Two New Eating Disorders

Posted May 2 2011, 12:00 am

When I saw this headline on the Internet, I had to investigate.  What are these new disorders and what are the warning signs that someone you love might be afflicted? 

The disorders are called selective adult eating and orthorexia.  Now, if you’ve guessed that selective adult eating amounts to adults acting like small children and being finicky eaters, you’d be right – kinda.  (Suffers are sometimes referred to as “adult picky eaters.”)  The difference comes in the fact that kids generally don’t have as refined a palate as adults.  When a five-year-old only wants to eat chicken nuggets, it’s because that food tastes best to their unworldly taste buds.  When adults eat only foods that are bland or have the same texture or are white/ pale in color, it borders on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Same goes for orthorexia which means “correct eating” in Latin.  Someone suffering from orthorexia will eat only foods thought to be healthy.  Sounds good, right?  Wrong.  Adults with orthorexia might start by cutting out all processed foods (Yea!) and end up consuming only raw broccoli and cauliflower (Boo!)  Orthorexia might also be a stepping stone to the grand pu-bah of eating disorders, anorexia nervosa. 

In either case, severely limiting your food choices can lead to very dangerous vitamin and mineral deficiencies.  Both disorders are thought to be an extension of OCD behavior and possibly even anxiety.  Besides the health consequences, adults who suffer from either of these afflictions are also social isolated.  They avoid going out with friends and family for fear of having their bizarre eating habits discovered. 

So, what can you do?  If you think someone you know has adult selective eating or orthorexia, encourage/cajole/threaten, until they get professional help.  The underlining cause of their OCD/anxiety behavior will have to be addressed before they can truly be on the road to recovery.  Be supportive and loving, but not fooled.  These behaviors didn’t happen overnight so neither will the remedies.

As always, if you have any questions, you can email me at

Enjoy your week!



6 responses to “Two New Eating Disorders”

  1. AJ Nuest says:

    Hey Lynda. Great post. I don’t know too many people with selective adult eating, although my sister-in-law is one of those. She lives on hot dogs, frozen pizza and chicken nuggets. And guess what? At only 39 years old she has several medical conditions, including diabetes. No one can talk her into choosing a healthier diet, though. It’s really sad. Oh and my Mom? You nailed her completely. She’s got that orthorexia. It started years ago after she read a bunch of health books that denounced processed food. Since then, she has lost a ton of weight – and in my opinion, borders on anorexia. But again, she won’t change, no matter how much I bug her. Thanks for this. I’m off to do some research! Hugs, AJ

    • lynda says:

      Sorry to hear about your mama and sister-in-law, but am glad you found the post helpful. Here’s hoping they both listen to you and realize it’s about balance and moderation. Not extremes.
      Hugs back, girlfriend!

  2. Jen T. says:

    Great topic. Thank you for sharing! Will watch for these behaviors (in myself) ~ having experienced anorexia nervosa all through high school, college and even now sometimes, I slip.
    Thanks again, Lynda.

  3. lynda says:

    Oh, Jen!!
    You best not let me see you slip into any eating disorder – unless it has to do with fermented grapes!
    Seriously, it’s like I told AJ, everything in moderation is best for good health.
    Love ya!

  4. Great article, Lynda. I’d never heard of either of these disorders, but then I love food, so I’m not likely to have them. Thanks for keeping us informed 🙂

  5. lynda says:

    Glad you found the post interesting. Thanks for stopping by!

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