Health & Spirit

Who is at risk for orthorexia nervosa's fanatical eating habits?

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

When Swedish-born PGA golfer Jesper Parnevik wanted to clean out his system after a season of eating lousy food on tour, he decided to ingest (and not in jest) something a little different: volcanic sand. "I just take it straight. It's from somewhere in Europe. I bring it back from Sweden."

Pro golfers aren't the only athletes who engage in weird eating habits; one recent study found as many as 28% of all athletes are affected by orthorexia nervosa, or ON, an unhealthy fixation with eating correctly. It's characterized by compulsive checking of ingredient lists and nutritional labels, eliminating an increasing number of food groups (all carbs, all meats, all dairy) and distress when desired "clean foods" are not available.

But you don't have to be an athlete to develop a pathological obsession with healthy food. These days it's also affecting many folks who worry excessively about contamination of food from errant chemicals in the environment and additives in prepared foods.

Now, we want you to be aware of what you put into your body so that you can become your healthiest and happiest self. But we want to make it clear that healthy food choices should be a means to an end -- a younger RealAge -- not an end in itself. So remember, eating foods from a variety of sources makes it less likely that you'll get a high dose of any environmental toxin. Your food should be nutritious, enjoyable and make you feel good. No need for volcanic sand.



Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c) 2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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