The radio show "Good Food" was a favorite of mine when I lived in Los Angeles. The show covered somewhat light topics such as the farmer's market and new restaurants, so it was a surprise to see the host use her platform to address issues around food politics and health in this episode. She interviews two people in particular who discuss central concerns for people with eating disorders.
The first presents the struggle about how to define health with respect to weight, a topic critical in eating disorder recovery. Much of the treatment world focuses too much on weight normalization as the sign of improved health rather than the many other markers of recovery: energy, improved cognitive function, repair of organ damage and reengagement with the world.
This piece talks specifically about improving the health of people who are overweight without focusing on weight loss. It's a novel approach to treat the overweight medically and not hone in on the number on the scale. The eating disorder community could take a hard look hard at this research.
The second piece is an interview of a doctor from UCSF. He focuses on the effect of processed food on body metabolism, namely that insulin production and the endocrine balance of digestion are dysregulated by processed foods.
Our bodies are designed to eat real food and function at their best when fed appropriately. This information is crucial for people with eating disorders, whose metabolism often stops working with abnormal eating patterns.
Unfortunately, this incredibly useful research allows the doctor to get on his soapbox and vilify a new food, sugar. He may have a point but his standing is better used to counter food industry myths than waste his breath on a new food villain. It's too easy to ignore the important information about food and health when given the specter of a new horrible food to avoid at all costs.
Here is the link to the radio show.
I will write about more about the role of weight and metabolism, respectively, in eating disorder recovery in the next two posts.