Raspberry bonon in silver cuplet painting by zoe zuniga

Does Your Family Think You’re Orthorexic Just Because You Eat a Healthy Diet?

If you are not eating all the standard American foods like flour, sugar, oil, dairy, salt, and tons of animal products does it mean that you are obsessed and mentally ill?

If you don’t conform to the standard diet does it mean you have a new disease called “orthorexia”?

To me, orthorexia is a made-up term to justify getting us to consume more processed foods and feel ok about it.

Yes, there are eating disorders where people starve themselves or become obsessed or binge and purge, etc.

But eating a healthy diet of unprocessed foods and whole-plants is not a new disease called “orthorexia”.

Read or listen to the podcast


All material provided at mindbodyclarity.com is for informational purposes only and is not to be taken as medical advice or recommendation. Any and all health conditions should be addressed by a medical doctor or another appropriate medical professional. By using the site, you fully agree to these terms.

Related posts

Plant-Based Weight-Loss
Food addiction freedom journal
Spudfit Minimalist Eating
Stop Sugar Cravings


plant-based-recipe guide


The mainstream food and sickness care system, (it isn’t a health care system) thinks that you should never remove any foods from your diet or have any foods that are off-limits because this just leads to binges.

But that mindset seems crazy to me.

What leads to binges is using processed drug-like foods in the first place.

Our culture has gone off the deep end with using food as a drug and making processed, chemicalized and extreme foods commonplace.

Why would you want to put poison in your body when it only takes a few weeks of abstinence to lose all desire to eat that stuff?

The myth of moderation

valentines petite 4 painting

There are a lot of health coaches and diet systems that will tell you what you want to hear.

They will tell you that you can keep eating your favorite “foods” (if you want to call them foods) and be healthy.

They will tell you that it is better to be a little bit over fat than to be obsessed with abstaining from certain foods.


Maybe some people can cling to old processed foods and have them in moderation some of the time and eat a healthy diet most of the time and lose weight and improve their health.

But it is a slippery slope because those foods trigger overeating and cause brain changes in most people that make it really hard to get any kind of mental clarity.

Processed foods over stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain the way drugs do and most of us just can’t handle that at all.

That is why the rates for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, childhood obesity, and every other lifestyle disease are skyrocketing right now.

The mainstream medical system is hooked on junk food too

five bonbons painting by zoe zuniga

People who tell you moderation is the answer may simply be addicted to processed foods.

People who want you to be “normal” have not experienced what it feels like to be truly normal and free from sugar, flour, oil and chemicalized processed foods for more than a day or two.

They have not experienced the amazing freedom and joy of being thin and healthy without using processed food as a drug every three or four hours every day of their lives.

Coaches and diet systems who tell you to be “normal and moderate” may not be quite as unbiased as they imagine.

Doctors and clinical nutritionists who tell you to just cut back, conform and be “moderate” may have subconscious motives. They may not want to have to practice what they preach.

People in mainstream medicine who deny the link between food and disease might be doing so because their own brains are influenced by the fear of letting go of their own addictions to processed foods.

It’s hard to imagine going without processed food until you really try it

purple cabbage painting by zoe zuniga

Before I tried going without all that stuff in conjunction with a balanced high nutrient whole-foods plant-based diet, I thought it would be impossible to stop.

I loved eating that stuff every few hours from morning until late at night

Or at least I thought I did.

I thought it was normal to feel “hungry” every few hours. I thought cravings for bread and ice cream and cheese every day where simply inevitable. I had uncontrollable cravings for sweets late at night after eating all day long.

But once I really gave whole foods a try, I came out the other end totally free from wanting to eat processed foods. I wasn’t perfect at first, but I kept going.

If I messed up in situations where that stuff was available I just started again with a healthy meal as soon as I could and pretty soon I learned to plan ahead and was not tempted to eat crap anymore.

I just wish I had known how I to do this 40-years ago instead of being a slave and a consumer all my life.

Instead, I wasted my health, my earning ability, and my peace of mind to help keep the junk-food-machine going.

free plant based recipe guide

Let them label you as extreme

Eating whole foods and going against the tide of insanity is what Mind-Body Clarity is all about.

I don’t care if it’s considered “extreme” by an insane system with unhealthy people running it.

Eating toxic foods on a daily and hourly basis that cause open heart surgery, diabetes, cancer, and other painful conditions is way more extreme than eating unprocessed foods.

But a whole foods diet isn’t for everyone

If you’re worried about what other people will think…

if you want to be like everyone else and not make waves…

If you don’t want to make your friends feel uncomfortable with their own addiction…

Then go ahead and do the moderation dance and be a little bit overweight and a little bit sick, and maybe you can be happy that way.

