When Healthy Eating Goes Too Far

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on July 14, 2009

Last week on the treadmill, I was reading the latest issue of Self Magazine. In this issue, Janelle Brown wrote a wonderful piece on the danger of detox diets called, ‘The Scary New Skinny’.


Brown wrote about the latest diet trends that have L.A. women jumping on board. Unlike socially unacceptable trends like starvation diets, liposuction, or dangerous diet pills, these new diet trends are portrayed in a socially acceptable and healthy manner.

Women have always had a huge amount of pressure to be thin, only now, women have this pressure AND we have a new pressure to be healthy while we do it! Many of the previous extreme weight loss methods are frowned upon so women have been seeking healthier ways to lose weight.

But are some of these new trends really healthy?

Brown calls this the ‘healthy skinny’ movement where friends no longer have to admit in shame that they are on a diet, but can be proud to say that they are following a ‘health regime’ instead.

Is it really any different?


So what are some of these diet trends?

  • Spiritual Cleanses

While Spiritual Cleanses have been around for ever, they are a growing trend in LA. Many women are claiming that they are on a vision quest or are connecting with their spirit by fasting. These cleanses involve often sustaining on nothing but liquids such as the master cleanse.

  • Raw vegetable cleanses

Izo Cleanze and BluePrintCleanse deliver juices to their customer’s doors each day. For many, this is the only thing that touches their lips for 3 weeks or longer.

  • Colonics

Colonics have become quite popular in recent years with more and more people getting them done to ‘flush’ out their body of toxins. If performed regularly, colonics can kill the good bacteria in our intestinal tract that protect us from infection. They can also disrupt nerve and muscle function in the bowel, leaving some patients unable to go to the washroom without a colonic.

  • Extreme Calorie restriction diets

Howard Flaks (M.D.) from Beverly Hills advises his patients to consume only 800-1000 calories a day, under medical supervision. Personally, I am quite shocked that a doctor would advise his patients to consume such a low number of calories. Many of us know how badly restrictive diets can backfire too- they can slow our metabolism and make our body cling to every calorie we consume. Not to mention, feeling extremely lethargic, moody, and lackluster hair, skin, and nails. That is so not hot!

  • Raw Food Diets

Aimee Popovich, a 39-year old mom and homemaker residing in LA, went on a raw food diet where everything she ate was raw. She said she felt great for the first year and a half, but after that time period she started to notice strange things happening to her body. For instance, she had to urinate often and she had a lot of anxiety. Five months later, she woke up in bed very dizzy and she had a seizure, stopped breathing, and passed out. When she finally came to in the hospital 2 days later, she was told that she was undernourished, devoid of vital minerals, and suffering from kidney failure and brain swelling due to a severe electrolyte imbalance. She also suffered from hyponatremia which is having excess water in the blood and can result in dangerously low blood levels of sodium.

There is even a medical term to classify individuals that have an obsession with health. Steven Bratman, an alternative medicine specialist coined the term "Orthorexia" for such a condition. Orthorexia denotes an eating disorder classified by an excessive focus on eating healthy foods. In rare cases, this focus may turn into a fixation so extreme that it can lead to severe malnutrition or even death.



I absolutely loved this article in Self Magazine because I think it touches on a central issue that many women are struggling with right now. As women, we are not only expected to be thin, beautiful, and successful, but we are now expected to be healthy while we do it. Like anything else, it can get taken too far. No matter how healthy someone eats, if they are underweight and/or suffering medical consequences, then it is not healthy. In my nutrition courses, I was told time and time again that our bodies are experts at riding our body of toxins and we don’t need detox diets and cleanses.

I have never had a colonic, done a cleanse, or ate a raw food diet. For me, these things just seem too extreme. That is not to say that they don’t work for others and they can be done in a safe manner with proper education and supervision. I think this is what was lacking in the article, it failed to mention that some of these things can be done safely.

However, I do love how I feel when when I drink a green monster or when I eat a mostly unprocessed diet. I don’t see this as an extreme thing in my life, because I feel better than I ever have, my skin and hair glows, and my doctor tells me that my medical tests come back with flying colours. On the other hand, if I was noticing ill-effects from my diet, I would definitely re-evaluate it. For me, balance is key. I like to eat chips or sweet treats like the rest of ‘em, and I know that keeping a balanced approach keeps me feeling my best.

What are your thoughts?

Are you or someone you know obsessed with eating healthy or do you think that orthorexia is the new ‘socially acceptable’ eating disorder?

Have you or would you ever do a detox? Are detoxes and cleanses ok for a short amount of time?


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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Jena July 14, 2009 at 11:49 am

Hi Angela! I’m delurking to tell you how much I LOVE that you posted this. Your reaction echoes exactly how I feel about the raw food/detox diet trend that seems to be popping up all over the food blog world lately. I am really concerned about how these bloggers present such diets as “healthy.” Young readers are impressionable and constantly compare themselves to bloggers, and I can’t help but worry that these diets will make healthy eaters feel unhealthy! The worst part for me is that you can’t engage anyone involved in this lifestyle in a conversation. It all comes back to “This is my choice. It works for me, it might not work for everyone.” I have heard that same response from anorexics and bulimics!

