Diets cause detrimental effects on body, nutritionists explain dangers


Nola Jancich

Found in the Whole Life isle of Dierbergs, SlimFast Nutrition Shakes claim to reduce calorie intake in a delicious way. Nutritionist Josh Axe said SlimFast Shakes aren’t actually beneficial for the body. “Essentially, you could take a big glass of water, dump sugar in it, add a few drops of milk chunk in some cocoa powder and you have a drink very similar to SlimFast,” Axe said.

Nola Jancich, Co Social Media Editor

It is almost that time of year again— summer. The time when people begin hitting the tanning booths, going to the gym, and dieting in hopes of acquiring their dream body.

As reported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, when most people begin trying to reach their fitness goals, they first initiate exercise and healthier eating habits, however before they know it, serious dieting becomes an everyday norm. 

Despite the fact that most people believe dieting is healthy for the body, it is actually quite the opposite and can ultimately be damaging both physically and emotionally.  

Like many of her peers, sophomore Laura Jost decided to take up dieting in hopes to see a physical difference. What she wasn’t expecting was to experience some of the negative effects that dieting brought along. 

“I started dieting for a mix of both cheerleading and myself. I wanted to diet because I was working out in the gym all the time and saw no results after months,” she said. 

After nearly two years of dieting, Jost did notice some positive changes to her body physically however, this was also followed by mental struggles that at the time Jost was blind to.  

“I eventually decided to stop because I got so into dieting that it started to take over. I was so concerned about my calorie intake. If I was under the number of calories, I would binge eat in order to reach the number,” she said. “I didn’t really notice how much it was affecting me mentally until just before I stopped the diet.” 

According to Jen Segura, founder of Abundant Health LLC, the mental challenges Jost experienced while dieting was common. 

“If the weight doesn’t come off fast enough, or if someone breaks their diet and ate something they consider bad they can easily beat themselves up and the cycle continues. Tied into all of this is that as we grow older our metabolism changes, our hormones fluctuate and various additional stress factors come into play, and then the ability to lose weight and how our body responds to our diets change. All of this can drive ongoing negative self-talk, increase a person’s anxiety and can cause depression,” Segura said. 

Along with the mental struggles Jost experienced, she also recalls feeling physical changes like exhaustion. 

“I was sleeping a lot more than I normally do because I cut down my calories and the amount of food I ate. I was well rested but my body wasn’t, daily activities were so hard,” she said. 

Segura said it is common for people to feel fatigued while dieting because some diets limit the amount of nutrients the body receives.

“Dieting can cause tiredness if the dieting includes restricting the appropriate nutrients that your body needs. Without whole foods like healthy fats, protein, fiber and complex carbs, your body will not have the fuel it needs for energy,” Segura said. 

Not only can dieting be damaging to the body, but it was also found to not necessarily work long-term. 

In an article written by UCLA, the lead author of the study, Traci Mann reports that dieting does not keep weight off. 

“You can initially lose 5 to 10% of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back. We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people,” Mann said. 

While Segura agrees that weight loss and exercise can be beneficial to the mind and body if done properly, she recommends not to diet but rather to take a more holistic approach by looking at all aspects of one’s health and improving it. 

“Weight loss is much more complex than just a calorie deficit as it is also tied to levels of inflammation in your body, stress, hormone fluctuations, medical conditions, etc.  This means that the best approach is a holistic approach, [which] includes areas they normally wouldn’t consider a key factor in impacting weight. Some of these factors to consider are relationships, joy, education, career, creativity, and physical activity,” she said. 

If a person decides to change their diet, Segura suggests using a technique that “involves focusing attention on eating healthy food rather than trying to avoid unhealthy foods.” 

“I’ve found the best approach for food is the concept of ‘crowding out’ rather than restricting what you eat. Food is food. It’s not bad food or good food. There are foods that are more nutrient-dense and nourishing and those foods I recommend as the basis for meals and snacks,” she said. “Foods with vibrant colors that aren’t processed will fill you up and provide significant health benefits by providing the vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs as a source of energy and to function. By focusing on adding in these whole and unprocessed foods, you will in turn naturally crowd out the other foods that don’t provide as much nutritional value.”