Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for Healthy Eating May be Detrimental to Your Health

Thursday, March 3, 2011: 6:00 PM-7:00 PM
Point Hilton at Squaw Peak
Today we are inundated with conflicting nutritional information, food recalls and media messages of good and bad foods. This can create problematic relationships with foods that can lead to both psychological and physical health challenges. The treatment options of this condition, recently coined orthorexia, include a heaping dose of common sense, moderation, balance and a sense of humor. (58)
I.       Orthorexia: definition and criteria II.    Carnivore: Hunters and gatherers A.    Adele Davis: First modern day food faddist B.     Dairy: osteoporosis; calcium C.     Protein: muscle building D.    Cholesterol myths E.     High protein, low carbohydrate: Sensory specific satiety III. Herbivore: A.    Low fat: Reverse heart disease; eat more weight less B.     Sweet and dangerous: artificial sweeteners; addiction IV. Blame Game A.    Fast Food B.     Portion distortion C.     Obesity: mortality; bariatric surgery D.    Intuitive eating E.     Inflammation: fish oils F.      Allergies: gluten sensitivity V.    Good Food, Bad Food VI. Vegetarian A.    High fiber B.     Natural toxins C.     Soy, fruits, acid/alkaline D.    High fructose corn syrup VII.          Food pyramid VIII.       Foods that heal A.    Quackery B.     Food poisoning; additives IX. Nutritional icons: food faddist to food heroes X.    Balance, moderation, variety and sense of humor (100)
Dietary goals often start out as a simple desire for a healthy lifestyle or a means to overcome an existing medical condition. In rare cases, food concerns can escalate to narrow criteria of acceptable choices that become deeply rooted in wanting to purify the body. This phenomenon may be a condition of the 21st century where we are constantly bombarded with media messages of good and bad foods, conflicting nutritional information, food recalls, and elaborate food labels. For some, eliminating certain foods might provide a platform to be noticed, establish control or impress others.  An increasing rigid pursuit of dietary purity can result into an intense compulsion. Even the slightest slip can generate genuine psychological distress. This mind set can include a wide range variety of avoidances: wheat (gluten sensitivities); pesticides (organic); meat (vegans); processed foods (macrobiotic); cooked foods (raw); fat (extreme low fat); dairy; sugar (low glycemic); dairy etc. Such limited selections can create a poor relationship with foods resulting in mental (OCD; eating disorders) and physical (malnutrition) pitfalls.

The term orthorexia (orthos = correct; rexia =appetite) was coined in 1996 by Stephen Bratman, a holistic physican out of the University of California Berkeley. Orthorexia is a preoccupation with eating food to the point of obsession; but without being concerned with thoughts thinness or losing weight. There is a debate as to whether orthorexia is anything more than an obsession since currently it is not classified as a medical condition or eating disorder. It is concluded that there is a fine line between personal enjoyment of food, adhering to healthy choices, and preoccupation with specific food guidelines. Not everyone who choose to be a vegan, practices macrobiotics or has allergies to food fits into this classification.

The treatment options for orthorexia involve rallying behind moderation, variation, and balance. The concept of inner peace urges us to stop thinking excessively about our helath, our diets, dying, our bodies, our finances and our problems. We are encouraged to laugh at ourselves and to alleviate the stress of obsessing about food. (339)

Primary Presenter:
Ralph E. Carson, RD, PhD

Dr. Carson has been involved in the clinical treatment of obesity and eating disorders for over 30 years. His unique background in medicine (BS Duke University and B. H. S. Duke University Medical School) coupled with nutrition and exercise (BS Oakwood College, Ph.D. Auburn University) has prepared him to integrate biophysiological intervention with proven psychotherapeutic treatment. He consults with eating disorder programs and presents at conferences around the world. Dr. Carson is an IAEDP board member. He has recently published Harnessing the Healing Power of Fruit.