Much to my chagrin, sometimes to my amusement, I get accused of all kinds of hateful things. Generally, the writers of these posts haven’t jumped to conclusions and assume that by use of the term “orthorexia” I mean to pathologize eating healthy food. They simply haven’t taken to the time to read my post, “What is Orthorexia?” But a few are truly mean-spirited.

I understand, really. It’s not always easy to eat a healthy diet, and people trying to do so may at times feel like an oppressed minority. I sympathize with other issues raised too, such as that the DSM is already too expansive (agreed — and I have never tried to get orthorexia into the DSM), and that the media is running with the term and taking it too far (yes, but that’s what they always do.)

However, I have to say that I am quite amused by the claims that I’m in the pay of evil agribusiness! As it happens, I make no money at all from orthorexia. My book sells about 12 copies a year, and I get paid exactly $0 from evil agribusiness companies.


Yourmothershouldhaveslappedyouharder writes: Please please eat all the fast food you can so we can rid the world of morons like you, does the MD stand for mentalty down? You are a horrible person that let greed and money dictate his joke of a life. I hope you get struck with the worst case of depression possible and that you know your life, your one now worthless life amounted to nothing and if anything could start a fire for horrible health of individuals to come. God save us, besides you, no place for you anywhere but a McDonald’s booth. God you are an awful terrible worthless person.

Marshall writes: Hey doc, you could do some serious damage: any individual who uses your false ideas as an excuse to stay on, or go back to, the homicidal gmo pesticide herbicide antibiotic additive fast food nutrient poor stale rotting meat fish chicken egg diet, will die quicker and horribly from cancer, heart disease, and renal failure.
Did you miss the part in med school about first, Do no harm?

Bill writes: dr. bratman, You are a moron. please go to mickey dee’s and chow down on a few big mac’s and don’t call me in the morning. I guess Monsanto’s GMO products, high fructose corn syrup, aspertame, processed sugar and flour are great for us. Amazing that they give a PhD in medicine to a fucking imbecile. Have a great day and don’t forget to supersize you idiot.

Alexander writes: So good to hear a Doctor is taking the problem of people eating healthy seriously. Its just sad to see people go buy organic food, with no pesticides or herbicides, or GM food, when McDonalds across the street are serving wonderful non-ecologically farmed, meat-tenderized hamburgers and pesticide lazed salads served with a fresh cup of aspartame based soft drink. Yum! Go Dr Steven!

“John Galt” writes, What an idiotic statement. This is as moronic as psychiatrists trying to tell people they have math disorders because they have trouble with algebra or that kids are mentally ill because they have trouble speaking in front of the class. All these mental “diseases” that the psychs are inventing (not real diseases that come from biopsies, bloodwork, etc.) are for profit only. They make things up so that they can sell bogus treatments and drugs and the gullible fall for it. But this one is about as stupid as they come. You’re an idiot and an opportunist for even suggesting such a thing. I hope somebody turns you in for fraud and incompetence.

The TruthWill writes: It’s all over the Internet that he’s a a shill for the AMA and big Pharma. They’re afraid that if we don’t eat their crap we won’t get sick and then the won’t make any $$$. If he publishes this comment it’s because he wants you all to think that he’s not those things, other wise why would he? And it’s true, you eat right, you won’t get sick. Why do you think people used to live to thousands of years old? Because they ate nothing but raw.

Rich writes: You sir, are an idiot! So now avoiding unhealthy food is a mental disorder! Ok, so to prove my mental well being I think I’ll go fill up on some greasy McDonalds.

EdR writes: This is absurd. I bet the finding of this ‘disease’ was helped by gov’t funding. Why not just call it healthy eating disorder? Throw in some Latin and it sounds legit. America is waking up to this bullshit…not all of us are dumbed down.

Adam writes: It’s just a way for this “doctor” to make money from his book on this “disorder”. It’s sad that people will do anything now just to make them money. I’m hoping this “disorder” does NOT make it’s way into the already too expansive, DSM.

Simon writes: This is the most ridiculous excuse for the practice of medicine I have ever encountered

K Hoover writes: Can’t help but wonder if the people promoting this idea are in the pocket of Monsanto & other producers of manifestly unhealthy food-like substances.

R U Cyrus from Oakland writes: Dear Dr. Bratman (is that what they’re calling you types these days? LOL) What about those who only keep Kosher? Do they have a mental disorder called Orthorexia, or would that be a hate crime to diagnose them as such?

I wrote back: “Having grown up Jewish, I can definitively state that keeping Kosher doesn’t remotely involve an obsession with eating healthy food.

RU Cyrus continues: You are very melodramatic, with a nice touch of histrionic flair! The very definition of orthorexia DOES apply to the rigidity of kosher dietary laws, whether you want to admit it or not, because doing so would expose you as a hypocrite. Stop crying wolf, Steven, no one’s listening anymore. If you want to see the big bad wolf, just look in the mirror. You are a tool for the big pharma industry, this is just evidence of the desperation of those who are invested so deeply in it. Carry on, water carrier!

110 thoughts on “Hatemail

  1. So sorry about all of the hate mail- really breaks my heart that people can be so mean-spirited. Orthorexia is a real thing (I suffered from it myself) and I thank you so much for bringing about awareness for this terrible eating disorder. Much love to you

  2. Dr. Bratman,

    You are a brave man! I thoroughly enjoyed your post, because it sums up the conflict of well educated nutrition educators as they get deeper into their schooling and gain experience meeting with clients. We are taught that there are additional contributors to how our body responds to food, not just the food itself. I find myself feeling very similar as I have had my own health struggles, helped other people in the work field and do further research in a University setting. I think you are brave for sharing how you feel, for people like me, this post is thought provoking! But the hate mail comment section really cracks me up….I wouldn’t give these “negative Nancy” people a way to comment! You do YOU, let your light shine and people will follow you for inspiring them. I have no poor words for you here, just love!

  3. Thank you for plowing through the hatemail to publish this. It brings a tear to my eye to read that there is a name for this. I have a loved one whose constant urge to eat “virtuous” food has become debilitating for all involved. This is so important. May God strengthen you.

  4. Looks like pretty standard narcissistic rage to me. The fight isn’t over anything remotely to do with food quality or nutrition (which are fledgling and fuzzy sciences at best); it’s about denying terrified, addicted people their superiority fix.

  5. The obvious problem with all these hate messages (ignoring the verbal abuse) is the idea that a condition like orthorexia cannot coincide with other, equally real problems like corporate greed and severely unhealthy food choices. It’s not like any of those things makes the others disappear. Orthorexia is a thing just like anorexia is a thing–both are VERY dangerous disorders that don’t have as much to do with being healthy or thin as they do about escaping from crippling anxiety and emotional distress. Saying that people don’t use their dietary choices in this disordered way is just untrue. They do: This is a matter of demonstrated, documented fact, whether it’s politically convenient to acknowledge it or not.

  6. The irony of the hatemails is that it proves the point that Dr. Bratman (as I on my own Dutch website) makes. ‘Eating healthy’ has become for many not a strive for a healthy lifestyle but a religion. One with all the usual elements in it. Like fundamentalism, extremism, dogmatism and even een ‘alternative’ for hell (on earth and in this lifetime) for the sin of ‘not eating right’ (meaning: according to their learnings which are insanely diverse depending which ‘church’ they belong to).

  7. Totally relate to this term… I emphasized ‘healthy eating’ in my home and made most suppers from scratch etc… and last year my then 15-yr old daughter took it a step further: In the name of “Wanting to be more Fit & Strong for her Sport” she refused all packaged & processed foods and eventually (and very subtly – over the summer) had cut all dairy and grain food groups… we intervened when she a) looked concentration camp thin and had lost her period b) showed obvious signs of depression: cried often and went to bed earlier and earlier.

    She is now being treated for an Eating Disorder. Orthorexia: When the ‘quest’ for health actually leads to the complete opposite — and yet the person themselves lives in complete denial. Our daughter’s joie de vivre, and her athletic ability and strength were diminishing day and day and yet she was UNABLE to reverse the decision she had made a year ago about restricting foods.

    We are following the Maudsley Method of refeeding and she is still fighting every bite. The pragnosis for remission for this life-threatening illness is 1-2 years when caught during high school years.

