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Health Food Junkies: Orthorexia Nervosa - the Health Food Eating Disorder Paperback – July 27, 2004
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As Americans become better informed about health, more and more people have turned to diet as a way to lose weight and keep themselves in peak condition. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa-disorders in which the sufferer focuses on the quantity of food eaten-have been highly documented over the past decade. But as Dr. Steven Bratman asserts in this breakthrough book, for many people, eating "correctly" has become an equally harmful obsession, one that causes them to adopt progressively more rigid diets that not only eliminate crucial nutrients and food groups, but ultimately cost them their overall health, personal relationships, and emotional well-being.
Health Food Junkies is the first book to identify this new eating disorder, orthorexia nervosa, and to offer detailed, practical advice on how to cope with and overcome it. Orthorexia nervosa occurs when the victim becomes obsessed, not with the "quantity of food eaten, but the "quality of the food. What starts as a devotion to healthy eating can evolve into a pattern of incredibly strict diets; victims become so focused on eating a "pure" diet (usually raw vegetables and grains) that the planning and preparation of food come to play the dominant role in their lives.
Health Food Junkies provides an expert analysis of some of today's most popular diets-from The Zone to macrobiotics, raw-foodism to food allergy elimination-and shows not only how they can lead to orthorexia, but how they are often built on faulty logic rather than sound medical advice. Offering expert insightgleaned from his work with orthorexia patients, Dr. Bratman outlines the symptoms of orthorexia, describes its progression, and shows readers how to diagnose the condition. Finally, Dr. Bratman offers practical suggestions for intervention and treatment, giving readers the tools they need to conquer this painful disorder, rediscover the joys of eating, and reclaim their lives.
"From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
David Knight is a writer. He lives in Colorado.
From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Health Food Junkies: Orthorexia Nervosa: Overcoming the Obsession with Healthful Eating is a thorough exploration of a common but normally undiscussed problem in the health food community---a healthy focus which progresses into a fixation or obsession with "correct" or "right" eating. I like to think of it as the energy with which we focus on healthy eating. For example, you can have a healthy desire to lose weight...if you focus on this desire to the exclusion of other, more important things, you can slip into anorexia nervosa, and you may not realize it until someone else points it out to you. Dr. Bratman's book is this "someone" shining the light on the psychological factors behind so-called "healthy obsessions".
This book was extremely helpful to me. I have previously followed various healthy diets, from vegetarian to vegan to raw foods, and struggled with balancing the many positives of such choices with some of the negatives. Health Food Junkies helped me to see myself more clearly, to see sort out my various psychological issues, and to put my desire to eat healthfully into balance. I think I'm making healthier choices overall with respect to my diet and my life in general.
There are many psychological factors to consider when eating healthfully, and some of the ones that Dr. Bratman covers are: control and safety issues, fears, idealized body images, using food as a primary source of spiritual satisfaction, food Puritanism, deprivation and self-punishment, creating an identity, being separate from others, hiding and escaping from life, and more.
Styles of eating which are covered are food allergies, raw foods, macrobiotics, the Zone, candida, "Eat Right for Your Type", vitamin pills, the beer and pizza diet, and several other extreme diets.
The author, Steven Bratman, M.D. speaks from experience, as he was previously a raw foodist and a macrobiotic eater, plus has helped patients recover from obsessions with healthful eating that in some cases has even cost them their lives, and often, their health. At a minimum, such an obsession costs one's emotional and spiritual well-being. He is absolutely totally in favor of eating well, but not at the expense of other parts of a healthy lifestyle.
This book will help you put your interest in healthful eating into balance. Even if you think it is in balance, it's good to read just to be aware of how things can get when you veer away, sometimes very gradually, from moderation. If you think moderation is a bad thing, you really, really should read this book. If you know someone whose eating obsessions are unusual, you'd find this interesting, too.
So I will say this book "woke me up" from my semi-delusional obsession with "correct" food and nutrition. I can't even remember how I suddenly found this book but I was very tired of my low food-allergen diet so something led me to it. Just like the author, I have a long history of trying to control my life through diet of one kind or another.
This book is helping to free me from my obsession with "correct food". I was one of those who a low allergy diet made me feel a lot better. I did it for 2 years, but found it very isolating, as he mentions. I also found myself feeling superior to all the other folk out there who were eating garbage, as he mentions. I recognized in myself the tendency he mentions of spending way too much time planning and thinking about food....that is when you know it is an obsession, when it is the main thing you think about, even becomes an identity.
All I can say is this book caught me just in time before I really went off the deep-end with this stuff. I'm glad to have read it and woken up. I don't know what the future holds for me food wise, but really, it's going to be nothing like the past was....no more obsession and a lot more balanced life.