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Thread: Orthorexia and Nutritional Idealism

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    Default Orthorexia and Nutritional Idealism

    Forum denizens, most of you are open minded, web savy individuals with an interest in self improvement. This is a good thing. It means you have the potential to expand your horizons, assert your individuality, and grow as an individual in ways most other cannot. Unfortunately, this also means you are unusually susceptible to the reality distortion field that is the world wide web. Nowhere is this more true than in the realm of nutrition. There are scores of zealously advocated/defended and seductively presented nutritional memes floating around out there which fall somewhere between useless and extremely dangerous. I've been down the rabbit hole and it runs deep. In fact, it runs and runs and runs and doesn't lead anywhere besides orthorexia, and in some cases anorexia. Don't chase that rabbit. Fact is, nutrition is a young and extremely complex science. No matter the scientific approach or ornate form of idealism one applies toward establishing an ideal dietary formula, the answer eludes. We have absolutely no conception of what, if anything, constitutes an ideal diet, and we probably never will.

    What, then, is a person to do when it comes to food? The fundamental issue, it seems, is that the "I'm not gonna give a shit and just eat what everyone else eats" attitude so clearly is not viable. That's what everyone does, after all, and obesity rates in the developed world continue to skyrocket. We've tried that already, and many of us are not satisfied with the results.

    Part of the problem lies in the expectations many place on the potential for diet to improve our lives. Many of the ills we attribute to poor diet are highly complex, multifaceted problems. Diet no doubt plays a role in physical/emotional well being, but so do all sorts of other things. Orthorexia is, by a wide margin, more likely to undermine well being than a suboptimal diet. It is unrealistic, and in some sense a cop out, to turn diet into a proxy for all of our problems.

    In this globalized, industrial age, part of the problem lies with our much eroded food culture. Rather than take notes from our grandmother's recipe book, we eat whatever is cheap and convenient whenever it is convenient. We treat our bodies as though we are cars at at gas filling station. Dining and the rituals that surround it have been commoditized, and as this process has taken place many of the evolved cultural practices that once ensured good nutritional hygiene have been lost. Collectively we are suffering the consequences.

    If you are looking for quality, honest-to-goodness nutritional information, I recommend these sites as a starting place.


    http://wholehealthsource.org/
    http://www.beyondveg.com/


    And Here's a funny article I pulled from blogger matt stone at 180degreehealth.com about his common experience with diets.

    Diets are Like New Girlfriends

    1) At first you can’t sleep at all

    2) You announce it to everyone on Facebook

    3) You are 100% convinced you’ve found something that you can do for the rest of your life

    4) You go on and on talking to your friends about it until they are sure you have gone crazy

    5) You bring it home for the Holidays and make your family feel uncomfortable

    6) You stop going out with your friends because of it

    7) Your friends and family express concern that you are going to end up hurt

    8) The more time passes, the less often you get an erection

    9) You enjoy eating it at first, but after a while even the smell of it makes your stomach turn

    10) After a few months you start daydreaming of other flavors, and want more variety

    11) At first you make a lot of tasty, homecooked meals – but then get lazy

    12) Over time you start to notice bad breath and body odor

    13) You start seeing things in the toilet that are strange, unfamiliar, and gross

    14) You lose your zest for life and start staying home and watching movies every night

    15) You pass no gas at first, then after a few months you start farting a lot

    16) You develop a strange rash

    17) Your sex life gets steadily worse

    18) It makes you feel cold, lifeless, and empty inside

    19) After several months you lose all your motivation to work out and stay in shape

    20) You start to cheat and feel really bad about it

    21) You spend time looking at alternatives on the internet, and watching videos

    22) You keep hearing that it’s your fault that things aren’t going well

    23) You tell everyone it’s over and they say “I told ya so, what were you thinking?”

    24) You find another and start the whole process over again

    25) After a few months apart you forget how horrible it was and you want to start over
    Last edited by chrisalys; 02-16-2012 at 12:22 AM.