  8. Hi Steven,

    I think people have lost the plot, every hate message I read is defensive and ignorant. Not once did you banish eating healthy. Eating healthy, fresh food will always be better for you. Removing chemicals where you can is also going to improve your health, how your body functions, removing added stress on your chemical make-up. They’ve forgotten the word “obsession”, which in turn explains the defensive nature. I was accused of being Orthorexic by my parents, but I have finally managed to show them I am not obsessed, I see my friends for dinners, I “slip up” and forget about it instantly – I know I am human. The difference between being a advocate for healthy eating and being Orthorexic is that the latter consumes you, whereas the first invigorates you. I study Ayurveda, so naturally I will seek herbs and dietary adjustments to find balance of doshas – I’ve cured my acne due to a pitta blood problem through a natural daily medicine. Hopefully, like some people have said, the medical industry and money-hungry companies don’t hijack the therm “Orthorexia” and accuse those like me of being healthy extremists.

    You did good.

  9. Is there a term coined for people who have not learned to understand what they are reading?:) In fairness, several articles have titles such as “Eating healthy is now psiquiatric condition” .Thank you.

  10. It really is a shame that so many do not take the time to really read about orthorexia – which I can vouch for, after 32 years of eating disorders – it is real and it is deadly. Unfortunately these people can’t see the wood for the trees. They are so obsessed with GMO’s, Monsanto, etc etc etc – that they automatically think ‘Orthorexia’ is an attack on their lifestyles and beliefs and all part of a conspiracy. It doesn’t occur to them that orthorexia is NOT about the food or the diet, it’s about how the obsession affects the person’s life. Someone who is so obsessed about cutting out carbohydrates, for example (as I once was) might end up eliminating all traces of carbs from their diets – including those present in lettuce, milk, and so forth – and virtually live on meat, fat, cream…. is this healthy? NO. But it’s orthorexic and dangerous. When you hyperventilate at the doctor because she’s trying to get you to eat a salad – a lettuce leaf, a few slices of tomato – before you see her next, and you are begging her to ask you to eat a steak, you could eat lots of steak – just not the salad – you know something’s not right. When you feel like the sky will literally fall if you so much as touch the wrong foods… that’s not right.
    A lot of the dissenters here seem to be extremely obsessive over their own beliefs, to the point that they can no longer engage in critical thinking and everything’s a conspiracy theory. They also never seem to be able to spell properly.

  11. OMG I could not get past the first one! People are SO vicious, to wish horrible depression on you and accuse you of so many vile things. I can’t read these, they make me sad and lose faith in humanity!!

    All I can say is keep up the good fight, continue to do your research and take solace knowing there are intelligent NON HATEFUL people out there! UGH this made me so sad! Wishing you a really great day I have personally never heard of this but it sounds SUPER CLOSE to how I feel a lot of the times!

  12. Mr. Bratman,
    Maybe you have already figured out why you get hate-mail? Maybe you already see that people who have not done their research think you are attacking those who eat health foods, which is not the case.

    A person who is ignorant, stupid or crazy is going to have a bad diet no matter if they believe what is best is fast, processed or GMO food or foods that are free of those three characteristics!

    So “health food” has nothing to do with the “disorder” Mr. Bateman created, orthorexia nervosa, other than specifying those ignorant, crazy and stupid people who happen to fail at creating a diet using health food.

    Since food that is free of processing, GMOs and pesticides etc. is a minority, it is odd that there is not a special word for the many millions of people who ruin their health daily by ingesting those, or maybe it is just that ignorant, stupid and crazy are good enough so far.

    Food corporations that are threatened by efforts to expose the poor and poisonous food they sell to the general public certainly do spend many millions of dollars each year lobbying and advertising and funding think-tanks to protect their profits.

    Hopefully Mr. Bratman realizes that his faux medical condition “orthorexia nervosa” has been hijacked by right-wing and corporate interests for use in their propaganda and effort to protect their crimes against humanity.

    Hopefully Mr. Bratman will not just correct the people wrongly saying he is attacking “health food” in general, but he will also correct those who use his invention to do what he is being accused of. Then maybe they will stop misusing his words and he will no longer be accused of doing something he has not.

    The real culprit here are those who are misusing the term “orthorexia nervosa” to discredit healthy food, let us and Mr. Bratman both realize this and take steps to stop them.

    Thank-you for your valuable time…..

    1. Benjamin: Truthfully, I have been expecting some right-wing corporate interests to exploit the term orthorexia, but I haven’t seen it happen yet. Do you have examples? As a complete aside, did you know that the civil-war era general Stonewall Jackson was a fairly intense health food advocate?

      1. “Health food” and similar fads have been around since before the Civil War. Look up “Banting,” one of the first weight “loss” diets (just as fleeting as anything that’s come along since.) Also, Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium, Hazzard’s deadly “Starvation Heights” clinic, and all those frauds selling snake oil. People have been bouncing back and forth between high and low-carb, “cleansing” rituals, etc. for 150 years. Recommended reads include Harvey Levenstein’s “Fear of Food,” T. C. Boyle’s “The Road to Wellville,” and Gregg Olsen’s “Starvation Heights.”

  13. THE Problem Is YOU, and YOUR ” Diagnosis ” ARE Being Used By Companies Like Monsanto. If you truly only care about the health and well being of people, Join The Fight Against Monsanto. Be Part Of The Good Health Choices People Need To Make.
    If you don’t, then your books etc are of no value to anyone

  14. Thanks for this! I can across this as I was looking for answers about a friend of mine. She has recently lost her son and someone got her involved with forever living products..not a bad thing but 3 colon cleansing programmes in as many months? No more than 600 calories in one day (1 meal and rest is supplements and ‘shakes)’? It’s all she seems to talk about now ( granted that she’s earning some cash whilst she’s at it) but apart from it now being incredibly boring, I have felt like there is something not quite right about it and given that (like myself) she is a recovering addict, I fear that a relapse could be on its way. Thank you for this website, I no longer feel like I am over reacting or being silly, this in turn will help me to help my friend when the time comes xx

  15. Dear Mr Bratman!

    Thanks for your work on orthorexia! I agree with most of what you say (http://abcplantasmedicinales.com/ortorexia/). I love to eat healthy without feeling in trouble if in some situation I have to eat something less healthy. I don’t agree though that it’s a rare phenomenon. According to my experience, it has increased considerably within the last two years. The soy industry launched texts on the web to tell us how bad milk and dairy products are and that they have to be substituted by soya. And since that many people think, they’ll harm themselves by taking a bit of a product that has been used to a big extent during millennia without producing much harm.

  16. There are an infinite number of possible obsessions. Obsession itself, not the object of the obsession, is the problem when it becomes extreme. Your own interest in medicine, taken to the relatively uncommon extreme of becoming a doctor and practicing and thinking about medical matters, might indicate the need for psychiatric treatment, especially if it occupies significantly more than 40 hours per week. If your practice often interferes with the rest of your life, it is further indication of a serious problem. Please create a clever Latin name for obsession with medical issues, with subcategories for every medical speciality, so that all dedicated doctors can be viewed with suspicion. Congratulations on your 15 minutes of fame, and for creating a new item for people who are obsessed with Trivial Pursuit.

  17. I think the main reason people leave all this hate mail is that they can’t seem to understand the difference between orthorexia and healthy eating. As someone who currently has issues with orthorexia, I can definitely say that there is a difference. You can eat healthily without having orthorexia – and conversely, you can have orthorexia and be unhealthy. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of these people do have orthorexic tendencies, and your post incites an emotional defensive response.

  18. Hey doc, you could do some serious damage: any individual who uses your false ideas as an excuse to stay on, or go back to, the homicidal gmo pesticide herbicide antibiotic additive fast food nutrient poor stale rotting meat fish chicken egg diet, will die quicker and horribly from cancer, heart disease, and renal failure.
    Did you miss the part in med school about first, Do no harm?

  19. Dear Dr. Bratman,
    I definitely have orthorexia. At first I reacted like some of the trolls who wrote insulting letters to you. However, over the years since I first heard of orthorexia, I have come to accept it. I have probably had it since the 1980s. If you or any other researchers want to talk to me about it, I will be happy to discuss.

