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?
But let me clarify this important issue.