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    Perpetual Confusion Machine PistolShrimp's Avatar
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    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Re: the links: paleo ain't the solution, either (can cause serious thyroid/adrenal issues in some), though it sure is a step up from the standard American diet or veg*nism. Balance and moderation are key, along with focus on real food and avoidance of wheat/trans fats/PUFAs/stress. Also, Matt Stone is nucking futs, though entertaining.

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    I think all diets, including paleo, are just different roads to orthorexia... they're all ok, as long as you don't overdo it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Agee The Great View Post
    Nobody here...besides me, seems to know what SLE is except for maybe Maritsa.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PistolShrimp View Post
    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Re: the links: paleo ain't the solution, either (can cause serious thyroid/adrenal issues in some), though it sure is a step up from the standard American diet or veg*nism. Balance and moderation are key, along with focus on real food and avoidance of wheat/trans fats/PUFAs/stress. Also, Matt Stone is nucking futs, though entertaining.
    Those links don't route to pro-paleo sites. I agree paleo ain't the solution. Personally, I think most people would be better off cutting down their consumption of refined sugar than avoiding wheat. Wheat seems to be problematic for some, but it is fine for most healthy individuals. Otherwise I agree with what you are saying.

    And yeah, Matt Stone is a total nutcase. I love the guy, but those with a history or orthorexic behavior should probably avoid his site.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gnarlycharlie View Post
    Those links don't route to pro-paleo sites. I agree paleo ain't the solution. Personally, I think most people would be better off cutting down their consumption of refined sugar than avoiding wheat. Wheat seems to be problematic for some, but it is fine for most healthy individuals. Otherwise I agree with what you are saying.

    And yeah, Matt Stone is a total nutcase. I love the guy, but those with a history or orthorexic behavior should probably avoid his site.
    Whole Health is big in the paleo community, and the other site lists paleo diet and nutrition focus right on the front page. My opinion on wheat vs. sugar is completely opposite; white sugar is innocuous in the absence of processed grains and trans fats/PUFAs, while wheat spikes blood sugar horrendously as proven in many studies, leading to obesity and other problems. High fructose corn syrup is bad news, though.

    Haha I too definitely wouldn't recommend Matt's blog to anyone with eating problems, especially considering he was telling people to eat Frosted Flakes last time I checked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PistolShrimp View Post
    Whole Health is big in the paleo community, and the other site lists paleo diet and nutrition focus right on the front page. My opinion on wheat vs. sugar is completely opposite; white sugar is innocuous in the absence of processed grains and trans fats/PUFAs, while wheat spikes blood sugar horrendously as proven in many studies, leading to obesity and other problems. High fructose corn syrup is bad news, though.

    Haha I too definitely wouldn't recommend Matt's blog to anyone with eating problems, especially considering he was telling people to eat Frosted Flakes last time I checked.
    Stephan of WholeHealthSource is definitively respected in the paleo community, but he doesn't have an agenda and many of his views aren't paleo friendly. He supports natural foods and loves to research traditional diets, but that hardly makes him paleo. Beyondvegetarianism may seem at first glance like a repository of paleo progoganda, but it certainly is not. Many of it's articles delve into the mindsest and core tenets of paleo advocates, but it doesn't come out strongly for or against. In fact, the site doesn't come out strongly for or against much of anything. It simply delivers a whole hell of a lot of information about the mindset and potential pitfalls implicit to a variety of fringe dietary regimes.

    As far as the sugar vs. wheat debate goes, I will say this: given the complex interactions between food groups and other environmental factors, studies designed to pick apart the specific effects of a single food group are prone to mislead. What I do know is that wheat has been a staple in the western food supply for hundreds of years and only in recent decades have obesity other metabolic disorders become pandemic. Sugar consumption, by contrast, has increased steadily in line with the increase in prevalence of metobolic disorders. This is by no means a smoking gun pointed at sugar, but it does suggest wheat isn't necessarily such a huge problem and that sugar is something we should regard with caution. Further, my basic intuition is that industrially processed and refined foods are going tend to be less healthy than more natural foods due to mineral depletion and the fact that we aren't really adapted to be eating industrially processed food 24/7. Wheat and sugar are both heavily processed and (in the case of white flour) refined, but sugar arguably more so.