  20. I totally agree with Jessica, above. I have been a psychotherapist for 23 years, specializing in eating disorders and I have seen individuals with mild to severe orthorexia. It is very real. I think it’s only getting worse, as we muddle through issues with GMO, food “allergies”, and the general anxiety that plagues our society. Years ago, when I taught at a university that trains naturopathic physicians and other health practitioners, I was able to introduce my students to your work and the concept of orthorexia. I think it made a real impact on them, and I want to thank you for your work. Best to you, Sibel Golden

  21. Just wanted to give you a heads up that I am including Orthorexia Nervosa as defined by you on your home page in the 2nd Edition of The Eating Disorders Clinical Pocket Guide. I will mail you a copy if you’d like me to, I would just need your mailing address, which you are welcome to email me privately at the email address above. I think you were way ahead of the curve which I have experienced at times as a very lonely place with my own share of hate mail and naysayers. As far as I’m concerned (and I am an eating disorder expert), orthorexia is just as legit as any of the other eating disorder diagnoses, all of which are simply temporary names based on symptom clusters for yet-to-be-defined neurochemistry dysfunction. Thank you and I wish I could remember that Einstein quote that all geniuses are considered crazy until everyone realizes they’re right… or something like that.
    Best wishes,
    Jessica Setnick

  22. Dr. Steven,

    We think you are doing a huge disservice to individuals by spreading this misinformation. Eating processed, GMO foods with added chemicals is an underlying cause of many serious health problems in this country. Anorexia and bulimia are true eating disorders, but caring about your health and wanting natural foods does not equate to an eating disorder. There are numerous well proven facts on the dangers of pesticides, GMOs, and food additives! Most health care professionals understand this BASIC fact; do your research and stop spreading these lies!!

    Readers need to check out the FACTS on web pages such as naturalnews.com and mercola.com

  23. Dr. Steven,
    I came across your website because my family started to talk about this term Orthoexia.
    From everything I have read so far about Orthorexia, I come to the conclusion that your Orthorexia campaign is funded by either one or all of the following groups FDA, AMA, FTC, Big Pharma, Processed/Fast Food Industry, and potentially everyone in between.

    You are either a very clever and sharp person or dumb as ever to create this hype and promote this campaign. If you are getting paid well for your promotion, enjoy the money as it will get you what you want. Whores do the same and they also have some kind of fulfillment from what they do and the service that they provide. Right?

    I do not know you, but from what I have read from this site, I gather that you may be of Jewish descent or know some Jewish individuals. If so, then you have to really direct your Orthorexia campaign towards your those fellow brothers, sisters and Rabbi’s to let them all know that they are sick and diseased (and potentially have been for ages) because they have gone as far as create special “Kosher” laws, traditions, as well as “Kosher” stores and markets in cities all around the world, just like others have created “Organic Food” Stores.

    As a non Jewish person, I actually see sense in “Kosher” methods, and respect the dietary structure. You have a lot of serious work ahead of you Doctor as the “Kosher” community is very ORTHOREXIC!!! (Sound the Alarm)

    I have read the books by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (Reverse and Prevention of Heart Disease), Dr. McDougal (Starch Solution), Dr. Colin T Campbell (China Study) and have seen presentations by Dr Klaper and Dr Greger, and conclude that they are not wrong and full of Hot Air as the information that they provide is backed by Verifiable Facts and Hard Science. You on the other hand are (to say it in a nice way) Kooky and Quacky.

    As far as the people who have a disorder and will only eat organic, please tell them on your wonderful website, that they need to see a good psychiatrist as they are obsessive compulsive disorder and cannot control anything in their life so they resort to controlling the only thing that they can… the food that they eat.

    Keep it simple and don’t over complicate things Steve.
    You are a Doctor, help others don’t confuse them.
    Do good my man, eat healthy food and live long!


    1. It sounds like you have become enthusiastic about a lowfat vegan diet and people in your family are telling you you’re being “orthorexic” about it.
      This is a family issue. They aren’t your psychologist, they are family, and their diagnosis of you is likely influenced by whatever family dynamics are going on. Do they have a tendency to pathologize you?
      I agree that a lowfat vegan diet isn’t necessarily a psychological problem. That’s one of the best ways to attempt healthy eating, and if everyone ate that way, we’d be a lot healthier, less overweight, be generating less greenhouse gases and using less energy, polluting less, wasting less water.
      As long as you make sure to take B12 and that your diet is otherwise nutritionally adequate. A shocking number of vegans get B12 deficient, and the promoters of lowfat vegan diets tend to downplay the possibility of nutritional deficiencies. And they present a one-sided view of the science.
      Dr. Bratman made it clear in his article “What is orthorexia” that he doesn’t intend to pathologize healthy eating or people with food hypersensitivities, rather he’s talking about an unhealthy psychological relationship to food, that some people have.
      But at the same time, the “orthorexia” concept is easy to use to beat up on people who care about their health. I bet it’s used sometimes by people who eat unhealthily, to make themselves feel better about their bad eating habits.

  24. I don’t think you are an idiot! Any obsession can be dangerous….if one is stressed out all the time about eating healthy food then that can’t be healthy mentally or physically.

  25. Hi Steven,
    Let the ‘haters’ hate as they say..you have just opened my eyes big time. I have just spent the day doing more research on paleo/ intermittent fasting/skinny fat/eatsstopeats etc etc for about my third week of doing so. What have I eaten today? two eggs and a bit of parmesan cheese. I spend more time researching and looking at food labels than I ever do enjoying food. This has happened over the last 10 years due I think to the lack of control caused by chronic complex PTSD (law enforcemnt). I know I don’t have anorexia nervosa/bulimia but perhaps OCD with respect to nutrition. Is this perhaps orthorexia?
    (I’m not asking for a diagnosis just in general)
    Thanks anyway…

  26. My brother and his GF suffer from this. They do caloric restriction to prolong their lives, spending about 4-6h daily preparing their food with the help of a pair of computer programs to perfectly balance their proteins, fats, carbs, nutrients. They literally weigh each banana and trim off excess grams. He’s always had some odd obsession or another, but this’s a mad obsession, even if they do live longer (which is likely, IMHO), his teeth/gums are looking bad, he looks skeletal (BMI ~16), his skin is usually a shade of orange… He admits to being “always hungry” and has no life beyond work… sad.
    Your writing depicts him clearly. Carry on and illigitemi non-carborundum!

  27. Thank you for identifying the syndrome of Orthorexia. It puts a name to the insanity going on within my family surrounding the whole gluten-free fad that has taken real celiac disease and turned it into an “epidemic.” I’m constantly being pressured to go gluten-free as a magical cure for all physical ailments. It’s like a cult or something. And if you want to see how bad it has gotten, go read any article on the Internet even vaguely questioning whether everyone needs to go gluten-free, and you’ll see a bunch of hysterical people flaming the author from here to Sunday for daring question the prevalence of self-diagnosed “gluten intolerances.” A lot of these people probably DO feel better without wheat, because they aren’t eating sugar donuts daily like they used to. But the extent of the gluten-free/raw food/paleo religious fervor going around seems more about control – and needing to “belong” to some sort of cause – than about really being healthy. What’s next? Banning fruits for their natural sugar content?

    1. Comparing orthorexia to a food trend is a far stretch. Also, assuming that everyone eats sugar donuts every day? Very narrow minded. I guess giving up your own daily donuts is more of an issue to you than actually taking the time to really absorb the information you’ve been given.

  28. Thanks for your insights Dr Bratman.
    My wife had bulimia when we met, and I foolishly believed that if I “convinced” her that she isn’t fat (she’s 5’2″ and has never been more than 120 lbs except for pregnancy, and returned to normal weight rapidly after the births) then she would stop upchucking bar food.

    Boy was i wrong. It’s a complex web of OCPD, control, anxiety, and food. She is now fully into orthorexia, she cannot eat anything unless it is organic.

    She expresses “concern control” over me, regarding everything I eat.
    I’m 5’10” and 170 lbs. Not even remotely “fat”, yet every time I have a chocolate bar, she bags on me about it. If I eat gum she has to say something about it. If I eat non-organic foods, she reminds me it has “22 pesticides” on it. Why it is always and EXACTLY “22”, I’ll never know, but I just look at her and say “damn, the grocery store ripped me off, I specifically asked for an aple with –>23<– pesticides!!" Which usually makes her roll her eyes and quit bugging me, at least for a moment.

    She cannot eat at a resteraunt, because there is soy/dairy/wheat/processed/packaged/canned things in the food that she "cannot" be exposed to.

