The 90s celebrated slender bodies, reducing the beauty standards to an unnatural thinness. Ultra-thinness was the only viaticum, as the perfect and only illustration of a healthy body and a healthy diet. It took years to understand that this thinness presupposed a way of life that was at the antipodes of personal hygiene, between drugs, laxatives and anorexia.

The beauty standards have since diversified – thank God – but anorexia has for some time now been supplanted by orthorexia, this other eating disorder.

If I believe my dictionary, orthorexia is the “disorder that drives to become obsessively attached to the quality of the food they eat. Orthorexia is an eating disorder marked by the obsession to respect strict nutritional rules. This permanent obsession with “healthy eating” is considered pathological when it invades daily life”.

Unlike anorexia, orthorexia is – to date – perfectly avowed and socially acceptable. It is even encouraged and glorified, if I believe the social media and the shelves of bookstores (who wants to be a Glucose Goddess, to use the title of a book with growing success?).

There is, in principle, nothing very valid to retort to a person who wishes to eat in a healthy way.

Unless this eating behavior turns into an obsession. Constantly counting calories, constantly checking glucose levels, weighing each quantity to the nearest gram, reducing all salt, sugar and fat intake, constantly taking food supplements and vitamins, analyzing all product labels, planning all meals in advance and generally classifying foods into two categories, one healthy and the other toxic are behaviors that fall under orthorexia.

Social media did not help on this one. Between ads for food supplements and other vitamins, the “superfoods” and the litany of detox juice recipes or fasting cycles – all presented by a woman often young, often thin and often in leggings and sports bras, orthorexia still has a bright future ahead of it.

In addition to the fact that the healthy/toxic classification is specific to everyone and therefore perfectly subjective and unscientific, the curative value given to certain foods or certain behaviors is not scientifically proven and can even be dangerous.

In addition to the fact that this permanent concern for food potentially generates a feeling of guilt as soon as the sacrosanct rules are not respected, it weighs heavily on the tasting experience and the social aspect linked to meals.

(And as I’m writing, I’m thinking of the numerous tea rooms I keep discovering with my kids on Sundays).

Carette tea room, a Parisian marvel

Another marvel: the Peninsula hotel

Cédric Grolet and his realistic fruits at the Meurice hotel

Here, the lime. Was it good? No, it was inedible. I don’t understand the hype around Grolet’s pastries (26 euros each). Thank God the champagne glass saved it all (at 30 euros)

There is, in principle, nothing very valid to retort to a person who wishes to eat in a healthy way.

Unless it is a question of food extremism which is accompanied by excessive sport – another practice that purifies the body – and which in reality hides, behind the wish for sanity, the ultimate wish to correspond to beauty standards. In this case, orthorexia may offer the assurance of doing what it takes to have a body matching standardized ideals of beauty (meaning thin and lean) but will not likely prevent the disappointment arising from the comparison to retouched photos of unreal bodies on Instagram.

What to do ?

Knowing that orthorexia is an eating disorder and get medical advice if necessary, stay vigilant about your own eating behavior and that of your children, know how to draw the line between the desire to eat healthy and the obsession with eating healthy, not be fooled by anorexia that hides behind slippery or downright extreme eating behavior, not be fooled by social media, whether it’s a woman in leggings and sports bras or a digitally enhanced woman: these are the best things we have to do if we don’t want to see this new plague develop and succeed the infamous anorexia.

(Did I eat for real this chocolate cake? Absolutely. After a gruelling 3-hour photoshoot, only a chocolate cake could save me)

Alexander McQueen dress – Repetto flat shoes – Lanvin purse – Miu Miu sunglasses

May 26, 2023