Day 4: The ‘Danger’ in Dieting

I’ve never dieted a day in my life (Ok except for that time I was on meds for a few months). That said, it isn’t my place to talk about it. I have entertained the thought that losing a few kilos could just be the thing, I’ve made several promises to myself to be more conscious about the things I eat and move my body more. Let’s just say, we win some and we lose some.

I could speak generally as a health professional but I’ll just let the experts talk. By experts I’m not really sure actually, because even my mom is becoming a dieting and weight loss ‘expert’ (She should be, all the herbal teas and veggie smoothies she has consumed say so, and she’s almost my size now so it’s definetely working!)

Scientists have a great tendency of taking extremes and refusing to budge. The more studies we carry out, the more messed up we seem to be. Let’s not forget the ‘politics’ of it. Talking about those two extremes:

On one hand, Processed foods are far more profitable to the food industry, and ads incessantly push fast food, soft drinks, and other high-calorie, low-nutrition products. Poor and unhealthy habits are not only cheaper, but are encouraged (not to our faces, but we all get the idea)
On the other, Dieting and weight loss are a multibillion-dollar industry worldwide. Every day a new celebrity or brand comes up with a ‘miracle’ formula and we eagerly hop on the train: Paleo, Keto, and whatever else is out there. Notice anything? It’s all a vicious cycle: eat and lose. Take a guess on who’s winning?

Anyway, let’s hear the experts; the ones I like anyway.

What the Experts Say

Dieting is notoriously unsuccessful at producing substantial long-term weight loss: the vast majority of dieters regain the weight they lost, with between one-third and two-thirds regaining more weight than they lost. Body shape is not as changeable as we are led to believe. (OBOS)
To illustrate this point, six years after dramatic weight loss on the TV show “The Biggest Loser,” most contestants in a recent study (2016) had regained the pounds – and on top of that, their metabolism had slowed and they were burning fewer calories every day than they did before their stint on the show.(Reuters Health) There’s an interesting article on this in the NYTimes.

“You don’t need to lose that much weight to see benefits…A lot of people conflate the cosmetics of weight loss with the health benefits of weight loss.”
_Dr Kevin Hall (who led the study).

What this means in simple terms: in an attempt to shed pounds, nearly half of all women are on a diet on any given day, spending billions a year on diets that fail the great majority of the time. No body’s thinking of the stress that accompanies dieting, and how dieting has a tendency in the long term to lead to more unhealthy eating habits. Other researchers also found that adolescents who diet put on more weight than those who do not.
Need references? Meet me at the bottom of the page.

Someone who’s been there, done that.

In the excerpts below Your Fat Friend talks about her experience on Weight Watchers as a young girl and growing up as a fat person in her Medium article titled: The Magical Thinking of Weight Loss

  • Watching other women’s battles

Through sheer force of will, these women intended to break their bodies like wild horses, starve them into submission, and, in so doing, attain the dazzling lives of thin women. They stayed hungry, forever famished, but were never quite thin enough to realize the potential and promise that would deliver them to the world promised in weight loss commercials and daytime talk shows, morning news and women’s magazines, promised by friends and mothers. They were not devout enough, and stayed soft with their original sin.

  •  What no one ever tells you about weight loss:

What no one tells you about major weight loss is that despite the constant refrain of calories in, calories out, your body will fight to retain its shape, relaxing back into its former softness. Even if you did everything you were told. Even if you maintained strict calorie limits and diligent food journals. Even if you swore off processed foods and kept working out. Some bodies stay soft. Some bodies make themselves convex.

The Devil is in the Detail

What do you expect when you go on a diet? There are definitely health indications for dieting (For example my mom is Hypertensive and was Prediabetic, whatever that is.) The point I’m trying to drive home is that we go on diets for the cosmetics of it and damn the health consequences. Most of the time we deprave ourselves of food and essential nutrients in the place of pills and other substitutes.

Every one has a choice, and if you really want to go on a diet, forget the hype and try to read up on it. Weigh the pros and cons before you start on something because a friend, a blog or your mom told you. Find the devil in those details 😉

For anyone considering dieting, important questions have to be asked. The ‘starvation’ method which is favored definitely has several negative effects and really, it’s not about calories, but choosing the right calories.

I have the same fetish for dieting as I have for sports. If you can’t turn it into a lifestyle, do not start.

The idea for me here is that lifestyle changes are a slower but surer way of not only losing weight, but better health. Chronic dieting leads to several eating disorders and psychological problems.

Moving On…

Listen to your body and be conscious of what you eat. Instead of looking for ‘miracle’, temporary solutions, make a lifetime commitment to making smart and healthy food choices. It might not be the ‘quick fix’ you are looking for, but it will make for a much happier life.

Reconnect with your authentic hungers. What do you feel like eating? When are you hungry? When are you full? All of the wisdom you need lies within, not in the next diet book.
_Courtney Martin

Check my reblog of on why you should still care about your diet (as in what you eat?).

A little tete-a-tete: What are some of your bad food habits you know you need to get rid of?
Mine would be feeling hungry in the middle of the night lol, and you know I must eat if I want to sleep 😦

Those references

  • Medicare’s Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer,” American Psychologist 62, no. 3 (2007). Find it here.
  • “Relation Between Dieting and Weight Change Among Preadolescents and Adolescents,” Pediatrics 112, no. 4 (2003)
  • OBOS (always)

2 thoughts on “Day 4: The ‘Danger’ in Dieting

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