Clean eating is making some people sick.
Orthorexia, whose sufferers have an “unhealthy obsession” with otherwise healthy eating, literally means “fixation on righteous eating,” according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
The disorder generally starts out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, much like anorexia nervosa often starts as a simple diet. While anorexics become fixated on weight loss and calories, orthorexics focus on food quality and purity.
“They become consumed with what and how much to eat, and how to deal with ‘slip-ups,’ the NEDA website, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org, says. “An iron-clad will is needed to maintain this rigid eating style. Every day is a chance to eat right, be ‘good,’ rise above others in dietary prowess, and self-punish if temptation wins (usually through stricter eating, fasts and exercise). “
Eventually food choices become so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health suffers – an ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to healthy eating. Eventually, the obsession with healthy eating can crowd out other activities and interests, impair relationships, and become physically dangerous.
In other words, it acts like an addiction.