Ditch The Diet For A Healthier New You

‘Yo-yo dieting’ describes the pattern of losing weight quickly and continually, then piling it back soon after the loss. This is the kind of thing that happens on a fad or crash diet, and what we didn’t know, until very recently, is that yo-yo dieting actually weakens the immune system. It is bad for your health.

A US study of 114 postmenopausal women, led by Professor Cornelia Ulrich, found that those with a history of yo-yo dieting had much lower white blood cell levels than those whose weight had stayed steady. The white blood cells are the body’s defence against bugs, and the more you yo-yo, the more prone to infection and illness you’ll be. It’s not that dieting per se is reducing immunity, but the failure to maintain a steady weight over time is causing us to be less resistant to disease.

And frequent dieting means weight becomes harder to lose, and is easier to put on. The British Dietetic Association supports this notion in their survey of 4,000 Brits – it found that one third of crash dieters put on more than 14 pounds following their diet and ended up heavier than when they began.

Diets get boring, or are too restrictive, and become difficult to maintain but easy to break. It’s not uncommon for women to then binge and starve in desperation. Food becomes a ‘luxury’ and is then consumed in large amounts, only to be quickly followed by guilt and panic and further restriction.

The dieting cycle is not easy to sever, the feeling of losing control when the pounds creep back on is the feeling that urges dieters to get back on the dieting treadmill. We have the Atkins Plan, The Zone, The GI, the South Beach Diet, The Hay Diet, and the Cabbage Soup diet to name but a few.

Frantic in our attempts to shed pounds, we buy the book, try it for a week (or two?), have limited success and then go back to square one – with some extra pounds on top. Why persist on endless diets that always fail? These books all claim to be the way forward, and yet obesity is on the increase.

The relationship many women have with food is a complex one, and needs to be individually resolved to adopt a healthier attitude to eating. Is it just that you’re choosing the wrong foods, or do you have a love-hate relationship with food? Do you overeat when you’re bored/lonely/depressed, or when you’re happy and celebrating life?

It really is time to ditch the diet. How many plans have you tried and failed? Each occasion you promise yourself it will be different. Knowing the harm that the repetitive cycle of yo-yoing is doing – making you fatter and reducing immunity in the process – means it’s time to get off the treadmill.

As someone who broke the cycle of dieting over a year ago, I decided to devote a blog to the topic, which can be seen here: Chocolate and Beyond. Women need to look long and hard at their relationship with food, and consider how they can start being in control, rather than allowing food be in control of them. Learn the principles of intuitive eating (or ‘normal eating’) and how to trust your body to know what it needs, in order to lose weight and regain your sanity.

© Andrea Wren, January 2008