Have you ever been on a roller coaster you thought you might enjoy but realize you didn’t like as soon as it began? It shoots up and then just as quickly comes flying down. You were hoping it wasn’t as intense but you definitely felt pressured by your friends to hop on and try it. This scenario reminds me of crash dieting. The societal pressures, the quick choices for quick fixes, and the bounce back right after. Here is the reality: it just doesn’t work. And this reality encourages me to honor my body with small, consistent lifestyle changes over time instead of trying the latest restrictive way of eating.
Merriam-Webster defines a crash diet as “a diet intended to help a person lose a large amount of weight in a short period of time, typically by reducing the amount of food consumed to minimal levels.”
Why Crash Dieting Doesn’t Work
Change Takes Time
Simply put, change takes time. It takes emotional work as you move through emotional inhibitors, it requires you to learn new coping skills and new habits, and it requires time. Quick fixes are just that – quick fixes! Genuine and lasting change takes intention, energy, and a lot of self love.
Restricted Eating Can’t Last Forever
It is impossible to expect ourselves to restrict forever, and not suffer physical and emotional ramifications. It can reduce your metabolic rate, and begin a vicious cycle that may lead to binging. Depriving your body of certain nutrients can lead to changes in your digestive system, cognitive functioning, mood, energy levels, and overall health.
Crash Dieting Without Changing Anything Else Causes The Crash
If you change your diet but not your lifestyle, you can’t support a sustainable change. Not to mention, change takes time, energy, and intention. This quick-fix mindset leads to the constant yo-yo pattern of losing weight. You may very well lose weight quickly. Then, just as fast as you lost it, you easily gain it back once you reverse the unsustainable restrictions. That up and down is hard on your body.
Instead of Crash Dieting, Try These Tips:
Begin by Practicing Self Love
Odds are if you are pining to lose weight and lose weight now, it is because you recently saw something on your body you didn’t like. This is such a good time to pause and become aware of your needs, desires, and intentions.
First of all, your body may be needing something that you are itching to restrict. This is a beautiful way to love yourself, and one many people often neglect. Your body is more unique than one specific diet. Your ancestry, gut microbiome, your environment and lifestyle all play a role in what you uniquely require to function optimally, and this is up for you to discover. A “one size fits all” diet doesn’t exist.
What do desire? Do you want to lose weight just to see the number decrease? Or is there an underlying goal that you want to accomplish that requires a healthier you? Find that goal, and hone in on what it would practically take to change your lifestyle to support your goal. If you want to be able to go on hikes with your friends, or surf with a partner, work up to that change slowly and steadily, with love for yourself and consistency at the forefront of your intention. There can be many emotional reasons behind our health habits, and tackling these is just as important as changing our lifestyle.
Strengthen That Mind-Body Connection
The more you give your body what you need, the better trust you will have with yourself. Sound confusing? Let me break it down. If you had the food on a camping trip and a friend asked you for food to fuel the hike, would you give them something to eat? Probably! You and your friend would seamlessly develop a symbiotic relationship to help you get to your destination point. Imagine withholding food because you think they don’t need it because of the way they look. You wouldn’t do this to your friend, so why do it to yourself? The more you honor your body’s needs, the more trust you will build with your mind and your body, ultimately building upon the most important relationship you have; the one with yourself.
You Can Be Healthy Without Focusing On The Number
Focusing your attention on your overall health instead of your weight is key. Consider giving intuitive eating a chance, as you learn your body’s signals and ebb and flow your natural rhythm’s. There is so much to your overall health and wellness. Your whole body, from your mind to your toes, requires your love and attention. Reducing your health to a number is a societal expectation that confines beauty and desirability into a small, unrealistic box. It is time to break out of that box. There are many other ways to honor your body with your goals, without focusing on your weight.
Moving out of the mindset of crash dieting and into a slow paced and intentional perception of health adjustments will allow us to support small changes over time. Small changes over time will lead to big lifestyle changes. This is the space where we can both honor our bodies and invite ourselves into a fuller, healthier life where we feel connected mentally, physically, and emotionally; this is where we feel whole. We are all capable of this lifestyle capacity, but it requires us to acknowledge that anything promised quickly isn’t hard earned, and therefore isn’t sustainable. The sooner we can recognize this and kick this habit to the curb, the sooner we can hop off the hamster wheel, and begin to connect with ourselves in love again.