|Hello, I am Debra Neiman, RN BSN.
I have worked in Neonatal Care, at Beauregard Memorial Hospital, DeRidder for over four years. My college experience at Louisiana State University at Alexandria, resulted in a great deal of research papers, which are gathering dust in my office. My curriculum at Northwestern State University also added to this wealth of information.
I hereby begin this series to provide a way to get this information to those in the nursing field and any other person with a passing interest in these subjects.
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Food Faddism and Nutrition
A Weight Control Dilemma
Debra Neiman, RN, BSN, Spring 1992
Prepared for Home Economics 2010
Louisiana State University
A term attributed to claimants of exaggerated theories for the diet is a "food faddist". They usually make claims that certain foods will: 1) be curative, 2) be harmful and should be omitted, 3) are therapeutic or effective as diets in special combinations and/or 4) prevent disease and meet body needs but only if "natural". The problem with these claims is that the body uses food as chemical components and so it is the nutrients the food contains that is important to the body (Williams, 1989).
At present, modern medicine can cure one third of the diagnosed cancer. Another third of cancer incidence could probably be cured also if only diagnosed early. Fear, desire for a simple cause and a "quick painless cure" have led people to believe claims of food faddists. Unfortunately these regimes lead many people to delay seeking medical attention until it is too late. They cling to a false sense of security offered by pseudo drugs such as Iscador, an extract of mistletoe and Laetril, a substance derived from apricot kernels. A common fad cure is the "metabolic therapy" which includes a combination of special diet, detoxification, high dose vitamins and minerals, and spiritual/emotional healing. Other curative diets include a grape diet, eating only raw foods and even use of a wheatgrass extract. There are several megavitamin regimes offered designed to kill cancer cells. All these approaches cause harm by delaying real treatment, draining financial resources, and feeding the ignorance and fears of the cancer patient and family (Hogan, 1991).
Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for eliminating certain foods from the diet. Childhood food allergies are often associated with protein substances. Many legitimate regimens are offered under medical supervision such as eliminating common offenders, and using a core of less often offending foods. It is important to ensure all needed nutrients are provided. If necessary only a supplemental formula (Vivonex) is given for two weeks. Then single foods are added to the diet and responses evaluated to each (Williams, 1989).
Special diets and regimens have appeared on the market to deal with behavior problems of children. One plan by Dr. Ben Feingold claims that hyperactivity in children is often caused by artificial food colors, flavorings and salicylates. They also claim that the additives may be responsible for a broad range of behavioral, physiological and neurological disturbances. The diet prescribed by Dr. Feingold claims to help improve conditions including seizures, retardation, autism, Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome, Down's Syndrome, enuresis, serous otitis, as well as nystagmus and strabismus (Feingold, 1979).
The Immune Power Diet works by eliminating hidden food sensitivities. "The food you savor at lunch may have damaged or killed tens or even hundreds of thousands of immune cells by midafternoon" (Berger, 1985). He warns of withdrawal symptoms when eliminating these toxic foods from the diet and prescribes "1000 mg of vitamin C every three hours, up to six per day" (Berger, 1985).
The Beverly Hills Diet uses "conscious combining" of foods, and reports that many digestive enzymes cancel out one another and cannot work simultaneously. This reportedly affects metabolism and causes the food to be stored instead of used (Mazel, 1981).
The Bio-diet claims to change body chemistry, to activate the body's own appetite suppressants, stimulants and substances to burn fat. It tells not only what foods to eat, but the order in which to eat them. This involves week on and week off dieting, to prevent feeling deprived and only 36 minutes per week of exercise (Guerra, 1982).
If this diet is too much for you, then there is a low stress diet. Dr. Lendon Smith claims that obesity is a symptom of stress and gives recommendations for dealing with different stressors in life (Smith, 1985). He also has a Diet Plan for Teenagers which addresses not only problems of weight gain, but also body odor, dandruff, and acne (Smith, 1986).
Prevention Magazine has a cookbook out called "Meals that Heal". This little book offers sound advise: dealing with salt intake, cutting fats, tips to skip high fat and high calorie food items. Most of this advise is not new. It does list a few recipes for basic nutritionally sound meals. However, the list of "50 Foods For Meals That Heal" implies a more curative than nutritional approach (Gilroy, 1990).
There are even diets that claim to do everything. According to the cover of Macrobiotics this is "...a diet and a lifestyle that offer solutions to many personal and social problems. It helps prevent sickness and treat disease, and to restore the natural balance and harmony that have been lost in the chaotic contemporary world" (Kotzsch, 1985). This diet also has a unique diagnostic technique: looking at pie shaped sections of the iris of the eye to diagnose cancer in whatever organ the section supposedly represents (Hogan, 1991).
Faddists can work out of storefronts in the guise of weight loss centers. A National Institute of Health panel recently examined weight loss programs. If a person decides to join a group to help loose weight there are many to choose from. Some have very good weight loss success rates and have sound basis in nutrition, although they may be somewhat expensive. However, each should be examined with a good deal of suspicion before joining. There is not any single program that is good for everyone, and there are not real statistics available about long term weight maintenance success. Most companies do not have the resources to accurately keep track of these statistics. According to Dr. James G. Nuckolls, an internal medicine specialist on the panel, 95% of people regain the weight within 5 years, regardless of the program they used (Nelson, 1992).
Recently the top seven programs were rated by a panel of five nutrition experts for US News and World Report. Listed on a scale of five points, from 1-Best to 5-worst, there were not any clear winners.
Nutritionally Adequately Long Term Balanced Trained Staff Results Likely Diet Center 2.6 4.8 3.5 Jenny Craig 1.8 4.4 3.4 Medifast 4.8 3.8 4.0 Nutri\System 2.5 3.0 3.6 Optifast 3.3 2.5 3.8 Physicians WLC 3.3 3.3 4.8 Weight Watchers Full Choice 2.3 3.4 3.0 Quick Control 2.0 3.4 3.0 PANEL: Wayne Callaway, M.D., associate clinical professor of medicine, George Washington University; Johanna Dwyer, director, Frances Stern Nutrition Center, New England Medical Center; Mindy Hermann, registered dietitian, American Dietetic Association spokesperson; Marion Nestle, chairman, department of nutrition, New York University; and Jelia Witschi, lecturer, department of nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health.(Silberner, 1992).
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Copyright, ©1997 Debra Kay Neiman,
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