Thanks again! Not just for your response but for your positive example of healthy eating!


Kathy (Moving Beyond Perfection) July 14, 2009 at 11:59 am

I remember reading that exact same article in Self, and I’m so glad you brought it up for discussion! I definitely would be unable to follow any extreme diet either and I think for most people who aren’t careful, they can be very dangerous diets. I also agree with Jena that food bloggers should be careful about how they portray a raw diet. It may work for them because they may be better educated about how to make a raw diet healthy and balanced, but an uneducated reader may try to replicate living the raw lifestyle and end up just eating fruits & veggies with nothing else!


Maggie July 14, 2009 at 12:08 pm

I’m glad you brought this up because it has been bothering me a lot lately that these ‘cleanses’ have become socially acceptable today. I’ve always been extremely skeptical and have gotten a lot of flack because of it.
My friend did the maple syrup/lemon juice diet a while back and everyone congratulated her on losing so much wait and sticking with it, I was just shocked that she was starving herself and doing serious damage to her body/metabolism.
We just had Stampede in Calgary and on tv Monday morning they were going on and on about how everyone should be doing a cleanse now to ‘detox’ after all the drinking and gorging everyone did….um.. doesn’t your body do that anyway? I think it’s just another way for people to profit in the weightloss market, this time they’re just covering it up with supposed health claims.


Courtney July 14, 2009 at 12:08 pm

I also read an article, where some celebrity said it’s out of fashion to be on a diet, as “diets don’t work.” So, now they’re all on some kind of cleanse or detox. Oh, how chic.




Christina July 14, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I read the article too. I believe eating healthy is important, but when you take it to such extremes it can actually backfire!

The raw food diet particularly interests me. I’d love to (and am trying to!) incorporate more raw meals into my diet but don’t think it’d be possible for me to go entirely raw. Sounds like it takes too much time, money, and hassle when eating with family and friends!


Tiffany July 14, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I also read the article and am so glad you posted this. Right after I read it, I got an email newsletter from GOOP (Gwyneth Paltrow) that recommended cleanses! It goes on and on about how good it is to “rest your digestive system.” Really? I think your digestive system is made to process food. It only needs a rest when you’re dead!


Gillian July 14, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I have always been afraid of any “detox” where you don’t have to eat. Eating is my biggest pleasure and my motivation to get through the day, life without it just seems no fun. It is also what my body needs to run! My idea of a detox is usually cutting out booze, sugar and caffein for a week if I feel I’ve been overly dependent. I have had a couple of colonics in the past when I have been suffering from really poor digestion due to stress. It is something I would like to do every season just to get my body moving healthfully.

Someone left a comment on my blog calling me orthorexic that bothered me. I love eating a healthy diet but I am also big on indulgence and finding the right balance. I think we need all the good stuff in our daily diet, and that means treats as well.

I like the idea of the raw diet but I am a cook at heart and feel it is not for me. I love making recipes that have been passed down in my family, or eating at a stranger’s dinner table, and this makes things a lot harder.

Another great post Ange, it is something I have often thought about but it’s nice to read in words.


Niki July 14, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Angela, this is an excellent post! I am so glad Self magazine printed a story like this, and you were compelled to share it with us. Things like cleanses and detoxes seem so silly to me, because, like you, I feel that our bodies were developed to handle clearing out toxins in a natural way. I was also reminded of Gwenyth Paltrow’s website, GOOP, where she has previously mentioned going on certain detoxes or cleanses in order to shed a few pounds. She seems to be bragging about how “healthy” she is for participating in these, and I just don’t see how they are that great…

I will stick to my Green Monsters, balanced diet, and healthy exercise program! :)


Jess July 14, 2009 at 12:56 pm

I wish I had gotten that self magazine. I would’ve loved to read that!

I am in agreement with you. For me, I wouldn’t be healthy if I went raw/vegan. I like a combination. I’ll have a raw snack, and then a healthy dinner full of lean proteins, carbs, etc. It just doesn’t fit my super active lifestyle. If others can do it, great! I am with you 110%. I think fasts are detrimental to the body. Our bodies are AMAZING things, we don’t need to mess with them. They can take care of themselves. ;)

<3 jess


Jess July 14, 2009 at 1:04 pm

After reading some other comments, I have more to say :D

I am in agreement with pretty much all that was said so far. One needs to be extremely knowledgeable in my opinion if they choose to go veg, raw, and the like. Just eating random fruits and veggies doesn’t make you healthy. You need to pay careful attention to what nutrients you need so you are not lacking. Gena knows a LOT about the raw diet, but if someone were to read her blog and say “Oh, I think I’ll go raw too” and they know nothing about it, I’m pretty sure they would land up in the same situation as Aimee. (And I was just using Gena as an example, I really like her blog. Her raw banana ice cream=to die for :) )

It’s a touchy subject because no one can force you to eat a certain way. I think it’s wrong to go around judging everyone. It’s just a hard situation and I don’t know if there’s a perfect fix because I bet there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t agree with me!

