What is orthorexia?
The term orthorexia is used by some eating-disorder specialists to describe an unhealthy fixation with healthy eating. While not an officially recognized disorder, it is similar to several serious diagnoses. Like anorexia, it often involves severe weight loss, but so-called orthorexics are obsessed with food quality, rather than quantity, and strive for personal purity in their eating habits rather than for a thin physique.
The word orthorexia was coined in 1997 by Colorado alternative medicine specialist Steven Bratman. Implicit in the description are traits that resemble obsessive-compulsive disorder, since sufferers devote excessive attention to their own strict rules and often spend hours each day worrying about tomorrow's meals. Such a person may find himself socially isolated because he doesn't indulge in everyday dishes. "If your focus on healthy eating is interfering with your happiness and social life," says Bratman, "you might have a problem."