Spice Girls have said it best: "Too much of something is bad enough." Being too obsessed with eating clean and healthy food, for example, can do more harm than good.
Today more people are embracing a healthier lifestyle: going to the gym, attending yoga classes, running on marathons, and counting calories. More are also changing their diets, exchanging mashed potatoes with cauliflower rice or white bread with whole wheat.
Two of the most popular types of diets are raw and Paleo. While they are markedly different, they also share certain similarities such as eliminating specific food groups and ingredients including sugar.
While there's certainly nothing wrong with desiring to be healthy, Steven Bratman, a U.S. doctor, wants everyone to take it slow. Otherwise, a person may develop a condition known as orthorexia nervosa, a name he himself coined based on his experience.
In the 1970s, Bratman developed a fascination and later obsession with eating the right types of food while staying in Upstate New York. The epiphany of his condition became more apparent when he was spending too much time looking for wild plants and raw vegetables in the dirt. Much later, in 1997, he coined the name.
Although orthorexia nervosa still remains an unrecognized eating disorder, unlike bulimia and anorexia nervosa, the prevalence or diagnosis may be performed by using specific questionnaires. For example, in 2005, a team of researchers from Italy developed ORTO-15. Those who will score below 40 may be suffering from orthorexia nervosa.
A person, nevertheless, may already be on the brink of having orthorexia nervosa if the obsession already leads to feelings of anxiety, guilt, self-shaming, and depression. For instance, a person who is following a Paleo diet may feel embarrassed or angry for eating something with grains. The same feeling may be felt by somebody who eats cooked food when he's supposed to be in a raw food diet.