A POP FIX EXCLUSIVE: Top 5 Dangers of Crash Dieting

By thepopfix • Dec 23rd, 2007 • Category: All

Tis the season for new years resolutions, and guess what the number one resolution is for most Americans?


So if you are thinking about thinning out this year, good luck on your journey, and read this Pop Fix Exclusive for some handy dandy tips from USC nutritionist Patrice Barber on what NOT to do on your quest to lose weight.

We’ve all heard the warnings about crash dieting, but when faced with a time crunch, many people still resort to eating nothing but spinach and egg whites for a week in an effort to show up at a special event looking like Victoria Beckham. For many people, reunions, weddings, formal events and spring break vacations all provide sufficient motivation to google the recipe for the infamous cabbage soup diet. However, although diets like these can provide a quick five-pound drop, there are many dangers and negative side-effects of crash dieting that you might not know. USC nutritionist Patrice Barber tells us about the dangers of extreme dieting.

5. It makes food the enemy.

According to Barber, people can become consumed with their crash diet of choice, making it impossible to lead a normal life or think about anything other than the food they are (or aren’t) eating. “When you go on a crash diet, food becomes the enemy. You do whatever you can do to not eat. Anything you do eat makes you feel guilty. The minute you put something off-limits it becomes more desirable,” Barber explains. Extremely restrictive diets backfire because they actually make you crave the foods you won’t allow yourself to eat. Losing weight at a slower and healthier pace, Barber recommends about one pound a week, allows for a little more wiggle room. This way you can actually enjoy treats in moderation and still lose weight.

4. It hurts your body.

Frequently taking in too few calories, protein or fat can hurt you in many ways. Crash dieting can decrease a person’s metabolism rate, bone density, muscle strength and the efficiency of the immune system. “You get sick easier because your immune system is weak. Definitely don’t go on a crash diet during cold and flu season,” Barber advises.

3. It slows your metabolism.

Think of your body as a very efficient machine that can accurately sense when you’re taking in too few calories. When you are on a crash diet, your body thinks it’s starving and holds on to every calorie you give it. The little that you eat goes into storage as fat because your body does not know when you are going to feed it again. And worse yet, the longer and more often you stay on a restrictive diet, more fat gets stuck on your body. What’s the solution to this vicious cycle? Eat more healthy foods more often. Eating small meals five or six times a day will stimulate your metabolism, says Barber. “It’s your well-functioning body that creates a good metabolism.”

2. It blocks your inner voice.

“This is what everyone in the world needs to understand,” Barber explains. “We all have an inner voice and it honestly tells us when to eat, how much to eat, and when we’ve had enough. We need to reconnect with our inner voice.” The problem with staying on a crash diet is that it tells you exactly what and how much to eat. In effect, it forces you to ignore your inner voice. How can we reconnect with our inner voice? Barber says, “It’s just a matter of thinking before you eat. Ask yourself if you really want to eat? How much do you want to eat? Are you actually hungry? These questions are really good places to start.”

1. It simply doesn’t work.

If you’ve gained anything from this article, it’s that there are many physical and emotional reasons why crash dieting does not work. And even if you do manage to lose weight on an extreme diet, it’s mostly water weight that will come back faster than it took you to lose it. The fact is, it’s impossible to stay on a crash diet and it’s illogical to make temporary changes in our eating habits when we want permanent weight loss. “When diets don’t work it makes us unhappy, but it’s not our fault. What does work is eating well, being active and listening to our bodies.”

Interested in other popular new years resolutions? Click here to see what other people want to change in 2008!

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