What's your New Year's Resolution? Lose weight? Lose a stone in a month and drop a dress size?
It's the same every year. We are bombarded with new diets, telling us how we can crash diet our way to perfection, to a more successful lifestyle. By losing that all important last few pounds we will be happier, healthier and wealthier in every sense. If last year's diet didn't quite have the desired affect, don't worry because there is a new one this year to try which is bound to work which will burn off those grams piled on over the festive period and maybe more.
As you can see, I'm a cynic. I have tried a lot of crash diets over the years. I have tried detox related solutions, cutting carbs, cutting fat, cutting everything, liquid diets, using laxatives, using diet pills. I even tried the Beyonce's Maple Syrup diet (what on earth was that all about?!) and funnily enough none of them work. If crash diets and diet pills did work to lose weight, they would be available on the NHS to tackle the UK's obesity problem. Funny that. My critics will argue they do. I recently got into a debate with a laxative user over the fact that she was seeing the results on the scale. She was losing weight. Actually she wasn't. What was happening was the laxatives were causing water loss, dehydration and a loss of core electrolytes. Because she was losing water, the impact was seen on the scale, so yes her weight went down, but critically she hadn't lost any of her body mass. This is what happens with all of these crash diets.
It doesn't take a genius to work out if energy out > energy in will = weight loss so if crash dieting continues over a longer period of time, then yes weight loss will occur, however there are some other issues to factor in. Cutting out food groups will very often lead to increased pressures on essential body systems, such as the brain, digestive system, immune system and so on. This is one reason why weight loss decreases. Furthermore concentration and mood swings are typical experiences if energy input decreases and if food groups are cut out. One of the biggest problems with cutting food groups are binge episodes. I found this when I eliminated carbs from my diet. I experienced quite extreme and dangerous mood swings, depression and binges. Eating carbohydrates at each meal are proven to regulate appetite and also regulate the moods. Since I have re-introduced them, my binges have decreased. Of course bingeing is extremely difficult when the Christmas leftovers are still available, but if you fool yourself thinking eating them before you start the diet, then think again. Your body will drive yourself to the nearest high energy food. Again, it's the natural way the body instinctively fights for survival.
Another useful nugget is that a diet of 1200 calories (which many crash diets are) is also going to leave your body in want of more. It's the way the body works. Only 15% of your calorie intake is determined by your activity. The rest is required for keeping your body functioning. Therefore at a calorie intake of 1200 you would have to be pretty inactive or you will struggle to keep up with the pace of life.
New year's resolutions were always tough for me. They were my starting point by which I sought to lose weight, become a "better anorexic" and seek new diet which would get me to a lower weight if the current method hadn't got me low enough. Of course not everyone going on crash diets are entering this with the same mindset as I did, but it is worth noting the impact the new year craze has on people like me. In 2007, my dieting took its toll and a month later I was hospitalised. I can assure you, being hospitalised with anorexia was not the resolution I made back then.
At the turn of 2015, for the first time ever I didn't make the resolution to lose weight. 2015 has been a much healthier year for me in my recovery from anorexia nervosa. But this year I go further still. Whilst I will no doubt be surrounded by newspapers, magazines and people wanting to lose a stone, my resolution involves the opposite. In order for 2016 to be a happier and healthier year for me I need to gain a stone (maybe a month is ambitious for me) which will enable a more prosperous future. So please when you are embarking on your short term weight loss goals, spare a thought for those of us who are on very challenging long term recovery journeys.
Eating disorders are serious illnesses and have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. Early intervention saves lives, and it is important to get help early. If you think you might have an eating disorder or know someone who does, please speak to a trusted friend or a GP.
You can also call the beat helplines on:
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