When I was obsessed with losing weight, I was hyperconscious about every single morsel that entered my mouth.
One of my go-to snacks was sea-salt soy crisps. I would carefully count out one serving, putting 21 crisps into a bowl. This portion equated to an allowable 120 calories.
I would snap at my boyfriend if he innocently grabbed a handful from my bowl to munch on. It left me unsure about how many crisps I could still eat, which caused me great anxiety.
One day, after months of eating these soy crisps, I happened to glance at the nutrition facts label on the back of the package. To my horror, the serving size had changed from 21 crisps to 17, yet the calories remained the same. I had no idea how long ago the change had been made.
I was so incensed, I fired an angry email off to the company’s customer service department. I complained about how incredibly misled I felt. I had been deceived and demanded an explanation.
I don’t remember what the company’s written response was, but they did mail me some coupons.
When I recalled this event years later, I felt deeply embarrassed and ashamed. I still can’t imagine what the person who received my email must have thought about me (hello, crazy lady!).
Dieting’s Dark Side
While I still feel a tad bit embarrassed, I now see this experience as a powerful example of the negative impact dieting can have on not only your physical health, but also your mental, emotional and social health. And when I say dieting, I mean any form of food restriction that’s not medically necessary.
Along with making you do crazy things, dieting can:
Intensify food and body preoccupation
Trigger cravings and binges
Reduce your ability to recognize and honor your hunger and fullness signals
Provoke feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, fear, hopelessness and more
Erode self-trust, self-esteem and confidence
Lead to harmful food rules, disordered eating and eating disorders
Slow your metabolism
Increase your risk of gaining more weight (up to two-thirds of dieters regain more weight than they lost)
Raise your cortisol level (dieting is inherently stressful)
Become all-consuming, while other parts of your life suffer, like your relationships, social life, career and hobbies
These are just some of the harmful effects of dieting, but hopefully, it’s enough to help you consider whether or not it’s worth it.
Ditching Diets Can Be Scary
It can be scary to let go of dieting, especially when it seems like everyone around you is on some type of diet.
If you’re ready to liberate yourself, you can learn how to trust your body wisdom again and return to the intuitive eater you came into this world as. I don’t have any magical powers. If I can do it, so can you.