Fifty shades of an eating disorder

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • Do you try every trendy diet, hoping that this time it will work?  Do you shun entire food groups for a period of time, only to “fall apart” and binge on the very foods you avoided for weeks or months?  Do you have strange eating rituals?  Do you think about food all day, while following a very rigorous diet?  Do you avoid social gatherings for fear of temptation?  Have you ever removed food you threw away from the garbage and eaten it?  These are just some of the questions that may identify the person who claims to be healthy and watching their weight, as someone actually struggling with some form of an eating or feeding disorder.

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    I try every diet

    You struggle with weight issues and you want to lose the weight for good.  Unfortunately, you decide that each and every trendy diet, or the latest diet a celebrity is following, is going to be the magic answer.  It’s not though, and you now regain weight and wait for the next diet trend to hit the airwaves.  This kind of cyclical dieting can be a sign of an eating disorder.  There are clear cut dangers when someone gains and loses a lot of weight over and over again.  It’s called yo yo dieting or cyclical dieting, and some studies suggest that this kind of weight gain and loss can increase the risk of developing specific fat stores in your abdomen, which are associated with increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.  Yo yo dieting is also associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels or gall bladder disease.  When it comes to dieting, the right match for you is a personalized diet that fits your goals, eating preferences, and your personal lifestyle.


    I shun food groups

    Carbs aren’t good for you, so you avoid them completely…..fat isn’t good for you so you meticulously avoid any fat in your diet…..dairy isn’t good for you so you shun the dairy food group completely….you heard gluten-free is better-for-you so you are now eating lots of processed foods, but they’re all gluten free…… this you?  In the world of nutrition, we have a saying – eat the superstars.  If you choose wisely, you can lose weight while eating from all six food groups.  Gluten free is wonderful for people with true celiac disease or for someone who has been monitored by a doctor or dietician and found to have certain sensitivities.  If however, someone who needs to avoid gluten only eats lots of gluten free processed foods, they are clearly misguided and don’t understand the concept of healthy eating.  They can also easily gain weight rather than lose weight. 


    If you use portion control and understand how many calories you need to consume in order to lose weight or maintain your weight, then you simply need to choose the best from each food group.  Fruits and vegetables are easy – choose any and all.  When eating dairy products, mostly choose low fat and fat free options.  When it comes to proteins, eat red meat sparingly and choose the leanest cuts.  Choose skinless white meats and commit to having meat-free days, choosing fish, beans, seeds, legumes, eggs instead.  You need fat in your diet, but choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, focusing on omega 3 fats and limiting omega 6 fats.  When it comes to grains (include peas, corn and potatoes in this group) choose high fiber, whole grain choices and limit processed grain foods.  Try ancient grains like amaranth, cous cous, quinoa.


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    Fifty shades of an eating disorder is my attempt to help you to identify any food behaviors that interfere with a healthy, engaged quality of life, even if you do need to lose weight.   In some cases, you may need the help and support of a health professional to determine if you are suffering with some form of an eating disorder. 


    Amy Hendel is a Physician Assistant and Health Coach with over 20 years of experience.  Noted author, journalist and lifestyle expert, she brings extensive expertise to her monthly shareposts.  Her most recent book, The 4 Habits of Healthy Families is available for purchase online, and you can watch her in action on her shows Food Rescue and What's for Lunch?  Sign up for her daily health tweets or catch her daily news report at 

Published On: April 18, 2014