Eating healthy food, when virtue becomes a problem

Together with exercising and quitting, caring more about nutrition -related habits is among the most common purposes we make for the new year. It is a determination that is usually born from the imperative need to minimize the consequences of the binge eating of Christmas and fatty foods. But what if putting on your healthy food boots was also giving you binge? Would they be as bad as pizza and chocolate, or three-course paella on Sundays?

It is hard to think that a dish of broccoli can delight someone as much as a tempting, and delicious, piece of chocolate. But so it is, though more for its health benefits than for its crunchy texture. That is why, while some people cannot avoid sticking to authentic black temptation, others succumb to learned cows vegetables that reduce the juice that fits in a glass.

Yes, the binge of healthy food exists, what happens is that normally "it is associated to foods with a high content of fat and carbohydrates, that create addiction, and the fruit and the vegetables lack of these components", clarifies the director of the group of Epigenomics In endocrinology and nutrition of the Institute of Sanitary Research of Santiago de Compostela, Ana Belén Crujeiras.

But it is advisable not to be confused, a binge of healthy food is not to bet strong for broccoli, carrot and grilled tuna, but to make "an excessive intake of healthy food", clarifies Rubén Bravo, dietitian and spokesman of the European Medical Institute of Obesity ( IMEO). The best example is the smoothies: "It's a smoothie with a huge amount of fruits and vegetables that no one usually eats in an intake. If they were solid pieces would be divided into different foods, "reasons Bravo. A large bowl of gazpacho, with its tripping, also enters the category of binge of vegetables, because "concentrates on a single what would be three portions of vegetables," adds the dietitian. So yes they are binge, but good... or not?

That the food is healthy does not make good to the binge

What determines that a binge of food, no matter how healthy, becomes negative is the way of eating or emotion that is associated with the way you do it. The director of the Cleveland Clinic Obesity Center and professor of psychology at the University of Cleveland, Ohio (USA), Leslie Heinberg, explains that "any food consumed in very large quantities, with a sense of loss of control, is Consider a binge. This also happens when eating a food that is considered healthy if eaten in a normal amount is overflowing.

Behind the episode there is a problem of anxiety and stress, and the aim of compulsive eating is to satiate an emotion, not physiological hunger. "Food is gratifying and neural pathways that are triggered by drugs, alcohol, sex and play are also triggered by food," Heinberg deepens. In the same way that some people are more susceptible than others to develop addictions to some substances, others are more likely to develop problems with food, "depending on the great reward that the brain anticipates and receives."

In any case, although the argument of addiction is very easy to justify the excessive intake of food, the psychologist clarifies that more than an addiction is "a compulsive diet or eating disorder." In this sense, he argues that the obsession with healthy eating is leading to an increase in orthorexia. This disorder, which consists of the obsession with selecting and consuming only the healthiest foods, is becoming increasingly common in the nutrition consultations, according to the specialists.

Losing control of healthy food also requires therapy

According to the scientist Ana Belén Crujeiras, "Food trends are changing our tastes" with potentially disturbing consequences. Cleveland University researcher Leslie Heinberg confirms that "the most extreme diets, which are many of the fad diets, can lead to compulsive behaviors." And he adds: "Often, the more restrictive the diet, the more likely it is that problematic behaviors arise."

At the moment, most of the efforts of researchers and therapists are focused on curbing the advancement of obesity, where binge disorder is more common. But the underlying problem is the same. The Director of the Department of Obesity and Bariatric surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, Bartolomé Burguera, is well acquainted with the psychological conditions behind the people who resort to binge eating: "More than 30% of patients with severe obesity suffer from depression or Some other psychological disorder that requires evaluation, and people with healthy food addiction need the same psychological and nutritional follow-up. "

In any case, we must take into account that the type of food "interacts with our genes and can make the cell function change, either to a more beneficial or to the development of a disease," says Ana Belén Crujeiras, who investigates how the environment It changes the expression of the genes. That means that if you have to do an excess, it better be the food that science attributes health benefits to. "The binge of broccoli is perfect, and there are studies on animal models that have found that a compound of this vegetable favors the emergence of favorable epigenetic marks of good health [prevent and improve prostate cancer, a disease that causes 40 Diagnoses per day] ", says Crujeiras. But with moderation.