IF your are sleeping then you are not eating.
That’s the idea behind a worrying new trend sin which people abuse sedatives in the hope of losing weight.
It’s called the Sleeping Beauty Diet and the idea behind it is: instead of eating food you can knock yourself out with a sleeping pill and sleep through your meal times instead.
Those who follow the diet severely restrict their calorie intake and it is claimed that some people sleep for as much as 20 hours a day.
Perhaps even more worrying, the diet is proving popular on pro-anorexia websites with one user saying: “This diet is perfect for the end of the school semester, or just for people who have a lot of extra time on their hands.”
In a less extreme form the diet advocates a better night’s sleep each night and a healthy eating and exercise plan.
The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan by Dr Michael Breus suggests people exercise for four hours before bed and get at least seven hours of shut eye per night.
But it has been taken to extremes as people advocate using the diet to skip meals.
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The Sun’s nutritionist Amanda Ursell said the new trend was “shocking” and is “not to be dismissed lightly”.
She said: “Most of us need three meals a day just to sustain us from an energy point of view.
“If you skip breakfast your ability to concentrate and focus in the morning and your mood are going to be not as good as if you did have breakfast.
“And if you skip lunch the same thing will happen in the afternoon.
“Eating disorders are really big issues and they profoundly affect your physical health and your mental well-being.
“This is not to be dismissed lightly, this trend towards sleeping diets, because they are deeply, deeply worrying.”
More than 725,000 men and women in the UK are affected by eating disorders, according to the UK’s eating disorder charity Beat.
Amanda added that recent data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey suggests that many women already struggle to pack enough nutrients into their diets and as a result often suffer deficiencies in iron, calcium and other nutrients.
She said: “If you are cutting out food you are going to be malnourished.
“If you are then starving yourself through sleeping you’re just going to exacerbate it so you will feel shocking when you do wake up.
“Sleep itself won’t sustain you.
“It is almost inconceivable that someone has put this out there.”
WHAT IS AN EATING DISORDER AND HOW TO SPOT ONE
Eating disorders are a range of conditions that can affect someone physically, psychologically and socially.
They are a serious mental illnesses and include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.
Over 725,000 men and women in the UK are affected by eating disorders.
Although they are serious, they are treatable and a full recovery is possible.
The sooner someone gets the treatment they need, the more likely they are to make a full recovery.
Who can get them?
Absolutely anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of their age, gender, or cultural background.
However, young women are most likely to develop an eating disorder, particularly those aged 12 to 20.
Eating disorders claim more lives than any other mental illness – one in five of the most seriously affected will die prematurely from the physical consequences or suicide.
The cause of eating disorders is not yet known.
They are complex and not everyone will experience the same symptoms.
The two most common are anorexia and bulimia.
People with this condition keep their body weight low by dieting, vomiting, using laxatives or excessively exercising.
The way people with anorexia see themselves is often at odds with how they are seen by others and they will usually challenge the idea that they should gain weight.
Often people with anorexia have low confidence and poor self-esteem.
They will often fear getting fat, lie about what they have eaten, count calories excessively, avoid food and behave obsessively.
They can see their weight loss as a positive achievement that can help increase their confidence.
It can also contribute to a feeling of gaining control over body weight and shape.
People with bulimia feel that they have lost control over their eating and evaluate themselves according to their body shape and weight.
They are caught in a cycle of eating large quantities of food (called ‘bingeing’), and then vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics (called purging), in order to prevent gaining weight.
They may also have very low self-esteem and self-harm.
People with this condition may often have mood swings, feel anxious and tense, feel guilty about their eating habits and may show signs of depression.
Bulimia usually develops at a slightly older age than anorexia.
In some instances, although not all, bulimia develops from anorexia.
What to do if you are worried about someone
If you are worried about someone, try reaching out to them and talking to them about what they are feeling.
Many people who have recovered from an eating disorder talk about the importance of having unconditional love and support from those who care about them.
Friends and family can find help and advice from eating disorder charity B-eat at www.b-eat.co.uk
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for maintaining good health.
The NHS recommends eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, basing meals on starchy foods like rice or pasta, eating lean proteins like fish and pulses and drinking plenty of water.
A spokeswomen for Beat said: “Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses with complex causes.
“The messages and methods of losing weight promoted by the diet industry are unlikely to be the sole and direct cause of an eating disorder, but they may exacerbate the problem or be a contributing factor for someone who is vulnerable to developing one or is already ill.
“If someone has become obsessive about what they’re eating or appears to be going to extremes in order to lose weight, it could be a sign that they are developing or have developed an eating disorder.
“The important thing is not to delay, as the sooner someone is treated, the better their chance of full recovery.”
If you are worried yourself or someone you know may have an eating disorder you can call the Beat helpline on 0808 801 0677 or the youth line on 0808 801 0711.
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