By Julianna Hindemith, Silver Linings volunteer
The Zone, Atkins, Weight Watchers, South Beach and Ketogenic diets...what do all of these have in common? Each and every one has morphed from fad diet to normalized “healthy behaviour” in our society despite that these diets, and many others, can actually be dangerous. Losing weight too quickly can affect normal physiological cues, overriding the body’s natural signals of hunger and fullness. Crash dieting throws metabolism into a state of distress, causing the body to shut down to survive on less energy.
Additional harmful physical issues that can develop from dieting include:
○ nutrient deficiency
○ fatigue, dehydration and muscle cramps
○ weakened immune system
○ muscle loss, including from the heart
○ ketone production, which can result in liver and kidney problems.
On top of this, dieting often triggers damaging psychological changes in the brain contributing to irritability and the development of depression, anxiety and disordered eating. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) states that “35% of persistent dieters progress to pathological dieters and around 20 - 25% of such dieters will develop an eating disorder.” Of course dieting is not the sole cause of someone developing an eating disorder(s), but more often than not it is a precursor.
From a psycho-social standpoint, if dieting rules are someone’s constant preoccupation, he or she may be more likely to withdraw from social settings, family and friends. Disordered relationships with food thrive on isolation, and without awareness and support from friends and family, the dieting cycle can quickly spiral downwards.
Through my personal experience with disordered eating, I’ve learned that happiness is not measured on a scale and dieting teaches you nothing about health. So let’s eliminate from our vocabulary all labels such as “good” and “bad” when it comes to food. Let’s respect our bodies and be grateful for all the amazing things they do everyday to keep us alive. Let’s do away with diets, because eating is meant to strengthen, not compromise, our bodies, minds and spirits.
Reference re: medical information, the National Eating Disorder Collaboration (Australia).