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Grossed out at the table and eating alone - should I be getting help?

answered 02:02 PM EST, Wed March 19, 2014
anonymous anonymous
I have a problem watching other people eat unclean food. I try to eat very clean and my health has benefited greatly since I switched off all processed foods and non grass fed beef. Basically I only eat organic fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, legumes, cultured organic hormone free dairy and other pro and prebiotics foods and chicken and eggs if I can be sure they are authentically free raised and hormone free. Since I made transformation I lost 30 pounds of fat and I am very lean and toned now. Now I have trouble with eating anything that is even marginally unclean. My friends and family find it hard to take because I am so rigid and obsessive about this so I usually end up eating alone. It is just easier on everyone if I do. Actually, one of the biggest problems I have right now is that not only do I want to eat clean, I am grossed out by food that is not clean even to the point where I CAN’T even eat if I am at a table where someone else is eating some horrible CAFO meat because it makes me feel sick to my stomach to watch them eat it. I do not want to change my diet to go back to eating non-clean foods but I am not sure that my revulsion to other people eating is a healthy thing. Is there anything I can do to be less bothered (physically ill) by what other people eat in front of me?

Art Matthews Says...

The fact that this has gone from simply eating differently from other people to becoming physically nauseated when watching others eat indicates a different and potentially serious problem altogether, and may qualify for a diagnosis of orthorexia, the "clean diet" eating disorder http://abc7news.com/health/eating-disorder-can-be-disguised-as-healthy-eating/86840/ .


First I always like to focus on physical issues. Are the foods they are preparing and eating something you are allergic to? If you are coming in contact with allergens in some way during mealtimes, that could be causing a mild allergic reaction and you feel nauseated. If so, isolating yourself from those foods would be medically necessary.


But I believe you are referring to a psychological revulsion when you have meals with others. You use the word "unclean" which to me means unwashed or dirty. I'm not certain that's the meaning of the word you use. I think it would make many of us nauseated to watch people eat food we know to be dirty (unwashed or contaminated) because we know that that is unhealthy and likely would cause disease.


You have associated processed/altered/treated foods with being "unclean" and may even have disgusting images or thoughts running through your head as you observe them chowing down on a Big Mac or mac and cheese. People who make these associations are usually very ambitious, driven, rigid, organized, proactive, and good rule followers... basically Type A personalities. These folks want others to "get the point" and make similar changes because it's ONLY LOGICAL!


Type A personalities can often be diagnosed with stress/anxiety disorders, anger problems, depression, relationship problems and even eating disorders and OCD. Depending on how disruptive this has become in your life, this might be the time to talk to your Primary Care Physician (for assessment of any physiological problems) and an assessment by a mental health care provider.


I would recommend seeing someone who has a background in working with eating disorders even though this does not look like the typical conditions of anorexia or bulimia. Your relationship with food (and the food others eat) has become extreme. Even though you can see the health benefits to your diet, being as restrictive as you are may not be necessary or -- as you suspect -- healthy.


You may not like that others eat differently than you do, but it shouldn't make you physically ill to be with them when they eat.


Best of luck to you. It can and does get better!

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Page last updated Jun 01, 2014

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