Donut-licking is an Aberrant Eating Behavior

ariana keep outBefore this “news” story hits the briney deep, I have something to say about Ariana Grande. She is the 22-year old celebrity of Nickelodeon TV, theater, and music fame who was seen in July, on a surveillance video, licking glazed donuts on an uncovered tray in a donut shop. On the audio, she was overheard saying, “What the f*ck is that? I hate Americans. I hate America. That’s disgusting!” There were entertainment-news stories and hash tags galore: #ilickdonuts – #donutgate – #donutproblems – #arianadonuts –  #arianagrandelickingdonuts –  #ariwearewithyou – #arianahatesamerica. This week I read that Ariana Grande Is Now the 2nd Most Disliked Celebrity, Following Close Behind Bill Cosby. Can you believe that? 

But for me as a clinician, donut-licking raises a red flag. It is an aberrant eating behavior on par with eating in a ritualistic way, chewing food and spitting it out, mixing strange food combinations, eating the same foods over and over, skipping meals, taking tiny portions, cutting food in little pieces, and refusing to eat with others. They are all aberrant eating behaviors that may be seen in eating disordered patients.

Ariana also happens to be extraordinarily thin, which wasn’t the case last year when (according to the Internet), at 5’1” tall, she weighed 106 pounds (BMI 20), a perfect weight within the healthy weight range. But within the past year (according to the Internet), she lost twelve pounds by following a vegan diet. I figure that now Arianna is in the underweight range, weighing 90-94 pounds (BMI 17).

Ariana Before Vegan

Ariana Before Vegan

Ariana After Vegan

Ariana After Vegan

I’ve explained why vegan diets are a problem in Beyonce Promotes Vegan Diet. Tricked by Her Trainer. But that doesn’t stop the knuckleheads on YouTube from praising Ariana’s weight loss. (See Ariana Grande Vegan Weight Loss Transformation.) The photos are telling.

I understand why Ariana Grande might let it slip that, subconsciously, she hates America. After all, we made her into an object that must stay dangerously thin (and hungry) in order to survive. As a role model, she spreads the poison to young fans. How can she feel good about that? When all she wanted to do was sing and dance. I hope she gets help.

Steve Jobs’ Diet

My Twitter profile says I address “aberrant eating.”  Case in point: Steve Jobs’ Diet.

I (like everyone) am reading excerpts from Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson’s new biography. I had not realized that Steve had more than a bit of Howard Hughes in him.  It turns out that Steve was eccentric, obsessive–compulsive and all around bizarre about his diet.

Isaacson writes that Steve had “…a tendency to embrace extreme diets, which included purges, fasts, or eating only one or two foods for weeks on end.” In 1977, Steve was said to exclaim, “I’m a fruitarian and I will only eat leaves picked by virgins in the moonlight.” That was the year Steve ate only fruit. There is a story about Steve turning orange from eating so many carrots.  And “He would sanctimoniously lecture others at the table on the virtues of whatever regimen he was following.” What a bore.  Steve definitely “Thought Different-ly” about how the body works.  But, to be fair, he really believed in an ascetic route to enlightenment.

Steve’s tumor was caught very early, by chance on a CAT Scan looking for kidney stones. It was at an easily operable stage, but Steve chose to forgo surgery, treating it instead with a vegan diet, juice fasts, herbs, and other CAM therapies. (Disclosure: I am into CAM, but as an addition, not as a replacement for reliable therapies.)  Diet-wise, there was not a shred of proof that Steve’s regimens cured cancer, and any diet that omits major food groups is a potential danger.  But, until the end, against medical advice, Steve chose to follow a narrow, low protein, low fat diet.  And that’s too bad because RDs like me are trained to plan diets for malabsorption and cachexia  – if only he would widen his variety.

And so, in the end, Steve’s diet was a part of his undoing. He just kind of wasted away from cancer and malnutrition.  But he saw his actions as divinely inspired, and so do I.  On some level, he had to die young to fuel the eternal flame.

In Steve’s speeches, he had a line about connecting the dots.  He would say, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”  From up there now in the higher dimensions, I want to know what Steve thinks about the dots that made up his lifelong diet.

I like this infographic from, Steve Jobs Cancer Timeline.

Question:  What does Steve think about his lifelong diet?  What do you think?