<3 jess


Vanessa (Last Night's Leftovers) July 14, 2009 at 1:11 pm

In the 3 years that I spent studying nutrition I could not find a single professor or RD who would recommend doing a cleanse. Really, the “cleanse” has always seemed like a quick-fix, easy-way-out solution that doesn’t work all that great anyway. Why eat well on a regular basis when you can just “cleanse” yourself periodically, right? BS.

I haven’t picked up an issue of Self in ages! I’ll have to see if I can track down this article :)


Callie July 14, 2009 at 1:13 pm

This is such an interesting post for me today – since I have declared today my “Detox Day”. But for me that simply means avoiding all the CRAP I usually eat. For instance, my day has been oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast, some blueberries for a snack, and a spinach salad with feta cheese and pecans for lunch with balsamic vinegar dressing. Basically it has been more the way I should eat EVERY day – not some dangerous detox! :)


Leah July 14, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I have done a gentle 3-week detox under the supervision of an RD and I loved it and would do it again. It was pretty gentle though, there wasn’t anything really extreme. I felt amazing afterwards, for weeks to come. Every time I feel run down, I revert back to some of the methods we used during that detox to rejuvinate myself.


coco July 14, 2009 at 1:18 pm

I read that article too and liked it a lot. It’s a good warning sign for this community I think, because some people just go too far away with the name of healthy eating! I’m on your side Angela, eat healthy but not to the extreme and whenever there’s a negative sign, reevaluate and stop! :)


brandi July 14, 2009 at 1:18 pm

I’ve always been a little skeptical about detoxes and cleanses for the very same reason – our bodies are built to work in the right ways, if we take care of them. if we eat balanced most of the time, our bodies work in a way to get rid of what we don’t need and keep the nutrients that we do.


Lauren July 14, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Again, such a good topic to post on. Being healthy to the extreme is definitely, for some, a cover up for an eating disorder- i know… No one ever suspects anything because, “oh, she’s just really healthy.” Umm no, I physically can’t eat anything other than my ‘safe’ foods. Is that really bad?


Cecilia July 14, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Although I don’t live a high raw lifestyle, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Of course, one will have to be careful,informed and prepared for their switch to a raw food diet AND make sure that their switch is for the ‘right’ reason.

Having said that, I find it sad that there are people ‘bashing’ bloggers about their switch to a high raw diet — to be frank, just because you have an eating disorder, doesn’t mean that everyone does. I think people need to learn and respect that there are individuals out there who are perfectly CONTENT and HAPPY with their high raw diet. If you don’t find raw diet suitable for you (like in my case) then don’t participate in it.


Cecilia July 14, 2009 at 1:27 pm

check out this fantastic post of Gena’s



Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope July 14, 2009 at 1:29 pm

I was pretty surprised when I read that article myself. I guess I just didn’t realize how popular these supposed “healthy” diets were becoming. Although I think there are some advantages to doing a HEALTHY cleansing diet, it’s easy to go overboard with these and turn it into something disastorious for your health. Personally, I don’t think I will ever do one.

Great topic Angela!



SarahF July 14, 2009 at 1:35 pm

I haven’t read this article in Self (I’m still waiting for my subscription to come in the mail) but a lot of bloggers have been commenting on it so I’m very interested to read it.

I did one cleanse, about a year ago. It as pretty strict with the things you couldn’t have: sugar, alcohol, anything fermented (so things like yogurt), white pasta, grapes and bananas (apparently their high in yeast). Everything else was broken up into an 80-20 ratio. You could have as much of the 80% category (which was mostly vegetables and local fruits, as well as fish and brown rice) and then only 20% of your diet could be the other stuff (red meat, chicken, etc). It was for two weeks and I was so hungry and obsessed with food the entire time. I dreamt of carbs at night (the only carbs you could have were the brown rice) and I missed seasonsings and flavour (you couldn’t have salt). My boyfriend did it with me and he said he felt great at the end of the two weeks, and he lost a lot of weight. However, if you were to look at our diets before the cleanse-I eat a fairly healthy diet with a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables whereas he eats a lot of chicken wings, poutine, etc.

After that cleanse, I kind of swore them off. I’d rather focus on everyday health then eat really healthy for two weeks. Especially since the day the cleanse ended, we went out and had huge plates of lasagna (again due to the carbs and the cheese) and a couple bottle of wine…..basically undid everything the cleanse would have.


Caroline July 14, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Thank you for posting this! I know some women think the world of raw food diets, but I look at pictures of them on their blog or other people’s blogs and they look like any other woman with ED: unattractively thin, even skeletal. Not for me, thanks!


Gena (Choosing Raw) July 14, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Hey Ange!

Interesting that you wrote about that article: I did a post on it, too! Here’s the link:


I’m glad the Self article brought attention to the stupidity of certain herbal flushes and the master cleanse, though I did not think it gave a balanced perspective on the raw diet.

