Intentionally trying to lose weight is often hailed as one of the best ways to improve your heath but is that really the case? There are many negative side effects to dieting that you don’t often hear about and below are just some of the potential outcomes that can occur:
1.Feeling out of control around food – At first going on a diet may give a false sense of control but over time restricting how much you eat and having a lot of rules around food can actually result in the opposite effect because as you’ll read further along, your body will do everything it can to make you eat more if it thinks it’s being starved.
2. Disordered Eating – Despite being extremely normalised in our society; cutting out food groups (that you don’t need to avoid for medical reasons) skipping meals, avoiding foods for pleasure, counting calories, recording every single thing you eat and drink, binge eating and fasting are all forms of disordered eating. Our eating behaviours fall on a spectrum, with normal eating at one end and eating disorders at the other. Disordered eating falls somewhere between the two and for some it can eventually develop into a full blown eating disorder.
3. Metabolism slows down – Your body doesn’t know you’re intentionally trying to lose weight, it thinks you’re experiencing famine and will do anything it can to try and stop your weight from decreasing. One way it does this is to slow your metabolism down and becomes more efficient at surviving on less energy and this is why many people experience a plateau when dieting as it becomes harder and harder to lose weight.
4. Binge Eating – When you’ve been restricting certain foods and eating less than your body needs it can increase the likelihood of binge eating. Deviating from your diet just slightly can result in the “fuck it” effect, where you may feel like you’ve failed your diet today “so might as well eat whatever you want and then start again on Monday” and the cycle continues.
5. Feeling preoccupied about food/body -Your body releases the hunger hormone grehlin and neurotransmitters that drive a desire to eat carbohydrates when its not getting enough energy. So its not a lack of willpower when you smell something delicious that you know is off limits and it drives you insane, its your body increasing your motivation to eat!
6. Regaining the weight you’ve lost – Long term the research suggests that 1 year after taking part in a weight loss intervention, less than 20% of participants are able to maintain the weight loss and this number decreases further each year after they initially lost weight.
7. Disconnect from innate hunger and fullness cues – If you’ve been eating in accordance to someone else’s rules around food for a long time its going to get harder for you to tune into your own internal hunger and fullness cues that we rely on to eat normally. These can and will come back over time with the right guidance and support.
8. Distrust in your body – Although statistically most diets inevitably fail it can still feel like your body is working against you and this creates a sense of distrust. Intuitive eating can help you to rebuild trust in your body that it knows how much and what to eat and doesn’t need to be micromanaged.
9.Guilt that you’ve failed the diet – Dieting is one of the biggest predictors of future weight gain and it has nothing to do with willpower, its biology! But as diet culture and companies who profit from it know this is the case, they blame the consumer for it going wrong… resulting in repeat customers for years to come.
There are other ways you can improve your health that don’t include weight loss. Intuitive eating is a non diet framework I use with clients which has been found to improve glucose control, reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, lead to a wider variety and better quality diet, reduce disordered eating behaviours and improve body image. If you would like to work on some of these areas together click here to arrange a discovery call and see how I can support you improve your relationship to food and body.