SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

May 28, 2013

Obsessive Eating

DEPOSITPHOTOS.COM   / DISPATCH PHOTO ILLUSTRATION

O B S E S S I V E       E A T I N G

Some people go to extremes, eliminating even healthy foods that they don’t think fit in their diets

By Misti Crane • THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Moderation matters, even when it comes to healthy living. • There are people who starve their bodies based on their decision to eliminate all foods that aren’t organic and local. There are others whose twice-a-day intense workouts consume their free time at the expense of family and friends. • This behavior isn’t classic anorexia, and it’s not necessarily tied to a desire for thinness. But experts say that the psychological roots of it are similar, that this “disordered” thinking can be tied to obsessive-compulsive disorder, rigid thinking and perfectionism.

We’re living at a time when exercise and diet information is more abundant than ever. And those who are disciplined in those regards often are revered, making it more complicated to recognize when someone tips from making good lifestyle choices to bad, said Sondra Kronberg, a clinical nutrition therapist at the Eating Disorder Treatment Collaborative in New York.

  • “In this culture around us, fitness and health, it’s sort of like that’s become a religion,” she said. “It’s sort of a way of being connected and defining oneself.”

Excessive exercise often accompanies “orthorexia,” a desire to avoid foods perceived as unhealthy or impure, said Kronberg, a former board member of the National Eating Disorders Association.

Orthorexia is not an officially recognized diagnosis, but those who work in the field say they see plenty of adolescents and adults whose behavior fits the description.

  • Kronberg said those who wonder whether they are taking their health habits to an extreme should reflect on how much time they spend thinking about body image and about eating and exercising. And they should ask themselves if they miss out on good parts of life, such as parties and dinners, because of their food or workout “rules.”

“It’s not about your career; it’s not about your family. It’s not the root of all happiness,” Kronberg said.

Jennifer Carter, a counselor and sports psychologist at the Center for Balanced Living in Worthington, said it’s probably unusual for individuals with eating disorders to be motivated only by a desire to be healthy.

Contributing factors could include past trauma, low self-worth and neurobiological factors, she said.

Dr. Terrill Bravender, the chief of adolescent medicine and director of the eating-disorders program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said orthorexia in adolescents sometimes can be overcome when patients understand that they’re harming their bodies.

  • Limited diets can decrease muscle mass, deprive the body of essential nutrients, slow the brain and the gastrointestinal system, and decrease blood pressure.

A lot of young people arrive at orthorexia because they’ve learned about unhealthy lifestyle choices in health class, or because high blood pressure or high cholesterol has been diagnosed in a parent, he said.

“A doc says, ‘Cut back on processed food,’ and then the child interprets that in a very concrete way, thinking all saturated fat, all processed food must be bad for you and might kill you,” Bravender said.

If you spend enough time on the Internet, he said, you can find “evidence” that anything you eat is bad for you.

Dr. Megan Schabbing, an OhioHealth psychiatrist, said anyone who takes diet or exercise to an extreme could benefit from an evaluation from a physician.

“People who have obsessive-compulsive traits may be more prone to over-exerting control in terms of diet and exercise,” she said. Anxiety could be another concern.

Not everyone who goes to extremes has a psychiatric disorder, but it’s good to screen for them, she said.

For more information on eating disorders or to find help, visit http://www.nationaleating   disorders.org  . mcrane@dispatch.com     @MistiCrane

(My Comment: 

We’ve all seen the heart-breaking stories of young, beautiful girls who waste away from eating disorders and anorexic behaviors – – but this as it is showing in this article is not that.  Instead, what appears to be happening is some strong-arm scare tactics   to perhaps bring about compliance with usual and normal living routines which allow everyone to be more “comfortable” with the status-quo.  

At least in my mind,  personal choice criticisms outlined herein are being harshly critical.  When one observes the high numbers of  our huge masses of uninformed, obese and dysfunctional people  who haven’t a clue as to how they got that way, and take no action – – one questions if those experts aren’t looking in the wrong direction. 

The illustration heading this article demonstrates the choices being  eliminated or overlooked;  therefore disparaged  by inference by our so-called experts.  But if our health-chasing dieters and exercisers are in fact only exercising their personal choice  in eliminating grains and dairy – – that is not a choice too many of those experts showcased here at “smokinchoices” would disagree with. Nor would I.    These are sometimes tedious and difficult choices to make, while trying to bring them selves into alignment with their perceived health goals.  Looks like damned if you do and damned  if you don’t.    If one is a hammer, everything kinda looks like a nail!   

To many, giving up grains and dairy appears unacceptable and out of the norm.  Perhaps the “Hammer” specialists could be a little gentler and/or broader in acceptance of some of these efforts when they seem to make others uncomfortable.  Ditto with organic and “local.”  My Gawd, it it were extreme like only drinking parsley water or some peculiar type of bizarre bugs they  eat – – something weird – – but, dairy, grains, organic and local?.  .  .  all sane, efficient and enlightened choices  which can enable  superior health.  No one would question that balance is important, but so is personal choice and the effort being made by these choosers to improve themselves.   The serious threat of ‘body harm’ is seriously overblown, it would seem.  Jan)

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