Dieting: A Risk Factor in Eating Disorder

a young woman with eating disorderWhile not everyone on a diet has an eating disorder, dieting is a risk factor in the development of the said condition. This is especially true for those who diet severely or follow strict diet philosophies. Severe calorie cutting with increased exercise, for instance, can slow down metabolism and result in starvation. This causes extreme food cravings, leading to compensatory behaviors like binging.
Trusted eating disorder treatment centers note that when strict and restrictive dieting leads to starvation and binge eating, feelings like shame, guilt, and failure are likely to creep in. This then causes the dieters to associate food and eating with negative emotions.

What Dieting Does to Your Body

Dieting can have serious physical effects, as food rules and restrictions cause people to overlook or ignore the hunger they feel, including their nutritional requirements. Here are some of the physical effects of dieting:

  • Reduced bone density and amount of muscle tissue
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Less energy and muscle weakness
  • Headaches or migraine
  • Fatigue or insomnia
  • Compromised ability to feel full or hungry

Mind the Psychological Effects

Apart from physical effects, dieting can also cause psychological effects like low self-esteem and poor body image. It may result in feelings of guilt due to lack of self-control, particularly after binging episodes. Strict dieting may also lead to obsessive feelings and behaviors about of food and eating. Research, furthermore, suggests that diet and depression may be related.

Why Most Diets Don’t Work

The main reason fad and restrictive diets don’t work is that they cannot offer a sustainable meal plan for the long-term. As many diets involve eliminating certain foods or food groups, they are unrealistic and don’t fit into normal life. In fact, the majority of people who engage on fad diets regain weight or more within a few years.

Dieting may not seem dangerous, but it is a major risk factor for the onset of eating disorder. And when this leads to the actual condition, the health risks can be severe. This is why if you or someone you know exhibits symptoms of or has an eating disorder, seeking professional help is recommended.