Why Whole30 Is a 30-Day Trial of Orthorexia (and How It Can Trigger Long-Term Disordered Eating)

Episode 18,  Sep 07, 2021, 11:32 PM

Whole30 is an extreme 30-day elimination diet "cleanse" that has been celebrated by diet culture. But it's also known to trigger disordered eating, poor(er) relationships with food, food anxiety and Orthorexia. Listen to today's episode to learn what Orthorexia is, and where the lines between Whole30 & Orthorexia blur. I also discuss the official Orthorexia Assessment Quiz by Dr. Stephen Bratman. And share my personal experience with Whole30, Paleo and Orthorexia.

Eliminating food(s) to "cleanse," "detox" or lose weight is completely different than someone who follows a customized elimination diet under the care of a trained healthcare professional. While those with a food allergy, food intolerance, or an autoimmune disease (e.g. Celiac Disease) aren't immune to Orthorexia, it is different to avoid certain foods for medically diagnosed reasons. 

"The Biology of Binge Eating" Mathes, Brownley, Mo, and Bulik
I reference this study to support that 30 days of any restriction inevitably leads to food cravings and binging:

Official Orthorexia Assessment Quiz
Dr. Steven Bratman has granted permission to share his quiz for self-assessment. Answering “yes” to any of the following questions means you may have—or are developing—Orthorexia:

  1. I spend so much of my life thinking about, choosing and preparing healthy food that it interferes with other dimensions of my life, such as love, creativity, family, friendship, work and school.
  2. When I eat any food I regard to be unhealthy, I feel anxious, guilty, impure, unclean, and/or defiled; even to be near such foods disturbs me, and I feel judgmental of others who eat such foods.
  3. My personal sense of peace, happiness, joy, safety, and self-esteem is excessively dependent on the purity and righteousness of what I eat.
  4. Sometimes I would like to relax my self-imposed “good food” rules for a special occasion, such as a wedding or a meal with family and friends, but I find that I cannot. (Note: if you have a medical condition in which it is unsafe for you to make ANY exception to your diet, then this item does not apply).
  5. Over time, I have steadily eliminated more foods and expanded my list of food rules in an attempt to maintain or enhance health benefits; sometimes, I may take an existing food theory and add to it with beliefs of my own.
  6. Following my theory of healthy eating has caused me to lose more weight than most people would say is good for me or has caused other signs of malnutrition such as hair loss, loss of menstruation, or skin problems.

For more resources on healing from years of dieting and disordered eating, learn more at:

Thank you for listening & subscribing! ~Meridith