Nutrition Friday – On Purging (Without Binging)

Don’t Eat Too Much Fibre

Most of the time when you’re getting advice about dieting it’s generally in the form of a few rules you should ought to follow; eat more of this, eat less of that. Count your calories, don’t snack after dinner, etc. Recently I came on an article which flips the script, so rather than giving you rules to follow, they gave you rules to stop following.

As a generally curmudgeonly contrarian, opposite land advice is the sort of advice I love. I’m not going to dive into the whole thing, just grab hold of their first point; more fibre isn’t necessarily better.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the average American (or Canadian) doesn’t get anywhere near enough fibre in his diet, and yeah, yeah, yeah, fibre keeps you fuller, longer because it can’t be digested, which will control cravings and help you lose weight.

The problem is that too much fibre is equally a problem.

The Purge

A loooong time ago, a friend went on a major health kick and told me I had to try a psyllium purge. “You gotta do this, Andrew, have a glass of psyllium husk at night and the next day it will put a smile on your face.”

Yeaaahhhhh, no.

You see, I was one of those Canadians who was NOT getting enough fibre in his diet, and drinking a ½ quart of pure fibre didn’t clean me out, it stopped me up. For days. In fact, for almost a week.

I’ll admit, I did stay full, and certainly didn’t want to eat very much that week, but man oh man, having the feeling you’ve got to go, for days, and being completely unable to go, for days, was absolutely horrible.

Now, I’m not sure I made the best choice in thinking that the way out was through, and took psyllium every night until I could finally move my bowels. And, yes, when they finally moved the relief was truly amazing, but I seriously don’t recommend it.

Admittedly, since I was taking pure fibre my case was at the extreme end, but even getting too much fibre from dietary sources

…causes bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and even bowel obstruction. Keep your intake to a maximum of 70 grams per day to avoid this

Sofia Norton RD

Also keep in mind that her 70 g limit is still a great deal more than the American Dietary Guidelines of 25 – 28 g/day for women and 28 – 33g/day for men.

Looking back, I’m not upset I did that purge, I was in my 20s; fit healthy and strong and I’ve even done it again since, and never had anything like that first torturous week.

Having said that, I would strongly advise against anyone over the age of 25 trying it for the first time, especially if you are overweight, have any digestive issues at all, or simply haven’t had a decent source of fibre in your diet up to this point.

The risks aren’t worth the potential benefits.