In 1996, I coined the term “orthorexia nervosa” to denote an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. I originally intended it simply as a kind of “tease therapy” for my overly diet obsessed patients. Over time, however, it has come to find a more significant place as a description for a type of obsession with healthy food that is psychologically or even physically unhealthy.
NOTE: I do not, and have never claimed that vegetarianism, veganism, or any other approach to eating healthy food is inherently an eating disorder! Furthermore, I entirely agree that the problem of addiction to junk food is immensely more serious than excessive obsession with healthy food.
But it is also true that obesity is far more common than anorexia. Just because “junk foodism” is far more common than health food obsession does not mean that the latter isn’t a real problem. For some people (a small minority, to be sure) obsession with healthy food is a real and significant problem. It is to those people that this site is addressed. — Steven Bratman, MD