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Yo-yo Dieting Does More Harm Than Good

April 14, 2000

Prepared for Nutrition Class: The YoYo Diet
by Darby Schlomer

Table of Contents

What is a Yo-yo diet?
Why canít we loose that weight?
Fiber in our diet.
Water, a wonderful fulfilling nutrient.
Exercise, It doesnít have to be a big deal!
Why should we exercise?

When we loose and gain it all back (plus some), the weight usually comes back as fat in those good ole fat cells. This gain-plus effect is called the yo-yo diet. This type of dieting routine seems almost impossible to break, and is very bad for our health.

In the book, Live longer, Live better1, there was a long-term study of residents of Framingham, Massachusetts who had an increased incidence of heart disease and early death. Those who had repeatedly lost and regained weight were compared to those whose weight remained stable.

1The same article also reported on a more recent long-term study. Their conclusion was that a short-lived weight loss is not preferable to uninterrupted obesity.

According to the American Dietetic Association, the ongoing process of losing and gaining weight can make weight management more difficult in the long run. They also state that yo-yo dieting may lead to a slower metabolic rate (BMR), eating disorders, and poor self-esteem. I donít agree totally that we get low self esteem from losing and gaining weight. There are many people that are very large and are happy as can be, and love who they are. I can see how the ADA came up with it, though. I would think poor self esteem comes from the failure thoughts heavy people get because we cannot lose or maintain our weight loss: We may start believing we canít accomplish much. Feelings of doubt about our abilities can contribute to low self esteem, although those thought patterns start deeper than a weight loss failure.

1Published by Readerís Digest, Montreal, 1995

I feel a major part of some of us having low self esteem is due to the way we grew up, the influences around us in formative years. Thatís not all: I also know from experience that American society plays a major role in the way obese people view themselves. Face it. . . America is prejudice against "fat" folks. Not all, but many really are. We arenít considered cool and constantly hear things like, "look at that ****..." Well, I wonít go into that because I think we get the picture. That is a subject all on its own.

Plus, I know many people that are slim and have low self-esteem. Do we blame their low self-confidence on their weight? We should be more careful about what we say. Our comments can really rob people of acceptance of themselves.

Yoyo Dieting may even increase the risk for some ongoing problems such as heart disease and some forms of cancer.

Why do we tend to keep gaining back all the weight that we worked so had to get off? There are many reasons why dieting seems doomed to failure. One of the main reasons, in my opinion, is that us dieters want a quick fix. We want a quick diet without having to try real hard. The very thought of having to do anything to strenuous forever is too unbelievable. We go for the Pill that promises to shed pounds with no change on our part. We buy the product and end up feeling like a failure once again. Without physical activity and a healthy way of eating, unfortunately, we will always gain it all back.

Since there are so many diets out there to choose from, we have to really do our homework on what kind of diet we decide to try. There are diets like the grapefruit diet, fruit diet, soup diets and rice diets. We all know though, that there is no magic in just one type of food. So these kind of diets arenít too long lasting, and weíre not getting the vitamins that our bodies require.

Then there are the liquid diets. This type of diet doesnít teach us how to eat properly. So we go back to our old eating habits, and gain the weight all back again.

With high protein diets we may not get the vitamins either, and may be high in fat. Especially saturated fat that is found in meat. Then there is fasting. First we only loose water. Our body thinks itís getting starved and starts storing what we do eat as fat. This is what we have to choose from while dieting. Gosh, how confusing this is for the dieter.

I believe that when we go on a strict diet, like a fruit diet, we miss the taste of fattening foods and sweets that we are so used to having. Then when the diet is all over, and we get to eat real food again, we splurge, and overeat all those lovely fattening foods. When we deprive our body of a variety of food, we tend to want to just get it all in after the diet. "Now," we think, "I can just munch out," and that just is not the case.

This is one of the main reasons why the yo-yo thing keeps happening, and it is why a total change in eating patterns is what the prescription should be. Not necessarily a diet, just changing what kinds of food we eat. Sometimes the word diet is scary. We donít want to not get to eat what others eat, so we end up gaining excess fat instead of losing. We have to go for a real change in lifestyle. We canít look forward to the day that we get down to our ideal weight and can eat the foods we like again.

