By Madeeha Hafiz
IN today’s society, the pursuit of the perfect body has become an obsession for many individuals. Our society has also created a “standard” for what is beautiful and what is not. Often, one’s beauty is associated with one’s weight. Infact, people with weight disorders are often stereotyped as lazy and lethargic.
In Kashmir, people take the liberty to comment on people’s weight. Many interactions start with comments on someone’s weight. Greetings in this way become an exchange of unpleasant and unsolicited remarks. Oftentimes, such remarks are demotivating and affect one’s overall growth. Body image issues have increased in our society with the proliferation of images of “perfect” bodies on the internet as well. This leads all women, and not just the ones who are medically overweight or obese, to have body image issues.
As a result, everyone is dieting – no one knows to what end!
It is important to know when one is supposed to lose weight and when to not. Women these days, even those with the ‘right’ BMI, think that something is wrong with their bodies and end up dieting to lose weight. Very often this pursuit for weight loss brings with it adverse consequences especially to health.
Dieting, defined as the intentional restriction of food intake to achieve weight loss, is a common practice adopted by millions worldwide. While the goal of achieving a healthier weight is commendable, it is essential to recognize the harmful effects that dieting can have on both physical and mental well-being.
1. Nutritional Deficiencies
Dieting often involves severe calorie restriction, eliminating entire food groups, or adopting fad diets. These practices can lead to significant nutritional deficiencies, as essential vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients may not be adequately supplied to the body. Such deficiencies can have detrimental effects on various bodily functions, impair the immune system, and increase the risk of developing health problems in the long term.
2. Slowed Metabolism
When the body is subjected to prolonged periods of calorie restriction, it adapts by slowing down its metabolic rate. This survival mechanism is triggered to conserve energy and prevent further weight loss. Unfortunately, a slowed metabolism makes it increasingly difficult to lose weight and maintain weight loss in the future. This phenomenon often leads to a frustrating cycle of weight loss followed by weight gain, commonly known as “yo-yo dieting.”
3. Mental Health Impact
Dieting can have a profound impact on mental health, triggering anxiety, depression, and an unhealthy relationship with food. The obsession with calorie counting, strict food rules, and body image can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and constant dissatisfaction with one’s appearance. Additionally, the emotional and psychological stress caused by dieting can disrupt normal eating patterns and contribute to disordered eating behaviors such as binge eating or emotional eating.
4. Muscle Loss
Many fad diets and extreme weight loss approaches result in a significant loss of muscle mass. When the body is deprived of sufficient calories and nutrients, it turns to muscle tissue for energy. This muscle loss not only leads to a decrease in strength and stamina but also negatively impacts overall body composition. Losing muscle mass can slow down metabolism further and make it even harder to maintain a healthy weight in the long term.
5. Hormonal Imbalances
Dieting, especially when accompanied by excessive exercise, can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in the body. Inadequate calorie intake and rapid weight loss can lead to hormonal imbalances, affecting the menstrual cycle in women and causing reproductive health issues. Hormonal disruptions can also contribute to increased stress levels, reduced energy, and decreased libido.
While the intention behind dieting is often rooted in a desire to improve health and appearance, it is crucial to recognize the harmful effects it can have on both physical and mental well-being. Instead of focusing on short-term weight loss goals, a more sustainable and holistic approach to health should be adopted. This includes promoting a balanced diet, regular physical activity, adequate rest, stress management, and self-acceptance. By shifting our mindset from restrictive dieting to a lifestyle centered around self-care and nourishment, we can create healthier habits that promote long-term well-being and a positive relationship with our bodies. Remember, true health goes beyond a number on a scale. It encompasses mental, emotional, and physical well-being, and it’s a journey worth embracing.
- The author is a certified dietician
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.