Posts tagged with "Clean eating"

Orthorexia: When ‘clean’ eating becomes an obsession

October 9, 2019

Besides his political views (“incorrect”), Bill Maher of HBO’s Real Time is known for his religious beliefs (none), his love of animals and children (complete and completely missing), and his views on how to stay healthy (“clean” eating).

In fact, in a 2017 interview with Esquire magazine, Maher took the writer to his kitchen and showed him “lunch,” which consisted of “Sesame seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, millet, barley, rye,” he said. “They’re very good for you. He mashed the seeds with water in a machine that looked like a coffee grinder. After the mixture was allowed to sit for a few hours, he added black cherry concentrate—and that was his midday meal.

While his diet may seem extreme, he is a member of a growing sector of the population that is committed to eating clean—whether that may be gluten-free, dairy-free, raw food, or all-organic. Their ethos: Choosing only whole foods in their natural state and avoiding processed ones will improve your health.

According to an October 7 report by NPR, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to eat this way, but sometimes these kinds of food preferences can begin to take over people’s lives, making them fear social events where they won’t be able to find the “right” foods. When a healthful eating pattern goes too far, it may turn into an eating disorder that scientists are just beginning to study.

However it is integrated into a person’s lifestyle, orthorexia is a fairly recent phenomenon. NPR notes that Dr. Steven Bratman, an alternative medicine practitioner in the 1990s, first coined the term in an essay in the nonscientific Yoga Journal in 1997. Many of his patients eschewed traditional medicine and believed that the key to good health was simply eating the “right” foods. Some of them would ask him what foods they should cut out.

“People would think they should cut out all dairy and they should cut out all lentils, all wheat … And it dawned on me gradually that many of these patients, their primary problem was that they were … far too strict with themselves,” Dr, Bratman recently told NPR.

So Bratman made up the name orthorexia, borrowing ortho from the Greek word meaning “right” and -orexia meaning “appetite.” He added nervosa as a reference to anorexia nervosa, the well-known eating disorder which causes people to starve themselves to be thin.

“From then on, whenever a patient would ask me what food to cut out, I would say, ‘We need to work on your orthorexia.’ This would often make them laugh and let them loosen up, and sometimes it helped people move from extremism to moderation,” he recalls.

Bratman had no idea that the concept of “clean eating” would explode over the next two decades.

Where dieters once gobbled down no-sugar gelatin or fat-free shakes, now they might seek out organic kale and wild salmon.

The rise of celebrity diet gurus and glamorous food photos on social media reinforce the idea that eating only certain foods and avoiding others is a virtue — practically a religion.

Dr. Sondra Kronberg, founder and executive director of the Eating Disorder Treatment Collaborative outside New York City, has seen a lot of diet trends over the past 40 years, she told NPR.

“So orthorexia is a reflection on a larger scale of the cultural perspective on ‘eating cleanly,’ eating … healthfully, avoiding toxins—including foods that might have some ‘super power,’ ” she says.

Now, Kronberg and other nutritionists applaud efforts to eat healthfully. The problem comes, she says, when you are so focused on your diet that “it begins to infringe on the quality of your life—your ability to be spontaneous and engage.” That’s when you should start to worry about an eating disorder, she told the news outlet.

“In the case of orthorexia, it centers around eating ‘cleanly’ and purely, where the other eating disorders center around size and weight and a drive for thinness,” she says.

Sometimes these problems overlap, and some people who only eat “clean” foods miss critical nutrients from the foods they cut out or don’t consume enough calories. “It could become a health hazard and ultimately, it can be fatal,” Kronberg says.

Orthorexia is not listed specifically in the DSM—the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders— but that doesn’t mean it’s untreatable.

Eating disorders can strike anyone, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. If you think you have orthorexia or any eating disorder, it’s important to seek professional help and friends who support you, the association urges.

Research contact: @NPR

‘Power’ eating: Boys and eating disorders

June 4, 2019

While girls and women make up the majority of individuals affected with eating disorders—such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating—as many as one-quarter to one-third of patients who manifest these symptoms are boys and men.

What’s more, according to a recent study conducted at the University of California-San Diego and discussed by the New York City-based nonprofit, Child Mind Institute, disordered eating behaviors are increasing at a faster rate in males than females.

However, the researchers say, because eating disorders often manifest themselves differently in boys, they are harder to detect by parents as well as healthcare providers. Stigma is another issue. Men may not want to be associated with a problem that primarily affects women, and men are less likely to admit weakness and seek help.

Girls with eating disorders are typically obsessed with being thin. Conversely, boys with anorexia tend to be more focused on achieving a muscular physique.

