With the recent press surrounding The Biggest Loser winner Rachel Frederickson's dramatic weight loss we felt it was appropriate to share the article When It's No Longer a Diet by Laura Cipullo, RD CDE CEDRD CDN.
What starts as a simple effort to lose weight can become a catastrophe if you are not careful. Many women start and stop diets, gain and lose weight on a regular basis. What happens when someone doesn't go off a diet? It is possible that what was once a diet is now disordered eating or potentially an eating disorder? Diets and weight loss can trigger a domino effect thereby causing disordered eating or an eating disorder. It is important that women know the signs and symptoms of a diet gone awry. Your eating and metabolism can be normalized if you get help.
Take this scenario of a diet gone disordered. Perhaps all the women in your office lost their holiday weight gain by cutting carbohydrates. Sounds easy enough, so you decide to cut carbs too. Little did you know the other women only reduced their carbohydrates for the initial two weeks of their diet. Now, 6 months later you have continued to restrict carbohydrates and even fruit. Everyone says you look great and all the guys are commenting on how thin you are. You never miss a day at the gym and have memorized the nutrition labels of every food in your shopping cart. From an outsiders perspective, people think you are super healthy and in control.
However, you feel just the opposite! You feel out of control in your life. You are afraid to eat anything for fear of weight gain. Chicken and broccoli are your safe foods. You have lost more weight than you had hoped, but you feel worse now. You have lost your self-esteem. You missed your best friend's birthday dinner to get to your favorite gym class. Besides — you stopped drinking alcohol for fear of the extra calories and wouldn't dare to take a bite of the birthday cake.
These feelings and concerns are unhealthy and unnecessary. Women do not need to feel guilty for eating real food. When calorie thoughts consume your day, you know your diet is no longer a diet. Another scenario you may identify with is when your diet becomes a trigger for a binge or an episode of overeating. Perhaps you are counting points for your diet program. However, if you go above your allotted points, you feel like a failure and sabotage yourself. You eat whatever you can. This is not because you are hungry but because you are punishing yourself. You feel out of control with life and your eating. Your refrigerator is your enemy and your friend. The next day you wake up and hate yourself. You vow not to eat the rest of the day to make up for the extra calories you consumed last night. But you just can't refrain from eating and you end up ordering Chinese food for dinner and eating a box of cereal for dessert. If you can identify with these thoughts and or behaviors, your diet is no longer a diet!
Other signs that may signify your eating is becoming disordered include: eating the same foods every meal every day; only eating foods with nutrition facts/labels; refusing to eat/drink the full fat version of a food if the fat free version is not available; working out to compensate for the food you ate; working out despite having a cold; restricting all day in fear of what you may consume at night; feeling out of control in the presence of your “fear” foods; eating food in large quantities despite not feeling hunger; punishing yourself because you “cheated” on your diet; weighing yourself multiple times a day; the scale’s result determine your emotions for the day; feeling sad and moody all day if the scale goes up a pound; feeling powerful and in control for the day the scale goes down a pound; skipping social engagements involving food, skipping social engagements to exercise; claiming you have food allergies to prevent others from questioning your lack of food intake. Theses are a just a few examples of signs/symptoms to bring awareness to a possible eating issue.
Many women feel or behave in the above manner, but such discomfort with eating and our body is not necessary. You don't fail at diets, rather diets fail you. You can empower change with the right help. Consider this: eating and exercise can and should be fun, nutritious and stress free. Eating is social and not perfect! Eating is not about being good or bad but rather an act of self-care! Self-esteem and confidence come from internal self worth, not a number on the scale. Portions are determined by internal cues rather than external diets. Restrictions cause overeating. Diets don’t work. Making the decision to choose realistic life long nutrition practices like moderation can set you on a journey of happiness and health.
You can be free of diets, and diets gone badly. If food, exercise and or body thoughts consume your day, reach out and get help from a professional. Overcome your disordered eating before it becomes an eating disorder. A Registered Dietitian and a therapist specializing in eating disorders can help to normalize your eating and balance your life not just the scale.
This article was originally featured in a Whole Nutrition News Quarterly Newsletter. The original content can be found by clicking here. Other resources include www.bulimia.com, www.edreferral.com, and www.LauraCipulloLLC.com
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