But if you want more out of your life it is totally worth it to go through the withdrawal when you switch to a healthy diet.

It only takes a few weeks of discomfort to get clean and then the world opens up.

Cravings can return now and then for a few weeks or even a few months.

But the more high-nutrient, chemical-free food you eat the less often cravings come until they finally leave for good.

I want that for everyone who is brave enough to stand up for their own health.

Persimmons acrylic by Zoe Zuniga

You won’t be obsessed or calorie counting

It isn’t about counting calories or weighing your food or writing down everything you eat for the rest of your life or worrying about “trigger foods” forever or holding back from “forbidden foods”.

Once you go clean you simply don’t crave or want to eat the old foods. You won’t have the urge to overeat or use food as a drug anymore.

When you eat what the body is designed for, you don’t have to hold yourself in check or think about food at all because in your innermost being you will know for sure that it would be insane to eat that crap ever again.

True Health Feels Good

You will love your new health so that much it won’t be a sacrifice to stay off processed foods for good.

But if you are not willing to change so much that you won’t even recognize yourself then stick with moderation.

A lot of successful happy people do a moderate approach.

And that might be your path.

The thing is…

Having a piece of wedding cake made of processed flour and sugar just because it would be rude not to, won’t really ruffle your feathers anymore.

Having an alcoholic drink just because everyone else is doing it is no longer a treat or something you look forward to once you are truly healthy.

Once you have found true health and true freedom from craving all that crap, you have no desire to take part in that ever again.

Just a few weeks to freedom

single strawberry acrylic by Zoe Zuniga

If you are willing to go through 3 or 4 weeks of withdrawal from very potent drug-like-foods, you will come out the other side feeling so much better that you won’t ever want to go back.

You won’t miss that old life at all because you will finally know how it feels to be really alive and vibrant and healthy.

I am not going to tell you to use moderation.

I am more interested in you getting free from cravings for life.

How to break free from the sickness-culture

You have to do it right and make sure you are getting enough nutrients.

Do your research.

Make sure you take the right supplements: B12, omega 3s DHA and get enough zinc can all be lacking on a plant-based diet. Diets are low in these nutrients can cause damage over the long term.

Make sure you are eating high-quality high-nutrient foods because these will cut your cravings faster. Try to get organic foods when you can and know which ones are safer to get conventionally.

Even with pesticides, you are still going to be a lot healthier if you cut out processed foods and eat a diet high in plants, phytonutrients, and fiber.

Recommended Experts

Dr. Joel Fuhrman isn’t as popular as other plant-based MDs because he goes all in and doesn’t sugar coat it. But he knows what is safe and he what works to reverse lifestyle diseases.

He believes in proper supplementation and higher protein servings for people in later years. He keeps up with the latest research and changes his views accordingly. He has many books, online courses, and a retreat center.

 If I had serious health problems, I would start with Dr. Fuhrman.

Dr. Gregor at nutrition facts has a lot of science-based information and a great book called How Not to Die

Dr. Dean Ornish has lots of books and a program that is actually covered by insurance. He fought for years to get the laws changed.

Chef AJ has a book called The Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss. She leaves out all nuts and seeds in her own diet because she says they cause her to binge.

But this can lead to imbalance because you don’t absorb as many nutrients from the other veggies you are eating without a small number of nuts, seeds, or avocado.

But other than that, she is very helpful and understands how addiction to processed foods works. She is the host of a weight loss summit too.

The Pleasure Trap by Doug Lisle and Allen Goldhamer from True North Health Center explains the science behind food addiction succinctly. It helps with understanding cravings that come up out of the blue after several weeks of stability.

More moderate experts

These systems tend to use whole grain pasta, bread, flour products, maple syrup, and honey. They might work well for you if you don’t have any serious health issues. if you are low on the susceptibility scale this might be far enough to go.

Everyone is different so you have to experiment and decide how clean you want to go.

Forks over Knives takes a moderate route to a plant-based diet that might work well for you.

Dr. Esselstyne uses a lot of whole grain flour products and very palatable recipes and has high success rates for disease reversal and weight loss.

Dr. McDougall has programs with and without added flour and sugar, but he still doesn’t see the purpose of supplementation.

iThirve is a 12 video program by filmmaker John McMahon with over 40 interviews with top health experts. You get to follow his journey to recovery from type 2 diabetes and losing 100 pounds.

