Crash diets are a hazard to your self-esteem and they need to be stopped. There are many reasons why people might crash diet, such as wanting to lose weight or getting into shape. Others might be following the latest celebrity trend or taking health consciousness too far. No matter what, crash dieting is not the answer (A Starvation Diet’s Toxic Thoughts). Note that the terms “crash diet”and “diet” are often used synonymously but there is a difference. Strictly speaking, diet is simply what you eat. It can be a healthy lifestyle habit and not necessarily a short-term way to lose weight. For your own wellbeing, stop crash dieting and create healthy habits for life.
Why Crash Dieting is Harmful
Crash dieting is harmful because:
- It’s a form of self-deprivation. Crash dieting is effectively a form of self-harm. You deprive yourself of the pleasure of eating and social activities involving food. You deprive yourself of important vitamins and nutrients that keep your mind and body healthy. Extremely low caloric intake and inadequate nutritional intake affects your physical and mental health, including your mood. Even short-term deprivation can mess with your head.
- It promotes unhealthy body image and low self-esteem. With crash dieting, you won’t be happy or love yourself until you get to an optimal weight. While your goal might be to reach a healthier weight, it’s not helpful to delay your self-approval until then. Instead, accept your current reality, like it or not, while taking steps towards your goal. Alternatively, you may have an unrealistic, unhealthy belief of what you “should” look like. You may be striving for perfection and in your own mind, you’re not good enough.
- It can be associated with obsessiveness, eating disorders and other mental health issues. Crash dieting can sometimes lead to, or be a sign of a mental health issue (What Are Eating Disorders? Eating Disorder Information).
- You can lose friends. For example by avoiding activities involving food or being critical of other’s food choices. Dieting can also be a turn off for some people.
- Crash diets don’t work. While some crash diets may be a short-term fix, they don’t work in the longer term. Most people end up putting on more weight than they lost. By crash dieting, you’re setting yourself up for failure and that’s disempowering.
Creating Healthy Habits For Life – An Alternative to Crash Dieting
A healthy alternative to crash dieting is creating healthy habits that last. Some tips are to:
- Focus on what you’ll gain instead of deprivation. For example, by eating healthy, nourishing, vitamin-rich foods you’ll be healthier and feel better. You will gain physical and mental health by consuming the right nutrients.
- Make the choice to be healthy instead of depriving yourself. Make the choice to eat better because it makes you feel better. Willingly choose healthy foods over sugary foods even though you can have either.
- Make gradual changes. Forget about quick fixes and drastic changes. Instead, take steps towards a healthier lifestyle. For example, it may be replacing fries with salad, gradually reducing the amount of sugar, salt or cola, or reducing portion size. Set yourself small goals that work for you and work towards creating healthy habits. Give yourself time to adjust.
- Do some exercise. Exercise is helpful but once again, it’s about creating healthy habits rather than a short-term solution. Obsessiveness can be damaging, but healthy exercise can improve your self-esteem.
- Self-care. Sleeping and relaxation all play a role. Sleeping in particular, is known to affect your appetite and mood.
- Have a realistic body image. While some people do have weight issues, many people who crash diet don’t actually have any weight issues. Let go of perfectionism and have a realistic body image.
- Address any psychological issues. If you are eating too much or too little, making unhealthy choices, or obsessing over food, there could be an underlying psychological reason. I encourage you to seek help if dieting is interfering with your quality of life.
Crash dieting is not the answer and it creates so many problems. Let’s stop the crash dieting and instead, create healthy habits for life.