Friday, April 6, 2012

Food Facts Friday: No Food For You!

No Food For You!
Okay, I'll admit, sometimes I over react. And sometimes I misread people and cross that "personal-space" line. I always have to keep reminding myself that people are not as open as I am when it comes to talking about body fluids, medical terms and nutrition.

My side-kick has an expression for me goes something like this:
"I see you are...." 
(slight pause)
"....making friendzzz .....Ugh-gain!"

No where is this any more obvious, then when people start talking about exercise and food. I literally eat this stuff-up. No, really. I love medical nutrition (congratulate me, please, 'cause today was my first day volunteering in the dietetics department at an outpatient rehab center), I love sports nutrition and I love talking about how and what foods can make a positive difference on someone's health.

I need to get into my head to include in that old adage, 'don't talk about religion or politics' something like, 'also don't talk about how, what, how much or when people eat, why they should eat something or when they should eat it.'

I just need to remind myself that's what my Friday Posts are for - this way, if people don't want to read it/hear it, they can just click out!

So, this Friday, I'm going on a rant. I've held back, bit my tongue, and haven't offered any advice, today or this past week, but now, I'm gonna burst, if I don't say something! I am just in shock over how many females talk about going on, or having to go on, a diet!

First, I'm tired of the myth that 'everyone can achieve a certain look.' We are all unique, and if you are not super skinny, it does not mean that something is wrong with you. Granted, I am not talking about people who are obese and subjecting themselves to a plethora of chronic diseases. I am talking about your average healthy female, who looks at the number on the scale, or their pant's size, to determine their self-worth. More importantly, I am saddened by the extreme measures some females take to be a certain size. Many of these measures can in no way be incorporated into healthy lifelong/lifestyle eating habits that can and should be maintained.

Okay. There. I said it. Cat's out of the bag.
Nope. Actually there's more!
My absolute worst pet peeve: Active women who diet because they want to perform better. In 1992, the Task Force on Women's Issues of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defined the Female Athlete Triad, otherwise known as the Triad. I'm not just talking about elite athletes. The Triad can include recreational and amateur female athletes.

The Female Athlete Triad syndrome is defined as having three interrelated components:
disordered eating, amenorrhea and osteoporosis.

Disordered eating can range from skipping meals to restricting food groups, like fat, or restricting food selections, like meat and dairy to the more extreme measures like continuous fasting, binging and purging, diet pills, diuretics, laxatives or excessive exercise.

It's scary that some active females actually think these disordered eating habits are harmless. In reality, an inadequate intake of calories can do lots of harm. Instead of helping performance it can actually impair performance by depleting muscles of energy stores, and lead to dehydration, loss of muscle mass, electrolyte abnormalities, low blood sugar, anemia, amenorrhea and osteoporosis.

Amenorrhea is the absence of a menstrual period for three consecutive months (and not pregnant). It can be very seducing to able to avoid Aunt Flow. Many young active females get sucked into thinking, "Hey, this aint so bad."

Amenorrhea is based on balance: energy in and energy out. 
If the right amount of foods are not eaten in adequate amounts, the body will run out of energy. So, not only won't there be enough energy for sports, competition, training or exercise, there won't be enough energy for some basic bodily functions, like menstruation, muscle and bone maintenance and repair, or worse, energy for the brain, heart and lungs.

Before 1984, amenorrhea was thought to be a benign condition that was reversible. It's important to realize that this condition is not benign, nor is it a "normal" result of "adequate" physical training. Fortunately, it is the most recognizable symptom of the Triad, but female athletes and their coaches need to realize that amenorrhea is serious and requires prompt attention.

Bones are very active tissues, they are constantly "under construction" building and remodeling. Young adults can build bone mass until around 30-35years old. So, it's important, during this window, that young female athletes build as much bone mass as possible.

Bone building is dependent on hormones. So, when females suffer from amenorrhea, the hormones that control bone building, also stop. This is the same reason menopausal women are subject to developing osteoporosis. Low bone mass subjects the Triad to stress fractures, especially in the hip and spine.

Complications of disordered eating, combined with menstrual dysfunction, increases the potential to lose bone mass. 

Treatment for the Triad is to regain balance: adequate nutrition, rehab for any sports related injuries and rest to restore the body's normal functions. 

The best treatment, though, is education: Be aware that amenorrhea is a serious matter, which could lead to loss of bone mass and the inability to achieve adequate peak bone mass. 

And, if someone you know is actively involved in some kind of disordered eating, speak up, say something ....
"....make some friendzzz. Ugh-gain!"

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