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Podcast: Orthorexia—The ‘clean eating’ disorder scientists are just beginning to study

| | October 9, 2019

Whether it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, raw food, or all-organic, many people these days are committed to so-called “clean eating” — the idea that choosing only whole foods in their natural state and avoiding processed ones can improve health.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to eat this way, but sometimes these kinds of food preferences can begin to take over people’s lives, making them fear social events where they won’t be able to find the “right” foods. When a healthful eating pattern goes too far, it may turn into an eating disorder that scientists are just beginning to study.

Dr. S.E. Specter, a psychiatrist and nutrition scientist based in Beverly Hills who specializes in eating disorders, notes that there are only 145 published scientific articles on orthorexia.

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A 2018 review of orthorexia studies published in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders finds no common definition, standard diagnostic criteria, or reliable ways to measure orthorexia’s psychological impact.

To treat it, “we have to look at the thought process and try to disentangle the beliefs that a person has. They become very entrenched,” he says.

Original podcast: When Efforts To Eat ‘Clean’ Become An Unhealthy Obsession

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