    She constantly "tests" herself to see if her body "accepts" certain foods, by holding it in her hand next to her chest and getting her sister to press down on her other hand to see if she is "weak" because of the food being near to her.

    And she tries to dupe me into the same touchy-feely pseudo science blended with religious fanaticism and buy into her dysfunction. To which I reply "no thanks, I'm not really into that, I'm going to go have a double bacon cheeseburger instead" which pisses her off to no end.

    Ironically, she is the one with a long list of "conditions", all of which are self-diagnosed, and she is constantly complaining of illness and health problems, and goes doctor shopping until she gets what she wants, which is validation and treatment and a prescription. I think the doctors write her a 'scrip just to get her out of the office because they don't want to deal with the psychological bullshit. They know how to spot a person wrapped up in somatoform disorder.

    Contrast that with my eating habits: I eat junk food in moderation, eat my vegetables too, red and white meat, fruits, not much seafood as I don't prefer it that much, dairy, whole wheat bread, etc. I'm almost never sick, don't miss work due to illness, and have a generally clean bills of health. She is always complaining of low energy, tiredness, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, reynauds syndrome, arthritis, etc.

    And she's only 45 years old!! I'm 46!!

    She also exercises like a mad woman, and feels "wrong" if she doesn't get in a 2 hour bicycle ride each day, or an hour on the treadmill in the winter.

    If not that, then a FOUR HOUR WALK. Then she complains she can never get anything done! Well yeah, you're busy exercising, with no time to relax!! Which makes you more stressed and anxious and the cycle begins.

    Anyhow, I refuse to let her control my diet, and I eat whatever I want and shrug my shoulders when she complains and bags and guilts me for eating things that are "not allowed".

    Thanks for helping me realize what the real problem is, and that it has a name.

    1. “Thanks for helping me realize what the real problem is, and that it has a name”
      Why do you think you know what’s going on with your wife?
      Maybe she does have physical health problems.
      I suffered for decades from sicknesses without specific symptoms. Gradually, in stages, I figured out it was immune system problems. Inhalant allergies, probably celiac disease, food hypersensitivities.
      Getting an accurate diagnosis is crucial. Now I’m doing things to help myself, such as getting allergy shots.
      Just because doctors aren’t helping her, doesn’t imply that it’s psychological.
      Women seem to be particularly liable to the nonspecific problems that are so difficult to figure out. Women are more liable to autoimmune diseases, including celiac disease – and autoimmune problems can cause fatigue and other nonspecific symptoms. And perhaps women are also more liable to have allergies. IBS can be caused by food hypersensitivities, or it can be a misdiagnosis for celiac disease.
      I tried various dietary experiments in my search for health. And I’m actually very healthy in terms of the standard kinds of ill health that plague so many people. My diet is quite healthy. But I’m still very unhealthy with my allergies and autoimmune problems.
      People who have a nonspecific health problem may try to solve it by eating a healthy diet. Maybe your wife has become obsessive because of her frustration that a healthy diet and exercise haven’t made her healthy.
      Maybe she’s restricted herself into nutrient deficiencies. That could also cause fatigue.

  29. Hello Steven,

    I am not really sure if you still check into this website because a lot of these comments are posted a long time ago. I have never read your book nor have I ever heard of you until I was reading my textbook ” Nutrition for Health, Fitness, and Sport”. Your name along with your book is mentioned in chapter 2 in which they talk about balance and moderation in terms of a healthy diet and that healthy eating in some ways may be counterproductive if taken to the extreme. I do agree with this in a way. I have always been very into human health and nutrition. About two to three years ago I became really into eating healthy along with working out hardcore and really researching and understanding where our food supply comes from and what is done to it. This has led me to look on the back of every single food product I touch, obsessed with where my meat comes from, and what pesticides are on my fruits and vegetables. Trip to the grocery store gives me anxiety and I am always thinking about what I am going to eat. This leaves me with low calorie intakes and not feeling good at all. I am not anorexic but instead I think the damage I am doing to my body is making me gain weight due to a damaged metabolism and water gain. Many times I am binging on food ( sometimes junk food) because I am so hungry. Again I have not read your book but from my own personal experience I do believe that if I understand this all correctly it does exist. If what I am saying does have something to do with what your book talks about their is little help out there for it (not many people understand it). Perhaps people are misunderstanding what you say….I don’t think eating healthy is bad but when you take it to the extreme and it severely interfere with you life, then their is a problem that needs to be addressed!!!


  30. I am at an eating disorder treatment facility and have been for a while now. I have anorexia/bulimia/excessive exercise bulimia, etc. They have been saying for about two years now that I have orthorexia. Bleah. I get mad at them. My sister eats completely organic, even down to the spices. She, her husband, and her four kids all eat organic natural healthy food. They say the difference is my sister eats organic cookies and cake and feeds that to her kids, while I only eat lean products and became skeletally thin. But they have now fattened me up and so I do not see any reason to not go back to eating organic, as long as I can eat cookies and such. Argh. I feel like I am poisoning myself with the stuff they have me eat, like M & Ms and processed cheese like you said in your story, which I thought was amusing. Your story sounded a lot like myself. I wonder if you became too thin also? Was it hard to break? They say we eating disordered people cannot eat organic.

    Anyway, they recently made me write a paper on orthorexia and so I came to your website. :-) I read all of it. Thanks. I guess it does make sense that with orthorexia, people who eat organic but do not become emaciated (like my sister and her kids) are healthier, but people like me who eat only organic but eat it to the point of becoming skeletal is unhealthy. Still I (science education major) study a lot in school about how we are destroying the environment with agribusiness, so it disturbs me. The center here says that once I have been in recovery from the eating disorder for a while I can eat organic foods if I want. In healthy ways. I guess there are healthy and unhealthy ways to do everything. Like exercise is great, but not four hours per day. So eating organic is great, but not to the point that you cannot walk.

    Anyway, I just wanted to write and thank you (and not thank you) for your website. I know deep down that eating organic to the point of not putting much food in your body is really unhealthy so they say. But at the same time, that is what I like to do a lot of times. I wish they would put your diagnosis in the DSM because the eating disorder brain will say – this isn’t true! It’s not even in the DSM! Anyway, thanks again.


  31. Hi Dr. Bratman, Thanks for this intriguing info on Orthorexia. My Friend Daniel Vitalis first turned me on to the concept. I think I once bordered on Orthorexic when i was a cleansing all the time raw foodist.

    I’m writing to let you know that it may be good to study anorexia. A loved one of mine was just diagnosed, so I’ve been doing lots of research. She was only 12 at the time of diagnosis. She had been very curious about my vegitarianism and raw foodism back in the day. (I’m no longer either) She was also very concerned about her weight and healthiness. She became vegetarian, then started wanting to cut out junk food and bread, but eat lots of oatmeal. I saw her back in July, when she was at this stage. None of us knew that these are major eating disorder signs. Now she’s in a hospital with a feeding tube to try to put some weight on her so her organs don’t fail. I have been doing lots of research into anorexia, being an alternative health practitioner, and lots of girls and boys who get it do this orthorexic fixation as a way into the disease.

    I think you should research more on eating disorders because they are very very serious. The most fatal mental health disorder. It seems like you are saying Orthorexia is pretty simple to cure. If it’s connected to anorexia, as most anorexic patients do have some Orthorexia, then it’s not easy to cure. You could have some links here to proper eating disorder sites.

    There’s the http://feast-ed.org/ for starts.

    Again, thanks for your hard work in this arena. I think Orthorexia should be included as a real eating disorder. It certainly can be paired with anorexia and could be very dangerous.


  32. I am a student, and for my psychology class i had to write a brief paper about an eating disorder that may not be well-known or even considered an actual eating-disorder yet. I find it very disturbing that people are attacking you. I have thoroughly read your web-site and anything else I could find on this disorder, and I must commend you on speaking out on this. Obviously the people who have written the hate mail on here did not even take the time to read what you had written at all. I wonder if those people even realize how uneducated and ignorant they sounded. Much of what they bad-mouthed about you had already clearly stated was untrue. It astonishes me that people are really that stuck up and closed minded. I personally believe that you are right in what you are saying. If people can have anorexia and bulimia, why on earth would it be so hard for anyone to except that this can be very real for some people. Please continue to make people aware of this! I think you are doing an excellent job!