This manifestation is sometimes known as “reverse anorexia” or “bigorexia,” explains Douglas Bunnell, a clinical psychologist and expert on eating disorders who practices in Westport, Connecticut. “These boys have all the psychological features of anorexia, except they’re pushing it in the opposite direction.”

Speaking to Christina Frank of the Child Mind Institute in an interview, Dr. Bunnell explained that, to achieve what they perceive to be the “ideal” physique, boys may work out excessively, or use steroids or over-the-counter supplements to minimize body fat and increase muscle mass and definition. An obsession with “clean eating”—cutting out carbs, increasing protein, or adhering to restrictive fad diets —is another common feature.

And the problem may develop earlier than eating disorders do in girls, notes Dr. Bunnell. “We think boys may have onset earlier—sometimes during early and mid-adolescence — but there are all sorts of nuances.”

 Of course not all boys who express dissatisfaction with their bodies will develop an eating disorder. Here’s what to look for if you’re trying to determine whether a boy’s habits are within the normal range of eating behavior— or have crossed over into a problem that needs attention:

  • Excessive focus on and time spent exercising
  • Rigidity around eating rituals
  • Eating large of amounts of food
  • Going to the bathroom in the middle of meals or right after
  • Refusing to eat certain food groups
  • Having unusual behaviors around food (cutting food into small pieces, pushing food around the plate)
  • Obsessively reading nutrition information or counting calories
  • Constantly getting on a scale or looking in the mirror
  • Avoiding or withdrawing from social gatherings involving food

Unlike with girls, who often become alarmingly skinny and visibly unhealthy, eating disorders in boys are harder to recognize because often nothing looks “wrong” on the outside. Eating disorders in boys are also easier to hide under the guise of what is considered acceptable, even laudable, male behavior.

“Exercising, even excessively, is socially valued in men,” says Dr. Bunnell, who adds that overeating is also more socially condoned in men than in women. “A group of 17-year-old boys eating multiple Big Macs, for example, might be considered amusing or even cool,” he says. “In fact, these behaviors may be masking an eating disorder.”

However, like girls and women, boys and men with disorders such as anorexia nervosa suffer from physical problems. In particular, they usually exhibit low levels of testosterone and vitamin D; in some cases, testosterone supplementation is recommended. Other health consequences of eating disorders in men include damage to muscles, joints and tendons from over-exercising. Using steroids to bulk up can result in acne, testicular atrophy, decreased sperm count, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, abnormal liver function, constipation and bursts of anger (known as “’roid rage”).

People with eating disorders are also more likely to struggle with depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and personality disorders.

Research shows that boys and men respond well to the same eating disorder treatments that have been successful for females. Whether in an in-patient or out-patient setting, the focus is on restoring health and addressing the psychological and emotional components with psychotherapy. Parents are engaged to help establish an environment that supports healthy eating habits and body image.

The challenge is getting males to seek help. Most eating disorder programs are centered on girls, which can make boys feel out-of-place. There are some male-only programs, and the hope is that, as awareness grows and stigma decreases, there will be more.

“We know a lot more about boys and eating disorders compared to, say, two or three years ago,” says Dr. Bunnell. “We just think there are a lot more boys and men out there who feel inhibited or ashamed about coming forward. It’s critical for parents, pediatricians, and school counselors to develop awareness of eating disorders being as much of as a potential issue for boys as for girls. We have treatments and we want boys to be sure they know they can have access to them.”

Research contact: @ChildMindInst

In 2018, Americans will go with their guts, eating fermented foods

December 22, 2017

Fermented foods— like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, some pickles, kimchi and miso—have ousted seeds as the number-one American superfood for 2018.

Consumers today are “going with their gut” by seeking out foods that improve digestive health and overall well-being, based on national survey results of Today’s Dietitian’s What’s Trending in Nutrition, released by Pollock Communications on December 21.

Now In its sixth year, the study surveyed 2,050 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) nationwide.

“RDNs stay ahead of the trends because they are dedicated to listening and responding to what consumers are looking for when making food choices,” says Mara Honicker, publisher of Today’s Dietitian. “Our readers stay current on what consumers are thinking as much as they do nutritional science.”

While widely known as the process used for making wine or beer, fermentation is a natural, metabolic process that involves using sugar to create compounds such as organic acids, alcohols and gases. Fermented foods may have powerful health benefits, from boosting gut health to blunting inflammation.

Following the top rankings (above), the other foods that are gaining traction at the checkout counter are:

  • Avocados,
  • Seeds,
  • Nuts,
  • Ancient grains,
  • Kale,
  • Exotic fruits,
  • Coconuts, and
  • Salmon.

In 2012, the same survey predicted that consumers would move toward “natural, less processed foods” (according to 72% of respondents). At that time, respondents predicted that consumers were trending toward “simple ingredients” and a greater focus on “plants.”