    I'm not really sure why HFCS should be regarded with greater caution than beet sugar. The two are nearly identical at the molecular level(hfcs has a slightly higher proportion of fructose to sucrose, but all things said they are pretty similar in this regard). So far as I know, the only tenable argument a person who sees nothing wrong with beet sugar could make against hfcs is that GMO corn (of which most hfcs is derived) is somehow more dangerous at the genetic level than GMO beets (which are used to make beet sugar). This is not an argument that is commonly made.

    You seem like a fan of Ray Peat. Are you? I've got issues with that man.
    Last edited by chrisalys; 02-17-2012 at 01:37 AM.

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    Korpsy Knievel's Avatar
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    I suspect the greatest benefit of the paleolithic diet comes from all the tramping about and climbing necessary to live an actual hunter-gatherer's life, not from eating like an ersatz caveman in front of the TV.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekpyrosos View Post
    I suspect the greatest benefit of the paleolithic diet comes from all the tramping about and climbing necessary to live an actual hunter-gatherer's life, not from eating like an ersatz caveman in front of the TV.
    We actually don't know a whole lot about how paleolithic people ate or lived. Nor do we have a good sense of how biologically similar we are to our paleolithic brethren. Mutations introduce novel genetic material into the human gene pool at snails pace (most likely on the order of millions of years), but genetic drift can occur rapidly (on the order 5 or 6 generations) when environmental factors radically change.

    So basically, the paleo diet movement is based upon a series of untested (and probably incorrect) assumptions about historical man's diet and the pace of human evolution. It is blind adherence to these assumptions that undermines the intellectual legitimacy and practical value of the movement

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    Quote Originally Posted by gnarlycharlie View Post
    We actually don't know a whole lot about how paleolithic people ate or lived. Nor do we have a good sense of how biologically similar we are to our paleolithic brethren. Mutations introduce novel genetic material into the human gene pool at snails pace (most likely on the order of millions of years), but genetic drift can occur rapidly (on the order 5 or 6 generations) when environmental factors radically change.

    So basically, the paleo diet movement is based upon a series of untested (and probably incorrect) assumptions about historical man's diet and the pace of human evolution. It is blind adherence to these assumptions that undermines the intellectual legitimacy and practical value of the movement
    I suspect the greatest benefit of the paleolithic diet comes from all the tramping about and climbing necessary to live an actual hunter-gatherer's life, not from eating like an ersatz caveman in front of the TV.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekpyrosos View Post
    I suspect the greatest benefit of the paleolithic diet comes from all the tramping about and climbing necessary to live an actual hunter-gatherer's life, not from eating like an ersatz caveman in front of the TV.
    I hear you. I don't agree with you. In the first place, there's no real evidence that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was brutally taxing physically. the popular assumption that the life of a hunter gatherer was "nasty, brutish and short" is probably a misconception. The average hunter gatherer was certainly less sedentary than your typical 21'st century American, but there is no good reason to assume it was any more physically taxing than the average occupation of, say, early 20'th century Americans (please don't make me get into it; it's a conversation that could run for hours). In the second place, I don't agree that extreme amounts of physical activity are remotely necessary for a healthy figure. In fact, you run the risk of doing a lot of damage to your health and (ultimately) figure if you try eating the way pop culture says hunter-gatherers ate (low in carbs, high in animal carcases, leaves and twigs) and exercising the way pop culture says hunter gatherers lived (chasing around wooly mammoths all day).

    In short, eating like you think a hunter gatherer ate in front of the tv is probably not healthy,but eating like you think a hunter gatherer ate whilst living the way you think a hunter gatherer lived is probably even less healthy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gnarlycharlie View Post
    I hear you. I don't agree with you. In the first place, there's no real evidence that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was brutally taxing physically. the popular assumption that the life of a hunter gatherer was "nasty, brutish and short" is probably a misconception. The average hunter gatherer was certainly less sedentary than your typical 21'st century American, but there is no good reason to assume it was any more physically taxing than the average occupation of, say, early 20'th century Americans (please don't make me get into it; it's a conversation that could run for hours). In the second place, I don't agree that extreme amounts of physical activity are remotely necessary for a healthy figure. In fact, you run the risk of doing a lot of damage to your health and (ultimately) figure if you try eating the way pop culture says hunter-gatherers ate (low in carbs, high in animal carcases, leaves and twigs) and exercising the way pop culture says hunter gatherers lived (chasing around wooly mammoths all day).