Nutritiously is a vegan recipe system that walks you through transitioning step by step to a healthy diet with recipes, meal plans, shopping lists and more. Nutritiously also has a weight loss specific program.

High Carb Hannah is a McDougall certified starch-based chef who has delicious whole foods recipes, with lots of whole grain bread, flour, honey, and highly palatable items. These can be great transition foods.

The extreme-clean raw foodist approach

pinaplle and keewee

I would steer clear of 100 percent raw food diets for most people. I have a couple of friends who have been on this for years and love it.

I tried this for many years on and off without any lasting success or real health gains. I finally had to admit I was wrong, and that this was not the optimal diet for me.

 The science-based evidence just isn’t there contrary to what raw foodists say about enzymes or that “all cooked food is toxic poison”. Beans, cooked sweet potatoes, steamed and roasted veggies, and cooked whole grains are just too full of nutrition to discount.

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, by Richard Wrangham does a good job explaining why humans are adapted to eating some cooked foods.

Because of our small jaw size and relatively small digestive tract to brain ratio, eating cooked foods have become part of our normal genetic make-up and caused these changes in the size of our brain, jaw and digestive system. Other great apes who are very closely related to us genetically have much large, stronger jaws, much larger digestive tracts and smaller brains.

Wrangham makes a good argument that by cooking, fermenting, pounding and grinding our food we made food more easily digestible.

By exposing our species to cooked and somewhat processed foods over millions of years we gradually became the way we are now.

This gave us more time to develop a larger brain and spend as little as one hour per day chewing and a lot less time and calories on digesting food.

It does not work well for us humans to eat a 100 percent raw diet of leaves and fruits with some bugs thrown in for protein, like other great apes who are closest to us genetically.

We would have to spend 6 hours a day chewing to eat what other apes eat. And many of those calories would go to digesting these harsh plant substances. Our tiny jaws and teeth and our relatively short digestive tract would not be able to handle this well.

Gourmet Raw foodists create faux cooked flavors

Most raw foodists resort to blending and dehydrate food and eat a lot of concentrated nuts, lots of oil, salt, and dried fruits and honey year-round when this would not be possible in the wild. So even though they claim they are eating a natural diet for primates they are very far from it.

Raw food recipe books have lots of faux loaves and pates, and faux pizza and cakes and everything is heaped high with avocado. Yummy, yes! But not so healthy after all.

Low-fat fruitarian raw foodists load up on starchy fruit

People who try to do the low-fat-raw-vegan diet end up eating pounds and pounds of tropical higher-starch fruits like bananas, and mammies and high-fat durian all day long to get enough calories.

They often eat few greens and almost no nuts, seeds, or avocados. This makes the diet so low in variety and nutrients that it isn’t sustainable long term for most people.

This turns into a high fat or high sugar diet either way you go.

A raw whole foods diet is healthier than the mainstream diet because of all the fiber and nutrients.

In the first few months, most people do lose weight and feel a little better. But raw foodism is usually not a long-term sustainable eating pattern.

Raw-foodism can lead to an almost religious zeal for many folks.

 It also can create an unhealthy relationship with food and cravings for many people long term.

Though eating a diet with plenty of raw fruits and veggies is a great idea, excluding all cooked foods, is not healthy or nutritious for most people.

free plant based recipe guide

In conclusion

To be successful in getting out of the clutches of the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) you need to research and experiment to find what works for you and decide for yourself how unprocessed you want to go.

What works for me may not work exactly the same way for you.

But whatever you decide…

don’t let society tell you that you have “orthorexia” just because you want to get free from addictive overly processed foods.

These sanity-robbing food-like substances are sold on every street corner at all hours of the day and night in every workplace, meeting, movie, or activity you arrive at.

Just about every canned or packaged food is laced with sugar, oil, flour, and salt as well as a myriad of chemicals that manipulate your pleasure centers for the sake of profit.

The better it tastes the more we are bound to eat.

That is not the case with delicious whole foods. Your brain isn’t tricked into hoarding food as fat and constantly wanting more.

When you are full of whole natural foods, you get the right signals and stop eating.

You remain satiated longer and you don’t get nagging commands to run to the store for junk food every few hours.

It is up to you to stand up to the onslaught and decide if it is worth it to you to be different for the sake of your health and happiness.

do your friends think you're orthorexic




The following two tabs change content below.
I'm a natural health writer and designer at mindbodycopy.com and mindbodyclarity.com and MindfulJoyful.com a creativity blog. I'm also a former Pilates trainer and sports massage therapist, currently working on my Plant-Based Nutrition certification.

Latest posts by Zoe Zuniga (see all)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.