Is Dieting As Innocent As We’re Lead To Believe – Guest Blog by Julie Kerr
It seems everyone is doing it, and if you’re not doing ‘it’ you probably know someone who is.
And what is this ‘it’?
Well dieting of course!
As the summer heat increases, so does the pressure to look good and feel great.
The change in clothing and climate is a big motivator to cut back, cut out and lose those ‘excess’ pounds.
So as the temperatures soar, so do the numbers of people going on a diet.
And the media “helpfully” responds.
Take a look at any glossy magazine, newspaper or popular daytime TV show and they’re all optimistically overflowing with the latest fad diet and promises to help you look good – fast.
And it all sounds so easy…
Just check out the following real headlines.
• ‘DIET PANIC? Lose 5lbs in 5 Days’
• ‘FAT TO THIN FAST – How I lost my flabby tum in just 4 hours!’
• ‘Beach Ready Now’ and ‘Drop 4KG On Your Holiday and still have the mojitos!’
But are these promises too good to be true?
For sure these magazine headlines sell.
So do the images of stunning airbrushed models and the latest celebrity gossip. These media lifestyles look so attractive and there’s a subtle, underlying message – “if you look like this, you can have this lifestyle too”.
It means dieting is not just tempting, it’s also becomes a normal lifestyle choice.
In fact dieting has become so common place, especially amongst females of all ages – regardless as to whether they really need to loose weight or not, you’d be hard pushed to find someone who isn’t.
BUT could dieting actually do you more harm than good?
FACT. The objective of dieting is to lose weight by restricting food or calorie intake.
For sure there are different motivations for making this decision BUT the underlying objective is to lose weight; to achieve a different, trimmer body shape, to be ‘healthier’ and feel better about yourself.
However, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that dieting does not lead to this ultimate goal.
The surprising truth is that people who diet tend to gain MORE weight in the long run and have many more issues with body confidence and self-esteem than those who do not diet.
But why is this?
The obvious answer is the dietary failure is the fault of the dieter.
But the truth is it isn’t.
The thing is dieting is inherently flawed.
Food is a necessity for life and your body is ‘hard-wired’ to ensure you have enough to survive.
However if your body detects food is restricted to the extent that is it isn’t getting enough energy for at least it’s basic metabolic functions – which is what many diets trigger – the most primitive part of the brain thinks you are facing a famine and automatically responds by initiating an instinctive survival process that…
• Lowers the body’s metabolic rate to conserve energy – which in turn makes it more difficult to loose weight after a time.
• Initiates strong cravings for food, which will have you obsess about food and what you’re are going to eat.
• Proactively seek out food (even if you don’t want to)
• Sends messages of hunger which if aren’t met turn into uncontrollable urges to eat and…
• When food is available – eat as much as possible – especially foods that are made up of simple carbohydrates; the sugary ones, and those dense in fat.
Now when anyone goes on a restricted diet for a period of time, and it doesn’t have to be that long, this biological, or ‘starvation response’ kicks in.
A restrictive eating regime leads to detrimental side-effects.
If you don’t diet ‘sensibly’, you are in effect under-eating. In turn, your body is denied access to sufficient energy, proteins, vitamins and minerals to function effectively – and this lack of nutrition unsurprisingly results in side effects.
Below are 10 common symptoms of under–eating that many dieters experience…
1. Lowered metabolism
2. Urges to binge
3. Obsessive thoughts about food, weight and body image
4. Feeling low, mood swings and even depression
5. Self critical
6. Distorted body image
7. Emotional and increasingly unable to cope with life’s challenges
8. Distorted and irrational thinking
9. Nervousness and anxiety
10. Panic attacks
Imagine how difficult it becomes to stick to a diet if you are experiencing some or all of these side effects…
Dieting distorts your relationship with food
Diet plans dictate and influence how you perceive and categorise foods.
Probably the most obvious is when a diet labels food as “good” or “bad”.
In reality there are no “good” and “bad” foods. That’s because rather like fashion this is subject to change and reframing by dieting experts (think back to the fat-free diets widely promoted in the 80s as a way to lose weight. It’s now well known that fat is critical to our survival and should not be cut out completely). By making certain foods out of bounds and sinful, they subconsciously become even more attractive.
Because a restrictive eating plan makes you hungry, food obsessed and craving sustenance, you will instinctively want to eat more food than perhaps your diet stipulates – and even binge.
This feeling of being ‘out of control’ around food causes great anxiety. Instead of being seen as life fuel, food becomes something to fear.
And the resulting side effects and emotional impact can be very challenging to address.
What’s more, the obsessive focus on food, counting calories and endless weighing can (and does) lead to eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia.
If you’ve blamed your circumstances or yourself for being too greedy or weak willed, or maybe even your genes for your ‘diet failures’, disordered eating and weight gain perhaps you can now understand that it is not you at fault but rather your dieting strategies.
And if you’re thinking of dieting you might give it a second thought.
With thanks to Julie Kerr
Julie Kerr – Eating Disorder Recovery Coach| Mentor |Author. Founder of Bulima Free | Creator of T.E.A.M Recovery System | Free Bulimia Self Help Videos available. For more info please visit: http://www.bulimiafree.com/ Twitter: @juliemkerr