You’ve probably come across many highly limited diets going around social media, but did you know they could be psychologically and nutritionally harmful?
Clean or virtuous eating has become trendy thanks to wellness bloggers and niche experts, and veganism has risen by 40% in 2020. Intermittent fasting has become a thing too, detox teas and smoothies are all over Instagram posts. But what you did not know is that these diets are so restrictive that could actually be causing psychological and nutritional harm.
This type of dieting is more common among women ranging from their teens to their 20s, but men and older women are also affected.
It might be true that some people restrict gluten, dairy, sugar and meat because of health conditions, some others do it without any medical guidance based on self-diagnosed conditions.
Could “clean eating” be an eating disorder?
While anorexia and bulimia have been long discussed by professionals and are classified as eating disorders, eating clean is socially acceptable and encouraged. An eating disorder is defined as “a serious mental illness that can affect someone physically, psychologically and socially,” and being obsessed with healthy eating and eating only pure and high-quality food falls into the category of “ortholexia.” Otholexics also have similar obsessive behaviors, but instead of purging or restricting, they focus on the quality of the food and the consequences could be the same.
Extreme weight loss can lead to hair thinning, fertility issues, and other long-term health problems. Detox teas can affect normal bowel function. On the other hand, when foods are classified as either clean or dirty can trigger obsessive behaviors such as circles of binge eating and guilt, feelings of isolation –especially when people avoid social encounters involving food.
Restrictive eating can affect bone mass, and gluten-free diets can increase type 2 diabetes up to 13% -because they end up eating less cereal fiber, which is present in wholemeal bread and it is crucial to protect against diabetes.
The bottom line
You can go vegan or eat healthily and remain healthy, but you need to seek professional advice.
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