Sunday, April 16, 2006

It's Greek to Us

An article in today's Chicago Tribune talks about those who take healthful eating too far.(See here.) But, a word they use is enough to make anybody want to puke.

Although we live in an obese nation of fast-food eaters, the camp of health-food advocates is alive and well. However, even healthy eating can go to the extreme. The enigmatic eating disorder, orthorexia nervosa (ON) is just that, healthy eating gone awry.

Orthorexia nervosa refers to "ortho," meaning straight, correct and true. It was named in the late 1990s by a physician, Steven Bratman. Media attention was brought to this condition with his book "Health Food Junkies." Unlike its counterparts, anorexia and bulimia nervosa, ON elevates food to a righteous level.

Orthorexia? This word has all of the oomph of a watercress sandwich. "Anorexia" comes from a Greek word meaning "loss of appetite." So, "orthorexia" would mean loss of appetite for the right things when it, in fact, is used to describe those who eat too much of the right things.

Also, the phrase "anorexia nervosa" comes from new Latin, so calling something "orthorexia nervosa" mixes words from two different languages, a linguistic no-no. So, what's the Rx? Purge it from your vocabulary. Great. Now I'm making bulimia jokes...


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