Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Afraid of Food

Rabbi Yaakov Barr, MSc, Pg Dip (accred)

Cut down the fat, stop drinking soda, no more artificial colors. What happens when we take this well-meaning health advice too far?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

When Chana walked into my office with her mother, I knew she had a serious problem. It was a cold and windy winter’s day and upon seeing Chana’s extremely thin, fragile physique, I wondered how she could even walk in these conditions. Chana’s mother showed me a photo of Chana from the year before. I was shocked (and that doesn’t happen often in my profession). She was unrecognizable. While in the photo she looked healthy, strong, and happy, her face was now was thin, pale, and gaunt. Although she was only 17, she could have quite easily passed for a 30-year-old. In my mind I assumed that anorexia — synonymous with very low body weight and a distorted weight perception — had claimed yet another victim. With the help of her mother, Chana began her story. Chana described how 12 months earlier she visited a naturopathic doctor because of the indigestion she was suffering. He instructed her to avoid dairy, sugar, soy, nuts, and wheat. Desperate to alleviate her indigestion and bloating, she began to slowly start cutting more foods from her diet. It worked. She felt less bloated and healthier. Soon she stopped eating any spelt bread and then, after reading an article on the harmful effects of fruit sugars, decided that fruit would be the next to go. She was determined that no “poison” would pass her lips. At this point, Chana shared, she was spending hours buying and reading an excessive number of books on food, health, and nutrition. Before she would allow any processed food to pass her lips, its ingredients would first be subjected to a rigorous examination. Any food of unknown origin or that wasn’t prepared at home was seen as dangerous. 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

No Misunderstandings
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Hashem revealed the secret of a balanced life
What Was the Court’s Rush?
Yonoson Rosenblum The Democratic Party’s descent into madness
Survey? Oy Vey
Eytan Kobre How could YAFFED promote such a farce?
Filling the Void
Rabbi Henoch Plotnik Jewish leaders don’t need to be declared or coronated
Top 5 Ways We Remember Our Rebbeim (and we love them for it!)
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin An ode to these pivotal people in my life
Hanging On in Newark
Rabbi Nosson Scherman Rabbi Nosson Scherman remembers the shul of his youth
A Fine Kettle of Fish
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman The “minor” chasadim are often the most meaningful
The Next Hill
Jacob L. Freedman The look on Malachi’s face nearly broke my heart
Tradition and Modern Meet in One Long Dance
Riki Goldstein Fusing tradition and modernity comes naturally to him
A Playlist for Shabbos
Riki Goldstein What does Moshy Kraus sing at the Shabbos table?
With Flying Colors
Riki Goldstein My 15 seconds of fame on the Carnegie Hall stage
Full Faith
Faigy Peritzman With emunah, everyone’s obligation is the same
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Silence isn’t always golden
The Only One
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Within every Jew is the flame of instinctive emunah