  33. My girlfriend has an unhealthy obsession with healthy foods. I’m very worried about her. Don’t know what there is to do to help her, by even suggesting that she is on the wrong path results in tears and upset… What can I do???

  34. You are very melodramatic, with a nice touch of histrionic flair! The very definition of orthorexia DOES apply to the rigidity of kosher dietary laws, whether you want to admit it or not, because doing so would expose you as a hypocrite. Stop crying wolf, Steven, no one’s listening anymore. If you want to see the big bad wolf, just look in the mirror.

    You are a tool for the big pharma industry, this is just evidence of the desperation of those who are invested so deeply in it.

    Carry on, water carrier!

  35. Dear Dr. Bratman (is that what they’re calling you types these days? LOL)

    What about those who only keep Kosher? Do they have a mental disorder called Orthorexia, or would that be a hate crime to diagnose them as such?

    1. Having grown up Jewish, I can definitively state that keeping Kosher doesn’t remotely involve an obsession with eating healthy food.

  36. Doctor,
    My non-professional analysis of people I have known is that most of them were shocked by the death of an intimate; due to a disease that is frequently considered curable if one follows extme protocols (vegan, raw food, etc). Would you agree?

    1. That seems to be the case some times. But mostly I think people are just afraid of being sick in general, and want to feel 100% safe against it happening

  37. People who are going to critique so harshly need to understand that the act of eating healthy isn’t what you’re saying is bad, it’s how maladaptive it can be when it overconsumes a person’s time and thoughts. Too much of anything is bad for ya

  38. Honestly, for those who have criticized this theory, need to understand the significance of this finding. One, the founder of this idea is not explicitly stating that it “is a disease,” because it is not technically a mental disorder, and it may never be, however in terms of legitimate eating disorders, it is important to raise awareness of ON, because it often leads to anorexia, bullimia, etc. Ironically, these terms are commonly accepted in society, but at one point, they probably faced similar critique. Furthermore, if it doesn’t refer to you directly, then leave it alone, because some people, like myself, take this seriously. This is exactly how anorexia begins, slowly cutting certain foods or additives out of the human diet. I know from personal experiences that this is a not something to joke around with. If you don’t agree, then keep your opinions to yourself, because one day, most likely in your lifetime, ON is going to be an accepted term, and you’re going to have to face the facts.

  39. Dear Dr. Bratman
    After carefully reading your webpage, I came to the conclusion that my mother suffers from Orthorexia Nervosa. I believe she has a deeper one because it not only relates with healthy food habits, but it is also related with Cleaning and Hygiene and daily routines all for a cause: her Health.
    The biggest problem I have now is that I don’t know how to relate with her because our meetings are always very turbulent and I feel very abused from her ideas of superiority. She became very lonely and she is dumping herself into isolation for this “cause” of healthy food. I have considered not to see her so much which I feel doesn’t solve the problem.
    What advice can you give me? Is there anywhere to read from?
    Thank you in advance, Catarina Tropa

  40. I have a brother and sister in law who I believe have this, they think they are so superior that they have come to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and read the labels from food that was prepared and talked continuously about how they were going to have so many toxins in their systems, that they were going to have to go home and do their 10 day lemonade cleanse, they have gotten so rude that none of the family wants to be around them. They sell some kind of silver water and they spout off all the time about it being the cure for all diseases including cancer. They believe all Doctors are idiots and know nothing about nutrition, but on the other hand she has said one of her clients calls her Dr. Donna. So I’m wondering, Do you all think they have this mental disorder and should I be worried for my nephew?

  41. I completely agree withy you! I have a daughter that is so obsessed with raw foods and vegetables that she cannot carry on a conversation with anyone with saying “I can cure that with food”! She as alienated her whole family because of this obsession. She lives in a different state from the rest of us, which is probably good. because we don’t have to deal with her on a daily basis. She also has been diagnosed as bi-polar and is not taking any medication any more. She just visited us from her state and ended up storming out of my house(her Mother), and I still am not sure why. I have told her that if this diet works for her I am thrilled for her, but she still couldn’t quit talking about it even thought I have made it perfectly clear that I am not going to do it. She looks well beyond her years and her skin looks horrible. She is going to go to Florida next spring and take classes about detoxification and start a detox business in her town. She totally obsessed about all of this and has a husband that does anything he is told, although when they were here he ate Hot dogs, cold slaw, potato salad BBribs, and anything else he could get his hands on, all she ate at a get toghter we had was “Natural potato chips”, a whole bag of them and said she had to go home and get back on her diet because she didn’t feek good. I think if I ate a whole bag of any kind of potato chips I wouldn’t feel too good either. Don’t be discouraged by some of these letters because there is a REAL NEED for you.

  42. Why is it that those with nothing good to say are the most inclined to say it?

    Yes, being healthy is a choice, based heavily upon our food choices. Since America is still a free country (in theory), enjoy your junk food and watch Newton’s Law apply. But please be fair to those who eat healthfully and pay for your own poor health & medical costs.

  43. Dr. Bratman, I am a phsyician assistant praciticing for 11 years. I have a family member who I believe is orthorexic (sister-in-law). I have noticed over the years that she has become “rightgeous” about their family’s world of food. When they get off the plane to visit us the first thing she does is find a health food store she mapped out before getting on the plane. She also brings of piece of luggage that is “special food”. My concern is for my nephew. I have caught him “stealing” or “sneaking” food in our house even though he doesn’t have to. Oreos are fair game at my house. It is clear to me that her rightgeousness is severely affecting him. Once at their house I actually witnessed him begging for a glass of orange juice. It has made him a sneek and a liar . It upsets me terribly. I am concerned as a person with a medical license because I see where this is going. I am also concerned as his uncle. How can I intervene? Thank You. Mark PA-C Tampa, Fl

  44. I love all the haters out there. As they say, if you’re not pissing someone off you’re not really saying something important.
    I suffered from orthorexia for 15-20 years in various forms. I studied nutrition in college and my orthorexia was so ingrained that I ignored most of what I learned from my professors. I thought I knew better than them!
    I’m ashamed now at what an arogant prick my orthorexia made me. Somehow I was able to slowly cure myself over the years.

    For a while I had a lot of pent up rage against extreme diets and eathing methods. I didn’t have a term for why they were unhealthy until I came accross “orthorexia.” Once I heard that term all of the pieces fit into place. I finally had a name for the black cloud that darked my life for so many years.

    My only regret was that I didn’t know about it sooner. I had so many years of my youth, so many special moments tainted or ruined from orthorexia. I only hope your voice and education about it grows so it can save others.

  45. Dear Dr. Bratman,

    Thank you for writing your thoughtful and honest book on Orthorexia. As an aspiring writer, I understand the time, effort, and courage that went into writing it.

    I must share with you that I could not have encountered it at a better time. Its words and examples rang true, not for myself though, but for my brother who I thought I would lose to the disease. As of this past January, he had been a raw foodist for 11 years. To give you an idea of his discipline level, he drank water rather eating a single bite of the elaborate 7 course, wine paired 5 star meal we “shared” at my wedding reception. And due to the restrictiveness of the diet, finally his body had whittled down to such a state that his doctor gasped when she saw him. She scolded him that he was at 2% body fat and needed to change his diet or would die. He could no longer even stand in order to go to work as a pharmacist. Knowing how deeply entrenched my brother was in this mindset and way of life, especially something he had been religiously adhering to for over a decade, I feared for his future as a 40 year old man. Ironically, a young man on death’s door, with the primary ambition to live forever.

    Miraculously my brother decided to start eating healthy cooked food again with our family’s gentle coaxing. I knew the persuasion had to be subtle or all chances would be lost. I knew a traditional clinic for those recovering from anorexia was not right for him either. As you can imagine, and have experienced firsthand, it was extremely stressful to say the least. I was afraid that if I worded something wrong or not delicately enough then that would be it…

    He has since gained at least 25 pounds and is a much healthier weight. Unfortunately, he is still struggling emotionally, since as you described in your book, he has lost his identity as a raw foodist, in addition to his false sense of security, so now he abuses prescription anti-anxiety meds. Although the nightmare is not over, at least your reflections have helped me understand the difficult to observe scenes currently playing out. Perhaps my brother will eventually find true balance and not fear the exciting chaos that life presents.

    If he doesn’t, at least it has helped me to embrace such forces, quite clearly out of my control.

