Do you suffer from Amerexia Nervosa?

What I love most about attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition is the embrace and respect of bio-individuality. Whether we are being taught the pros and cons of diets that range from vegan to omnivorous, we are asked to keep an open mind. And though it may be difficult to do so, it becomes increasingly important for us students to take away the bigger picture of what each specific diet is trying to convey.

A great example from IIN’s Live Conference this past weekend is the talk given by Nina Planck, a well-known farmers’ market entrepreneur, local foodist, and advocate for traditional foods. These traditional foods include animal protein, dairy, and oils that most people try to avoid.  As you can imagine, this is a pretty controversial topic in nutrition, but I took away a truly valuable lesson from her lecture, and that is to judge myself and others less on what is “virtuous” vs. “unvirtuous”, and instead adapt to ways of eating that incorporate real, whole foods that are not processed.

In her own words, Nina has coined the term “Amerexia Nervosa” to describe our national eating disorder, of which she too had been a victim. According to her, it is psycho-physical disorder that includes symptoms such as:

  • excessive anxiety about diet & health
  • poor diet that consists of industrial foods
  • poor health: obesity, diabetes, and heart disease

Her belief is that the following cultural causes are to blame:

  • A predisposition to ‘virtuous’ extremes
  • Love of fads
  • Amnesia about traditional American foods

The main problem that can be applied to all of the above is refined foods. Partially-hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup that contribute to diabetes? Industrial food. Soy products? Virtuous diet, check! Agave nectar being the next hot thing for sugar replacement? Love of fads. You get the idea.

What really causes heart disease is deficiency in omega-3 fats, folic acid, and antioxidants. Increasing trans fats and sugar intake will also put you on that path. Nina goes down the list to show how animal products, created by animals raised in a grass-fed, free-range environment can truly help one’s health by providing all the necessary vitamins and nutrients.

Some examples of how traditional fats are beneficial:

  • Butterfat contains anti-cancer CLA, vitamins A, D, K2
  • Lamb & beef fat is stable and doesn’t turn rancid; no free-radicals when heated; provides the antioxidant vitamin E
  • Saturated and omega-3 fats raise bone mineral density

I know there are those out there that will be horrified at this idea, but I am not writing this to be pro-omnivore. I am writing this because underlying the diet of traditional foods is to eat as fresh and ecologically sensitively as you can. And in the end, this is something everyone can appreciate and  incorporate into their life!

Happy eating,

Like what you’ve been reading? Sign up for the mailing list!