Severe summer dieting can lead to eating disorders

It is important to not cut out one type of food, unless it is medically necessary.
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Summer is officially here, and with the warmer weather, it may be nice to get to the pool or the beach. But for some, it can cause anxiety over concerns that their bodies are not "summer ready."

Emily Shaber is a clinical dietitian at Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She said doctors there do not see an increase in eating disorders in the summer, but they do see an increase in dieting; which is the number one thing that leads to developing an eating disorder.

Shaber said there is an emerging disorder called orthorexia; which comes from being obsessed with "clean" or "healthy" eating.

"It's the obsession and the preoccupation with those types of items that becomes a problem," Shaber said.

She said it is important to eat healthy foods, but it is also important to eat all food groups with moderation. Shaber suggested eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish and other lean proteins.

She said people should not cut certain foods out of their diet; unless it is medically necessary.

"It's human nature to crave what we deem that we can't have," Shaber said. "So cutting those things out only just fuels further obsession and desire to seek out those things."

Shaber said signs of an eating disorder include a change in weight, severe anxiety over not being able to eat healthy foods, refusing to go out to eat, distress when unable to eat healthy foods or a preoccupation with ingredients in food.

If you think someone may have an eating disorder, Shaber said you should approach them privately and tell them your concern. Then Shaber said to recommend them to a therapist or dietitian for professional help.