I heard about Orthorexia Nervosa and swatted it away as some kind of excessive affectation. I couldn't get to the bottom of what it meant. And anyway, how many narrow declensions of eating/hunger disorders do you need? It seemed infinitely self-absorbed.
This feeling went on for years until I happened to land on Steven Bratman's own site [the guy who coined the term]. I couldn't believe it, such a precise reading of what I'd experienced. I'm sure you've had quite wide ranging/long lasting experience that you notice, but somehow don't see clearly. The WHAM, you land on it.
I didn't think of myself as a dieter. My focus was sticking with the idea of what a healthy diet was then. Thinking what would make me healthy would make me slim and vice versa- many fat phobes don't appear to realise that we've thought all their main thoughts because we received the same mental conditioning about eating and weight as everyone else.
Not only that, orthorexia for me became an atypical trigger that led to hyperphagia.
Okay, so what's Orthorexia Nervosa [ON]?
Basically, its when a conscious ideology of eating, in this case healthy/healthist unbalances the hunger/appetite mechanisms function. Basically healthy eating tips into compulsion.
People still have problems grasping the point about eating or hunger disorders. We seem to assume, they follow a behaviour. That someone has gone to an extreme. On the whole NO. What happens is- Same behaviour differing response.
A person is anorexic, bulimic, orthorexic because their system yields to behaviours others perform with nothing more than the demands of said acts. The reason why desisting from those behaviours may cure the problem totally, is that it removes pressure, not because those behaviours can cause that unbalancing in anyone.
Note I didn't say hyperphagic because I don't understand binge eating and I only know my own type of hyperphagia, which I know was a physiological imbalance, probably brought on by stressed nervous system.
The idea of a habit of "comfort eating" doesn't fit.
Looking through an i-net search the consensus description is-an obsession with healthy eating. This is typically facile and un-illuminating.
With anorexia, the pressure is on hunger signalling. With orthorexia, the pressure on your hunger comes THROUGH the pressure you are putting on your APPETITE to conform to what you want it to be. Which ends up obscuring and distancing you from your body needs. Ironically, you do this because you believe your body needs your idea of "healthy foods."
Weird though it might seem, our idea that our bodies need only food classed as "healthy", isn't backed up by experience.
An anorexic, reduces overall energy intake. This can be of any particular kind of diet-though that demand may skew the proportions and types of foods they will eat. Orthorexics get into trouble due to seeking to eat certain foods and exclude others, i.e. high protein, high intake of low calorie veg and fruit, low carb, low sugar, low-fat.
The body is threatened by this as it is energy reduction, just less so. Whereas lack of energy threatens life, restriction of types of food threatens inadequate nutrition or balance of [for your requirements]. It could go as far to poisoning if one takes in too much of foods that have toxic substances. Like some leafy greens for example- caution; we're talking a probably unpalatably high amount.
The reason we don't tend to get to that level of intake is we have such an effective disgust reflex for certain foods because they contain small amounts of toxic substances. This, not greed or self destructiveness or "food addiction is why we don't tend to crave low density veg, like we do calorie dense foods.
Terms like that and "hyperpalatability" are mis-direction, calorie dense foods are just of more use to our bodies. We can sometimes feel we can eat any amount of so called "junk" calorie dense foods, because they do not contain such.
One of the ways ON slips beneath awareness, leading up to an anorexic or other conclusion is your focus is on eating, not starving yourself. Where it gets you is your focus becomes progressively narrower without you realising it. Again, you aren't "obsessed," you are seeking to eat totally healthily, which is what you're supposed to do. In my case, it was that I wasn't getting slim, so I kept trying harder. Isn't that supposed to be why we fat people fail to slim?
All this just happens to be enough to activate an unforeseen tendency.
You too may retain skeptism, I wouldn't blame you. Others have become incredibly anguished over the mere idea of ON, taking it as some kind of personal affront against healthist eating.
In order to grasp it and probably other ED's/neuroses, its best to consider more of the context for them.
Starting with our still crude notions of free will...............