G xoxo


coco July 14, 2009 at 1:50 pm

I have to comment because this article made me kind of angry. Women’s magazines tend to sensationalize everything, and this article is no exception. Of course they will feature the stories with the worst outcome!
I’m not advocating or condemning any of these things for anybody. Just because I do something does not mean someone else should. But I do get a bit defensive when people portray my choices in a negative way. If people ask me questions or for advice, I’ll tell it like I see it. However, just because I am mostly raw vegan doesn’t mean that when I see someone eating meat or chocolate cake or pork steak, I tell them “ooh, don’t eat that, you have an eating disorder…”
I agree that people must be educated about any type of fasting, but I don’t believe that our bodies can just “take care of themselves” anymore. Sure, the body is built to detox itself, if we take care of it. But most of us aren’t, and with the hormones and pesticides in foods, the pollution in the air, the tendency to overmedicate everything, and the chlorine and fluoride added to water, the body isn’t able to do it all by itself anymore. This doesn’t necessarily mean living on lemon juice and maple syrup (which I think most educated raw foodists would NOT recommend anyway), but making more conscious choices.
I’m of the opinion that humans aren’t meant to eat things that come in boxes and cartons. Am I perfect? No. But eating raw organic food (or being vegan, or not eating wheat, or any other food choice that may be attacked) is not an eating disorder.
I’ve been there in a severe way, and it’s a polar opposite.
Just my two cents (or two dollars…practically a novel.)


Gena (Choosing Raw) July 14, 2009 at 1:57 pm

PS — Cecilia! Hey lady. Thanks for the shout — you beat me to it :)


Anna July 14, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Ahhhh! Angela! You just keep coming up with more and more interesting, pertinent hot topics! I love it.

I can definitely connect with this topic. So much of what we deem to be “healthy” is influenced by what is currently socially acceptable. If we all lived completely free of media influence (as well as the influence of peers, although that would be a lonely life to live), what would our images of health look like? One can only guess.

I truly believe that balance is at the center of true health, as I’m sure most of us in this blog world do!

That being said, I actually did try a detox diet 2 years ago, mostly did it out of sheer curiosity. I currently don’t believe that they’re a wise idea, but I AM very glad I did it because I feel like it really taught me a lot.

I went to visit my aunt and cousin, who were in the middle of the Fast Track Detox Diet, a 8-day plan by Anne Louise Gittleman. Intrigued, my mom and I decided to give it a go because neither of us had done anything like that before. (see, social acceptability at work! They were doing it, and they’re not crazy dieters, so we didn’t feel weird about it). The plan isn’t actually just for weight-loss- it billed itself as a way to rid your body of toxins, etc (basically everything that the SELF article talks about). It involved eating “detoxifying foods” for 7 days, basically unlimited amounts of fresh produce and lean meat and no refined flour, gluten, sugar, etc etc. Then on the 8th day, you only drank this cranberry-flax drink all day.

The upshot? Yea, my jeans were loose and my skin was glowing. But was it sustainable? Hell no. I soon reverted back to my former habits. Furthermore, I felt deprived the entire time. BUT- I’m glad I did it because it really showed me that deprivation and strict rules just don’t work for me. I guess I sort of agree with the old “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it” adage. I tried a detox, and it indeed did suck. I really didn’t like it because it was impossible to focus on anything else besides what your next meal would be. And that is certainly not a healthy mindset!

So, all in all: I’ll take a diet based on balance and freedom over deprivation and “perfection” ANY day!


Anna July 14, 2009 at 2:18 pm

holy crap that was long. apologies!


april July 14, 2009 at 2:19 pm

If I’m going to “detox” that just means more fruits and veggies and less processed foods! Our bodies are designed to get rid of toxins.. we don’t need any help! I actually did a post on colonics and detoxes coming from a medical perspective.. it was actually a book review! If you want to check it out: http://ajangel25.wordpress.com/2009/07/12/review-the-raw-food-detox-diet-by-natalia-rose/


Kiersten July 14, 2009 at 2:21 pm

I am glad Self brought attention to this. Starvation-type diets seem to be all the rage now and I definitely think they fall under the eating disorder category. (Some people do detoxes or follow a raw diet for reasons other than weight loss, I accept that and am not talking about those people.) There are lots of women out there who use these kinds of diets as an excuse to restrict their eating. For some reason it’s more accepted by our society to restrict one’s food intake because you are on a diet, but if you are anorexic it’s frowned upon. People need to wake up and realize that in some cases, strict diets and anorexia are the same thing. You are still restricting your caloric intake and are depriving your body of what it needs to function. Call it what you want- a cleanse, a detox, anorexia- they’re the same thing.


Jena July 14, 2009 at 2:34 pm

“just because you have an eating disorder, doesn’t mean that everyone does. I think people need to learn and respect that there are individuals out there who are perfectly CONTENT and HAPPY with their high raw diet.”

I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the logic behind this statement. Yes, I criticized raw food diets. No, I don’t have an eating disorder. But a person only eats raw foods and has an eating disorder, then it’s an eating disorder – but if a person only eats raw food for the “right” reasons it’s not? Plenty of anorexics are perfectly CONTENT and HAPPY with their diet, too. Does that make it right?

