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Orthorexia fuel from Sisson

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    Saw the headline, can’t bear to read the article. Makes me cringe:


    I dunno, I read through it- I don’t find it offensive. I mean, he has some notions of what healthy eating entails that differ from mine, but some of the points are good.

    Are we moving around joyfully? Do we have people close to us who we care about and who care for us? Are we surrounding ourselves with people who inspire us to live better and more fully, or people who’s patterns drag us down?

    I didn’t see much in there that was explicitly peddling in orthorexic dogma.


    I haven’t bothered to click on that link, but although Sisson has some good stuff, most or all of his good work is undone by his Insidious Weight Gain carb curve, or whatever the hell it is. I forget the details now, but remember it from my paleo days.

    Utter garbage.

    mighty m

    Gazelle, I’ll validate that you are correct to give that stuff a miss. Just clicked. Yawn. And to think I used to read that blog regularly!

    Sure, SOME of the points are good, and if the article only focused on those, that would be one thing. But, sandwiched between that stuff, I think there IS quite a lot of “You’re not good enough! More more more!” in the article. It’s consistent with the anxiety-mining characteristic of paleo blogs, despite the fact that the guilt-trippy stuff is bookended by Sisson’s upbeat, self-helpy bromides, which are so cheery and anodyne that hardly anyone could disagree with them, like the shot of the cute kitten that closes the local news.

    It’s not worth putting a lot of time into it, but FWIW here is just one quote that could be seen as orthoexic, imo:

    – “And, by and large, we get it totally wrong when we try to estimate our own health. We think we’re healthier than we actually are, have less weight to lose than we actually should, and are more physically fit than the previous generations. America’s weight problem? That’s ?everyone else. ?That’s not me?, you say. ?I’ve got a few pounds to lose, sure, but I’m definitely better off than most everyone else. No one is immune.”

    No one is immune! We get it “totally wrong”! In other words, this seems to say: If you look around and feel content with yourself, your body, your life, your health … well you shouldn’t be!

    Shoot … I just had a thought that is gonna make this post longer. Here comes a rant … NOT in response to you, Rob, you are delightful! Just a riff IN GENERAL about the MDA tone in this and similar articles::: It almost seems as if Mark Sisson envisions his typical reader as a complacent, smug, SUV-driving douchebag (Ken Korg!) in a golf shirt who drinks a Big Gulp of Mt Dew every afternoon and a 6-pack of Bud every night, who has an undeservedly high opinion of himself (despite untested “low T”!), and that, thank goodness, MDA will enlighten. From Malibu, he shudders to think of the Great Mass of the Malled (I mean … those guys he met once from the Valley, yikes!), slurping HFCS while never rising from their PlayStations … in fact, it’s as if he thinks he’s talking to the people scooting around on recliners in Wall-E. In short, the tone implies that the reader is complacent and needs a kick in the ass.

    And, in fact, if those were the only people reading, I would be tempted by snobbery, reverse-snobbery and/or various chips on my shoulder to agree. Those are the guys, after all, that cut too close when I’m on my bike, those are the type of men always telling women to “smile!” But so many people reading health blogs *are not that type*. Instead, they’ve already wound themselves up into a frenzy of worry, and don’t need more piling on. Many are people who are incredibly hard on themselves, and don’t have a lot of social privilege like Mr. Golf Shirt to soften the blow … like, fer instance, women, who have been told, “health”-wise, that “you can do better” their entire lives.

    OK, rant over! I shouldn’t have clicked on that link … touched a nerve I guess. If I want masochism, I’ll stick to the political opinions of my high school classmates on Facebook from now on.


    @mighty m- Those are all fair points, and I suppose whether an article like this resonates with an individual has to do with balance and what they need. Sometimes, we do need to hear and be reminded that there’s nothing wrong with us, that we don’t have to bend over backward chasing an invisible ideal in order to be worth loving, or even just worthy of living. Being able to get over a pattern of thinking that distrusts our own basic self-worth is very valuable, and if this sort of article undermines that, and instead fuels further insidious self-loathing, then that’s a net negative.

    But other people will do well with this sort of message. It didn’t bother me, as I mentioned above. I saw it primarily as a motivator to keep striving, to not become complacent. I think there’s a way to simultaneously come to a place of self-acceptance while also looking toward the future.

    Charles Eisenstein has this great section in ‘Transformational Weight Loss,’ where he talks about this. He says coming to love yourself exactly as you are right now is not to lock yourself into your current predicament. It’s about appreciating that where you are now is the best and most adaptive response to everything you’ve experienced so far, that your [issue you’re dealing with] is not because you’re fundamentally broken, but because it was the best way to adjust to your environment. And it’s paved the way for you to learn and understand yourself in this important way. And now you can move forward, having learned what you need to from carrying around this weight/struggling with depression, etc., and leave it behind.

    It reminds me of this article here from Cracked. Is it fuel for self-loathing, or in the end inspirational? It depends on your perspective. It’s both and neither simultaneously, except insomuch as you and your wolrdview make it so.

    Maybe it’s sort of like food intolerances. Does gluten/fructose/dairy/whatever send you in a tailspin? Maybe. But is there a way to get past being triggered by that? Is there a way to not get triggered by an article like this? Possibly so. And maybe it’s worth it, just to become more resilient in a world that abounds with triggers.

    When I think about the Buddhist idea of non-attachment, I think it makes most sense to me when conceiving of it as rising above these triggers, more than being dulled to any passion. It’s not that you have all the joy sucked out of you in a bid to become equanimous. Rather, you are no longer sent into an unwitting frenzy by outside forces. You no longer cede that power to others.

    My 2?.


    OK I guess I was triggered by this article, just glancing at it (the “No on is immune” and “I think you can do better” lines) and some of the comments. As a former orthorexic, the idea that you may not be doing something EXTREME ENOUGH and that there may be MORE things to eliminate/change so you can be EVEN healthier, is triggering. It’s the whole “Feeling bad on paleo? Then PALEO HARDER” thing. I thought of a good friend of mine who has just “discovered” paleo. He reads MDA and is your typical new convert who has lost weight, gained energy, reduced pain, etc. I imagined him coming across this article and it feeding his smugness as well as inspiring him to PALEO HARDER because he hasn’t solved ALL of his nagging health problems.

    Reading the article more closely, I see that the message is not exactly PALEO HARDER, which is good, but I do wonder if the real message is getting lost. The comments are full of smugness and salad dressing debates and suggestions to try IFing or obsess about blood work and grams of carbs per day.


    I see your point completely, Gazelle–but who would want to do paleo if it eliminated all the smugness, obsessiveness, and salad dressing debates??? :)

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