This weekend I was on a panel about diets and the gut. I felt like a lone wolf among claims that invoked food fear and disordered behavior. Audience members heard — ingesting gluten is toxic for everyone, about one size fits all diets lacking scientific evidence, and the solution to hunger on a restrictive diet is more water and chewing gum. Cringe! My balanced, conservative approach didn’t seem loud enough in a sea of overlapping proclamations and the demonization of grains.
Luckily, Cayla Panitz, LPC and I had an opportunity to present about disordered eating and honoring one’s personal experience during a break out session. A good portion of the panel listeners attended. All but one woman approached us after the talk asking for more resources and thanking us for addressing the importance of one’s relationship to food. Even more, they had stories to share of adults in their own life suffering because of restrictive eating and elimination diets.
A balanced approach to eating was refreshing after a day of fear mongering, and it reminded me of just how important Cayla and I’s message is. In a world of food fear, often without scientific evidence, many believe certain foods are toxic or the answer to their salvation. These are messages that promote disordered behavior. Artificially suppressing hunger with water and chewing gum IS disordered! As is detoxing after eating Skittles (yep! this was implied). Disordered behavior is dangerous and promotes a poor quality of life.
Let me share examples of disordered eating. Use these to be a more conscientious consumer of nutrition and lifestyle messages to keep yourself healthy:
* Following rigid food rules. Falling “off plan” or breaking a rule leads to guilt and internalized shame. Food restrictions limit variety and can negatively impact health due to the malnourishment that comes from cutting out whole food groups. How can you have a healthy gut, if you are not nourished?