I’m sorry if this is confrontational, but I felt that your comment was insensitive and inflammatory.


coco July 14, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Yikes! Someone mentioned to me that it may sound like I am attacking Ange–I’m NOT!!
I love the post about the article–it’s the article itself I am not thrilled with. I’m with Gena on that one.


leslie July 14, 2009 at 2:38 pm

i read that article and gena’s review of it a little while ago – it was an interesting take. i agree with some of the other commenters that you cannot expect to begin a high raw lifestyle without first knowing many things about nutrition and the science behind it. that’s why there are raw food coaches!

dieting under the guise of health is a scary trend – i think people honestly don’t realize the damage they are doing. we live in a society where less food always seems better. i remember being shocked by how much i was supposed to eat when all of it was “healthy,” because the concept of eating a lot and often is certainly not mainstream. one of the things that drives me crazy is this constant need to chase perfection in our society. if we’re thin, we could eat healthy. if we eat healthy, we could eat healthier. it’s a slippery slope with seemingly no end.


Brandi C. July 14, 2009 at 2:40 pm

I know this is NOT my blog. However, I just want to say “Ladies..and gents PLEASE keep your coments friendly and don’t talk down on someone else. Remember that everyone is different and you should respect that!” I think you can answer Angie’s question without giving someone else a NEGATIVE discription. I think this blog is VERY positive and the comments should be too. Please and thank you!
(Just for the record, no one said anything to offend me. Honestly, I just care about other people and read an unfriendly comment that made me write this.)


Run Sarah July 14, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Thanks for posting this Angela! I am against detoxes & cleanses as there isn’t really anything to clean out…your body’s innate digestive system will do that for you. The raw food diet isn’t for me either – I won’t knock anyone who is on it and I have a close family friend who has written books on raw diets (although isn’t completely raw at all) and have learned a bit about it. My main concern with it is that for some bloggers it is easy to tell that they aren’t getting enough calories in each day. I know it can be done on a raw diet with more nuts, avocados, etc but it is more difficult with not as many raw foods being high in fat.


Holly July 14, 2009 at 2:53 pm

I’ve been having a lot of things about this, too, lately!

I think most people agree that different “diets” work for different people. But I’ve had friends who are recovering anorexics claim to go on trend “diets,” which did not prove to be any healthier for their bodies. They convinced themselves that it was healthy because of this or that, but it was still a restrictive diet.

I would never, ever accuse another person of having an ED, but sometimes I do wonder when I see how little these women are eating…ya know?


Holly July 14, 2009 at 2:54 pm

*I mean having a lot of thoughts about this too, lol


MarathonVal July 14, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that some “diets”, “lifestyles”, whatever you want to call them – whether you are veggie, raw, follow the SAD diet, whatever – everyone’s body requires something different. It drives me bonkers when my in-laws call me out on being “too healthy” because I don’t WANT to eat store bought cookies (gag me), and that instead I make homemade, delicious vegan cookies. Or that I “restrict” myself from eating cheese or meat – I could eat these things if I truly wanted to, but since I don’t feel good when I eat these products, why would I want to? Of course some people take this to the extreme with the detox diets that you mentioned, but let’s keep in mind that back in the day, even the now-normal vegetarian diet was considered to be “extreme” and unhealthy!


Amy July 14, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Coming from a different ‘mom’ perspective…
Reading what you refered to in the article makes me think about what my daughter will have to deal with someday and it makes my heart break:( As a mom, I cook the meals for my family. We all eat the same, healthy meals with a few changes here and there (ie. my little ones don’t like typical salads, but get veggies daily)
I hope that if moms are doing these types of diet/cleanses, they are checking with a pediatrician before having their children follow along. I also hope that women who are pregnant and or nursing are also checking with doctors and not just getting magazine/internet info and following it like it is the healthiest and or only way to eat.
My kids never have, nor will see me on a diet. We are active and eat healthy foods with a little bit of not so healthy sprinkled in here and there:) Being healthy and FIT are our main focus. Thin, skinny, and waiflike are not the ideal for our household. I hope that philosophy carries over to our precious little kids:)


Amanda July 14, 2009 at 3:18 pm

I read this article and also found it very thought-provoking. I have never, and probably will never, tried a detox, cleanse, or raw food diet – but far be it for me to judge others for doing that. My reasons for not doing these is personal preference, plus a past that was filled with disordered eating. I know that if I were to give myself a strict regimen to follow, I would take it too far.

I believe that eating healthy can be taken too far. I think that it ultimately has to do with the person’s mentality, not just their actions. My disordered eating, though never “full blown” anorexia, just looked like extreme healthy eating. It became unhealthy because I literally feared my “off limits” foods. If I found out that whole milk went into my latte instead of skim, I was near tears.

All in all, every case is completely different. Some people follow certain food regimens, enjoy it, and it works for them. But when it becomes obsessive or disrupts your normal life so much that it is no longer making you BETTER, I think there’s an issue at hand.