Move forward to today, and their projections have come to fruition as top diets for 2018—called “clean eating” and “plant-based diets.”

After “clean eating” and “plant-based diets,”, the “ketogenic diet”—which advises high-fat, adequate-protein, and low-carbohydrate consumption—has made its way to the top , at number three. This diet, which is designed to produce ketone bodies for energy, debuted with a high ranking.

 Interestingly enough, back in 2013, RDNs  believed that the trend in the “low-carb diet” had declined. Then a year later, there was a rise in Paleolithic, wheat belly and gluten-free diets.  Now, RDNs rank “wheat belly” as one of the diets on its way out, and ketogenic has overtaken paleo.

“The movement toward clean eating reflects a change in how consumers view food,” says Jenna Bell, senior vice president of Pollock Communications. “Consumers are searching for nutrition information and equating diet with overall wellbeing.”

For example, the quick rise of fermented foods in the Top 10 superfood list shows that consumers have expanded their definition of wellness to include benefits like gut health.

Where do nutritional trends start? Pollack says that  29% are launched on TV talk shows or news shows; 24%, from social media; and 16%, by celebrities.

“It also suggests that consumers are digging deeper for information about the food they eat, and in this instance, finding out why yogurt, kefir or kimchi is so good for them,” adds Bell.

RDNs continue to recognize that consumers rank taste, cost, convenience and healthfulness as most important in the supermarket. And, the RDN messages remain consistent—MyPlate is said to be the gold standard for helping consumers eat right

The RDNs’ top recommendations for 2018 are to limit highly processed foods, increase fiber intake, keep a food journal and choose non-caloric beverages such as unsweetened tea or coffee.

Research contact:

‘Clean’ eating is changing Thanksgiving

November 11, 2017

Americans are spending more on “clean” ingredients leading up to Thanksgiving than they do during an average week in a year—and that may mean that the turkey is missing from some tables for this holiday meal. But even so, family and friends will be doing lots of gobbling of the healthy kind.

Whether consumers are stocking up on superfoods, shopping for specialty diet attributes, selecting meats with animal welfare claims, or serving no meat at all, these trends show a promising period for retailers, based on a recently released national opinion poll.

The Nielsen survey finds that 39% of Americans are skipping meat protein, altogether, and actively are trying to include more plant-based foods in their holiday diet, whether for health reasons or personal preferences.

Data from Nielsen Product Insider, powered by Label Insight, find that vegan and paleo and traditional consumers, alike, are planning to buy lots of produce. Two familiar Thanksgiving staples found in pies and casseroles actually can be classified as superfoods because of their high vitamin A and C content and antioxidant benefits—sweet potatoes and cinnamon.

Sweet potatoes sold in the produce section of stores brought in $420 million in sales during the 52 weeks ended Sept. 30—up 0.6% from the prior year, and consumers are predicted to spend  $48.8 million at the register, Nielsen says, during the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

But opportunities for growth for this healthful vegetable reach much farther than the perimeter of the store. Products containing sweet potato as an ingredient sold an average of 30% more dollars in the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving 2016 compared to the average week. In the dessert aisle, products containing sweet potato as an ingredient saw more than five times as many dollars spent during the same period, with sales up 88% compared to the same period in 2015.

Cinnamon, another nutrient-rich spice, is an ideal complement to many sweet potato dishes. It’s also one that sees higher sales around the holidays, with consumers spending an average of 13% more on cinnamon during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving last year than during an average week.

In addition, consumers usually spend more than twice as much on desserts with cinnamon in the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving than during an average week. Other categories with cinnamon as an ingredient that have seen higher dollar sales during the Thanksgiving period include cheese (82%), packaged teas (25%), candy/gum/mints (25%), processed meats (21%) and nut butters/jams/jellies (15%).

In the meat category, the use of terms such as “organic” and “natural” means more to consumers this year than ever before, Nielsen says. Americans also are planning to fill their shopping carts with turkey, ham, and non-traditional Thanksgiving meats like chicken and bacon.

Indeed, Americans will be looking for clean foods in every category and the label will be front and center for those who are concerned about content. Nielsen advises producers to make it a holiday during which everyone can be proud and “thankful” for the ingredients of their meals.

Nielsen prepared this report using three different reports: (1) Nielsen Product Insider, powered by Label Insight, weeks ended Nov. 26, 2016; Nov. 19, 2016; and Nov. 12, 2016; (2) Nielsen FreshFacts, Total U.S., weeks ended Nov. 26, 2016; Nov. 19, 2016; and Nov. 12, 2016; and (3) Nielsen FreshFacts, Total U.S., 52 weeks ended Sept. 30, 2017.

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