In a weight- obsessed world, there is a plethora of reasons as to why people go on a diet. Some are at an unhealthy weight and need to revamp their eating and exercise habits. Some want to be in top physical condition to be able to play their favourite sport optimally. Others may think they would look and feel better if they shed a few pounds.
Whatever the reason, it’s always crucial to consult a doctor before embarking on any diet. Apart from the loss of vital nutrients to maintain overall well-being, extreme food-intake reduction and rapid weight loss can have the following side effects and consequences:
Sudden bouts of dizziness and ringing in the ears are some of the most common diet side effects. This is brought about by the temporary nutritional imbalance from excessive dieting. Recovery is easy if healthy eating habits are resumed.
- Yo-yo Effect
Obese people have larger and additional fat cells as compared to fit people. With diet, the large fat cells do not decrease in number, but only shrink in size. Once food intake increases, the body returns to its original state. Rather than dieting with an iron fist, it is more important and efficient to follow a long term plan to keep off lost weight.
- Gastroenteric Disorders
The stomach has a clock of its own. It secretes acid and prepares to accept food at fixed times. But, irregular meal times and skipping meals confuses the body and weakens digestion. This can lead to frequent burning sensations. If symptoms persist, it can lead to stomach ulcers and inflammation of the stomach.
- Mood swings
When energy levels are on a slump, the body droops and a depressive mood sets in, giving rise to increasing irritation and annoyance.
With decreased food intake, the digestive organs do not feel the need to be active and even if they did, they lacked the strength. This decline in intestinal function causes constipation. Fibre and laxatives can provide temporary relief, but they are not as effective as compared to a well-balanced diet.
- Skin abnormalities
Extreme dieting will undoubtedly upset the body’s nutritional balance and cause iron and mineral deficiencies. With severe imbalance, excessive amounts of fat are lost leading to skin atrophy. Drinking plenty of water when dieting should arrest the problem. If that does not work, a moderate amount of fat intake is necessary. Roughness of the skin can be further prevented with the inclusion of fruit and vegetables.
- Menstrual Irregularities
Women experience menstrual irregularities when there is a continuous phase of nutritional imbalance and low body fat percentage. In severe cases, infertility becomes a possibility. Menstrual irregularities caused just by malnutrition can be treated easily by increasing nutritional intake.
Anyone who diets should be aware of osteoporosis. It weakens bones and makes them more susceptible to fracture. As bone density hits a decline, body weight decreases and this is not due to loss of body fat. It is hard to recover the lost bone density just by consuming calcium. Proper exercise and a balanced diet are an absolute must.