For instance, eating at fast foods restaurants five days a week will not cut it. Unfortunately, fast food is all over. It is hard not to have a burger, or images of a taco thrown in our faces daily. All over the streets, TV commercials, radio, and signs; fattening food everywhere. What to do?

Dieting and then expecting the weight to stay off when the diet is over is unrealistic. It just canít be done! Going on a diet is easy. Staying on it forever is impossible. We say to ourselves, "I have tried to lose weight. I donít understand why I have to be the fat person on the block. I have tried and tried for literally 20 years, and still donít have it down. What is wrong with me? I canít do anything right." How sad life can be.

But in actual reality, Life is what we make of it. It has to be more than just wanting to loose weight. We always know we want to loose weight badly, and sometimes we want it so badly we are willing to try many

different diets trying to do it. And people might even say, " Well, you must not of wanted it bad enough." Well, they are wrong, but we are looking for the wrong thing. We have to seek a different lifestyle.

Some lucky, high-metabolism people are able to eat whatever and whenever they want, while others are on a constant challenge with their weight. Well, some of this has something to do with our inherited body build and genetic makeup. According to the American Dietetic Association, if we have one obese parent, the chances of being over weight is 40%; and that doubles when both parents are obese. People who inherit a "sluggish" metabolism are more likely to gain weight. Itís a fact of life.

According to the Institute of Medicine, obesity is defined as an excess of body fat, whereas overweight refers to an excess of body weight that includes fat, bone, and muscle. Men with more than 25% body fat and women with more than 30% body fat are considered to be obese.

The thing that gets me is that the American Dietetic Association says that if you can pinch an inch, youíre likely over-fat. Well, I know many people that are very thin and can pinch an inch. They also say that watching lots of TV is related to being obese. Well, many skinny people watch lots of TV and they are not obese... So we should be a bit careful on what we say relates to obese.

There are many health problems linked to obesity. Among them are high blood cholesterol levels, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, breathing problems, some forms of cancer, and other illnesses. The American Cancer Society estimates that one out of three cancers may be related to eating too much fat. It is related in "Live Longer Live better that, in a study of 89,000 women, for example, those who ate the most animal fats were nearly twice as likely to develop colon cancer as those who ate the least. Thatís why it is very important to try to loose our excessive weight.

The American Dietetic Association states that every year Americans spend more than $30 billion in the weight loss industry. There are so many ways to lose weight, and so many weight management programs around. Long term changes are what we must aim for. A whole lifestyle change. Then if we eat fatty foods once a week, and balance it out with low fat the rest of the week, weíll still keep extra weight off. Eat low fat low sugar, lots of fiber.

A diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables may be a strong defense against diseases, Many fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins C and E. Which are Antioxidants. Antioxidants hinder the formation of free radicals, which are unstable molecules created during normal metabolism that are thought to contribute to the development of cancer by damaging cell membranes and altering genetic material within the cellís nucleus. Research at Harvard University, showed that women who ate fruits and vegetables high in beta carotene, such as carrots, apricots, and sweet potatoes, reduced their chance of a stroke by 40% and their chance of a heart attack by 22%.

Then there is fiber. Fiber is mostly found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Most fiber foods are low in fat, and it makes you feel more full. So we can see how fiber is important in the weight loss efforts. Since fiber helps food and waste move more quickly through the intestines, it may reduce the risk of colon cancer in people who eat enough of it. Recommenced amount of fiber is 20 to 35 grams. Also, fiber may aid in the fight against heart disease by binding cholesterol and bile in the bowel, which helps to eliminate extra cholesterol from the body and to reduce its absorption of fat. With all these facts, it is very clear why we should eat a high fiber diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables.

Experts recommend that we learn to lose weight ourselves by changing our eating habits. The key to weight control is a low-fat diet, not calories per serving, Thatís because fats provide 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 per gram for proteins and carbohydrates.

A study at Harvard Medical School, involving 141 women, found virtually no link between calorie intake and body weight. Rather excess weight was linked to the amount of fat in the womenís diets. The American Heart Association recommends that we derive no more than 30 percent of our daily calories from fat. A growing number of experts believe that figure should be closer to 10 or 20 percentĖ an effective but difficult way to loose weight, says Readers Digest. As Covert Bailey says, "eat less fat, eat less sugar, and lots of fiber." This makes sense to me. Balance is the key to all this weight issue. Along with a low fat, low sugar, and high fiber diet, there is a necessity for exercise.