    Thanks again for your courage, for sharing your wisdom, and making a difference in this world! Oh, and ignore the actual fools.


  46. Aaaahhhh….didn’t post my last comment hey? Hit the nail on the head maybe??? A bit too close to the truth hey, attention seeker???

  47. Reading some of the comments on this website makes me worry about people’s basic literacy skills, let alone their ability to evaluate medical advice. Absolutely NOWHERE does Dr. Bratman say it’s wrong to eat healthy food, or does he advise anyone to chow down at McDonald’s. What he is describing is a state of mind that happens to be pathologically fixated on food. Eating disorders are less about food than they are about desperately seeking control over one’s life and body when you feel so painfully out of control; food is just a thing that the disorder affects. If you are happy with your diet — if you can share meals with your loved ones; travel and experience local cuisines without taking a full supply of your own food with you; get through a day without spending every waking moment obsessing about food, terrified that something you might’ve accidentally eaten is going to poison you — then Dr. Bratman is NOT writing about you. You’re as different from someone with orthorexia as a person attempting to lose weight through a safe diet is from someone with anorexia nervosa. Count your blessings and carry on.

    1. I would have thought it obvious that obsession with anything – even with something which is ostensibly healthy – can be devastating, debilitating and destructive. Sadly, it seems not… My best wishes to you Dr Bratman, you certainly have an uphill struggle ahead.

      1. Soraya,

        Fortunately, I’m not struggling! As they say, I don’t have a dog in the fight. I am not attached to the term “orthorexia” being mainstreamed, or concerned if it is rejected. I came up with the idea about 15 years ago, released it into the world, and let go. This is not what occupies my life :-)

  48. Wow, you really are an absolute fool. You probably think that mercurey is an essential nutrient and that chemo doesn’t cause cancer. You should be ashamed of yourself asshole!

  49. mr bratman, i won’t say dr for the obvious reasons. i would like to respond to your statement on the top of this page. the first thing is you said you wish that you were on the payroll of evil agri-business…. that’s real nice, i think you let your true colors show in that statement. second, you sold only 12 books a year… why do you think that is ? a just a suggestion, if you think things through a little bit before you let the diarrhea come out of your mouth, things may work out better for you.

  50. you sir are an delusional idiot who is probably on the globalist payroll…. i don’t know how you can look in the mirror everyday and feel good about yourself. but hey who am i to judge… it will be someone with a little more authority than me who will do that.

  51. Hi…I had questions…no hate mail :) This description in the yahoo article today describes me:

    Orthorexics: Those affected may start by eliminating processed foods, anything with artificial colorings or flavorings as well as foods that have come into contact with pesticides. Beyond that, orthorexics may also shun caffeine, alcohol, sugar, salt, wheat and dairy foods. Some limit themselves to raw foods.

    My question is, how do you differentiate between an orthorexic and someone who is a healthy vegan, feels great, who loves raw food as well who tries to get all her nutrients in her diet??? (me)

    Thank you for any feedback!!!

  52. To everyone writing angry mail and everyone commenting listen to what Dr. Bratman says in the introduction to this page:

    “I sympathize with other issues raised too, such as that the DSM is already too expansive (agreed — and I have never tried to get orthorexia into the DSM), and that the media is running with the term and taking it too far (yes, but that’s what they always do.)”

    He says himself Orthorexia is not a recognized medical disorder. If anyone thinks you have it then you are probably suffering from anorexia, OCD or hypochondria. These are real conditions and you should find medical help for them. Orthorexia is at best a symptom of these conditions.

    Dr. Bratman: Yes blame it on the media. How dare they “run with the term” or “take it too far.” Can you believe they even set up a website (www.orthorexia.com) to perpetuate the idea that this is a genuine medical condition? Oh wait, that was you.

    Also, good idea exploiting the angry emails from people that may be misinformed, but are acting out of genuine concern for the health of themselves and others. Stay classy doc.

  53. I came across your explanation of this disorder and immediately recognized my 79 yr. old mother! ( who has been this way for about 10 yrs.) As I write this, she is in the hospital for eating wrong, as the Dr. put it bluntly. She developed another blockage in the lower intestines. ) I might add that this is the third time in the past year she has been in the hospital for the exact same thing. She has another tube inserted through her nose and into her stomach. She is more than a picky eater, she will eat only wheat bread, cereals…must be made from wheat, no processed white flour. She refuses almost all dairy products, almost all caffein, and sugars, absolutely no red meats, no pork, no veal or lamb, no duck, no deer. The only meats she will accept/eat are chicken, fish. NO creamed soups or milk based items, no salts ( that also got her in trouble another time, where she ended up not having enough salt in her body and got very ill)…. She weighs about 100 lbs. She is 5′ 2″ or maybe 5″ 3″. About a size 4. Everyone tells her she looks anorexic and emaciated. She will not listen until she ends up hospitalized. If they have to operate we are afraid she will not make it, cause she has no weight to fall back on. Her Dr. keeps telling her to GAIN weight. But she will not do it. She complains if she gains 2-3 lbs and says she is getting fat! If I try to help and say something, she says I am talking back to her and that I am the unhealthy one.

  54. Dear Dr. B
    I just want to say that i too Think that orthorexia is Real, and i infact have it. I had lost 16 kg,( i think is about: 32-33 ilbs) and i couldn’t eat enything else but salad and yougut. Today i don’t practis it enymore, and i put on All the weiht agian.(the reason why i lost so much is because, i was very overweiht)
    but there is still something iside of my, telling mé to get the disorder agian, and i do really want to, because i feel so good while having it.

    – Sarah

  55. Interesting.

    I have to say, I did laugh at one hatemail in particular. The one stating we “use to live to thousands of years”. So the Elven races and the Dunedain were real then? Awesome.

    Such a shame that otherwise seemingly intelligent people don’t read things through first, before commenting.

    This clearly isn’t a case of labeling people who *choose* to eat a healthy, nutritious, well balanced diet. People who have the right quantities of all the necessary food groups, people who eat locally produced organic foods, people who don’t over eat, people who exercise as needed to keep fit and healthy, these aren’t the people being discussed or put in to the Orthorexia Nervosa bracket.

    My impression is that it’s about people who can cut out entire chunks of nutrition (carbs, fibre, fruit, whatever) from their diet in an obsession of finding the ultimate weight control system. Presumably said people may go from the Atkins, to the Cabbage Soup and so on. It’s the people who are so obsessively “healthy” they become unhealthy.

    An interesting and well-put site Dr Bratman. Thank you :)

    1. So are we really just talking about obsessive behaviour?? If so, healthy eating is fine, but it’s the obsession behind the behaviour that causes the problems. Anything that interferes with a happy life is problematic. The subject of food in this instance is kind of irrelevant then? It might be more pertinent to find out why there is an obsession in the first place and work on the underlying problem, rather than looking at food as THE obsession.

  56. **Oops. I meant to say “sole beneficiary,” not “sole benefactor.” I think I made the mistake because your egos seem to actually be your sole benefactors. Easy mistake in this case. **

  57. hi, I’m 15 (almost 16), and for the longest time, I’ve tried to explain to my therapists and nutritionist (unfortunately, yes, the unprotected title. I don’t see an RD) that after my recovery from bulimia, I developed what I’m going to call Orthorexia Nervosa.

    I prepare all my own food, and have for about a year. All vegan, all organic, and all measured in exact amounts wit precisely calculated macronutrients. All locally grown and nothing packaged or even picked and packaged.

    it’s ruining my family life, and it has ruined my social life.
    it may also be ruining my health.

    to those who say this disorder isn’t real: you obviously don’t suffer from it. Congrats.

