America seems to be obsessed with eating better. And many people start their diets by cutting foods rich in carbohydrates and fats from their diets. But if you’ve jumped on this trend, you could be at risk of a potentially dangerous eating disorder called Orthorexia Nervosa. Who knew cutting carbs could be bad for your health? While many of us could benefit from fewer carbs in our diets as these foods often convert to stored fat in our bellies and thighs unless we work the calories off before that can happen, we also should be wary to take this trend too far.
The Today Show invited Dr. Sloane Madden, an eating disorder expert, and psychiatrist, and nutritionist Jessica Sepel to face the public and talk about the trending in cutting carbs and fats from our diets.
While on the program, Sepel got personal. From the outside, you might think her life is perfect – her Instagram page seems as such! – but in truth Sepel has been battling a life-threatening eating disorder that few people know about.
Unlike anorexia and bulimia, Orthorexia is not as publicized. But once Sepel faced her demons and won the battle against the condition, she decided to turn her success into a way to help other people dealing with the same condition.
“My struggle with Orthorexia actually led me to study health and nutrition and to create a platform for women to find a balance with food,” Jessica said. “I was 14 when I discovered fad dieting, and when you become a fad dieter you really start to cut out all the major food groups, like fats, carbs, and proteins, so you develop a lot of fear and anxiety around these foods. This led me down a really dangerous path of restrictive clean eating, so really, a fear of eating anything but clean foods.”
Most people assume that eating fewer carbs and fats is a good thing. But Jessica knew it had become a problem for her once she started experiencing overpowering fear around meals in public or with her family.
Sepel became obsessed with food. That’s when Dr. Madden stepped forward to describe how healthy eating becomes unhealthy when it turns into such an obsession.
“What we see with Orthorexia is you lose that balance, people spend hours and hours a day thinking about food planning, sourcing, and preparing and they develop very rigid rules,” Dr. Madden said. “They cut out whole food groups so in the end, you’re eating such a limited diet that it’s causing health problems, they’re getting nutritional deficiencies.”
Sepel agrees. And she added that eating disorders are always about control.
“’It’s also the world we’re in. We’re inundated with so many mixed messages about health, eat fat, don’t eat fat, eat carbs, don’t eat carbs, how can we not feel confused and overwhelmed?” she said. “This is what exacerbates disordered eating, feeling overwhelmed and being inundated with so many mixed messages.”
Sepel encourages you only to follow people on social media who are healthy and a good role model.
“My advice is to follow people who are well educated and unfollow those people who are going to extremes and don’t have the education.”
Are you going to change your diet based on her recommendation?