The Downside to Dieting

According to Dr. Beckie Lang, of the Association for the Study of Obesity, “Maintaining a healthy weight isn’t about going on a diet and coming off a diet when you reach your target weight. It is about adopting skills that change your eating habits for life.”

Understanding diets

The word ‘diet’ is usually used in reference to weight loss. In fact, Webster’s Dictionary defines diet as ‘a regimen of eating or drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight’. While there is nothing inherently wrong with losing weight, most people go on diets as a quick fix to achieve their desired shape or size. It is this obsession with appearance that creates most of the problems for weight watchers.

When you are on a diet, the body responds to the decrease in nutrition in multiple ways. There is a drop in your metabolism and increase in stress hormones like cortisol. Both these responses slow down the fat-burning process in the body, making it difficult for you to lose weight after the initial days of the diet. And this effect could last well beyond the diet, making you pile on the pounds when you resume your regular food habits.

Diets are not always effective

Studies have repeatedly shown that diets are not an effective way to lose weight. While people may lose weight initially, they quickly revert to their original size. In fact, over a period of five years, more than 83% of the dieters actually ended up even heavier after going on a diet. Needless to say, they would have been better off not dieting in the first place!

Constant dieting is not only ineffective in reducing weight, it is also associated with long-term and permanent damage to health. Research has shown that repeated weight loss and gain, typically associated with diets, can double the risk of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. The constant wear and tear of the body due to ‘yo-yo weight loss’ also suppresses the immune system, making one prone to infection and illness.

Diets are sometimes a source of stress

Many people find that dieting takes over their life, leaving them worried over every bite and stressed out during mealtimes. Food becomes a source of guilt and shame and can lead to eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating. Obsession over diet plans and body shape can lead to emotional strain and depression.

Instead of dieting for weight loss, it’s always better to eat in moderation and exercise regularly. Diets will harm you in the long run.

The medical opinion on the issue of dieting is almost unanimous. When you weigh in the pros and cons of dieting, the positives are too few and the potential for damage is huge for it to be an effective remedy for obesity. Swapping calorie-control measures for balanced diet and regular exercise works better for sustained weight loss in the long run.

If you have your own anti-diet story to share with us, we would be pleased to hear from you. Do write in with your comments.