  58. Dr. Bratman,
    I just recently (about 5 minutes ago, literally) discovered this “disorder” Orthorexia and Orthorexia Nervosa (please do not take the quotation marks into offense, they are there simply because I am not completely sure of this being a disorder or even a problem at all). As I was reading the articles I was jumping back and forth between agreeing with you and disagreeing with you… still my mind has not been made up. Compared to most all other people I know and have met, I undoubtedly carry the label “health nut” around everywhere I go. It might as well have it stamped on my forehead. Three years ago I was sitting behind a counter selling Domino’s Pizza to customers and grabbing a slice from the extra pile every chance I got. I discovered the benefits of good food and healthy eating soon after that and have been improving it ever since. I do not eat fried foods, desserts on occasion and I avoid processed food as much as I can just because I FEEL better when I eat “close to nature.” I do not agree with chemically “enhanced” and processed foods just because they are not natural, our ancestors did not eat that food.
    Before I even think about (silently) bashing you or totally agreeing with what you have to say, I would like to know this.
    Are you implying that people who do not “treat treats (desserts, fried, processed and fatty food) like treats” where those loved “bad” foods are eaten every once in a while are considered orthorexia or orthorexia nervosa patients?
    I do not eat my father’s fried fish, even though I love his fried fish, because I physically feel better when I do not eat it. My treat is a peanut butter mo’d from Jamba Juice and I hiss at the sight of fatty and processed foods. So would you consider me to the have orthorexia disorder?
    I appreciate any responses.

  59. I think it is sad that people are so close minded that they are unable to read what you have written and digest it before making negative comments.

    I think it is sad that people cannot understand that being obsessed with eating healthily isn’t the same as eating healthily. If people are obsessed with junk food then everyone agrees there is a problem. Why is the psychological side of the issue any different for food with a different nutritional value?

    I have alot of respect for you and your work.

  60. Dr. Bratman, this is not hatemail. I just learned of this term yesterday and totally identified with it for a long time, especially after becoming a mother and wanting my kids to eat “perfectly.” I chose to post here in answer to the many post about finding a cure.

    I did cure myself starting two years back, not through diet of course, but through checking my own head through personal and spiritual development exploration. I saw a psychologist for 3 sessions and decided that wasn’t for me, but have enrolled the assistance of various personal and business coaches over the last two years. This has made a WORLD of difference, because not only have they helped me see where I came from and forgive myself and others for my current life, but they helped me create a (constantly changing) path towards the future, with action steps and everything.

    Now I approach every decision, not just about food, asking myself, “does this serve me?” I decided two years ago that obsessing about eating “perfect” (I was partial to the Nourishing Traditions school of thought, where they get mad at you for even looking at unfermented soy – unless it’s used as print on paper) no longer served me, so I weaned myself away from the unhealthy obsession and forgave myself. Of course I still eat healthy, I still soak my nuts and make my own sauerkraut and take the time to get my raw milk – when it serves me. My cortisol is probably not through the roof anymore because I’m not stressing that I’ll miss the farmer’s market on a given week.

    I am also now a health coach myself and teach people how to lose weight, not in the way I would have suggested a few years ago, but in a way that works. And people are getting healthy. So who am I to say that it’s wrong? I understand what people mean now when they talk about “balance.” I wish my way worked for everyone, but like you always say there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Hopefully more people like you and I can help people by living by example.

  61. Dr. Bratman,

    I must confess that when I first heard of Orthorexia Nervosa, my reaction was similar to the most vehement of your hate mailers. I, like so many others, have had quite strong experiences around food, and the whole process of regaining my health and energy by avoiding processed and chemical laden “food.” The first 35 years of my life were spent in a low grade misery that did not lift until I came to understand that what is currently normal in our society is very far from healthy.

    After reading a bit more of your material on the subject, it’s clear to me that you truly wish to help people, and have identified yet another area where nervosa can appear. It’s also clear to me that you are using the language and paradigm that you are familiar with to try and help.

    I believe the reason that people who have been through this and come out the other side react so strongly is that part of the learning that must happen is to realize that the current paradigm is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Coming up with a name for what is wrong with people, and then attempting to find the errant gene, or any other individual micro defect, is in a very real sense, part of the problem. The reason that allopathic medicine has such a hard time helping with eating disorders (and many other chronic afflictions) is simply because the approach is completely wrong. Its approach is very similar the logic and reasoning that claims that there should be nothing wrong with introducing toxins into the food supply because there are no very short term harmful effects in lab rats. Micro experiments that attempt to come up with a standardized explanation or rational to make the symptoms of a larger problem disappear will continue to fail.

    All that being said, the question remains about how to help people that are in an, “acute chronic” situation. My heart truly goes out to the parent above that spoke of her son’s eating disorder. I’m a father of two, and I can feel what that parent is feeling. I’d surely want some answers and some methods to help my child.

    In my humble opinion, the worst possible thing that you can do is rely a psychologist to “cure” this kind of issue. This type of issue is a healing crisis and requires support for the healing process, not diagnosis and drugs.

    In hopes that it comes through on this site, I’ll submit a few actionable steps that can be taken to help in this situation.

    First, the person at the center of the crisis must come to realize that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with HIM. What is happening is a reaction to some very unhealthy circumstances in society. There is nothing wrong with his genes, it does not matter if he was breast fed, and there is no individual defect that has causes this to happen to him. The best way to look at it is to consider that he has been exposed to some toxic material, and simply needs a little support to deal with what has happened, which could have happened to anybody in his shoes. In fact, it is happening to millions of people, it just comes up in different forms at different times. Validation that is based on the truth of the situation is critical.

    Second, wholeheartedly support him in eating whatever he wants to. Don’t lose site of the fact that the situation is temporary. Any pressure about what to eat is de-validating and will make the process take longer.

    Third, an extremely important one as well, seek out qualified energetic body workers. Cranial Sacral Therapy, Reiki, Shiatsu, Chi Nei Tsang, Polarity Therapy, etc, are very helpful, when practiced by someone that is qualified and effective. The reason for this is that the effects of what is happening are lodged in the bodies (physical, emotional, energetic, and spiritual.) This goes back to the metaphor of being exposed to toxic material, the body merely needs some help processing.

    The first two steps above can be offered to someone that is not yet interested in dealing with the situation. That is rather comforting to those around the person who is going through the healing crisis. For the last, the individual of course needs to be willing and open to try such a thing. There are many different options to choose from though, freedom to choose whatever system is appealing can help.

    Dr. Bratman, you seem like a broad minded man. I hope that in your continuing healing work you can look beyond the current paradigm, ast least in areas where is it clearly failing or part of the problem.

  62. Mr. Bratman
    I believe that it’s a good idea to put “Hate Mail” page up, but I also think that it might be productive to have a Balanced Discussion page as well. I have been vegan in my dietary choice for 14 years. I’m healthy, happy and have many rich relationships. A normal part of the process radical diet change, the path I chose, is excessive weight loss. For me that did not present a health problem, but for some it could. For those with a pre-existing health issue, dietary change should be gradual. Most of this social adjustment surrounding meals was taken up by family and friends, who have, and always try to be accommodating.
    One problem I see with the idea of “orthorexia” is what can be called a categorical error. Does it not make more sense that people express classic OCD through dietary restriction? Compare the recent, and almost obsessive social norm of hand washing. Certainly this is not an example of mass HWD and to reclassify this behavior as a separate disorder would be nonsense.

    I think you’ll find that most people, across the world, who choose not to live as total omnivores are healthy and happy. I also think that if you create an open and balanced forum for the expression of positive anecdotes there’ll be a spectrum of well thought out and reasonable motivations for dietary choice.

    The simple fact, is that folks don’t like to have their reasoned lifestyle choices medicalized.

  63. i am a living example of orthoanorexia. i am a 35 year old male suffering for 15 years . u sir are a genius for exposing this disease!!!

  64. I love how people are jumping on this guys back for saying that “eating healthy foods is deadly”. THAT’S NOT WHAT HE’S SAYING! What he’s saying is that people who have orthorexia are obsessed with only eating certain foods to the extent of emaciation. GMO is bad, corn sugar is bad, MSG is bad, you could go on forever. But what these people don’t realize is that a healthy diet involves BALANCE.

    1. Well said – you’ve summed it up so well. I wish more people would take the time to listen to what Dr Bratman is ACTUALLY saying. I’ve had times when I’ve become obsessed with eating healthily and it’s the worst time of my life because I because so thin and lethargic and depressed. I’m now studying nutrition, and the obsession is dying down, but I’ve always been in a state of mind strong enough to realise what I’m doing. Some don’t and probably the key underlying issue is it’s something they feel they can control when other parts of their life are proving to be difficult and out of control. It’s simple psychological techniques that’s required to help reprogramme their beliefs about food. I know of others who are becoming so unhealthy due to their obsession of eating healthy foods so much so that they believe nothing is healthy any more. Well done Dr Bratman for being so brave and putting yourself out there – and particularly for putting up with all this shameful backlash. Yes, we all have our own maps of the world, but we are all capable of being decent human beings and responding appropriately.

