Paleohacks is the main forum I post at, so I realize that this may be more of a Paleohacks thing than a Paleo thing. But I am getting seriously disturbed at the amount of eating disorder talk that goes on.
To clarify, I'm not talking about people who recognize that they have a problem and are taking appropriate steps to help themselves be healthy. I'm talking about questions and answers implying that it's normal to binge. That it's normal or typical that eating a carbohydrate heavy food will send a person into a binge (always carbs, never fat or protein). That fasting after bingeing is the way to go, whether they just say it as an emotional response or whether they justify it with something that sounds halfway sensible. That they feel bad, guilty, regretful, or other such terms after eating things, whether it is a Paleo-friendly item or a "cheat" food. These are generally coupled with questions regarding weight loss.
I can't tell if people who do have healthy relationships with food are using terms like "binge" too loosely, giving the impression that there is a bigger problem when what they really mean is that they fell off the wagon and pigged out on some non-Paleo food, or making the term "binge" less serious than it is from an actual psychological standpoint? Or are a lot of people who don't realize that they have an unhealthy relationship with food assuming that what they do and encounter and think about food is normal and healthy and applies to the general Paleo eater?
I am not talking about any one specific person here, so let's please not start pointing fingers, shaming anyone, or anything like that. I'm genuinely interested, because I find eating disorders very concerning though it is not something I have personal experience with, and I would like to see terms like "binge" be used appropriately, if that is the confusion.
asked byVarelse (10490)
Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!
on April 07, 2013
at 10:14 PM
Very disturbed as to what the user above has to offer on the subject and I hope it is not indicative of the kind of people that frequent the site...
on April 07, 2013
at 05:46 PM
as someone who has recovered from an eating disorder, i used to "binge" and "purge" for years. when people mention "binging" on here, most of the time, i feel the term is used loosely. i don't think it's connected to an eating disorder- just a meal or day that someone pigged out on. eating disorders are very mentally and emotionally driven and there is a system to the binge- order of events, certain foods, timing, wanting people around/be in private.
i'm not saying all the posts here about binging are to be taken lightly since some of the posters do admit that they have a problem.
i haven't had a binge in a few years now but whenever i overindulge or eat more than i normally would have, i don't consider it a "binge" now since my mindset is different. i just say "okay. i ate a little too much or not the right foods at this meal. no need to punish myself. just move on."
on April 09, 2013
at 05:03 PM
I think that "paleo" as it is practiced by the vast majority of people is disordered eating. I think the majority of paleo books feed into it with their heavy emphasis on fear-mongering. I wish people were drawn toward nutrient-dense foods instead of driven away from supposedly scary ones. There is no such thing as a healthy diet coupled with an unhealthy relationship with food. I don't believe that intentional fasting is a healthy practice in the least bit and should not be necessary at all to lose bodyfat. If it is, the diet is sloppy to begin with. If the concepts of binging, cheating, compensatory fasting etc. routinely arise, there is a serious problem.
I think the primary reason why we see these things is that paleo attracts people primarily as a weight loss diet and fails very often to produce appreciable results. The emphasis on carbohydrates instead of calories sets people up for failure from the first step. Nearly all of the gurus promoting these high fat low carb crap diets seem to get pudgier by the year. At each plateau, people are offered a new disordered eating technique to add to the pile. Your problem must be fruit! You ate breakfast? Are you crazy?
I'd like to see all of these gurus defenestrate themselves from their eating windows...if they can fit through them.
on April 07, 2013
at 07:29 PM
It's not just paleo. It's any diet really. There's so much body dysmorphia and dysfunctional relationships with food out there, it's really sad. As much as we like to think paleo is a good answer, for some folks it's just more gasoline on the fire. It's restrictive, it has good/bad foods, it has shortcuts written all over it. Frustrating to say the least.
on April 07, 2013
at 04:11 PM
This is a really interesting set of questions. You're almost certainly right that some people use "binge" loosely, the same way that people who have never had a mental illness will freely talk about feeling "depressed" or "manic" or "being OCD" about something. But there isn't really another word for feeling a strong desire to eat quickly and heavily until you feel unwell, so I'm not too critical of that. There is a difference between binging and having binge eating disorder.
It's possible that there is a higher prevalence of binging among the paleo community, not because the diet is unhealthy but because many people who are otherwise prone to binging have found that it helps them get the physiological component of binging under control. Or maybe the diet does make some people prone to binge eating. I imagine it's not uncommon among people who try to go very-low-carb without adequate preparation, or who just find that it's not a good match for their physiology.
Regarding why it's always carbs, as far as I know binges among binge eaters in general usually involve carb-heavy foods. It's less common to hear about someone binging on steak or cheese.
Fasting after a binge is a bad idea for people with bulimia or BED because it's associated with an exaggerated idea of atonement and with disordered beliefs about weight loss. It's also often being done among people who are already malnourished or starving themselves, and so fasting is very likely to lead to another cycle of binging. The fasting I've occasionally seen prescribed here after a binge is "don't eat until you're hungry again," which is also standard advice that many people on paleo diets try to follow when they're not binging. It is different from the conventional wisdom for BED specifically, and probably is bad for some people. On the other hand, it's consistent with the the common advice that people with eating disorders should work on getting in touch with their physiological signals of hunger and satiety.