Fitzalan July 14, 2009 at 3:18 pm

I hadn’t heard the term Orthorexia until I read your post. I have to admit, I think there quite a few food blogs that I read that promote Orthorexia. Is it a good thing…bad thing…who knows. But I do think there are certain food blogs that really push an excessive focus on eating healthy foods…to an obsessive nature. I have also seen around in the blog world people stating that they are now obsessed with being healthy because of food blogs, because it makes them feel like they have to be perfect and clean.

I believe in detox but only in the normal, I am going to try to eat clean and healthy for the next few days because of XYZ (overate last weekend, have an event, etc.). I do not think consuming any cleanses, having colonics or severely restricting calories is safe at all.

The body is built to flush itself out and to keep itself clean. As long as you feed the body healthy things and take care of it, these things will be taken care of on their own.

Happiness Awaits


Fitzalan July 14, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Wow–I just read through all the comments. Who knew this would be such a trigger subject?

Happiness Awaits


Kelly Turner July 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm

im not going to lie, and everyone yells at me for this- but i think food blogging is being obsessed with healthy eating. posting absolutely everything you eat every day, even if it is healthy in choice, isnt healthy in practice. No one should be so preoccupied with something so small. and yes i think food is something small- everyone has to eat to fuel their bodies- it shouldnt be something to spend so much time on

food blogging as in people that post everything they eat everyday- not occasional healthy recipes. I have to make that distinction.


J.L. July 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm

cleanse!?! that’s why god invented fiber. now that’s a true cleanse. tee hee.


Katherine Feeney July 14, 2009 at 3:42 pm

I have to say I am so thrilled that there was an article like this in Self Magazine! I have read a lot about this and touched on all diets through my studies at school. It is so cool that this appeared in a magazine that will be read my so many people!



Amy July 14, 2009 at 3:51 pm

I have to echo the thoughts of others when they that food blogs are a little obsessive, and I myself, I have compared myself many times to the foods/exercises posted on certain blogs.

Yes, I write a quasi foodie/fitness blog.
Yes, I exercise every day.

Am I obssessed? Not anymore. But I was. And I think it had a lot to do with my obsession on the obsessive food blogs.


Angela (Oh She Glows) July 14, 2009 at 3:53 pm

It is so clear that everyone has such a unique position on this topic and I am really not surprised at all. Eating is SUCH a personal thing for many people and is not a one-size fits all menu (no pun intended!). I can understand that others can take offense to articles like this. I too thought that it was one-sided in the sense that it didn’t portray that there are many individuals who do achieve balanced health with certain approaches. It is very hard for others to judge what is right for another person. I know I have been criticized for following a vegan diet, and I will admit it, it sometimes makes my hair stand on end. No one likes to be judged, so I appreciate those who aren’t pointing fingers. We also must not forget that many people have moral, ethical, or religious reasons for the foods we eat too, so that has to be taken into account.
Clearly, there is no answer to this…and I think that is why it is so interesting to many of us! I’m sure we can and will debate this topic until we are blue in the face, but I am all for it because it challenges me to see things in a different light. I’m pretty sure I am hijacking my own comments section (….write a post Ange!) so I will let you all take it away for now.

Coco- I also meant to add that I didn’t take offense to anyone’s comments who disagree with my opinions or the content of the article. :)~A


Holly July 14, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Kelly Turner- I couldn’t agree more. However, I have been reading said blogs for over a year…they can become addicting, which I feel is quite unhealthy as well.


April July 14, 2009 at 4:08 pm


I first learned I had orthorexia when I took this quiz on Skwigg’s site.

I love this post and your take on it. I think with the “raw” food thing they are saying that celebs are doing this for weight loss and NOT to change their entire lifestyle like many of the foodie bloggers.


Rachel July 14, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Just a side note about liposuction – I think it’s important to realise that it’s NOT a fat-loss tool or surgery. It’s designed for people who are at their healthy weight and exercise regularly who can’t get rid of pockets of fat – think breast reductions. It’s definitely NOT on the same page as something like diet pills or starvation diets.


Cait (Cait's Plate) July 14, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Angela – I ADORE this. And I couldn’t agree with your review more!


Jenn (Eating Bender) July 14, 2009 at 4:59 pm

I read this article and thought it was really great that they were calling attention to this topic. Obviously, the comments that have been generated here are proof of this point! I’m sure it could have been written differently and/or presented more points of view, but overall I just am very glad that they brought it to the “mainstream” (as mainstream as SELF can get, haha) and I hope it inspires further discussions like this one!


Kathy (Moving Beyond Perfection) July 14, 2009 at 5:19 pm

I just wanted to add a comment- I do not think all food bloggers post every single morsel they eat, and thus I think blogging, as with everything else in life, is what a person MAKES of it. If a food blogger becomes highly obsessive with eating super super clean and posting everything on their blog, then they should ask themselves if they are doing the right thing by writing a blog. Only they will know how they are feeling when they are living their everyday lives. And on the other hand, I believe there are many food bloggers with great, balanced outlooks towards life. Food blogging does not necessarily have to be a negative, obsessive type of activity! Just my 2 cents.


