When healthy eating becomes a disorder
Healthy eating is a good thing – unless it turns unhealthy. The Moore Center in Bellevue is one of the few clinics that specializes in eating disorders.
Nutritionist Raven Bonnar-Pizzorno told me that they see people who become vegan, or avoid gluten, but then take it too far.
“It often does start from a legitimate place. Maybe they’ve taken gluten out. Maybe that does improve the health issue they were experiencing so they keep trying to apply that same principal.”
Bonnar-Pizzorno said these people often try to fix every other health issue they have by removing more and more foods.
It can literally turn into a death spiral. Psychiatrist Neeru Bakshi says, as a doctor, she thinks you should get a doctor’s advice before attempting any radical change in eating habits.
“Actually, get the proof that (avoiding a certain food is) what you need to be doing, as opposed to saying, ‘Well, this what I’m going to do and this what’s going to make me feel better – and I feel a little bit better. Maybe if I take out fats, I’m going to feel better. Or if I take out GMO’s, I’ll feel even better. Or if I take out red meat, I’ll feel even better.’ How far are you going to draw that line in the sand where you’re not eating anything at all?” Bakshi asked.
And do you know what they do at The Moore Center to help patients that are obsessed with the ingredients in their food?
They black-out the labels.
“A lot of our folks are still in this eating disorder mentality. So if they see this has ‘x’ number fat grams or sugar grams, ‘Well, my dietician must not know what she’s doing and that’s not what I should be eating and I’m just not going to eat it,'” said Bakshi.
For certain people, accurate food labeling can be harmful.
That was my biggest surprise – that for some people, food labels do more harm than good. When I talked with Dr. Moore, who is the founder of The Moore Center, she confirmed that sometimes you should just avoid the labels.
“If you let them see the calories then they keep thinking about numbers and so we black-out everything for them,” she said.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted a muffin and I look at the calories, and I say, I guess I better just go for yogurt. So is that healthy or unhealthy?
“To some extent it’s healthy, but if every time you think about muffin and you go to yogurt – that’s not healthy either,” Dr. Moore said. “You can have muffins sometimes. And yogurt some other times. But you have to sort of create variety.”
The key, of course, is moderation.