Really, Giada?

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Recently a news story came across my radar about Food Network chef and TV personality Giada de Laurentiis. According to an article by Fox News, a source on de Laurentiis’ show Giada at Home insists that the real secret to how Giada maintains her size 2 figure is not by “eating in moderation,” as the chef has often stated. Instead, the source reports that Giada refuses to actually eat any of the food she prepares on her show. But what about all of the scenes in which she takes a bite of the delicious food she prepares during the show? According to the source, Giada has a “dump bucket” on hand to spit out every bite she takes on TV.

Needless to say, I was disturbed to read about this. While I am not insinuating that Giada has an eating disorder, the act of chewing and spitting out one’s food is actually an eating disorder behavior that a number of my patients admit to engaging in. The individual who chews and spits out her food is trying to get the flavor of the foods she deems “unhealthy” without having to ingest the calories.

In every interview with Giada that I’ve read, the subject of her weight comes up. Of course, it’s not terribly surprising that these questions are asked since she is a chef who prepares decadent meals and desserts and yet manages to stay stick thin. And I guess I can’t blame her for her standard answer of “I eat a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything. Everything in moderation.” I mean, who wants to hear that a TV chef actually never eats her own creations on the show? And spitting out one’s food isn’t something that most people would admit to.

It makes me sad that Giada feels the need to do this. Given our fat phobic culture, I imagine she must feel a lot of pressure to stay thin as a TV personality. My guess is that if she actually did eat at least some of the food she prepared on the show, her figure wouldn’t be much different. Genes play a huge role in weight, and eating a few extra bites shouldn’t affect her waistline dramatically. It also makes me think of Paula Deen and how ruthlessly she has been attacked for her weight and “unhealthy” cooking style. I wonder how Paula would be viewed if it was discovered that she also has a “dump bucket.” Would she be praised for her “restraint?”

More than anything, I worry that stories like Giada’s will start a troubling new trend among young girls trying to “stay skinny.” No matter what, chewing and spitting out one’s food for the purposes of weight control is not a healthy behavior. Hopefully this will not catch on as the new weight loss “solution.”