Rebeca July 14, 2009 at 5:44 pm

I read that article as well. It really came at the RIGHT time for me. Too often things sound so ‘healthy’ that we just jump on it and forget that just because it’s healthy for person A does not mean it’s healthy for YOU. That’s not to say let’s go out for pizza and burgers every night, but if that means that you want a slice and a large side salad- GO FOR IT… it’s still “healthy”


Marcia July 14, 2009 at 6:33 pm

I guess I have to disagree with Kelly Turner on food blogging being excessive. And I do like reading food blogs.

I don’t see food blogging being any different than…say…keeping a food journal. I lost over 50 lbs on weight watchers…which requires you to write down every BLT (bite, lick, and taste). And while that method isn’t for everyone, it worked for me and plenty of others. More than anything, it’s being mindful of what you put in your mouth. You can’t lie to yourself about being a healthy eater if you see it in black and white. So journaling, blogging, using fitday or sparkpeople or weight watchers…it’s all the same to me. But with pictures.

I write a food blog and I talk about food and exercise. Ya know, once a week because I do have a full time job and a kid and a husband.

I LOVE reading KathEats and a few others too…I like seeing healthy, well-balanced meals, and I find it to be motivating. And I like getting good ideas to get me out of my ruts. (I had to thank Kath for getting me back into oatmeal).

Blogging about food for some just means they are really “into” food and nutrition. If you’re not, that’s okay. Everyone has interests that go along a spectrum.

I like volleyball, for example. You invite me to play, I will. You invite me to watch a local tournament…probably, depending on whether it’s nap time. You want me to watch a “classic” beach game from the 90’s on TV…probably not.

Same with running. I like to run. I like to run 5k’s, the occasional 10k, but I won’t, for example, run 4×400’s to improve my pace, nor will I sign up to run a marathon.


Meredith (Pursuing Balance) July 14, 2009 at 8:05 pm

I had the same thoughts as you while reading that article. I definitely think that labeling a diet as “cleansing” can give people the wrong idea . . . are other ways of eating “dirtying”? It’s easy to fall into these unhealthy obsessions.


Swayze July 14, 2009 at 8:43 pm

What exactly does the article mean by “raw food diet.” There are many, many different ways to go raw. I assume that it’s referring to raw vegan, but even still there are many versions.

The typical raw vegan diet that focuses on low calorie vegetable matter and high-fat foods like avocados, nuts and oils is indeed unhealthy and extreme.

On the other hand, a healthy raw vegan diet of mostly sweet fruits, along with tender greens and non-sweet fruits with limited fat is the appropriate diet for humans.

Swayze :)


Sarah July 14, 2009 at 9:39 pm

I find it so interesting when food bloggers get offended or upset when they are accused of being obsessed with food (or healthy food). If you wrote a 3X daily blog with photographs about any topic, most people would describe you as being pretty obsessed with whatever the content of your blog was whether it be fashion, photography, politics, etc.

I understand the negative reactions from food bloggers are because being obsessed with food is often equated with being unhealthy or anorexic. If you take away those implications though (and I think you should because the majority of food bloggers are perfectly healthy) then I think saying food blogs are pretty obsessed or very interested in food is a fair statement. How can you photograph, write about, think about, etc. something so much and then only describe your interest in it as moderate?

I hope this doesn’t sound offensive. I read food blogs so I’m a little obsessed with food myself! And I know that reading and writing them isn’t all about the food, it’s about the community, entertainment, education, etc. But in terms of the food, is the food blogging community (bloggers are readers alike) aren’t obsessed with food, then who is?


Susan July 14, 2009 at 10:41 pm

I’ve always felt that SOME people who do raw diets/detox/cleanses are struggling with disordered eating. I saw it personally with a friend who went on extreme diets, stating “ethical” reasons behind them. But it was quite apparent she suffered from an eating disorder and was just channeling it through some of these “healthy” diets. Obviously, there are less extreme ways of doing this. And I’m all for incorporating some of their principles into how I think about eating. It’s definitely a good topic, kudos to Self for covering it.


Shelby July 14, 2009 at 10:43 pm

I think you have to do what is right for you. Raw food is not for everyone. I know that my body doesn’t function well without carbs like sprouted breads or whole grains. I’m med-high raw now and it works for ME!

When I first started into my ED…I went on a water diet for a whole week. I maybe had a couple glasses of juice during that week but not many. Then the next week it was only fruits and veggies. *shudders* I can’t even believe I did that to my body. Y


Amanda @ Panda Lunch July 15, 2009 at 1:06 am

I read this article and was just shocked and saddened at the things these actresses put themselves through to be “healthy” and thin like one in particular mentioned that she had just gotten pregnant and was allowing bananas and sweet potatoes back into her diet!!


Katrina (gluten free gidget) July 15, 2009 at 7:06 am

You would not believe how many people come into the health food store where I work looking for cleanses and detox pills and teas. It is kind of sad. Just eat whole, healthy foods is what I want to yell at them! Luckily, our vitamin specialist straight up tells them detoxes are not what they should be focusing on.


