2 new eating disorders!

Yahoo health Experts has this article about 2x new eating disorders people who study these things have run into. They don’t seem to be medically recognized however, I feel pretty obsessive about food at times and understand how these conditions might be of interest to the community here?

  1. Adult picky eaters, I understood immediately, as I will not under any circumstances eat a banana

  2. Orthorexia, defined as “an obsession with healthy eating.” which sounds ok but they explain can cary “serious risks” for those who take them too far.

Link to article if you are interested!

Hey there. I created a blog post about orthorexia not too long ago. I think it’s an important consideration, especially for diabetics. Our food choices are already so fraught with drama: “Will this slice of birthday cake result in a double foot amputation in twenty years?” I think it’s an important subject to consider, perhaps even with a qualified therapist if we can see shades of ourselves in the description of orthorexia. I know I do. Ironically, one can be morbidly obese AND obsessed in an unhelpful way with “perfectly healthy” eating. I have a tendency to want to banish entire food groups in my desperation to get control of my diabetes and my weight – and I mean recently, not just when I was in my 20’s.

I think there is a WORLD of difference between sensible portion control (“I’m going to have a one-ounce serving of walnuts, not the entire bag”) versus orthorexia (“All nuts are too high in fat; I’m banishing nuts from my food universe for all time in my quest for dietary perfection”.)

People with an understanding of the healthy fiber, protein and most of all, essential fatty acids that are GOOD for us will see the irony in the above examples. An orthorexic response to foods – especially based on nutritional fads – often turns out to be highly counter-productive in the long run. Fats were ‘the enemy’ of every dieter just a few years ago; now we see sensible portions of healthy fats as an important part of our diets again.

To avoid some foods is far away from eating a small variety of sanctioned food I assume. Like you I have a problem with one fruit: I can not stand the texture of Mango in my mouth - it makes me shudder.

I think you should reconsider the definition of orthorexia. It’s an UNHEALTHY obsession with “healthy” eating.

Not liking the taste of dairy products – or feeling squidgy after eating some – is not orthorexic.

Deciding to shun all dairy products because you read an obscure blog post or three or ten that dairy products are (supposedly) “bad for you” is orthorexia. The issue is: are you shunning foods because of imprecise and/or incorrect data that they are bad for you, in an obsessive quest to have a “perfectly healthy” diet, thereby depriving yourself of an innocent source of nutrients, and furthering malnutrition, social isolation and obsessive thinking in the process?

I hate liver. That’s not orthorexia. “Anyone who eats liver is poisoning themselves.” That’s orthorexia.

I’m on an e-mail list for Adult Picky Eaters. While I’m pretty mildly picky as these things go, some of them are really food-impaired, and eat maybe 10 foods and nothing else. They talk about gagging and vomiting if they are forced to eat something they don’t like/can’t eat, and every last one of them loves french fries. I do think it is a real disorder, though, because there are some foods I can’t even get near, such as French’s Mustard, because it smells so bad to me. Same thing with berries of any kind. Or bell peppers. Cooked bell peppers smell and taste like old sweat socks to me. Not very appetizing! So I can understand people having that kind of reaction to a lot of foods.

The bad thing about being a picky eater (and I’m about the least picky on the list) is that if you have diabetes too, then your food repertoire is even more limited. Almost all picky eaters love carbs, and that’s just the thing we can’t have. I’m lucky, because I can force myself to eat vegetables, but many on the list can’t tolerate them at all. The surprising thing is that they haven’t died of malnutrition – although a number of them are obese (carbs!), they have spouses and children and jobs, and appear to lead pretty normal lives, except that they are reluctant to socialize where food is involved. Most other people simply can’t understand a person who has food limitations (sound familiar, diabetics?). So there is social stigma and embarrassment.

So far, there are no successful treatments, and most extremely picky eaters just get through life eating like 2-year-olds. It isn’t rebellion, and it isn’t voluntary – there are just some things that are impossible for a picky eater to eat.

I feel guilty just thinking about eating a piece of fruit because it’s just a blob of carbs.

How messed up is that? (In the eyes of a non-diabetic).

Even I know it’s messed up.

Holger, I too, hate the taste and smell of Mangos, abhor the spice oregano, and find the texture of vermicelli and spaghetti to be slimy, worm-like and gross… and I am not orthorexic… I .just do not like them!!! ( mac and cheese, a southern delicacy ,are another story: I love it but have to run away or take a very small portion

God Bless,


I’m pretty much the same way about fruit. I’ll occasionally eat a piece, one of those little “cutie” oranges or some fruit salad or blueberries but once I start to count I’m like “nah…”

I just copied the definition from the article. I agree that it would be a good idea to reconsider it!

