-“Doctor…I’m desperate.My daughter is so picky about her food. Doesn’t eat well.”

Susan X. confided to me several months ago that her teenage daughter was not eating properly as she was too selective about her food and drinks. When she showed me her picture and I saw a young lady with unusually low weight, I promptly suggested her a visit to a nutritionist and a psychiatrist. She was suffering form a medical condition that has been recently dubbed as “Orthorexia Nervosa.”

Orthorexia Nervosa has not been officially recognized as a clinical condition in the DSM-5 but it is seen increasingly more often in the medical offices. Dr. Steven Bratman invented that term in 1996 to refer to the patients who, after reasonably attempting to eat more healthily in the beginning, eventually developed a counterproductive obsession with their food quality and purity.

Those patients display a steely will to “chose right” and self-discipline their dietary habits at all times, without any “sinful deviation” from their plan. They start by avoiding meat, then dairy, then seafood, then processed grains, then legumes, then fruit, etc., in a downward spiral to a caloric starvation.

Their feel superior to the rest of us and chastise what they consider as “bad habits.” Their sanctimonious attitude alienates them from their loved ones as they avoid social reunions where the “non-sanctified” food is being served. Moreover they are shunned by family and friends for their obnoxious stance.

There are a few simple questions to determine whether you might suffer that condition:

  1. Do you feel that you are worrying too much about the food quality?
  2. Do you feel you are spending too much time on food selection?
  3. Do you eat a meal prepared by a loved one without your control?
  4. Do you feel extremely guilty when you abandon your diet?
  5. Do you feel superior to the “non-converted” for eating “right”?

If you answered “yes” to all the 5 questions above, you might be suffering from it and you should consult your primary physician right away to evaluate your nutritional status.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

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