- How this diet turned a teenager blind
- My take on this shocking diet story – why weight isn’t the biggest worry people should have
- If you have problems with getting a wide range of foods into your diet, then here’s something to help
I remember when my daughter was about ten, she had a friend who would occasionally come to our house to play.
This girl was polite and well brought up. Her family seemed well-adjusted and happy.
But what she ate was a shocker.
Crisp sandwiches were pretty much her entire diet.
And she was so fussy that it wasn’t just ANY crisp sandwich that would do.
I recall holding a kids’ party where we put out the usual suspects – carrot sticks and celery with dips (ignored) along with egg or cheese sandwiches (popular) and crisps (demolished instantly).
However, my daughter’s friend complained that the bread wasn’t the kind of white bread she liked… and the crisps weren’t the kind she liked either…
Then she went to her satchel and got out a little plastic bag containing four slices of the purest, whitest, most bleached bread I’d ever seen (seriously, it DAZZLED my eyes) and then a bag of ready salted crisps.
It was as if she was allergic to flavour.
Anyway, being an editor of health and nutritional newsletters, it was a tough thing to see. It’s akin to seeing someone starving themselves in front of you.
Now, I wasn’t being judgemental…
I know that many young kids can be fussy about food and it’s hard for parents to keep fighting to get fruit and veg into their system day after day, with all the tears, tantrums and arguments it entails.
What’s more, picky eating is something that kids usually grow out of by around 7 years old.
But as this girl was ten, approaching eleven, it was worrying.
There is a syndrome called ‘avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder’ or ARFID, in which (usually) children cannot stand the smell, taste or texture of most foods, to the point that their health is at risk.
It can have huge consequences.
For instance, you might have seen this headline in the media a few weeks ago…
“Teenager ‘blind’ from living off crisps and chips”
The story was about how a 17-year old permanently lost his sight, all thanks to his diet.
A seriously fussy eater, he’d only eat chips and crisps, Pringles and white bread, with perhaps the odd bit of processed meat, like ham or a sausage.
It reminded me of my daughter’s friend. She didn’t go to the same secondary school, so I never knew what became of her.
However, with this kid in the news, things turned out very badly indeed. Medical tests showed that he had severe vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition. He lost minerals from his bone, and blind spots meant that, officially, he was considered blind.
He will never be able to drive and for his whole life will find it hard to recognise faces, watch telly or make out words on a page.
What’s really shocking is that he saw the GP when he was aged 14. They diagnosed him with a vitamin B12 deficiency and recommended a course of supplements.
The problem was, he did not stick with this supplementation, nor change his diet.
What’s interesting here is that despite all these negative articles in the press about supplementation not being beneficial, when people are really in trouble with their diet, supplementation is still what even the medical establishment recommend.
Also, what’s interesting is that the healthcare system didn’t go into panic mode when the 14-year old first went to the GP, possibly because he wasn’t overweight or obese.
If he had been obese they would have been all over him like a rash… but because he looked and weighed ok then diet was never mentioned as being important, simply a vitamin deficiency.
The whole story goes to show that it is possible to be ‘normal’ sized and unhealthy…
Why weight is not always the biggest health problem
As I mentioned a week ago, there is an issue in Asia with diabetes that isn’t linked to weight. There are more people in that region with diabetes (11.3%) than there are people who are overweight (10.6%).
This is why you should consider balancing your blood sugar even if you aren’t concerned about your weight – here was my recommended natural balancer: Glucolistica.
And if you can be thin and unhealthy… what about fat and healthy, too?
For instance, if I eat a good balanced diet with fresh fish, fresh vegetables, moderate alcohol and no sweets or cakes but really like my food so ALSO eat a lot of it… can I pile on the pounds but still be healthy?
I think so…
Which is why weight isn’t the biggest worry people should have.
It’s nutritional balance. For more information on that, take a look at this issue of the Good Life Letter which I’ve posted on our new-look website: Why You Should Eat In Threes
If you cannot get that nutritional balance that’s when supplements come in useful. While they should never be a replacement for a balanced diet, they can really help people who struggle for one reason or another to get the nutrients they require.
If you are worried about your own B12 intake, then you can find plenty of it in eggs, chicken, fish and cheese.
For vegans, try B12 fortified foods such as soya milk. Or seek out a supplement.
Go to the Good Life Shop and you can find B12 in our bio-available multi-vitamin range here.
Yours, as always,