Michelle hisae July 15, 2009 at 8:19 am

I was introduced to the term orthorexia when reading Michael pollan’s book, In Defense of Food. It really intrigued me and I completely agree that it’s a legitimate disease. Even with food blogs, I see an obsession with healthy eating, though not to say everyone takes it to an unhealthy point. Scientists are adapting to he times, and I think orthorexia is a perfect example of an evolved disease. Thanks for the great discussion!!


April July 15, 2009 at 8:31 am

I just wanted to commend food bloggers. I’m glad to see they are eating and enjoying their lives. Not sitting at home, not going out because they don’t want to mess up their diet.

I don’t think it’s an obsession of health really for some. They are eating wholesome foods and giving others ideas. Now if I see a blog where someone is skipping breakfast, eating a bowl of lettuce and an apple for dinner I may be concerned. The amounts of carbs that are consumed is wonderful! The hey I ate pizza today so i’ll eat a salad for lunch tomorrow is what this world needs to see! It’s about balance and not gung ho on my meat diet for this week and then stop and gain more weight.


Marcia July 15, 2009 at 10:53 am

I still don’t see blogging 3x a day on food as obsessive, if you are a food blogger. I am thinking mainly of people like Jenna, Kath, Angie, and others where…it’s their job. They make money from their websites. They have bakeries. They are studying to be nutritionists.

I don’t consider myself obsessed with semiconductor process engineering, though I spend 40+ hours a week doing it…I get paid for it. I like it, but how is it obsessive?


College Degrees July 24, 2009 at 4:28 pm

It’s crazy the things people will do to their bodies to be skinny. But people shouldn’t have to go through all these extremes. The key like you said is balance. Some people just aren’t meant to be a size 2, everyone’s body structure is different.


AGS December 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Just read this, as I had a little downtime to reread past posts.

I happened to read that article. What strikes me as particularly interesting is that people fast to lose weight. For religious reasons, there are points in the calendar that I abstain from solid foods for a period of time. But it has nothing to do with losing weight or some personal quest or trying to get a vision (though, hey — if I happen to have an epiphany, I’m all for that! ;)).

Many religions have points in their calendars when people do not eat, but I see that as OK, particularly as you are drawn together in community. It is distressing that a standard religious practice is being confused with some silly goal to lose 5 pounds. Good grief.


Jane September 13, 2012 at 11:07 pm

The “raw lady” in the article, Aimee, is in my family. She was not trying to lose weight, I would say it was more of a health obsession or OCD. She ate a lot of kale, other green veggies, and made a lot of juices. She even ate raw desserts. She is educated, and book smart, so she read all about it. She had her son on only the diet and her breast-milk since he was born and he was pale and weak and is now behind in school. He never had a choice. I know this article is old but I just came across it. I’m sure many of you do this to be healthy or trendy, but this seems like a disorder most of the time. Get some fresh caught salmon and eat it with some vegetables, rice, and a glass of wine. You won’t die from it. Get a life beyond eating this, reading this, and blogging this. Other people read this, emulate the trend or use it to justify their eating disorder and/or OCD, etc. and almost die. Smoking weed is less harmful then what many of you are doing to yourselves; yet many raw/vegans maintain their self-righteousness and promote a lifestyle that was created for giraffes, or people with specific food allergies. This is another “innocent thing”, like refusing to vaccinate your kids, that hurts people, creates children to physically suffer, and just doesn’t make sense scientifically. It is actually denying common sense. If anyone reads this feel free to ask questions, chew me out or tell me your opinion. I’ll listen. If you chew me out or debate me I’ll answer you and… most likely, I’ll send you a rebuttal.


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Carol Biberstein May 9, 2016 at 5:16 pm

I’ve done the maple syrup/organic lemonade fast 6 times in the last 6 years. I usually do it for 10 to 14 days. I think it’s a very healthy cleases. I never lose any weight at all but don’t do it in order to lose weight. Your body goes into conserving your weight after about the second day so if your weight is normal you don’t lose weight. I like this fast because for two weeks I don’t think about food anymore. When I first did it I felt really bad and hungry for the first couple of days, but now it’s very very easy to do. On day 3 you start to feel full of energy. I had lots of energy and was able to cook for others without feeling any hunger at all. It makes you feel strong just knowlng that if for any reason you weren’t able to eat, if there was no food around, you’d be just fine. Your body gets really cleaned out, your digestive system gets a good rest and your metabolism gets reset. You can meditate a lot easier because food creates a lot of fluctuation in the mind and when there is no food in the body the mind becomes very peaceful. I think people who’ve never tried fasting shouldn’t knock it, unless they’ve tried it. And you can’t call it fasting if you’ve only been off food for two days. You need to do this for a minimum of 10 days to see the benefits. In my normal life I am vegan and eat very healthy food and cook in remembrance of God and offer my food to God. For me fasting isn’t a fad. I will continue to do a once a year fast for the rest of my life. I’ve had all my vital signs checked by a doctor and at 61 I’m in excellent health.


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