack on plant based eating by professionals who have, to themselves, discredited the China study and have attempted to embarrass Caldwell Esseltyn by showing his conclusions from studies he’s done are wrong.
    As a Christian, I read many accounts of meat and dairy consumption by the Hebrews. I have been on a strict whole food plant based regimen for 18 months. My blood work has been very good. I’m 67 and my PSA numbers have been steadily holding between 4.3 and 6.2. I have had a quadruple bypass and 6 stints. This way of eating made sense for me so I did it cold turkey, no looking back. Sure, I really miss meat and cheese, but I would really miss life if I was dead, I’m sure.
    Please help me get more understanding to what sounds like credible arguments of these WFPB pioneers. But understand, these people have done no studies of their own, only offering analysis of the information available to them of others efforts.

  43. I must have orthorexia and only eat healthy whole plant foods. no sugars chocolate in years or oils even if its 1%. I love getting all my omegas and antioxidants and encourage my family to switch to plant based alternatives. Always check my daily dozen and i wholley love dr gregers videos they are nothing but whole excellent science that im addicted to :-)

    1. There is nothing wrong with eating healthy plant based meal & leading an active vegan lifestyle.

      However, does this have any effect on your mood or do your dietary habits interfere with your daily activities?
      Do you find yourself in a genuine state of fear or panic when your dietary preferences cant be matched?
      Are you obsessed with the preparation or the content/ingredients of your meals to the point where you experience abnormal or extreme emotional discomfort if it doesnt fit with what you have deemed as “healthy”?

      That is the difference between a healthy eating lifestyle & Orthorexia.

  44. Orthorexia is a very real thing & its a shame that videos with such bad information like this is being so widely spread.
    When I was diagnosed with Orthorexia, my family & fiancee laughed at the concept. I’m a very health minded person with a fully active lifestyle making the best choices. I rolled my eyes at my therapist & dismissed the notion entirely. I basically had
    the same logic as the video displays.
    I thought to myself “Who on earth thinks eating healthy is bad with all the problems we have with obesity in the country?”

    Within that year, my Orthorexia diagnosis turned into full blown Anorexia. I had completely eliminated who food groups & only ate what I deemed as “clean” or “healthy”. Ironically enough, that mindset left me pretty nutritionally deficient & in a lot of physical pain. Orthorexia goes beyond just “eating healthy”. Its a legitimate fear. It was completely tied to my self worth. I used my “clean eating” as an excuse to go into full restriction. If the food around me was not “clean” I simply would not eat & completely avoid any function involving food that I didnt agree with.

    So yes. Orthorexia is a very real thing that should be taken seriously. Sure healthy eating is important but to live your life in such extremes is dangerous.

  45. The professionals have a box called professional opinion and that does not have tI line up with science.

    It is always andcdotal.

    Yes, the psych patients also have that.

    Just mentioning it because the professionals wont let go of it.

  46. I have been enjoying reading your emails and transcripts of your videos for several years and greatly value your nutritional guidance and researched based information. Although I realize that orthorexia is not an official eating disorder or researched enough yet to support it as a mental health diagnosis, I would like to state that you were very dismissive about people who do struggle with these types of symptoms. I am a Clinical Psychologist and I work with people with both eating disorders and anxiety disorders including OCD. The point of this as a “disorder” is not about people being healthy. It is when people become obsessed and fixated on it to the point it is affecting their overall functioning and ability to enjoy their life. The health benefits of eating “clean” become overshadowed by the negative effects of the stress and anxiety they experience in trying to eat healthily. It becomes all-consuming. For example, someone may feel that they “contaminated” themselves by eating something that had a small amount of sugar it in and obsesses for days, avoiding other foods trying to “undo” the impact of what they had eaten. It could really be construed as an OCD issue as much as an eating disorder. Your approach to this was insensitive to those that are actually suffering from the anxiety that they experience from these symptoms and the amount of distress these “health” goals create. It is when food choices become more about one’s sense of worth than about being healthy and taking care of themselves. I hope this can help educate you and your readers about the complexity of overall health and how mental and physical health are intricately connected. Thank you.

  47. You failed to recognize the complexity of this issue.

    Orthorexia is not an ED diagnosis on its own but can be part of a cluster of symptoms that accompany an ED.

    The man is example 1 has ARFID- it’s great that he is eating healthy and problematic that he is not maintaining a healthy weight while eating healthy.

    As an ED specialist, I hope you retract this video. I love your work but you failed to understand the complexity of the issue and the related psychology. No ED specialist believes that wanting and trying to be healthy is an issue.

    To be fair to you, it sounds like the research articles also did a poor job describing and understanding the intricacies of eating disorders.

    The term Orthorexia is not a threat to being healthy and to your work. It seems like this video may have been a reaction/response.

  48. Concocting the label “Orthorexia nervosa” does virtually nothing to advance the care of a very few sad individuals. Any treating physician can figure out whether a patient with an obsessive disorder is fixated on excessive hand washing, making sure the oven is turned off, stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, eating / not eating certain things … or any combination thereof.

    Rather than helping anyone, the label “Orthorexia nervosa” will be used by food processing industries, and by multitudes of haters, to vilify and attack millions of Vegans and those who may wish to live a plant based lifestyle. Throughout history, in the face of such onslaughts, humor is often employed in response. Dr. Greger’s analysis is appropriate, accurate and welcomed.

  49. Hahahaha….my partner would say that I definitely have orthorexia nervosa; she thinks that I am obsessed with food – I’m a vegan and gluten free – and it’s true I’m regularly reading articles on nutritional science, espec from Dr Greger…..but I love enhancing my knowledge bank.
    Dr G….you should definitely take up being a part time comedian doing stand-up – I was rocking listening to you reading some of the articles and adding your own spin to them…just so funny!

  50. Oh, gosh. I am relieved. I have recently lost a friendship because a former friend of mine called me a fanatic. Why am I a fanatic? I work in public health, so I share dietary and exercise advice on social media. I criticised red meat commercial recently, which really fired him off. I never go after individual people or criticize the choices they make, I just promote healthier lifestyle. Hence, a total fanatic. On a private note, I exercise regularly and totally eat WFPB … except I tend to have a salty snack now and then. I know I know! But maybe I live a little? Not a fanatic?

  51. I’ve just prescribed myself a pint of Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy Chunky Monkey once per month to avoid spiralling into orthorexia. I hope I’m not too late.

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