Wanting to eat healthy for the right reasons, like benefiting physical and mental health, is not a bad thing. However, not all diets are good diets. Diving into the world of dieting for the wrong reasons can bring about a list of physical and mental health problems. So, the world of dieting is something that people, especially those who may be predisposed to eating disorders, must be wary of. In this article, we determine why dieting is bad when it is approached in certain ways. And, how to identify when dieting may be the result of disordered eating.
Dieting is the attempt to lose weight, change body figure, and improve self-esteem by restricting what you’re eating. There are many different types of diets, and they differ by what’s restricted. For example, a ‘no sugar’ diet would mean a diet that restricts the intake of sugars. Another example is the ‘keto diet’ which restricts a person from eating any foods that aren’t low in carbohydrates and high in proteins or fats. Regardless of the type of diet, diets are rarely helpful in sustaining long-term weight loss. And, can cause more harm than good on both physical and mental health, specifically for people who are predisposed or at risk for developing eating disorders.
As mentioned, diets rarely work to provide long-term results. They restrict the body from certain foods that can lead to malnutrition. So, when a person goes off a diet and starts eating the foods they were previously restricted to, the body works in reverse to store fat. So, in fact, many people who end up losing weight with dieting actually gain it all back (or even more) after the diet has ended.
While diets are typically unsuccessful, this isn’t the only problem with dieting. Another, even more serious problem with dieting is that it can stimulate a sense of a loss of control with eating. As diets often fail, those who utilize them may feel guilty or that they’ve failed in their attempts to control their eating habits and their body image. Therefore, this can further stimulate a cycle of dieting in order to maintain this control. And, lead to the development of disordered eating behaviors including restricting entire food groups, skipping meals, avoidance of eating in front of others, purging, and experiencing feelings of shame when eating.
When disordered behaviors become a habit, the development of eating disorders can occur. These disorders are seriously detrimental to both physical and mental health. And, are serious and debilitating to those who experience them. Therefore, ‘diet culture’ and ‘diet fads’ are something that can provoke disordered eating and the development of eating disorders in people who have control issues that surround eating.
If you’ve found yourself dieting as a means to control your body image and self-confidence and feel that dieting is becoming a way to control the emotions that surround your self-image, this could be the result of disordered eating and/or eating disorders. If you’re experiencing some of the symptoms of eating disorders (avoidance behaviors, purging, skipping meals, etc.), you may be living with an eating disorder.
Help is available on an outpatient basis for people living with eating disorders at Delray Center for Healing. We help provide tools to people living with these mental health issues so that they can learn to control their eating behaviors. And, develop healthier lifestyles and thinking patterns. Learn more about our outpatient mental health services on our website to find out how we can help.