I suspect that paleo plans involving intermittent fasting do attract some people who want to fast for the wrong reasons. I think the community responses to those people are usually pretty good. I haven't seen encouraging responses regarding fasting for someone who's already excessively skinny or someone who complains about how they're stuck at a gross, obese 13% bodyfat and can't get down (unless they're a bodybuilder preparing for a competition, in which case long-term malnourishment is the last thing they want).
Calling non-paleo foods "cheat" foods may indeed be unfortunate. I can see that feeding into a tendency to feel guilty and overly emotionally involved with food. In general I find the acceptance of 80/20 or 90/10 paleo plans to be a really good thing about the community, and to work against any fears of or tendencies toward orthorexia. But if you'd like to suggest a better way to talk about it, that could be very helpful.
on April 07, 2013
at 08:24 PM
This is an interesting question. So many layers you could dig into. I have to say that there are definitely times I step outside of my body and ask, "do I STILL have an eating disorder? Have I just learned to camouflage it better? Am I healed, or am I dabbling?"
One factor on paleohacks is that I think people who are drawn to "hacking" tend to be those already predisposed to obsess about details. (There was one thread awhile back about how many INTJ females there are on here.) Most of us are incessant tweakers. I know I track things in a way that would appear to some to be unhealthy, but it gives me peace. Is it good to satisfy that control freak inside myself so I can go on with an otherwise normal life, or am I feeding the beast? I don't know the answer to that.
I do know that paleo is the first thing that has EVER made me feel like I'm making progress toward normal. As a person who gained weight (about 70 lb) over the past 2 decades eating no more than 1200 cal a day, I would weep with the realization that I would have to either choose to be fat or starve. I did have an eating disorder, but it was because I had a broken metabolism. It wasn't my imagination. Paleo is the first time in my life that I've ever been able to just EAT! And I don't think I'm unique. People are just at different points in this journey.
on April 09, 2013
at 02:24 PM
I think it's simple. People who are obsessive about food are drawn to diets. Probably there are people with various degrees of eating disorders drawn to Paleo, Atkins, Vegan, Zone, MyPlate, etc. Within the PaleoHacks community, a disproportionate number of people may have eating issues, but Paleo didn't cause it. In fact, they may be looking for solutions, or furthering their obsessions, etc. Same with Atkins, Vegan, etc.
So, Paleo doesn't cause the problem, and not all people who visit here have eating disorders.
Let's face it, Paleo is a bit like a Star Trek convention: you'll have plenty of average people, and you'll some people with issues, as well. The convention didn't cause those people to have issues. Same thing with any specialized community: you'll get the mainstream people, and you'll draw people to it who may be doing so in an unhealthy way. That's the nature of specialized communities.
on April 07, 2013
at 05:24 PM
Emily Deans has a few posts on this topic.
on April 07, 2013
at 04:19 PM
I've thought the same thing many times when browsing this forum, to the point where I deliberately avoid looking at posts asking about body composition, what to do after a binge, if someone is losing (or gaining) enough weight, or ANYTHING related to calories.
It's very easy to fall into the trap of believing that eating in a way that you define as 'Paleo' should instantly give you the kind of body you see on the front page of a fitness magazine, but the reality is that for the vast majority of us the effects of eating Paleo are not going to be visible, except for maybe a bit of weight loss or some clearing up of acne or eczema. I FEEL amazing since going Paleo, and I have lost weight, but that's the ONLY visible evidence of what I'm doing. The proof is in how I feel, and it took me almost a year of eating this way to realise that as long as I feel good, am healthy and happy, what I'm doing is right! I no longer feel like I need to look like a swimsuit model as some kind of evidence that this is 'working'.
This obsession with weight loss, body comp and macronutrients can be quite damaging, because most of us here are normal people going about life, not full-time Paleo moguls or athletes.
on April 07, 2013
at 07:10 PM
i weigh all my food, and track it on myfinesspal, even if i want to gain weight.although im comming from a bodybuilding standpoint, we track our food to reach our goals. i think its not very commun for an 18 years old to track all of his food and that i might be ortherexia(how ever you spell it;). ) i had a few binges in the past but its getting quite better i think!
on April 16, 2013
at 08:29 PM
My question to you is who cares? Yes, you can use paleo hacks to help your eating disorder, much like a cutting knife can be used to kill people. Does this mean we should get rid of knives? In that same vien binging is not a word owned and defined by people with disorders exclusively. My binge is different from your binge. Also, there are legitament reasons to fast and to tweak your diet. The fact is lots of things can be used for the wrong reason, and I would hate the discussion here to be neutered because of the fear that people with disorders can abuse it.
on April 08, 2013
at 02:50 AM
Actually in my opinion, I think that these sites are good for someone who is sensible and has episoides of binging. Actually I used to have ab big problem with binge eating disorder a few years or so ago. In the time I was binging on an almost daily basis. I read self-help books, I went to a psychologist, I talked to my mother, I talked to my doctor I tried this, I tried that. And it took me a while to figure out what worked for me, and I think it is a great thing that you can come to a site like this where the majority of people seem pretty healthy and can get advice from others who have been in the same situation. I realize there is also posts by young (mainly girls) which sound as though they are developing and eating disorder, and to be honest I don't think these girls/boys will listen to anything anyone has to say. These people at the most extreme may need help, but otherwise I think the only way to develop a healthy relationship with food is trial and error and figuring things out for themselves, advice from others will sometimes be listened to, sometimes not. I was given advice at 17 by a sportsman who was worried I was becomming to thin, and at the height of my eating disorder I thought what he was telling me was crazy and he just wanted to make me fat etc.