Have you ever said to your family or friends, “I need to get myself into shape for the swimsuit season?” Do you put on some pounds during the winter months only to try to take them off for the summer? If so, read on because what is sometimes referred to as yo-yo dieting can not only be counter-productive, it can also be dangerous.
Studies have been conducted that have shown that people who diet for a particular time and purpose, tend to regain the weight that they have lost. (1) The most effective way to lose weight according to this study is simply to make a lifestyle change. You must look at food differently and change the way you eat and many times, more importantly, what you eat.
If you make a habit of losing weight for the summer, or a wedding, or for a class reunion and then regain the weight after that time period, you are participating in yo-yo dieting and the long-term effects can be detrimental to your health. Not only does it stress your body’s systems, it also will stress your body’s structure as well.
In one study, (2) it was found that people who “diet” regularly can actually train their bodies to gain weight. It might sound counterintuitive at first glance but some speculate that if you repeatedly subject your body to rapid weight loss and weight gain, your body learns that in times of plenty, it must store as much as possible because a time of lack will be soon approaching and there must be plenty of reserves. This might explain why people that you know that seem to be constantly on a “diet” end up getting larger and larger over the years.
In the same study, it was also shown that children who are regularly subjected to dieting from ages 9-14 became predictably more likely to have weight gain later in life and especially in girls, the occurrence of binge eating was 12 times as likely as those who were not subjected to dieting. Teenage dieters were twice as likely to non-dieting peers to incur weight gain as a result of their dieting efforts.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t teach children that it is desirable to have a healthy body? Not at all but what research has shown is that it is much more effective to teach children what to eat rather than concentrate on their weight. Healthier food choices and portion control have proven to be the most effective way to control body weight and the associated health problems with obesity.
It is never too late to make a positive lifestyle choice but choose to look at changing your dietary habits as a permanent change rather than a diet. You will be healthier over the long run and your body will accept this change with better results for both your weight and your health.