Exposed: The Dangers Of Fad Diets
I read with interest a few articles this week that claimed the raw food diet is dead here’s one.
It’s an interesting story that further supports the hidden dangers of restrictive eating, fad diets and listening to gurus, rather than your own body.
Let me explain…
To put this into some context, a 100% raw food diet involves giving up cooking and only eating vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
On the surface this appears to be a healthy choice. After all, fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals and low in fat. It means that people who are looking to control their weight, and even lose a few pounds may be attracted by the premise. And there are advantages of eating raw food. Eating 100% raw foods is good for detoxing and cleansing and in the short-term it can increase your energy levels. BUT here’s the problem. Raw food is mostly water and soluble fibre. So by eating a 100% raw food diet, you are effectively cutting out whole food groups. Raw foodies would argue that raw foods do contain protein, carbohydrates and fats, BUT the truth is, they don’t contain enough to keep you satiated. And as a result, a raw food diet can leave you feeling hungry and that’s the foundation for an eating disorder.
Blame your Stone Age brain
If you’re not satiated, your Stone Age brain will kick in. Your Stone Age brain is the archaic part of your brain that controls all your instinctive responses that are in place to keep you alive. One of its jobs is to control your hunger reflex, and if food appears to be in short supply (which is exactly what the brain interprets when you go on any form of restrictive diet) it will respond by making you crave food.
In turn, your relationship with food becomes distorted which in turn can lead to bingeing, purging and bulimia.
And because a 100% raw food diet fails to keep you satiated, there’s another BIG problem. A lot of people who are struggling with their physical appearance and want to lose weight because they believe it will allow them to feel better about themselves can fall into a dangerous trap with the raw food diet. Because the diet does not leave you satiated, you will instinctively crave food. And the truth is it’s extremely hard to stick rigidly to the diet. So if you’re looking for a way to control your food intake, if you start a plan that’s hard to stick with, failure to do so can have a detrimental effect on your self-esteem and confidence. If you have a low opinion of your body and yourself in the first place, this is a dangerous path to tread.
Unhelpful side effects
In addition, because a 100% raw food diet is not nutritionally complete, it can leave your body deprived of sufficient energy, proteins, vitamins and minerals and lead to some of the following side effects:
- Metabolism slows (it makes weight loss even more difficult)
- Urges to binge
- Obsessive thoughts about food, weight and body image
- Feeling low, mood swings and even depression
- Becoming excessively self critical
- Developing a distorted body image
- Becoming more emotional and increasingly unable to cope with life’s challenges
- Experiencing distorted and irrational thinking
- Nervousness and anxiety
- Panic attacks
How can you possibly live a life you love when you’re experiencing a host of physical, psychological and behavioural side effects such as these?
As you can see if you follow a strict regime that is not in tune with what your body wants or needs, the impact is substantial.
There is a better way..
Many bulimia sufferers are scared about food because they are terrified of putting on weight. And so diets, with their strict controls and rules seem to offer a solution by providing a rigid outline to follow. BUT if the diet leaves you feeling hungry, you’ll simply crave food all the more. What’s more, because food is your focus, it’s becomes an overwhelming focus on your day.
Instead, explore the benefits of a structured eating plan – it’s one of the practical tools I offer my one-to-one coaching clients to help them on their journey to bulimia freedom.
Let me explain what this involves…
Structured eating is completely different to fad, restrictive diets like the 100% raw food one. That’s because instead of trying to lose weight or control your food intake, you take a conscious decision to fuel your body with the correct balance of nutrients and energy so you get what you need and stop feeling hungry
The aim is to plan what you’ll eat in advance and eat little and often. Aim for three pre-planned meals per day plus three snacks. As a result you feel satiated which helps to stop the cravings, and because food is no longer your focus (because you’ve already figured out what you’re going to eat), you can start to shift your attention to other more inspiring things.
It sounds so simple, yet it’s a highly effective way to transform your relationship with food and start feeling better about yourself. And it really works. In fact, I used a structured eating plan to help me break free from bulimia all those years ago.
YOUR body is best nutritionist
When you’re struggling with your weight and your confidence, it can be very tempting to believe that someone else has the answers – especially when you see the dieting success stories in all the glossy magazines along with the powerful images that remind you that society believes thin is beautiful. In turn, you can be tempted to try restrictive eating regimes in the hope that this is THE ONE that will make you feel better.
The truth is these gurus don’t have the answers. In fact, the overwhelming evidence is that dieting DOES NOT work. Just take a look on the shelves in the health department of any bookstore and see if you can spot a diet that’s been around more than 20 years that is PROVEN to generate long-term sustainable results. They do not exist.
The truth is your body knows what it needs to be healthy. If you tune in and listen to it you’ll learn what foods give you energy and what foods sap your vitality. You’ll also learn which foods leave you satiated and which foods make you feel bad.
So reclaim your power…
Recognise that you can take back control of the way you feel and trust yourself – NOT the latest diet guru who’s piggybacking on the desire we feel to be thin.
What do you think?
Are you a converted raw foodie? Do you struggle with diets but still feel hungry and inclined to binge? Are you interested in learning how you could take back control through structured eating? If so why not drop me an email to Julie@bulimiafree.com and let’s chat.
Bulimia Recovery Coach
Julie won a 15 year battle with bulimia over 20 years ago and now mentors and coaches others to bulimia freedom. She is a compassionate, caring bulimia recovery coach who brings a unique and powerful perspective on recovery that has helped people from all walks of life, not just stop bingeing and purging but learn how to love themselves and their bodies and create a life they love.