Avoid These Dieting Practices
Many of us start putting on the pounds when life gets too busy to fit in exercise. Sure we're busy with the demands of work and family but those don't necessarily get our muscles fired up and heart pumping effectively to burn lots of calories.
The same time constraints often lead us to choose easy, fast food options which are often loaded with fat and calories. Isn't it easier to grab a burger or bagel than to take the time to prepare healthier, lower-calorie meals?
Then there are those milestones in our lives that tend to translate into extra pounds - like pregnancy, the "freshman 15" (gaining 15 pounds) early in college, and the slowdown in metabolism around menopause.
Bottom line: Day after day, calories consumed outweigh those burned, which translates into pounds on our hips and thighs.
We feel pressured to lose the added pounds when we learn about the health risks associated with obesity like heart disease and diabetes. Likely you've heard from a health professional or a family member that you ought to lose weight.
Yet who among us can measure up to the unrealistic standards of body weight presented to us by the media month after month in the endless parade of ultra-thin models and celebrities that grace the covers of nearly every woman's magazine?
Making the right diet choices may seem difficult, and sometimes we may be tempted to take shortcuts that could be unhealthy or even dangerous over the long term. We allow ourselves to get hooked by diet fads because they can often deliver a quick initial drop in weight (which of course then creates an addictive, positive-feedback loop that encourages us to continue the unhealthy behaviors).
You may already know which dangerous diet techniques I'm referring to, but let's run through a few:
Purging (vomiting) after a meal
Why are these practices dangerous? It's all about maintaining the chemical balance within our bodies. Our blood, for example, has a perfect balance of salts such as sodium, potassium, and calcium, and these substances must all be in just the right amounts if our hearts are to pump normally and our muscles to contract.
Our bodies also maintain a strict balance of acids and their chemical opposites, bases, an equilibrium that is reflected in a value called the pH. Changes in pH influence the balance of salts in the body. All of the diet techniques listed above can cause dramatic losses of potassium, stomach acid, and bicarbonate (a base). One of the frightening consequences such behaviors may lead to is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), which is associated with cardiac arrest and death.
Here are some other common problems these dieting methods may cause:
Damage to the tooth enamel when stomach acid is forced out through the mouth during vomiting.
Cramping and diarrhea due to laxative use.
An inability to achieve regular bowel movements without resorting to laxatives.
Jitteriness, sleep difficulties, and heart palpitations caused by some of the dieting products containing stimulants. (The stimulant Fen-phen-fenfluramine and phentermine-was banned in the United States after it was associated with heart damage and deaths, primarily among women.)
The breakdown and ingestion of muscle during starvation, as the body tries to use its own substance to provide essential nutrients to the brain, thus counteracting any beneficial effects of a diet.
An increasing risk of osteoporosis as long-term indulgence in such diets depletes calcium from the bones.
So, for a lifetime of health and fitness, go with what's been proven to work: follow a diet that's low in simple carbohydrates and saturated fats, and balance it with increased physical activity.
It may take a few months to start seeing results, but with patience and a commitment to your overall well being, you'll eventually get to enjoy the sustained benefits of this healthier approach over many years.