Posts Tagged ‘Nutrition’

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Hand wearing watch and holding mug

Intermittent fasting is having its moment.

Silicon Valley executives have considered it a type of biohacking, a productivity hack that may optimize human performance. Today hosts Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb have publicly committed to a month-long trial of it. And for many people admonishing themselves for the holiday cookies and candy they’re enjoying this season, it’s sure to be a 2020 New Year’s resolution.

Yet, despite the many entertainment news segments, celebrities, and water-cooler chats about intermittent fasting, there remains much to learn about the increasingly popular “health” trend.

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Orthorexia: Can “Clean Eating” Go Too Far?

Toast topped with eggs and avocado

By Jillian Lampert

Natural. Organic. Healthy. Clean.

These all seem like positive indicators that a particular food will make a positive impact when consumed as part of a healthful lifestyle. Indeed, it might. However, as with other extreme behaviors, an overly stringent focus on only including these kinds of foods in the diet can have unanticipated negative consequences, some of them with the capacity to be devastating.

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Making Sure that “All Foods Fit” Includes all Foods

Plates of various foods

One common symptom of an eating disorder is the perceived need to eliminate or restrict certain foods. Extreme restriction of certain foods may indicate the presence of a disorder such as Anorexia Nervosa or Orthorexia. Restricted food groups often include processed foods, fast foods, or foods that are higher in sugar and fats (snack items, sweets, and desserts).

Alternatively, someone struggling with Compulsive Overeating or Binge Eating Disorder might alternate between periods of severe overconsumption and total restriction. It is important that intensive work is done in treatment to normalize both one’s attitudes toward and intake of such foods when working to reintroduce that person to the variety, novelty, and pleasure of eating.

The term “all foods fit” is often used to emphasize that there are no “good” foods or “bad” foods. The idea that no food has a moral value is an important concept in removing judgments and distortions that often form in disordered eating beliefs and practices. 

Unfortunately, it is also common for foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to become associated with eating disorder patterns. For example, a client once said “Focusing on eating vegetables was something I did when I was restricting or I started focusing on clean eating. If I was having salads, it meant I was dieting, denying, or punishing myself.”  In a situation where food is restricted, working on accepting and practicing the idea that all food has a place in a healthy diet is essential. By re-incorporating all of the vital components of a balanced diet, individuals can develop an eating pattern free of eating disorder behaviors.

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Five Ways to Identify Problematic Restrictive Eating

Cutting crackers with knife

With the prevalence of diet culture and restriction-based diets like paleo, keto, and whole 30, it can be challenging to identify when restrictive eating becomes disordered. While certain restrictive diets can be healthy and not imply further eating disorder concerns, other restrictive eating patterns can be a warning sign of an eating disorder. To understand when eating becomes disordered, it’s important to be aware of the five ways to identify problematic restrictive eating.

1. Refusing to eat certain foods

An obvious way to identify restrictive eating is if an individual is refusing to eat certain foods. While not eating certain foods is restrictive, it is not always a red flag, which is why it is important to understand why the food is being restricted. For example, if a person abides by a vegan diet and refuses to eat meat or dairy, that could be healthy for them or it could be a sign of disordered eating. To understand which it is, it is important to ask why an individual is eliminating certain foods. For example, if someone refuses to eat dairy because they are lactose intolerant, that is restrictive and it is a healthy choice for them because if they ate dairy, they would feel ill. If someone avoids dairy, but when asked why responds by saying that it has too many calories or causes fat, that may be a sign of disordered eating.

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