You know, we often define mental health as displaying behavior that is outside of “the norm.” We can argue about whether these conditions are a disorder or not simply by referring to what most people do. All men obsess about women’s legs, that is normal. But not all grown men obsess over Lego’s. That is not normal. We have diabetes. Our diet directly impacts our health. If obsessing over dietary choices improves our health, how can that be a disorder. Who gets to choose what is healthy? Is low carb healthy? We “choose” to spend a lot of time considering our diet and making choices. Is that an eating disorder or just common sense?

Some people ask whether the obsessive behavior causes you to be disabled in your life. Is that what makes it an eating disorder? I have trouble sometimes finding appropriate food choices. I will often have to walk further, drive for miles or go without because of my diet choices. Does that make me disabled? Perhaps.

There is a fine line between an eating disorder and simply reasonable behavior. Some of it has to do with simply what most people do. If most people make bad choices, then why should making better choices be an eating disorder?

I don’t mean to belittle this topic. As diabetics, we are extremely vulnerable to eating disorder problems. We “must” obsess over our food and it is very easy for this to get out of whack. But I object to the proliferation of disorders because people are different and make different choices.

There was an article in the NYT mag once about a woman who was super-concerned with healthy eating and ended up contracting scurvy because she was avoiding vitamin-C containing fruits.

Although we think of fruits as the only source of vitamin C, that is just not true. Other good sources include veggies like cabbage, spinach, peppers and cauliflower. And surprisingly other sources include brains, heart, roe, tongue, raw oysters, and livers. Fresh goat, camel, and cow milk also contain vitamin C. I’ve been eating a lot more liver stuff lately, 100 g of beef liver contains 27 mg of vitamin C, four times the amount found in an apple.

The Inuit, eating their traditional diet, who had no fruit and limited seasonal berries got their vitamin C from liver and other organ meats.

Remember that these proposed disorders are NOT geared to people with diabetes. Also, they are severe, not just refusing to eat fruit because it has too many carbs. People with orthorexia can get so thin and sick that they die, because they eliminate too many foods from their diets. I once knew a woman who was a “fruitarian” based on the mistaken belief that we were biologically intended to eat only fruit. Well, she got VERY sick, because fruit doesn’t contain as much nutrition as many believe, and certainly not complete nutrition. She would be an example of an orthorexic. She wasn’t just “different” but truly sick.

And picky eaters go WAY beyond the scope of someone who’s limiting food for diabetic reasons. Existing on french fries, macaroni and cheese, plain cheese pizza, chocolate milk and hamburgers is not a particularly healthy diet, even though they don’t get sick like orthorexics. One woman went out to eat with her boyfriend, and would only eat rolls. Another woman had to ride in a car with a cooked turkey for 4 hours, and vomited the whole way. These people get harassed by friends and family for not being able to eat really ordinary foods, and it’s really bad for kids. I remember being made to sit at the table until I ate some food I really couldn’t stand. Well, I sat there until 11 PM, when my mother got so tired she gave up. It only happened that once, because my mother realized she couldn’t win, but some children are really abused – one woman reported that she sat at the table for 3 days, with permission only for bathroom breaks, and still couldn’t eat the food in question. It’s not wilfull rebellion, but it CAN turn into a power struggle if parents let it. And many of these people bear the scars into adulthood. They aren’t just “different”, but truly dysfunctional.

So, no, these disorders are absolutely unrelated to what we do as diabetics, nor to any other people who follow disease-related dietary restrictions. My pickiness, which is probably too mild to qualify as a disorder, simply makes it harder to eat for diabetes, but some of these people are really suffering.

Brunetta, thanks for the word Vermicelli - that was new to me.

Yeah, well she wasn’t an Inuit, unfortunately for her. They were able to cure her with intravenous vitamin C tho. I just looked up the article and it was 2/26/06.

I’ve been on a liverwurst kick. I think I much prefer liverwurst to an IV.

oh I am such a picky eater,too bad I only pick wrong food-not all the time-,for example,I can’t standrice,I’d rather not have lunch than eat those little grains.
I also despise bananas,too bad everyone thinks I look like one since I’m 170cm.lots of other fruits too.
but I’ve never been an “orthorexic”,and never will be.

If it makes you feel any better. I don’t think it’s messed up at all,I feel that they’re not worth their -insulin worth-.
but that’s because I’m not into fruits,a Acidrock said,only the cuties.

Bernstein diet could be the definition of Orthorexia. He banishes not only all refined sugar and all starches (like all bread and pasta and cereal and anything made of flour or potatoes or rice), but all fruit, all milk products like milk or yogurt or cottage cheese (except cream and some cheese), all nuts, many vegetables (carrots, tomatoes and tomato sauce, peas, corn) - even powdered artificial sweetener is forbidden. This and other draconian steps needed to get daily carb intake down to 30 grams.

On the other hand, he has survived 60+ years with T1 and gets A1c’s in the low 5’s. He doesn’t say, but I wonder how much time he spends with BG below 80.

It certainly sounds obsessive or compulsive to me. But whether it is unhealthy and whether it is worth it is a much harder question to answer.