There is no shortage of controversial diets to choose from these days, but the promotion of the anorexic diet may take the prize for most polarizing. The diet has been promoted as a way for non-anorexic sufferers to eat like they are anorexic in order to lose a great deal of weight.
What is Anorexia?
Anorexia Nervosa is a mental illness that results in an eating disorder in which the afflicted eats very little, sometimes to the point of starvation. A common misconception is that those suffering from anorexia eat nothing, but that is not entirely true. There are days in which they do choose to “fast,” but generally, they do eat, just not nearly enough.
How Does the Anorexic Diet Work?
Many refer to the anorexic diet as the “Five Bite” meal plan. The general idea surrounding this diet is that you should take no more than five bites of any meal at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The caloric intake on the anorexic diet is usually about 500 per day, which is far less than the generally accepted recommendation of 1,200.
Unlike other limited caloric diets, wherein it is generally agreed that the type of food you eat doesn’t matter as long as you stay under your calorie limit, proponents of the anorexic diet recommend eating only the healthiest food, since you are getting so few nutrients. Eating only fives bites of anything means you need to ensure those bites really count.
What to Eat on the Anorexic Diet
As previously stated, the type of food you are eating on this diet is really important. While people who are actually suffering from anorexia typically subsist on a diet of junk, when they eat at all, dieters need to pay close attention to the nutrients they are getting since they are coming in such a limited dosage.
Fish, chicken, fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, oatmeal and other nutrient rich foods need to be the biggest part of your menu.
Conversely, it is important to avoid sugary, low nutrient foods.
They may give you an energy boost right after consumption, but it fades quickly, and you get that notorious crash setting in not long after.
How Anorexia Affects Your Body
Those who actually suffer from anorexia, and do not just choose to live that lifestyle to lose weight, know that it takes an enormous toll on the body. In fact, it has the highest death rate of any mental illness.
Between 5-20% of people who suffer from anorexia eventually die from it.
Your Bones Take the Hardest Hit First
Most victims usually develop the disease during their adolescence, those terrible years where what people think of us is the only thing that matters.
Unfortunately, this is also the time when our bodies are creating the bulk of our bone mass. The bone mass that we acquire in our formative years has to be sufficient to last us an entire lifetime, it is not a renewable bodily resource.
Instead of building up the crucial bone mass your body needs to literally support itself, you are losing it instead. The bone loss experienced by anorexia sufferers can set in in as early as six months from the onset of the disease, and its impact can never be reversed.
Your Heart is Put Under Harmful Strain
Victims of anorexia lose muscle mass at an alarming rate, and your heart is the most important muscle in your body. Ergo, losing muscle mass means weakening your heart.
Because your heart continually gets weaker and smaller as you starve your body, it starts doing its jobs poorly. It begins to fail at circulating your blood during exercise or exertion of any kind, your pulse gets lower, and your blood pressure begins to plummet.
The lasting effects on your heart are devastating to nearly every part of your body, and they set in quickly. Heart damage is what ultimately killed Karen Carpenter, but she suffered from anorexia for years. Anorexia is the underlying cause of death for myriad issues.
Anorexia Affects Every Single Part of Your Body
In addition to the devastating bone loss and weakening of the heart and cardiovascular system, those suffering from anorexia typically have very low white blood cell counts, and nearly a third are anemic.
Both of these ailments cause impairments to our immune system, leaving victims extremely vulnerable to infection.
Even before the physical signs of anorexia are visible, the typically irrevocable side effects begin ravaging a victim’s insides. In addition to these unseen effects, anorexic women often times cease menstruating. Since the majority of victims are young girls and women, this can have a lifelong effect on their ability to bear children.
Some Believe Anorexia is a Gateway to Bulimia
Bulimia and anorexia are typically classified together, but bulimia has its own host of health issues. Where anorexics and bulimics differ is how they cleanse their bodies. Whereas anorexics typically eat very little to nothing, bulimics eat in a seemingly normal way, and purge it all later. Sometimes bulimics also suffer from binging and then purging.
The unique health concerns for bulimics lie in the purging process. Most people would agree that vomiting is a most unpleasant experience, but bulimics force themselves to do it multiple times a day.
Vomiting often has numerous unforeseen consequences. Dousing your digestive track in stomach acid constantly can not only cause reflux issues but can burn your intestines. It definitely burns your esophagus, which some doctors believe may be related to esophageal cancer later in life.
Vomiting that often also wreaks havoc on your teeth, and the constant purging of acid and bile burns through the irreplaceable enamel on your teeth.
Despite all of these effects, it is possible to reverse some of the damage done by anorexia, by maintaining a healthy diet and relationship with food.
Before beginning any diet, especially one that requires the participant to consume so few calories, it is crucial to run all of this by your doctor first.