Are You Eating too Healthy?May 5, 2014
Counting calories and obsessing over carbs... Having strict rules and saying, “I can never eat that.” Is there a difference between an eating disorder and eating too healthy? Nick Galli, Ph.D., from the University of Utah’s Department of Health Promotion and Education, talks about listening to your body and giving it the nutrients it needs. He also discusses why fad diets that cut out essential nutrients can be dangerous.
Interviewer: It's great to eat healthy but what if you are eating too healthy? On the verge of obsession. You're always watching what you eat. Counting all the calories, and tracking all the carbs and proteins. You may think your diet is good for you but it can actually result in unhealthy consequences. That's next on The Scope.
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Interviewer: We're here with Dr. Nick Galli Assistant Professor at the Department of Health Promotion and Education. Can you explain a little bit about the differences between an eating disorder and eating too healthy? Because we've always identified an eating disorder with food is bad, I hate food. Right? But if you love food and you think all of this is a healthy way for me to intake food but it gets to the verge that it's just unhealthy at that point.
Dr. Nick Galli: I think we want to be careful about diagnosing something with an eating disorder simply based on what they eat I think it's more about if they have rules about what they can eat and is there diet becoming overly rigid. It's great to eat healthy. The problem comes when the person is telling themselves they can't ever eat this, I can't ever eat that. And being overly restrictive. One of the movements in the last ten years or so has been toward intuitive eating. And that's listening, getting in good touch with your body listening when your body tells you I need some salt, I need some sugar. You know, I need that cookie right now. Being okay with that, and if we can get in touch with our body and what our body needs, we're less likely to the old binging where I haven't had a cookie but in a moment of weakness I'm going to eat ten of them. And so and then you feel guilty
Interviewer: And they feel guilty.
Dr. Nick Galli: And then they feel guilty. So getting into the mindset that there's no such thing as a bad food. There's you know, all food has something in it that's okay for you it's just moderation and it's certainly there's certain foods that you really want to eat in moderation. And we should not be going to McDonalds everyday, probably, you know? But there's nothing wrong with having a McDonalds cheeseburger every now and then. It's much easier said than done in terms with getting in touch with what your body need because we're not use to doing that in our society. We're very fast paced. We just kind of eat. I mean we're eating while were doing three other things. We don't even think about what we're eating.
Interviewer: Snacking on it.
Dr. Nick Galli: Or snacking or watching TV. We're not in tune with our body. Some would say that if you could become an intuitive eater, you're more likely to eat healthfully.
Interviewer: For those people that just are all always consciously watching what they eat they have that mindset of this has this many calories, I shouldn't be eating this cookie, this salad has too much dressing, there just always watching what they eat and think it's healthy. Because I do that sometimes too. But can that be unhealthy for me to always be constantly be watching what I eat.
Dr. Nick Galli: I think it takes some of the joy out of eating.
Dr. Nick Galli: It's funny because we've in now and recent years, it's now become required that everything you buy has the caloric content
Interviewer: Yeah you're always looking at those things too. Those numbers.
Dr. Nick Galli: That was change was supposed to be a good thing right
Dr. Nick Galli: Oh well now we all know. And I think it can be an okay thing it's just there is a line between what becomes somewhat obsessive where you're counting to the calorie of what you're eating and how much in it just becomes again, I go back to just becomes too rigid. So there's nothing wrong with watching what you eat and you know, wanting to put good things into your body. But there is something wrong when you start saying I can never have this. Or restricting yourself constantly and just realizing that as long as I'm living at an active lifestyle and getting a good balance of food that I can a little bit of dressing, I can have that cookie, it's okay. And again when you have that belief you're much less likely to have that binge that we've talked about.
Interviewer: Gotcha. Okay.
Dr. Nick Galli: I would never want to discourage someone from watching what they but eating is also should be something enjoyable and social and we should take the time to savor what we eat and we shouldn't be forcing ourselves to eat things we don't like.
Dr. Nick Galli: Just because we think they're healthy, we need to be thinking about appealing to our taste buds and to be aesthetic so the food and all of these things and it becomes counter productive when we get so rigid and picky about what we eat. And then at some point most people can't adhere to that over time, at some point you just can't take it anymore.
Interviewer: Then another health issue comes along.
Dr. Nick Galli: Exactly and then we start talking about obesity.
Interviewer: So we talked a little bit about kind of how you have to have the mindset of eating healthy, watch what you eat but don't watch what you eat. But then you know at the same time how does that affect your body and your physical sense.
Dr. Nick Galli: Anytime you cut anything completely out of your diet yeah that's not usually very good for your body. We could go into all the physiological stuff but I mean we saw these diets that they were supposed to be miracle diets and they usually involve cutting something significant, completely out of your diet.
Dr. Nick Galli: The first one was the Atkins diet.
Interviewer: Okay yeah. That's right.
Dr. Nick Galli: Completely cutting out or almost completely cutting out carbohydrates, which are our main source of energy. Carbohydrates but you find them in a lot of snacky foods so and the doctor who created this said well if you just cut carbohydrates pretty much out of your diet you will lose weight. And people were losing weight but they were having health concerns because they're eating a lot of saturated fat in meat, they were missing out on carbohydrates, they weren't feeling very good. So they were cutting weight but it was having all these unintended consequences and you really when you looking at carbohydrates there's not very much.
Interviewer: Any final thoughts, maybe alternative ways to eat healthy without eating too healthy.
Dr. Nick Galli: Try different foods, be open to different foods, you may not think that you like fruit or vegetables- try different ones. Learn how to cook.
Interviewer: I'm already failing on that point.
Dr. Nick Galli: Make it something that you can do with a friend or a partner. I don't know, just don't restrict yourself. There's so many foods out there that people don't even want to try and you need to expand your personal menu a little bit.
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