The reason I align my practice with terms like ‘health at every size’ and ‘anti-diet’ is because of how harmful dieting can be for your body and more importantly your mind. I have worked with countless people that have experienced the backlash of dieting and have had people who have shared their stories about how they have felt hopeless and just not good enough almost their entire life! They think... the smaller your body, the healthier it is, and the larger your body, the unhealthier it is. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here is the truth... dieting can actually be much more harmful to your body and your overall health than if you stayed at the weight you were before you started the ever so infamous yo-yo diet patterns. Here are some different ways being on diets can be harmful.
You Might End Up Gaining More Weight
Believe it or not, having a history of dieting can actually cause you to gain weight, instead of losing it. Sure, you might lose a few pounds in the short-term, but most diets fail (like 97%) and many people end up putting the weight back on. A lot of those people gain even more weight than when they started, due to the refeeding period after restricting. Your body is going to hold on to all that food in fear of another well meaning self imposed famine period, and this can lead to many issues with overeating and not understanding when your body is full.
Nutrient Deficiencies Are Very Common
People who are on diets will often have nutritional deficiencies, even though they feel like their meals are balanced. The less you eat, the less nutrients you are consuming. If you are in a severe caloric deficit or eating as few carbs as possible, you are probably missing out on vitamins and minerals from meat and fish, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, and so many more different types of foods.
Macro and Calorie Counting Can Lead to Unhealthy Choices
Think about a time when you were dieting, whether you were counting macros or trying to stay in a caloric deficit. Did you always choose the healthiest, most nutritious foods possible? Probably not. You told yourself you could eat whatever you wanted, as long as it fit within your calories. Which means you might choose a cookie or processed snack over a smoothie or oatmeal, just because the calories happened to be the same or less. You start forgetting about nutrition, and only focus on a number.
The Stress is Damaging to Your Body and Mental Health
You are likely putting your body and brain through a lot of undue stress when you go on a diet. There are so many different emotions you go through on this rollercoaster of restricting your food, having guilt or shame over indulging in something that was off limits, and over-exercising to burn as many calories as possible. If you find that every time you start a diet, you have a short high, followed by a period of depression or anxiety, guess what? That is not your lack of willpower – that is your HUNGER.
Unhealthy Habits Replace Nourishing Food
Lastly, you might notice that when you are on a diet, you start engaging in unhealthy habits not related to food. For example, you pick up smoking since it helps to stave off cravings, or you start drinking calorie-free energy drinks or Diet sodas instead of snacks, because it temporarily makes you feel full and helps pick you up from your lack of natural energy.
This is just a start into learning about the symptoms of diet backlash. Join me in my facebook group for a live training on this topic today at 12 CST. JOIN HERE