The Five Bite Diet is an Eating Disorder Diet
Okay, it’s time for: The Worst Diet of the Month Award. The very first winner of this prestigious honor is (drum roll please)… the Five Bite Diet. A more accurate moniker might be, The Eating Disorder Diet.
Have you ever heard the phrase bite this? Boy does it apply to this “diet,” which actually isn’t a diet at all, just chewing instructions disguised as a diet. According to this “diet,” you need to count how many bites of food you’ve taken. But here’s the kicker, you only get 5 bites of any food twice a day plus calorie free beverages. That’s it. No breakfast, no snacks and no dessert. Just… five… bites.
The “diet” was created by another one of those thin-centric, skinny preaching, male diet-docs, Alwin Lewis. This five bite pitch has been around for a couple of years, without much fanfare, but it got a huge plug on April 25thwhen Dr. Mehmet Oz had Dr. Lewis as a guest on his show.
So what’s The Big Promise from the five-bite, eating disorder “diet?” Here you go: “Lose 15 pounds or more in the first week.” (At least that’s what Lewis’s website claims.) As a Registered Dietitian with over 20 years experience I can say without a doubt that losing 15 pounds in one week for a normal person is unrealistic, unhealthy and even dangerous. Rapid weight loss is very demanding on the body and can trigger side effects including: gallstones, malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances, headaches and bone, muscle and hair loss. Just making a claim like this is unethical and dangerous in my professional opinion. Don’t fall for it. It’s just another unhealthy “fad diet.” According to the Centers for Disease Control if you want to lose weight, gradual weight loss (about 1-2 pounds per week) is best.
Follow this five-bite advice and your body and brain will literally go into starvation mode — slower metabolism, no energy and inability to think due to your brain being starved for glucose. Just about the only thing your brain can do effectively under these circumstances is think about… crave… FOOD.
Again, in my professional opinion as a Psychologist and Registered Dietitian, this so-called “diet” has the potential to trigger all kinds of eating disorders. Which is why I call it, The Eating Disorder Diet.
But it gets worse. Lewis is a body image bully whose tweet tactics admonish women to, “Shock everyone you know. Get skinny–REALLY SKINNY–and show people what living is all about.” So living is all about getting “REALLY SKINNY” doc? That’s an awfully myopic, sad and sick view of life in my opinion. Here are a couple more of his manipulative, shaming, tweet-screeds, “You HAVE to get SKINNY! It’s your LIFE!” and “You can’t understand how incredible life can be unless you get maximally thin.”
Doesn’t this “doctor” understand that, “You HAVE to get SKINNY,” admonishments will only drive women towards unhealthy and potentially dangerous food behaviors? Doesn’t Lewis know that individuals with eating disorders have significantly elevated mortality rates?
The sad truth seems to be that this schlock diet-doc doesn’t care. His insistence that women be “SKINNY” and “maximally thin” makes me wonder if there isn’t a misogynist agenda at work here to keep women weak and brain dead by keeping us “SKINNY” and “maximally thin.” I would normally say, food for thought, but Lewis only allows us five bites.
On the Dr. Oz show Lewis said, “Thinner is better…” If this guy had read any of the medical research available he would know that his statement is false… or is it lie? The medical facts are quite clear: A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looking at nearly 100 studies that included approximately three million adults found that those with a BMI that ranked them as overweight (25.0-29.9) had less risk of dying than people of normal weight (18.5-24.9).
Wouldn’t you expect a “medical doctor” to know this? Especially when his medical association conducted this important study!
But this diet-doc isn’t letting a few inconvenient medical facts get in the way of a grubby money grab. On his website he’s offering memberships for $50 per month and weekly “one-on-one coaching” chats for three months at $2000! Lewis is not a Psychologist, Dietitian or Wellness Coach. What makes him qualified to counsel women… his tweets?
This five-bite fiasco can also lead to malnutrition. With so little food intake it’s unlikely you can consume all the nutrients you need for optimum health. Sure, Lewis recommends taking a multi-vitamin but as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says, “Eating a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods is the best way for most people to obtain the nutrients they need to be healthy and reduce their risk of chronic disease.”
Aren’t doctors supposed to help us stay healthy? I guess some people think the Hippocratic Oath is spelled: H.Y.P.O.C.R.I.T.E.
Although Dr. Oz did not endorse Five Bites and states on his website that he, “…has concerns with this kind of extreme approach to weight loss – the most important of which is that it almost entirely overlooks nutrition,” why did he give Alwin Lewis a huge stage on which to market this health mess to millions of women? Dr. Oz, whose side are you on? Frankly, I’m beginning to wonder.
Congratulations Alwin Lewis, you and your Five Bite Diet are the inaugural winners of Smash Your Scale’s Worst Diet of the Month Award. Bon Appetit! Or perhaps I should say, bite this.
Dr. Ellen Albertson is a psychologist, registered dietitian, licensed wellness coach and founder of www.SmashYourScale.com, the website for women who want to achieve health and happiness without destructive diets. Dr. A is at @eralbertson on twitter and at SmashYourScale on facebook.