    In short, eating like you think a hunter gatherer ate in front of the tv is probably not healthy,but eating like you think a hunter gatherer ate whilst living the way you think a hunter gatherer lived is probably even less healthy.
    Nice collection of strawmen. Now calculate their nutritional content.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekpyrosos View Post
    Nice collection of strawmen. Now calculate their nutritional content.
    Did I misrepresent what you wrote? Did I misconstrue your assumptions about the lifestyle and diet of paleo people? If you have a point, choke it up already.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gnarlycharlie View Post
    As far as the sugar vs. wheat debate goes, I will say this: given the complex interactions between food groups and other environmental factors, studies designed to pick apart the specific effects of a single food group are prone to mislead. What I do know is that wheat has been a staple in the western food supply for hundreds of years and only in recent decades have obesity other metabolic disorders become pandemic. Sugar consumption, by contrast, has increased steadily in line with the increase in prevalence of metobolic disorders. This is by no means a smoking gun pointed at sugar, but it does suggest wheat isn't necessarily such a huge problem and that sugar is something we should regard with caution. Further, my basic intuition is that industrially processed and refined foods are going tend to be less healthy than more natural foods due to mineral depletion and the fact that we aren't really adapted to be eating industrially processed food 24/7. Wheat and sugar are both heavily processed and (in the case of white flour) refined, but sugar arguably more so.

    I'm not really sure why HFCS should be regarded with greater caution than beet sugar. The two are nearly identical at the molecular level(hfcs has a slightly higher proportion of fructose to sucrose, but all things said they are pretty similar in this regard). So far as I know, the only tenable argument a person who sees nothing wrong with beet sugar could make against hfcs is that GMO corn (of which most hfcs is derived) is somehow more dangerous at the genetic level than GMO beets (which are used to make beet sugar). This is not an argument that is commonly made.

    You seem like a fan of Ray Peat. Are you? I've got issues with that man.
    It is certainly impossible to pin down a single food group as the cause of the obesity/diabetes epidemic, but I think it is possible to determine the key offenders. Modern day wheat is not nearly the same as the wheat our ancestors ate, and affects our bodies differently. See: the extreme increase in cases of Celiac disease over the past half-century. Also:

    http://boingboing.net/2011/10/26/tri...eat-belly.html

    Wheat contains a type of sugar called amylopectin A that raises blood sugar in an extravagant fashion. Eating just two slices of whole wheat bread, can raise blood sugar more than two tablespoons of pure sugar. This leads to the accumulation of visceral fat on the body, the deep fat encircling organs that is a hotbed of inflammatory activity
    Wheat is just one of many factors creating the perfect storm for our current health epidemics.

    HFCS is more dangerous because it is cheap and in everything, so it is far easier to consume too much; the switch from sugar to HFCS in most foods also coincides with the rise in obesity percentages over the past few decades. There have also been studies done on rats where the HFCS group gained a significant percentage more weight than the group fed table sugar: http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/a.../S26/91/22K07/ The difference in sucrose/fructose ratio does matter, especially when people consume so much HFCS.

    ...as a result of the manufacturing process for high-fructose corn syrup, the fructose molecules in the sweetener are free and unbound, ready for absorption and utilization. In contrast, every fructose molecule in sucrose that comes from cane sugar or beet sugar is bound to a corresponding glucose molecule and must go through an extra metabolic step before it can be utilized.
    I like Ray Peat because I have thyroid/adrenal issues exacerbated by a year of paleo eating that his diet recommendations are actually helping to heal. What's your beef with him? He is a bit nutty and I'm by no means a devout follower; just curious.

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    Haikus Beautiful sky's Avatar
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    lol I love this thread. I missed it when it was first published. I agree that many people get into diet fads and even try to create their own diet in the name of "health" and other things they want to control about their body.

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