  65. Dr. Doctor,
    You are full of shit. I think you have too much GMO corn in your diet and it has made you insane. You are a shill. This is a made up disease. Which is the best drug to take to cure orthorexia? Did I spell it right? Because orthorexia is underlined in red as if I spelled it wrong. It must not be in the dictionary yet. Also, if you are not an eating disorder specialist why are you writing essays about them. Not a Doctor. Total Shill.

  66. i hope this reaches dr. bratman-

    despite above amusing hate-mail, i must thank you for giving this a name- my son has suffered from it since lent of 2010, (progressively, as i gather is usu. the case.) i have been at a total loss to help him. i read this or last months MORE magazine, (ya know- for women of a certain age-) and said to myself ‘bingo!” the odd part is my son is 14, but its not odd if you know my son- a perfect storm of his own searching and parental stupidity (he read tchich nhat ahn’s-butchered that name good and proper-“living buddah living christ,” i allowed the book “skinny bitch” into my house-) for an already conscientious and slightly ocd kid, the rest was history. i’m guessing you’d be privy to the fact that skinny bitch is a rather tongue-in cheek title, and its really a diatribe against the fda, usda, etc…
    already compromised, reaching emaciation, failing school despite a high iq, and totally isolated- i’m wondering if you’d mind telling me where to start? is a eating diorder specialist necessary, or can a psychologist be educated?
    please help me,

    trish marcrum

    1. I do write about that to some extent in the book. But, really, there’s no [cookbook] [cookie-cutter] step-by-step approach to working with it that I know of. Treating eating disorders is hard. It takes one-on-one, personal, in person contact with an eating disorders specialist to get anywhere. And it’s still difficult. (FYI, I’m not an eating disorders specialist.)

  67. Hi Dr Bratman,

    Your original essay on Orthorexia Nervosa struck me as insightful and clear-headed; you aptly describe the complex of confusions that have dominated my thinking about food for some time now. It is refreshing to see that others have undergone similar difficulties, and emerged. I’ve been thinking about going down the path to become a doctor or nurse for some time now, but I hesitate because of my skepticism about the way medicine is commonly practiced here in the States. Your example, though, gives me hope. I know you’re an MD, but I’d love to hear more details about your educational background and about how your practice has evolved over time. Any advice on schools, programs, degrees, etc. would be appreciated too.

    Thanks very much.


    1. Thank you for your kind words! But I’m not sure I can be all that helpful. Medicine is based on a purely mechanical model. That’s its very essence. It happens to have achieved certain successes that way (as well as done some very, very bad things.) But it’s not holistic, subtle or sensitive. One can, of course, be a subtle and sensitive personwhen being a doctor, and that’s where I draw my satisfaction. But the holism of conventional medicine is pretty simplistic. On the other hand, my experience of the holism of alternative medicine is that it’s far reaching, ambitious and beautiful — but mostly, alas, a fantasy. (The latter is shown in the fact that the holistic theories of different schools of alt med radically contradict one another. At best, one of them is right and all the others are wrong … but I haven’t found that one.)

  68. Hello there, I am very interested in what you term Orthorexia. I have had very many weird eating habits for the past few years. I believe I have suffered for it for quite some time, going between orthorexia and anorexia. I feel orthorexia is an obsession to eat healthy, all the time, not giving in to one slip up. Everything must be perfect, white flour will never do, nothing but the freshest and most natural. It is exhausting and mentally heavy to believe that only a few things are good enough to eat, just fruits and vegetables, just fish, and only whole grains. Yes these things are healthy, but it is mentally unhealthy to believe that this is all you are limited to. It is ocd in that it is always well planned, always has to be perfect. There is a fine line between eating healthy and obsessing, if you want to obsess than there are very few things that would seem apropriate to eat, which does decrease your quality of life and excludeds you from society. I feel the motive is what makes it a disorder, why are you eating healthy? to look good? feel good? do you even like the foods that you eat? I think that being mentally sound is the biggest thing, are you happy? if you are not getting enjoyment from what you are eating ever that is just depressing and something needs to change.

  69. Dr. Steven Bratman,
    After reading the information from IIN and then following the link to your website, for which I have enjoyed reading this past hour, my belief is that people react way to quickly to their emotionals before stopping to take a breath and think–before shooting off an angry email.
    Listed here are names of other Dr. Bratmans that your hate mail responders may possibly be confusing you with:
    Dr. Gary Bratman, DMD
    Dr. Jordon Bratman
    Dr. Eve Bratman
    Dr. Jerry Bratman
    Dr. Robert Louis Bratman

  70. Hi there Dr. Bratman,

    I checked out your book from the library after several of the alternative nutrition gurus I follow ridiculed it (I love a good contrarian!). Good thing I did too. I almost made a ROYAL MESS out of a precious relationship over food, but “Health Food Junkies” saved me. My brother lives with my family every winter. He’s extremely close to my four children, is my best friend, and has APES (adult picky eater syndrome) – which he is working on. The only foods he can stomach are processed/white flour/sugary/etc. – the “bad” foods. Since I have recently cured my hypoglycemic symptoms by eliminating all these foods I was actually considering starting an altercation with him about having his “bad” foods in our house. I’m so glad I read your book first, realized that I have just as much a problem as he does, and started working on MYSELF instead of him.

    I reviewed your book on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/tziporrasimcha#p/a/u/0/HAuMPpMI0KU

    With deepest gratitude,


    1. That’s a really sweet story! Thank you. It’s not easy to get over judgment — wonderful that you managed!

  71. No, I was never on Larry King.
    I do think exercise is helpful. I exercise a lot myself! But would you agree there is such a disease as exercise-addiction? Orthorexia is an exact analogy.

    Regarding the rest of your comments … well, it’s always nice to get hatemail on a hatemail page!

  72. Are you the same Dr. Bratman who appeared a while back on Larry King and announced that exercise wasn’t very beneficial? (apologies if i am incorrect here). As a vegan who is VERY concerned about the dismal state of our food i find it an ENORMOUS social disservice to come up with this new term for something that is in no way, shape or form an eating “disorder.” I guess charbroiling dead animal flesh is “normal”??? I guess eating processed garbage with no nutrition is normal? Becoming fixated and obsessed with ANYTHING is an illness. You are implying that reading labels and being concerned with proper nutrition and not polluting our bodies with chemicals is a bad thing. Or is an illness! Shame on you! And we all know how much nutritional education doctors get in medical school.

  73. Dr. Bratman, In view of the obvious possibilities of conflicts of interest, one needs to know whether any of your funding or income– past, present, or expected– comes from mass food producers. Without such information, one cannot take your publications seriously.
    Dr. Brown

    1. Funny the ideas people get about me!

      I don’t have _any_ funding sources other than from the urgent care clinic where I work. I make exactly zero dollars annually from the book, and none from the website either. (I have thought of putting up google ads. Would you find that unethical? :-) I don’t treat people with orthorexia. I don’t give speeches on it (though I did give one, once, in Turkey.)

      Other than being a practicing doctor, though only significant income I’ve had as an adult came when I was paid by the now defunct Prima Publishing to create a large database on evidence-based evaluation of alternative medicine. The database still exists, but I do not own the rights to it, and I have not been involved at all since 2007. You can see the database here: http://www.alleghanyregional.com/healthcontent.asp?page=/choice/demonstration/TheNaturalPharmacist-Consumer

      The only time I ever made money from food production was when I was an organic farmer!

      Hope that helps. :-)

      1. Have you ever thought about treating people with orthorexia? You’re probably the only person in the world who can fill that job.

      2. Hey Steve, sorry, not hatemail. I read your original pieced in Yoga journal all those years ago and kept it (as well as the one “Blame the patient” I think it’s called) and often referred friends/students (I’m a yoga teacher) to it who I thought were a bit obsessed with healthy eating. It seems a well balanced piece.
        I have since downloaded your book Holistic Harry and have not yet finished it but I an a bit shocked at how cynical a view you seem to have developed. Quite possibly well grounded and I can imagine that (if you are still) living in California “healthy living” is very OTT there and big business! I am in Thailand so reasonably well away from all that. The book is very amusing too. You generally seem a voice of reason in a very f**ked up world. Good on you. All the best, Adam.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *