All to often, individuals embark on a dietary regime with one main goal in mind - wight loss or at least some form of transformation in physical appearance.
However, what doesn’t seem to be promoted by the £60 billion diet industry is that there are many disastrous consequences of dieting to be aware of. But, of course these issues remain covered up because revealing them would likely tarnish the HUGE amounts of profit to be made by a society making business out of a so called obesity epidemic …
What the dieting industry don’t explicitly tell us us that diets can lead to more than losing weight - probably including our minds and money in the process too!
So what have we really got to lose, apart from weight, in the context of dieting?
Well, we need to become more aware of the fact that it has been deemed unethical to promote dieting (any food-related change or regime undertaken with the of weight loss) due to the lack of evidence supporting whether they work, as well as substantial evidence to show that dieting often creates more harm than good.
For example, rather than promoting long-term weight loss or increased life expectancy, most diets are actually associated with:
- Weight gain over a long period of time, whereby individuals weight more than they originally started at
- Increased likelihood of binge eating
- Yo Yo weight cycling (which comes with its own negative impacts on health)
- Poor body image
- Increased risk and/or worsening of poor mental health
- Feelings of social isolation
- Negative relationship with food
- Increased time spent worrying and obsessing about food
- Reduced quality of life
In other words, diets are not health promoting, but can lead to severely diminishing effects on both physical and psychological wellbeing.
What the diet industry don’t tell you is that obesity or being overweight isn’t as ‘bad’ as we have been encouraged to believe - or buy into.
Rather than being associated with poor health, individuals with a BMI of 25-30 (which would be classified as overweight) actually experience the longest life expectancy. Also, although increased weight is associated with health problems such as diabetes and heart disease, most studies simply show association - not causation. There are many more complex factors as play when we look at the role of weight and health.
You might still be feeling skeptical, but more robust research would suggest that individuals who are overweight also tend to experience other factors associated with poor health - e.g. stress, anxiety, stigma, social inequality. Such individuals have also been shown to have reduced diversity of healthy gut bacteria (a factor associated with weight gain) as well as being more likely to take medications linked to altered metabolism.
When taking these factors into account, it becomes increasingly difficult to label obesity as a consequence of overeating, as well as the main determinant of poor health. We have to remember that we humans live in very complex cultural systems, and that health is influenced by a number of physical, psychological and social factors.
We also need to remember that dieting isn’t just impacting our physical state of being, but also our ability to function socially and sustain a positive relationship with food and body.
In many ways the concerns our society generated about weight and the need to diet promotes weight stigma. Experiencing weight stigma is not only a traumatic an humiliating experience, but it also negatively influences health via stress and altering health behaviours and maladaptive coping mechanisms.
But, getting back onto the topic of dieting, what can we be going to avoid losing more than just weight and gaining long term negative health implications?
Firstly, lets get our heads around rejecting pressures to lose weight, so that we can ditch diet mentality - unless you want to lose your mind and positive relationship with food
I will be talking more in future posts and my book about how you can do this step by step, but for now lets get to grips with the idea that it is ok - essential even - to throw dieting and any related sadistic messages out of the window.You have nothing to lose, but so much to gain in terms of authentic happiness and health.