A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 2: Basic Nutrition 33 Weight is not the only clinical risk factor for developing an eating disorder. For example, certain personality types, sports, and professions can be more likely to develop eating disorders than others (e.g., individuals diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), gymnasts and other aesthetic sport athletes). It is also worth mentioning that some individuals may not meet the criteria for an eating disorder but follow a pattern of disordered eating. Unfortunately, the consequences of disordered eating often go unnoticed, even by seasoned medical professionals. As a result, individuals with an eating disorder may not recognize the gravity of the situation until after serious health complications arise. Therefore, early detection, prevention, and treatment are essential. Additionally, it is important to seek help from qualified medical professionals as soon as some of the early warning signs of disordered eating have been detected. Education on how to identify, eliminate, and reduce contributing factors for disordered eating is an effective prevention strategy. Other strategies include limiting negative social media intake, avoiding fad diets, and developing a healthy relationship with exercise and sports (e.g., focus on developing various skills rather than on weight or body composition). Identifying Fad Diets Fad diets are weight-loss programs that promise fast results withminimal effort. Unfortunately, many of these programs involve the severe restriction or elimination of certain foods or food groups which can lead to nutritional deficiencies (e.g., dietary fiber, select vitamins and minerals). Examples include fatfree, low-carbohydrate, and high protein diets. Most of the weight loss associated with these diets is a result of reduced water retention caused by decreased carbohydrate intake. Dehydration and reduced glycogen stores then result in reduced athletic performance as well as early onset of fatigue (Peterson & Rittenhouse, 2019). Research shows that the majority of weight lost on these diets come from body water and lean muscle mass, not body fat (Williams, 2007). Some of the long-term risks associated with fad diets include dehydration, weakness/fatigue, nausea, headaches, constipation, and vitamin/mineral deficiencies. Provided below are some of the characteristics of a fad diet: • Recommendations to limit or eliminate certain foods or food groups • Claims of weight loss greater than 1-2 pounds per week • Need to purchase proprietary products in order to be successful • Use of non-peer reviewed studies to substantiate claims • Formulate simple conclusions from complex studies