Quick Fix Diets Increase Weight And Health Problems

by Jeanne Rhodes

For years we’ve been told that being too fat is hazardous to our health. We’ve learned that extra fat, especially in the abdominal region, increases our risk of developing artery disease, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes and certain types of cancer. Many of us have tried to diet to get rid of extra fat.

Exerting enormous self-control, counting every calorie, developing the willpower of a saint, we have managed to lose weight. But it somehow creeps back on despite our good intentions, and once again we begin to diet.

As though this painful experience of losing and gaining weight isn’t traumatic enough, recent research concludes that repeatedly losing and gaining weight is more hazardous to your health than simply staying fat. The word “diet” has many meanings. For many people, it refers to severely restricting caloric intake, in some cases to less than 1000 calories a day. This kind of eating behavior is associated with many negative health consequences, most notably the pattern of weight cycling mentioned above. The dieter practices extreme restraint only to develop a very strong food craving that can result in eating binges followed by guilt, self-depreciation and even more stringent food restriction.

In some cases, the dieting experience can turn a health desire to lose weight into an obsession with food and weight. Eating behavior becomes governed by a system of cognitive controls rather than by appetite. Food becomes the enemy and mealtimes a battle to be fought, rather than nourishment to be enjoyed.

Frustrations with dieting can also lead some dieters to try unhealthy (and ineffective) weight-control practices, such as fasting, taking diet pills, smoking cigarettes and vomiting after food binges. Such behaviors are not particular to the obese, but are also prevalent in those with the “10-pound obsession” who may be trying to achieve unrealistically low body weights.

Many diet-industry products and programs promise unrealistic results in an impossibly short period of time. Dieters who fail to achieve expected results inaccurately perceive that their failure is due to personal weakness rather than the misleading advertising.

Unfortunately, Americans have become very polarized on the subject of weight and health. On one hand we’ve been told by everyone from the surgeon general on down, and we have come to believe with almost religious certainty, that our 61% overweight population has been created by the excessive consumption of fat, and that if we eat less fat we will lose weight and live longer and healthier. But, at the very moment that the government and the American medical establishment started telling us to eat less fat and more carbohydrates, we got fatter.

Adding to the confusion, we have the ever-resilient message of Atkins and decades worth of best-selling diet books telling us that it’s not the fat that makes us fat, but the carbohydrates, and if we eat less carbohydrates we will lose weight and live longer and healthier.

It is such a paradox that in the face of all this confusion we actually know a PROVEN way to lose weight permanently. A large government-funded research has produced an in-depth study of Americans who have lost weight and kept it off. Using no fad diets and no gimmicks, these people are following healthful, convenient eating and exercise plans that they enjoy and are living with comfortably. This approach has never failed! These healthy lifestyle changes have stood the test of time and now, with this latest study, have also stood the test of scrutiny through scientific research.

The challenge now is to rethink our focus on “quick fix” weight loss (which always returns) and come up with a wellness lifestyle strategy - one that you (and your family) thoroughly enjoy and can comfortably live with.

Rhodes, B.A., M.A., is a Nutritionist, Wellness Lifestyle Strategist, Author and Director of Rhodes Preventive Health Institute in Hagerstown.