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Dieting and the Impacts on Mental Health

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

The warmer weather has come around quick and you suddenly find yourself visualising summer and how you are not ready. So, what are we inclined to do? Go on a diet for the 100th time. Honestly, how long have you been trying to ‘lose weight’ or ‘get your dream body’. Does it ever actually end? The answer is this: It ends when you say it does. Frequent dieting is harmful because it is doing the opposite of what your body is programmed to do – which is to survive and store fat. Chronic dieting can impair your metabolism, mood and ability to lose weight. This only then perpetuates a vicious cycle of dissatisfaction with yourself and encourages more dieting.

Excessive exercise when paired with chronic dieting, can further perpetuate complications such as adrenal fatigue and mental health issues. In many cases, people will often feel ‘hopeless’ and may find themselves feeling out of control and begin binging, purging and avoiding social events. So how to be healthy without going over board? Remember this – restriction leads to binge. If you are wanting to get healthy or lose a couple of winter KG’s – focus on ‘health’ not weight loss. Weight loss is not healthy and is against your body’s natural programming. When you aim to be healthy, weight loss is usually a positive side effect.

Count your chemicals, not your calories. Focus on eating unprocessed foods, but don’t beat yourself up when you have a treat. Guilt is the most unhelpful emotion as it leads to stress. When we are stressed, we release the stress hormone cortisol which will tell your body you are heading towards a crisis. Excessive cortisol over time can lead to increased abdominal fat, irritability and depression. Therefore, ditch the guilt and enjoy foods that you like about 30% of the time. The other 70% aim to eat vegetables, fruit and unprocessed foods.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be healthier, but you can choose to accept yourself and love yourself right now, the way you are. When we are happy, we are healthy, not the other way around.

Written by Psychologist Stephanie Georgiou.

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