Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media
by Steven Bratman with David Knight, 224 pp, $23.95, ISBN 0-7679-0630-6, New York, NY, Broadway Books, 2001.
Health Food Junkies is a smart, funny, insightful exposé of a new eating disorder that the author calls orthorexia nervosa. The term is a combination of ortho-, meaning straight or correct, and orexis, appetite, reminiscent of anorexia nervosa. The disorder is characterized by obsessive attention to food quality or by food cultism.
The book describes a progression from the genesis of orthorexia (often a desire to improve health, treat illness, or lose weight) through the spiritual compensations of enduring a strict diet. "[A]s orthorexia progresses," the author writes, "a day filled with wheatgrass juice, tofu, and quinoa biscuits may come to feel as holy as one spent serving the destitute and homeless." In the full-blown stage, "within the orthorexic is a grim sense of self righteousness that begins to consume all other sources of joy and meaning."
Health FoodHealth Food Junkies: Orthorexia Nervosa: Overcoming the Obsession With Healthful Eating. JAMA. 2001;285(17):2255-2256. doi:10.1001/jama.285.17.2255-JBK0502-2-1