“If you have no reason to lose weight and you’re an otherwise healthy individual it comes down to vanity. That can promote a negative mindset around food and make food become the enemy. There is a risk of young people thinking this is what is normal and what you do to fit into a dress.”
“When you go on these radical diets, yes, your body reacts very quickly, but you’re usually losing water and lean muscle weight, not fat.”
Leanne Elliston, Nutrition Australia
The problem with crash dieting, Elliston says, is multifaceted. In addition to leaving people with a lack of energy, making them irritable, impacting sleep and playing havoc with the body’s stress and sleep hormones, crash diets also pose huge risks for people with underlying health problems.
“Crash diets are restricting your food intake and putting your body into starvation mode. And when you go on these radical diets, yes, your body reacts very quickly, but you’re usually losing water and lean muscle weight, not fat,” says Elliston.
“When people remove those restrictions we often see they not only gain any weight lost but also gain additional weight througha combination of not having lost any actual body fat through the crash diet and the effect of having a pre-existing unhealthy relationship with food.”
She adds, “if you have a heart condition, diabetes, blood pressure issues or are pregnant, for example, you need to be really careful and lose weight with expert advice and under supervision.”
Instead of focusing on a number on the scales or the measurements of celebrities such as Monroe and Kardashian, Elliston suggests people shift their focus away from weight and towards health.
“It should be about what’s healthy for you, and often in making those healthier changes or choices you’ll lose weight anyway. Yes, it will take a bit longer, but it’s realistic and achievable and much safer from a health and a psychological perspective,” says Elliston.
“Everybody’s weight is different. We all have different genes that set our bodies at different weights.
“People need to accept their own bodies as they are.”
Support is available from the Butterfly Foundation on 1800 334 673.
For 24/7 crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
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