As a hugely popular diet promoted by the rich and famous in Hollywood and Silicon Valley, intermittent fasting has reached its peak in recent years.
But experts fear the restrictive diet – a quasi-religion followed by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and actresses Jennifer Aniston and Vanessa Hudgens – could be a dangerous cover for an eating disorder.
“He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” dietitian Tammy Beasley told The Post. “I wish intermittent fasting had a warning printed on it.”
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The buzzing fad, touted as a weight loss and maintenance strategy, suggests eating at certain times of the day or, in one of its more stringent forms, of the week. It was the most searched diet on Google in 2019 and the second most searched diet, after keto, in 2020.
The program leaves people lighter and improves their health, according to a 2019 review published in the New England Journal of Medicine. But more recent research published last year by JAMA Internal Medicine found it to be no more effective than the average diet in combating fat.
Yet conflicting information has not deterred the growing number of worshipers, with many pushing them to the extreme. Variations include two-day fasting, periodic fasting, and so-called time-limited eating. Dorsey, for example, is known to eat only one meal a day between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., and regularly finds himself without food throughout the weekend, claiming he’s more focused because of it. .
The 44-year-old billionaire’s intense habits partly inspired event planner Kristin White to try intermittent fasting in November 2018.
“I’m easily swayed and thought, ‘If this works for a top-flight businessman like him, I should too,” said the Seattle resident, 54.
Only allowing himself to eat between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m., White consumed the same price every day: a hard-boiled egg with an apple, grilled chicken and vegetables for dinner, followed by a protein bar or a small portion of butter. of peanut before going to bed.
The self-proclaimed 5ft 9in perfectionist lost 15 pounds in six weeks and ended up weighing 112 pounds. But its “success” came at a cost.
“I had a hard time concentrating and it was pretty awful to be there,” White said. Worse, during her annual checkup, the doctor detected an alarming heart rate and advised her to seek help.
“I had a hard time concentrating and it was pretty awful to be there.”
In April 2019, she entered an Alsana residential treatment center in California, where her eating disorder was treated by staff including Beasley, vice president of clinical nutrition services. Fortunately, the anorexia and orthorexia survivor now has a much healthier weight and state of mind.
“Intermittent fasting was another excuse for me to deepen control over my body,” White said. “But that sped it up for me.”
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Indeed, Lynn Slawsky, executive director of the National Anorexia Nervous and Associated Disorders Association, said the fad diet can lead to risky behavior.
“Your body is starving when intermittent fasting occurs,” Slawsky said. “People can develop binge eating disorder or bulimia as a result, leading to all kinds of other physical and psychological problems.”
She added that this can be particularly trigger for vulnerable populations who are already prone to eating disorders – and for whom the diet serves as a cover.
“It’s an easy way to explain why you don’t want to go out to dinner or burn calories at a party,” Beasley pointed out. “You can time stamp with: ‘I’m on an intermittent fast and this is not my window.’ It distracts and distracts from the fundamental reason why you are afraid to eat or join this event. “
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Alsana’s former client, Maria Rupprecht, 26, quickly fell into the trap of appropriating intermittent fasting, which she said effectively masked her dysfunctional approach to food.
“I thought, ‘This is socially acceptable,'” she told the New York Post. “The whole world was doing what the professionals told me was unhealthy.”
The 5-foot-6 nanny refused all meals and snacks between 7 p.m. and the following noon, losing 40 pounds in three months. She recorded her lowest weight of 125 pounds in 2016.
“I missed my friends’ birthdays and graduation parties because I didn’t want to eat outside of my time window,” said Rupprecht, who was ultimately diagnosed with anorexia.
Now recovering and at a healthy weight, the Saint-Louis bride is successfully managing her relationship with food and is expected to qualify as a Certified Professional Counselor in October 2022. In the meantime, she warns of the potential risks associated with it. intermittent fasting. probably exacerbated by the competitive nature of his Type A followers.
“I would compare myself to others,” Rupprecht said, describing how she felt the pressure to extend her hours without food. “My window would end at 7pm, but then I would have a friend who would just do it [eat] between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
“Some friends of mine are in this world and are [still] not diagnosed. “
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This article originally appeared in the New York Post. If you or someone you love has an eating disorder, you can get help. Call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at (800) 931-2237 or visit nationaleatingdisorders.org. Or call the National Association for Anorexia Nervous and Associated Disorders hotline at (630) 577-1330 or visit anad.org.