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Tuesdays With Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: Does Dieting Lead to an Eating Disorder?

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QUESTION: I have been trying to follow this program and discussed it with my local RD.  She said that any program like this (i.e., a plant based, vegetarian, vegan diet, etc.) that restricts certain foods or food groups can trigger binge eating and overeating and even lead to an eating disorder.  Is this true?

Thanks for the question.   I have heard the same thing many times over the years, dieting, and especially any form of restrictive dieting, can lead to an eating disorder.  I was even told by a colleague during a similar discussion several years ago, that she has several clients who developed eating disorders from their stays at a renowned health center

In fact, this topic just came up (again) in a recent discussion amongst my professional colleagues.  Upon requesting support information for the above statement, I was sent a brief description of the famous Ancel Keys starvation study which was done at the University of Minnesota in the 1940′s and was told by one of my colleagues that in the Keys study, “Some (of the men) engaged in bizarre food rituals and eventually cycles of binge eating and some purging.”

Keyes A, Brozek , Henschel A, et al.  The biology of human starvation. Vols 1 and 2. Minneapolis: University Press, 1950

In addition, I was sent this quote and reference,

“Starvation and self-imposed dieting appear to result in eating binges once food is available and in psychological manifestations such as preoccupation with food and eating, increased emotional responsiveness and dysphoria, and distractibility.  Caution is thus advised in counseling clients to restrict their eating and diet to lose weight, as the negative sequelae may outweigh the benefits of restraining one’s eating.

Psychological Consequences of Food Restriction. J AM Dietetic Assoc. 1996: 96:589-592

So, is this true?  Can “dieting” and focusing on improving ones eating result in an eating disorder?

No!

But let me clarify this important issue.

Continue reading “Does Dieting Lead to an Eating Disorder” 

About the author

Jeff Novick
Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN is truly a unique dietitian and nutritionist. With over 24 years of experience in nutrition, health, fitness and natural living, he offers expert health advice distilled into powerful, easy-to-understand language on a variety of current topics.Novick’s insightful and humorous approach to nutrition and health has helped thousands worldwide make the transition to healthy living. He holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Indiana State University in nutrition, with a minor in exercise science.Novick serves as Vice President for Executive Health Exams International and lectures at the McDougall Program in Santa Rosa, California and at the Engine 2 Immersion program in Austin, Texas. He is also the Director of Nutrition for the Meals for Health program, which is helping empower low-income families to achieve optimal health.For almost a decade, Novick served as the Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Center in Aventura, Florida, and as Vice President of the Board of the Directors for the National Health Association (NHA). He also served as the Director of Health Education for the NHA and as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Health Sciences for Kaplan University.Novick has taught nutrition classes at Indiana State University, Indiana University Medical School, the University of Miami Medical School and the Florida Academy of Family Physicians. He regularly lectures at medical conferences across the country. While in Indiana, he created and taught the Nutrition Education Initiative, a preventive medicine curriculum for medical doctors, residents and medical students. In recognition of this groundbreaking project, Indiana’s governor awarded Novick the Indiana State Public Health Excellence in Health Science Award and Indiana State University awarded him the Graduate-of-the-Last-Decade Award.He has been interviewed by Newsday, Parade, Men’s Health, Shape, Women’s World and has appeared on Fox News, Discovery Health, the Today Show and other media outlets nationwide. He recently appeared in the documentary Processed People and the movie Fatboy, which won the Best Documentary award at the Fort Lauderdale and Queens Film Festivals.

3 Responses to “Tuesdays With Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: Does Dieting Lead to an Eating Disorder?”

  1. Wendy Hime says:

    Eating a more plant based diet has allowed me to lose weight safely for the first time in my life. I had 20 year history of bulimia. I am healthy and happy and grateful for the Engine 2 video that I saw over 2 years ago.

    • Toni Chandler says:

      A Kaiser cardiologist, Dr. Warren, told my husband to watch the documentary, “Forks Over Knives” and read the book by Drs. Esselstyn and Campbell, “How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease,” I learned to cook vegan, with the help of the recipes in this book and others, and the health benefits are super!

  2. […] Tuesdays With Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: Does Dieting Lead to an Eating Disorder? […]

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