Allopathic medicine has a long history of “inventing” diseases and giving them fancy Latin names — all in order to come up with a pill or treatment to “cure” it.
But this one gets the absurdus maximus award — a Californian doctor, Steven Bratman, has “medicalized” a strong conscious desire to eat healthy, nutritional foods as a mental disorder! And, of course, he’s given it a name: orthorexia nervosa.
These poor demented souls are, as reported in The Guardian, “solely concerned with the quality of the food they put in their bodies, refining and restricting their diets according to their personal understanding of which foods are truly ‘pure’.”
They follow crazy behavior, like trying to eliminate refined sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, or other food groups from their diet. And they rebuff foods that have been in contact with pesticides, herbicides or contain artificial additives.
Granted, there are people who get a bit neurotic about food safety and base their dietary choices on fear rather than good sense. But the idea of turning food concerns into a mental health disease is just one more instance of medical manipulation.
While an anti-orthorexia drug hasn’t been developed — yet — Bratman quickly cashed in on his “disease” by writing a book called, “Health Food Junkies.” I’m gratified to see it didn’t make much of a blip on the sales lists and got a dismal review score on Amazon.com (just 3 stars out of 5, with one person echoing my own feelings, saying, “So it is now a fixation to ‘obsess’ about healthy food? This is the most stupid, irresponsible drivel I have ever heard of. Ok, let’s NOT obsess about food, let’s keep eating meat, and dairy, and preservatives, and chemicals, let’s eat genetically modified food, let’s NOT read labels, let’s NOT think about what’s in our food, let’s keep getting diabetes, cancer and heart disease which NO DOCTOR has ANY CURE FOR!!! Just treatment, NO CURE. Let’s do that. Because doctors are so good at curing diseases. That’s why we are such a healthy nation! Mind-numbingly irresponsible, for a physician to write this.” I swear, I didn’t write that (but wish I had!). Here’s the Amazon page, just so you can read some of the other scathing reviews!
Not surprisingly, Bratman’s ideas have been picked up by the British medical community, which seems intent on destroying everything that isn’t totally aligned with the allopathic paradigm, be it homeopathy or, now, healthy eating!
Ursula Philpot, chair of the British Dietetic Association’s mental health group, told The Guardian: “The issues underlying orthorexia are often the same as anorexia and the two conditions can overlap but orthorexia is very definitely a distinct disorder. Those most susceptible are middle-class, well-educated people who read about food scares in the papers, research them on the internet, and have the time and money to source what they believe to be purer alternatives.”
(Interestingly, the main goal of the association appears to be acceptance by the medical profession, and, in the group’s words to “act as a specialist within a multi-disciplinary team … (and) act as a consultant to other health professionals advising on nutritional aspects of care.” Sounds much like those chiropractors and other alternative health providers who used to be willing to medicalize their professions in order to gain the approval of MDs. By now, most of them realize that’s not going to happen!)
Getting back to the dread “orthorexia nervosa” disease, Wikipedia further explains: “The subject may avoid certain unhealthy foods, such as those containing fats, preservatives, man-made food-additives, animal products, or other ingredients considered by the subject to be unhealthy; if the sufferer does not eat appropriately, malnutrition can ensue. Orthorexia sufferers have specific preferences about the foods they are eating and avoiding. Products that are preserved with additives can be considered dangerous. Industrial products can be seen as artificial, whereas biological fruits and vegetables can be seen as healthy.”
So, unless you relish an apple with a thick coating of pesticide residue, a fast food burger with 80 grams of saturated fat, or a TV dinner with a list of unpronounceable (and unidentifiable) ingredients, you may want to make an appointment with the nearest shrink. You could be a very sick mind (although chances are, you’ll have a heck of a lot healthier body than most!).
The friend who sent me this information — a guy who has a PhD in molecular biology and is finishing his last year interning as a psychiatrist — had a novel suggestion: “How about we come up with a term for a syndrome where certain sciences over-classify and are slaves of the pharmaceutical industry? Maybe inservio supervacuus (superfluous slave).”