The Dieting Yo-Yo

Anyone who has tried dieting has probably been there. You start with good intentions, maybe even lose a bit of weight, but then the moment you stop, it all piles back on almost immediately. It’s disheartening, it’s probably unhealthier than just staying at the heavier weight in the first place, and a lot of experts say that you shouldn’t do it (

There are situations where it’s medically necessary to change your diet, such as if you develop prediabetes or diabetes itself. Sometimes, such as if you’re an elite athlete, you need to very carefully choose the foods that will most enhance your performance. For most of us regular people who might not be the ideal weight but are reasonably healthy and are mostly able to live how we want to live, unnecessary dieting can cause a bunch of problems, both physically and psychologically.

Physically, rapid weight loss followed by rapid weight gain, especially repeated in multiple successive cycles, can completely mess up your body’s natural metabolism. It becomes even harder to sustain any kind of preferred or healthy weight level, and when you stop dieting, the regain will be even more rapid and even more damaging. That’s even before we talk about the potential risks of malnutrition.

Psychologically speaking, the pressure you put yourself under to diet, followed by the continuous despair when it doesn’t produce any long-term success, isn’t good for you. Issues related to weight and self-image are major drivers of depression and anxiety. In the most severe cases, they can lead to eating disorders. Conditions like anorexia can turn deadly, and even in milder cases, they can cause all sorts of health problems.

So why do people still obsess over dieting, even when it’s not recommended? Well, popular culture has to take a big share of the blame. There’s huge pressure on people, especially women and girls, to meet the unattainable standards displayed by celebrities and touted in magazines, even when they’re completely unrealistic. We also live in a world where instant gratification is expected, which causes huge damage to long-term sustainable living.

Most doctors recommend that instead of focusing on weight loss, we think about the overall healthiness and sustainability of our lifestyle, including balanced nutrition, physical activity, and a more mindful attitude. Developing a more positive relationship with food is vital if we want to improve self-image.

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