Crash dieting is a term we are all fairly accustomed to hearing these days. The problem is, we kind of know what it means but we will all have very different perspectives on it and as a result we will potentially have different opinions on the severity of the issue. For me it’s a massive problem and as a coach who has had the luxury of analysing hundreds of people’s eating habits I am able to spot common trends. This is one I see crop up time and time again. If I had to be specific, I see it in more women than men but it is by no means exclusive to the ladies of this world.
So what is it? Crash dieting is to go to one extreme, often beyond what is necessary (and healthy) for a short period of time (maybe 2-12 weeks) before swinging totally the opposite direction and binging to the point it becomes unhealthy. There are so many problems in doing this, lets cover them. It's always seen as a means to burn fat quick, not the case!!
Psychologically it is very damaging and I think that’s possibly the hardest thing to cure. We can always make dietary changes to sort out issues causes by crash dieting (granted, that’s not always easy and can take time) however the mental aspect is somewhat deeper. The problem is the one extreme to the other way of eating goes round and round in circles. Each time you complete another circle the problem is exacerbated. Your mental strength is broken down that bit more, you feel less empowered, less able to achieve your goals and generally downbeat. Again, the longer you live like this the worse it gets. You eventually develop a terrible relationship with food – ‘’good’’ foods are automatically not enjoyable and ‘’bad’’ foods are automatically guilt ridden beyond control.
Physiologically crash dieting has many problems associated with it as well. Every time you under eat for periods of time you force the metabolic adaptation to occur which means you learn to run on low calories. This means when you ultimately give in and ‘’eat’’ again you are more prone to gaining weight fast. You are causing metabolic and hormonal issues in doing this. You are also probably leaving yourself malnourished as a result which is also bad. Read up on ‘’refeeding syndrome’’ with Dr Dan Reardon.
In short crash dieting is causing waves of problems across the entire health and fitness world and it needs to stop. People need to be educated. It boils down to intelligent lifestyle choices rather than aggressive dieting and binging as part of a continuous cycle.