The Truth About Diets
When you diet you lose, but not in the way you might expect.
A diet is any behavior taken on with the intention of losing weight. While dieting seems harmless, the outcome is actually harmful and possibly dangerous.
The problem with diets is that they only work--result in weight loss-- if you reduce the amount of food energy eaten. Fairly quickly, your body tries to get you to eat more by sending signals of distress--constant food thoughts, jitteriness, irritability, inability to think clearly. If you don't respond by eating more, your body makes an adjustment. Gradually, within about 3 to 6 months, your body reduces its metabolism by lowering body temperature, slowing heart rate, reducing hormone production, and a number of conservation efforts that result in feeling tired and sluggish.
The reality is you don't get to choose your weight. Body weight is a trait that is embedded in each person's genetic code. Variation in weight occurs within a small range of normal for the individual, a range called set-point weight.
If diets don't work, why do they continue to exist? The simple answer is money. The dieting industry is a multi-billion dollar industry--each and every year. Ironically it's a self-perpetuating business. Weight loss is followed by weight gain in almost everyone, often followed by repeat dieting.
The more complex answer is bias. Having a high body weight is stigmatizing in our society. When people feel bad enough about their bodies, they seek change. The most accessible change is to try yet another diet.
Talking to kids about diet or about weight...it may seem like a good idea, and may even be the advice from a reliable source. While well-meaning, encouragement to diet passed along from parent to child can have unintended and lasting consequences.