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to think this 'diet' is an eating disorder

(301 Posts)
BlackMaryJanes Fri 25-Jan-13 10:52:08

I'm dieting the old fashioned way - exercise and reducing calories to about 1800.

My friend recently told me about a diet she's thinking about doing called "The Alternative Day Diet". In this diet, you eat 400 cals one day, then you're allowed to eat whatever you like the next day, then back to 400 cals the next day, then eat whatever you like for a day, etc.

I've done some research on this seemingly popular diet. Apparently it switches on a 'skinny gene' which keeps your metabolism in top condition, burning calories. It also has other claimed health benefits such as - making you live longer (there was a Horizon documentary on the BBC backing this up). The internet is full of gleeming reviews.

But surely this pattern of eating is unsustainable and encourages disordered thinking? I feel a bit concerned for my friend. When she latches onto an idea she tends to go hardcore.

BIWI Fri 25-Jan-13 10:54:16

If you've done some research on it, then what is your view of all the scientific stuff? Or are you just ignoring that?

Calling it an eating disorder is really extreme!

There are lots of people on MN already following this, very successfully - why not point your friend in the direction of those threads - look for the ones with 5:2 in the thread title.

BIWI Fri 25-Jan-13 10:54:50

Sorry - yes, YABU.

madlibscientist Fri 25-Jan-13 10:55:43

It's not particularly something I would choose, but I don't think it promotes an eating disorder. Intermittent fasting has been shown to work, and actually, I kind of live by the rule 'if I'm not hungry, I won't eat', which means that I probably miss a meal here or there a few times a week; I actually find has really helped me cope with a former binge eating issue, oddly enough. So...though this alternate day thing is probably pretty faddy, I don't think it's the worst diet out there!

twinklesparkles Fri 25-Jan-13 10:56:01


Its a crash diet. Not an eating disorder

WorraLiberty Fri 25-Jan-13 10:56:04

Anyone on a diet has 'disordered thinking' while they're on a diet surely?

Having to think about every single thing you eat/measuring calorie intake/fat content/sugar content.

It's all 'disordered' compared to 'normal' everything in moderation eating.

BartletForTeamGB Fri 25-Jan-13 10:57:02

There is a lot of robust scientific evidence that we are designed for times of feast and famine, the problem nowadays being that famine never comes. It appears that people using this diet/eating plan (as perhaps we should all be eating like this all of the time) don't overindulge or binge on their eating days.

Read the Michael Mosley webchat. There are A LOT of benefits beyond just weight loss.

MolotovCocktail Fri 25-Jan-13 10:57:05

I'm with you in that I think this diet is a load of bollocks. To lose weight successfully involves a lifestyle change, and 400kcal on alternate days isn't a healthy or sustainable lifestyle change.

Having said that, an eating disorder is a mental health issue, and going hardcore on a stupid diet won't make your friend anorexic/bulimic ... if that happens, it's likely it was always in her to do so, regardless of what diet she follows.

notMarlene Fri 25-Jan-13 10:57:24

Yes, YABU. As an exED (not sure that's technically possible) sufferer I can assure you that is NOT an ED.

notMarlene Fri 25-Jan-13 10:58:22

If I followed thta diet it'd probably bring up my old ED stuff but TBH that's true of all 'diets' for me.

MarshaBrady Fri 25-Jan-13 10:58:37

It's not an eating disorder.

But it's the first time I've seen this diet, am surprised it works. But it appears to do so. Lots of people on here on doing it. With success I believe?

FlouncingMintyy Fri 25-Jan-13 10:59:01

It is working very well for hundreds if not thousands of Mumsnetters.

Trust me, I would not embark on any eating regime if there was a chance it would lead to an eating disorder - been there and done that 30 years ago and there is no way I am going back to that horrible place again.

Why do you think it would lead to disordered eating?

McBalls Fri 25-Jan-13 10:59:39

Why concerned?

Lots of people find it a good way of changing their eating habits. Maybe it won't be sustainable but then maybe your way of dieting isn't either? Otherwise everyone who went on a cal counting diet would succeed and as we know that's not the case.

Let her get on with it, there are innumerable ways a person can choose to eat (whether to lose weight, gain weight, have increased energy, cut out additives etc etc) we get fed so much bollocks about the 'right' way to eat and it's largely nonsense.

Almost always when a person is choosing to eat in a mindful way they are doing something positive compared to whatever way of eating caused the excess weight in the first place.

BIWI Fri 25-Jan-13 11:00:16

Oh, and it's 500 calories a day for women and 600 for men - not 400.

FlouncingMintyy Fri 25-Jan-13 11:00:24

The version that most of us are doing is 500 calories on two days out of seven. It is EASY to achieve that, far far easier, imo, than keeping down to 1400 calories or whatever day after day for months on end.

BIWI Fri 25-Jan-13 11:01:02

I can't bear it when people slag something off before they even bother to read anything about it. Read the research and then give your opinion.

Trills Fri 25-Jan-13 11:02:42


An eating disorder is something in your head.

A diet is something that you do.

No behaviour is an eating disorder. It may be a symptom of one, but it isn't one itself.

notMarlene Fri 25-Jan-13 11:03:17

THe version Mintyy mentions sounds like it'd be sustainable life long. Healthier and more likely to lead to sustainable weight loss / weight maintenance than the daft temporary diets I see my friends doing.

StephaniePowers Fri 25-Jan-13 11:04:14

It's not an eating disorder in itself, however it's easy to get hung up on what you weight on the low-cal days, the day after, etc etc. I don't see how that's different to any other diet. I do think fasting can be addictive but for me the overall benefit is that I eat less, where I had been overeating (in a standard, Western, never-let-me-be-hungry way).

catkitson Fri 25-Jan-13 11:04:43

YANBU. If not an eating disorder in itself, it sounds like a path to procuring one. I know my eating disorder (which Ive now recovered from) started in much this way, as I tried to lose weight after having my first dc.

KobayashiMaru Fri 25-Jan-13 11:05:31

You can't have done much research on it, since anti-diet experts (serious scientists) have said it is the only "diet" they would ever recommend. It's a sensible way of eating, although if you are alternate day-ing you should be on about 5-600 cals on fast days. 5 off 2 on is more popular.

It not only helps you lose or control weight, it also helps you to live longer, and live healthier for longer.

VinegarTits Fri 25-Jan-13 11:06:11

YABU, are you worried she might lose more weight than you and your diet?

FlouncingMintyy Fri 25-Jan-13 11:06:44

But why do people think this is more likely to lead to disordered eating than any other kind of diet? I don't understand.

BlackMaryJanes Fri 25-Jan-13 11:06:54

Its a crash diet. Not an eating disorder

starving one day and binging the next, then back to starving is a crash diet?

FlouncingMintyy Fri 25-Jan-13 11:07:29

You don't binge the next day. Don't be so fucking stupid!

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