The Snare of Starvation Dieting
Some claim that 1 out of every 4 Americans is on a diet of some sort. Yet, over 90 percent of the people who lose weight by dieting gain it back. What goes wrong?
Your body is like a furnace; your brain is the thermostat. When you eat, your metabolism burns the food to release its energy. When more fuel is taken in than the body needs, it is stored as fat. Now, if you starve yourself to shed pounds, you will lose weight—initially. But your body quickly shifts into ‘crisis mode’ and lowers your thermostat by slowing down your metabolism. You begin gaining weight again, even on a starvation diet, and much of what you eat is stored as fat. You gain back every pound you lost and then some. In frustration, you go on another diet. But the more you lose—the more you gain.
So you can see why diet gimmicks simply do not work. Diet pills may curb your appetite for a while, but the body quickly adjusts to them and your appetite returns. Or your metabolism slows down and you gain weight anyway. Not to mention the side effects some have experienced, such as dizziness, high blood pressure, anxiety attacks, and addiction. The same can be said for pills that eliminate water or that speed up your metabolism. Dr. Lawrence Lamb bluntly puts it this way: “There is no such thing as a safe, effective pill to cause you to lose body fat.”
WEIGHT. It is virtually an obsession among some young people, particularly girls. When one group of school-age girls was polled, 58 percent of them considered themselves fat.
According to one U.S. survey, 34 percent of overweight teenage girls have taken diet pills to lose weight. Almost 1 out of 4 has resorted to vomiting! Reporting on another survey, The New Teenage Body Book says: “Shockingly, almost half of the nine-year-olds and about 80 percent of the ten- and eleven-year-olds were dieting. Some 70 percent of the girls aged twelve to sixteen were trying to lose weight—and 90 percent of the seventeen-year-olds were on a diet.”
As a young person, your body needs a fairly hefty dose of calories and nutrients every day. A starvation diet can literally stunt your growth. According to one physician, youths who try to starve themselves can suffer “fatigue, . . . depression, chilliness, poorer performance in school, constipation, anxiety, amenorrhea [abnormal suppression or absence of menstruation], and mental sluggishness.”
Indeed, just as medicine can cure, it can also harm.
Clearly, a distorted body image can cause some girls to become overly concerned about something that is not really a problem. “I have a friend who takes large doses of diet pills and I know a few girls who have anorexia,” says 16-year-old Kristin. She adds: “None of them are fat by any stretch of the imagination.”
With good reason, the magazine FDA Consumer recommends: “Instead of dieting because ‘everyone’ is doing it or because you are not as thin as you want to be, first find out from a doctor or nutritionist whether you are carrying too much weight or too much body fat for your age and height.”