Are we Paleo Dieters CRAZY or smarter than all of ’em?

I was reading Mark Sisson’s Weekend Link Love post this morning. Mark always has good stuff in these posts. I was intrigued and frustrated at the same time with one of the articles he put in a link for. The article was about an eating “disorder” called “orthorexia nervosa.” The article title was “Healthy food obsession sparks rise in new eating disorder – Fixation with healthy eating can be sign of serious psychological disorder.”

Here are some choice quotes with my comments:

Other eating disorders focus on quantity of food but orthorexics can be overweight or look normal. They are solely concerned with the quality of the food they put in their bodies…

So, being concerned with the QUALITY of the food I put in my body makes it possible that I have an eating disorder? I suppose the 75 or so diet books I have in my house would further solidify the case against me… What about the people who couldn’t give a shit WHAT they put in their bodies? What disorder do THEY have? And maybe, with the monster that is our industrial food establishment running lose, we SHOULD be concerned with the quality of food we put in our bodies. Being that 90% of what’s commonly available isn’t real food…

Orthorexics commonly have rigid rules around eating. Refusing to touch sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soy, corn and dairy foods is just the start of their diet restrictions. Any foods that have come into contact with pesticides, herbicides or contain artificial additives are also out.

Sounds like a healthy diet to me so far. Can you give me one single HEALTH reason TO eat any of those things? (Never mind how good that first cup of coffee tastes in the morning.) So, again, we’re making a case for avoiding unhealthy stuff being a disorder. I also avoid crack and heroine. Is avoiding those a disorder too? If it is, does Pfizer make a pill to fix me?

“It’s everywhere, from the people who think it’s normal if their friends stop eating entire food groups, to the trainers in the gym who promote certain foods to enhance performance, to the proliferation of nutritionists, dietitians and naturopaths who believe in curing problems through entirely natural methods such as sunlight…”

Yeah, wouldn’t want to treat anything through something crazy, untested and dangerous like sunlight. Stay out of the sun, but lets take half a dozen pills 3 times a day to fix the health problems we have that are mainly caused by diet. And where did these “entire food groups” come from anyway?

I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes:

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

– Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 – 1860)



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About Adam

Adam Farrah has been studying and experimenting with Paleo approaches to health, eating, living and moving since 2005. Connect with Adam on Google+


  1. Hey Adam,

    I’m a big paleo guy and follow the diet to about 95% compliance. I firmly agree with your message that there are way bigger fish to fry in terms of ‘disorders’ in this world than an obsession with eating healthy. It seems like you have your head screwed on straight and are using the paleo diet to enhance your life and your health, but there are some people in paleo land who seem to stress out big time about this stuff. If you head over to Paleo Hacks and take a trip through some of the questions, you’ll see what I mean. People freaking out about a small dose of stevia. Obsessing about whether their omega 6:omega 3 ratios are perfectly 1:1. This is where folks start showing real parallels to hypochondriacs and people with OCD. I’m a big believer in the idea that your mind and attitude has significant effects on physical health, so stressing about every morsel you put in your body can cause some problems. I think they would honestly be healthier people by worrying less and still having an occasional bowl of ice cream.

    • I completely agree, Tom. I was on a message board a while back and recommended to a triathlete doing insane hours of training he might feel better with a little organic brown rice or sweet potato post workout instead of trying to stay 100% Paleo. His original question was related to poor performance and recovery… HE appreciated the advice, but the other 20 people who flammed me for recommending rice were a little less appreciative. I’ve said it over and over: Paleo is the best set of guidelines I’ve ever seen or used for diet. But they’re GUIDELINES. Use them to get healthy and strong – never mind the dogma.

      Thanks for the comment,


  2. I would have stuck with recommending the sweet potato, as he’d have gotten more nutrition out of it. I’m Cajun, I love me some rice, but keeping in mind there’s nothing in the rice that I can’t get elsewhere, not even the carbs. Tubers have a longer history of human consumption than grains do, see also the Kitavans.

    But yes, I have seen people obsess about ratios and stuff. And in a way we kind of have to obsess a little if just changing up our eating habits isn’t quite doing the trick; our food’s been adulterated beyond recognition from an evolutionary standpoint, even the so-called “whole foods.” I.e., beef has more omega-6 than it used to have, fruits are larger and sweeter than they used to be, etc.

  3. Interesting article, but has orthorexia nervosa been endorsed by American Psychriatic Association on the list of DFM?


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