Exercise is a very important part of weight loss. Exercise not only burns calories but also builds muscle. There are plenty of reasons to exercise. Of course weight loss is a main reason for lots of people, there are other reasons as well. For instance, exercise also helps to improve

our circulation and strengthen the heart action and purify the blood... which feeds the brain as well as other parts of the body. It also helps us relax from tension and helps us sleep better. Exercise also helps to remove lactic acids and other fatigue products from the body, and to insure proper elimination of waste. Exercise will break down cell tissues and will cause the body to rebuild younger, stronger and healthier cell tissue. Exercise does plenty more than just these few things I have listed, which I got from the Nutri-System literature.

We canít forget the importance of water. Especially when we are losing weight. Water is a vital part of weight loss. Nutri-system information mentions that water suppresses the appetite and helps the body metabolize stored fat. Water also helps rid the body of waste. During weight loss, the body has a lot more waste to get rid of. All that metabolized fat has to go. Adequate amounts of water helps flush out the waste. Eight glasses of cool refreshing water is enough to do the job. Nutri/system says that the overweight person needs one additional glass for every 25 pounds of excess weight.

When we exercise we should increase water intake. It is noted also that cold water is absorbed into our system more quickly than warm. So cold is the way to go. Water may fill us up faster too. So we feel not as hungry and eat less. Muscle requires more water also.

In order for weight to stay off, we must permanently change our eating habits, and our way of living. We have to be committed to a life long change in the way we live our everyday life. Stop thinking "diet" Healthy eating is a better way to look at it.

We have to set realistic goals. Even a little bit of fat loss is good. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, losing as little as 10 percent of our body weight can improve blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. We also shouldnít lose weight too fast. The slower we take it off the easier it is to keep off. Experts typically recommend that we lose no more that a pound or two a week. If we lose too quickly, our metabolism may slow down.

Readers Digest also mentions that researchers have found that quick weight loss may cause gallstones to form. If we eat small amounts and healthy snacks like yogurt, it keeps us from getting those heavy duty hunger feelings.

Our body will tell us if we have had enough to eat if we learn to listen to it. Sluggish feeling, way uncomfortable, and heartburn are some ways our body says, "hey, slow down" We should not stuff ourselves, because within 20 minutes we will be more full than when we stopped eating.

We mustnít eat out of boredom, or sadness. It will only make our problems worse. Because then we feel guilty. I have found out that if I eat a fattening meal one time a week, and low fat and exercise the rest of the week, then I still lose weight. That is called balance. We have to have balance in our diet

If we eat something fat, we canít get down on ourselves, just eat low fat the rest of the week. That way we still get our nice fattening foods in but donít gain weight. Then, when we do get down to our individual ideal weight, we wonít be as likely to go on that burger binge.

We have to get physical, Exercise has to be included in our life to lose weight. It not only helps with metabolism, but exercise also builds up our muscles, in which helps in burning calories. Since muscle weighs more than fat, we will look better even if we weigh more.

So start some kind of aerobic exercise program for yourself. If you wake up and donít feel like exercising, do it anyway. I do mine early in the morning so I donít have time to think about it and get lazy. It also gives me some energy for the day ahead too.

When we exercise, we speed up our metabolism. Our metabolism stays accelerated for 2 hours after we exercise. More important we need to eat low fat foods. Lots of fiber and plenty of our green vegetables.

If we get unmotivated for whatever reason, there are ways to re-motivate ourselves to continue with the hard job of losing weight. Here some ways I found to help keep my mind on track...

I think back as to why I decided to make this major change in my life. I try to feel the feelings that were present then. This seems to help a little. I write down my feelings. Then I can read it back and that makes it easier to recall the feeling. I also stand in front of the mirror. I picture the way I want to be and know I can. I look at pictures of the way I looked before.

If you tend to slip on your diet, get back on the horse and keep going.

Minor set backs are a way of life. Donít forget your fiber, and more importantly your water. This is the only way I know to stop the yo-yo diet coaster.

Balance is the key.


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