Essay on Dieting: Causes of Eating Disorders

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One reason that fad diets should not be followed is because they are restrictive which raises many concerns. Take the ketogenic diet, for example. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet in which people are supposed to cut out nearly all carbohydrates and up their fat intake to around seventy percent of their daily food. According to Metagenics in their Ketogenic Program Guide, on this diet, the individual will intake about ten percent carbohydrates, seventy percent fat, and twenty percent protein (Metagenics, 1). Compared to the recommended average American diet containing fifteen percent protein, fifty percent carbohydrate, and thirty-five percent fat (Metagenics, 1) - this is a very low number of carbs. Being restrictive like this is unhealthy for many reasons.

For one, in many cases when an individual puts strict restrictions on their diet they tend to not obtain the proper amount of nutrients that are vital to living a healthy life. The Cleveland Clinic states in its article on fad diets that “Many of these diets may lack major nutrients, such as dietary fiber and carbohydrates, as well as selected vitamins, minerals, and protective phytochemicals. By not receiving the proper amounts of these nutrients, you can develop serious health problems later in life” (Cleveland Clinic). To be honest is pretty sad because people usually join these diets because they are desperate to be healthy and yet the very same thing promising them health is possibly ruining it. In conclusion, as shown above, lack of proper nutrients can be very serious, and this is only one of the few different issues that come with the restriction that many fad diets inhabit.

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Another issue with fad diets being so restrictive is the yoyo diet effect. Due to the lack of proper nutrients, the body tends to slow down its metabolic rate or “the rate at which it burns energy” (Disordered Eating…). When this happens people tend to binge eat or fall off the wagon in a way that then puts them in this cycle of feeling bad, going on a diet to feel better, binge eating, gaining all the weight back, feeling terrible, and then going on a diet again. This type of cycle is commonly referred to as yoyo dieting and is partnered with fad diets quite often. In the words of Patsy Brannon, a scientist with many different works in the dietary field, “The yo-yo effect is a frustrating, self-defeating, and unhealthy pattern” (Brannon, 3). Dieting in a manner like this causes great emotional grief in individuals. It also can impact physical health significantly. In the article “kNOw Dieting: Risks and Reasons to Stop” by the National Eating Disorders Association, it is stated that “it has been shown to have negative health effects, including increased risk of heart disease, long-lasting negative impacts on metabolism, etc.” (kNow Dieting).

Studies on fad diets and those who partake in them have also shown that they can significantly impact an individual emotional and psychological well-being. The Journal of Food Research states that “Chronic dieters also tend to overeat, have low self-esteem as well as suffer from some eating disorders and depression” (Journal of Food, 87). All of these are terrible for someone to go through but a major concern is the relationship between dieting and eating disorders.

Through various studies, many scholars have concluded that there is a definite relationship between fad dieting and eating disorders. Many believe it mostly is connected to the strictness of the diets. Restricting food intake is commonly found in eating disorder diagnoses. According to the National Eating Disorder Collaboration in their disordered eating & dieting fact sheet, “Disordered eating behaviors, and in particular dieting are the most common indicators of the development of an eating disorder” (NEDC Fact Sheet). This is a huge concern. Eating disorders are horrifying mental illnesses with severe repercussions.

One popular eating disorder is anorexia nervosa. Individuals with anorexia nervosa tend to severely restrict food intake by either avoiding eating altogether or eating very little of specific foods. This type of anorexia is commonly known as restrictive anorexia (About more than food). There is also binge and purge anorexia in which an individual may binge on food and then purge it through activities such as vomiting or using laxatives (about more than food). The idea of someone feeling so badly that they would be willing to do this to themselves is excruciating. Especially since dieting is so normalized to kids which then puts them at higher risk of developing eating disorders. A study done in the article “Onset of adolescent eating disorders: population based cohort study over 3 years” it was found that “Female subjects who dieted at a severe level were 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who did not diet, and female subjects who dieted at a moderate level were five times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who did not diet” (Onset of adolescent eating). Behavior like this has many crucial short-term and long-term effects. According to the pamphlet “The Journalist’s Guide to Eating Disorders”, it “has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness” (Journal – Eating Recovery, 2) and it just so happens that “Dieting is one of the most common forms of disordered eating” (NEDC, 1). Other symptoms include avoidance of usual activities and people around them, changes in brain chemistry, weak muscles, a higher risk for miscarriage, and bad memory (Journal – Eating Recovery, 5).

Continuing on, fad diets are really just not needed and only further confuse people during an already troubling and confusing time. For one, there are many fad diets that are just inconsistent. There will be one diet that will instruct people to cut a certain food group out completely while another diet will be completely based on that very food group. For instance, right now low carb diets like the ketogenic diet talked about above are quite popular amongst individuals. However, other people suggest partaking in a high-carb – low-fat diet. Both of these diets have people who swear by them and say that they are the best thing someone can do to lose weight and be healthy. However, it is actually suggested to use a well-balanced diet because according to Health Line it “gives your body the nutrients it needs to function correctly” (Health Line). Therefore, these diets overall are just not needed. The reason that this is such a big deal is that it spreads misinformation and causes even more stress on people who are truly trying to better themselves. It also makes it really hard for people to pick a truly healthy way of eating because of all the different information thrown at them at once. Having such inconsistencies from diet to diet also seems very unprofessional and unorganized.

It has been found that fad diets also further impact the physical body. Topics such as yoyo dieting, eating disorders, and low nutrients were previously discussed. However, there are even further physiological issues due to fad diets. For one, a lot of times fad diets promise fast weight loss. This promise is one of the biggest indicators that something is a fad diet. However, losing weight in a quick manner is not always the best thing. The Journal of Food Research claims that when weight is lost quickly, a lot of times the individual is losing water and muscle, and no fat tissue (Journal of Food Research, 86). Also, due to the imbalance of nutrients in many of the fad diets available, it has also been found to cause “menstrual irregularity or amenorrhea” (Journal of Food Research, 86) which could then go on to impact other matters that connected to the menstrual cycle including fertility and hormone in the body.

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Essay on Dieting: Causes of Eating Disorders. (2023, December 13). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
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