Following anorexia nervosa (under eating) and bulimia nervosa (overeating), orthorexia nervosa (healty eating) is the latest eating disorder in the book. It is characterized by a fixation on eating what the sufferer considers to be healthful food, which can ultimately lead to early death.
While anorexia is typically associated with our visual culture and its unreachable beauty ideals, orthorexia seems closely related with our information age and the easy access to facts and figures. Today so many data about health benefits of our food are available – how it was processed, prepared, etc– and food packages are routinely decorated with scientifically detailed data on their contents. We are suffering from ‘overknowledge’.
While most of us respond to the food-data-overload with an occasional dosage of self chosen ignorance – forget about the facts, grab a burger! – people suffering from orthorexia will spend just as much time and energy thinking about food as someone with bulimia or anorexia.