Thursday, November 5, 2009

Orthorexia, Bacon and The Power of Food Culture

I recently posted about orthorexia, a form of anorexia nervosa that has been gaining increasing attention in the media recently. To recap, orthorexia is not a formal diagnosis- it is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. And while it is a variation of anorexia, it is different in its presentation; typically, those with orthorexia are not necessarily trying to lose weight or be thin-- they are trying to eat as healthfully as possible. To read more on orthorexia, follow this link.

I decided to write more on this topic because I had a few thoughts after reading something about orthorexia on the Huffington Post yesterday. I really like the Huffington Post, mainly because there are so many different opinions and thoughts represented, and people from all walks of life write articles/entries/blog posts. If you are unfamiliar with HP, check it out
here (HP has dubbed itself the online newspaper). Some of my favorite articles consist of those in which celebrities (both educated and not) write and create controversy! Haha. Anyways, the article that I read yesterday is called Orthorexia, Bacon and The Power of Food Culture and it was written by Darya Pino, a self professed 'foodie and advocate of local, seasonal foods.' The gist of her article is that we should be able to enjoy eating healthy food both for the quality and the experience of it. She examines both orthorexia and obesity and contends that our culture of food in the US has made it difficult for us to view food without taking it to one extreme or the other. While I am not sure about her take on eating disorders and do not fully endorse all of her opinions or comments about food, I did find her article extremely relevant in its commentary on our food culture.

She emphasizes that food's sole purpose is not just to keep us alive and healthy, but it also exists to enrich our lives, to bring enjoyment, it is part of being in community with people, it is about tasting, it is about social relationships. When we are not able to engage with food in these ways, we lose something. And when we engage too much in these ways with food, we lose things as well. Balance can be a tough act to pull off with food, and it is clearly something that we have struggled to maintain as a culture. If we can begin to work on having healthy food cultures in our own personal lives, and in our families and social lives, maybe we can begin to impact change on a larger scale. It sounds like a lofty ideal, but why not try? :)

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