Crash Diets – The Truth About How They Can Wreck Your Mental And Physical Health
I’ve definitely done it once and I’m sure most people probably have as well. And that is to try and go on a super strict crash diet to try and burn off a ton of fat in a short span of time and assume that’s going to be some magic fix and all of life’s problems will suddenly be solved.
It doesn’t work that way and there is both a mental and a physical health impact of crash diets.
Usually, crash dieting plays out in a familiar pattern.
Does This Sound Familiar?
We start a crash diet when we’re already feeling our mental and physical worst.
I’m normally thinking early January after you’ve indulged over Christmas and new year and you wake up just feeling guilty over the way indulged, and then you decide “that’s it, new year, new me. Strict crash diet.”
We get through the first 2 or 3 days feeling absolutely fantastic. Almost like we’re glowing.
We get through the first weekend when temptation starts to creep in because we’re fierce warriors and we have this renewed sense of willpower.
We get to the second week and we start to feel a little bit more tired and a bit more burnt out and a bit more irritable. And hunger and cravings start to creep in a little bit.
And then gradually things start to build up. We start to feel more stressed and then we cave in. It can often take the form of a food binge, almost like a rebound for the cravings that built up and that you tried to suppress from the previous two weeks.
And then you try and get back on track.
You might repeat that cycle a little bit, or you might just draw a line under it at that point.
Or Maybe This Happens?
Things on your crash diet might go better than that. They never have for me, but we’re not all the same and I’m not here to judge.
But let’s say you go on a crash diet and start getting good results very early on. That helps motivate you and you can last it out until you get to whatever goal you had set yourself.
But when you do get to the goal, what if you go back to the lifestyle that you had before we made that switch to that crash diet?
Your health (and maybe weight) also reverts back to that point where it was before, or possibly even goes a little bit further back because you’ve done it and complacency can sneak in a little bit.
I am focusing on weight loss, but it can apply to pretty much any health goal.
Crash Diets Aren’t A Long Term Solution
Quick fixes and crash diets normally address the symptoms of a certain health condition or lifestyle rather than the underlying cause.
If you think of a leaky pipe, you can mop the floor around it all you want because the symptom is a wet floor. But that pipe is still leaking. That’s the cause of it and that hasn’t been addressed.
Similarly, when you go on a crash diet, you’re dealing with the symptoms of maybe having more body fat or carrying more weight than what you want to have.
You do something to address that symptom, but the lifestyle and long-term habits that you have are the underlying cause in most cases, and those aren’t being addressed.
What Got You To The Point Of Wanting To Start A Crash Diet?
A crash diet can address symptoms, but it’s usually not going to be addressing the actual cause of you getting to the health condition or the state of fitness that you were in when you started that crash diet.
For that we need to look at, was it your lifestyle? Was there a certain stressful or traumatic event? Was there a disordered eating pattern?
Was it just being sedentary? Is it a certain relationship with certain foods or maybe certain drinks?
What Happens When You Use A Crash Diet And Get To Your Goal?
When you’re starting a new diet or new health kick, whatever you want to call it, thinking about your end goal isn’t usually enough.
You also need to start thinking about what you’re going to do, and what you’re planning on doing when you get to that end goal.
Are you going to maintain yourself at that goal? Are you going to move on to a new goal?
Or are you going to revert back to the lifestyle you were at before you started this diet? In which case you probably can’t expect anything other than for your health and fitness to revert back to where it was before you started.
If that’s what you want then absolutely, that’s fine. There isn’t a right answer here. You do you.
What I’m saying is just think beyond your goal to what you’ll be doing next.
My Experience Of The Health Impact Of Crash Diets
My journey with health and fitness started with desperation for extreme, rapid weight loss.
Which turned into a better understanding of nutrition, which turned into sustainable weight loss, which turned into being more active, which turned into exercising which turned into where I am now, which is an overall very, very strong state of health.
I’ll probably cover the idea of what general health means to me in future, but at the moment with where I am with my health, with my fitness, with my activity levels, I feel like things have kind of come together really well.
Try To Forget About Quick Fixes And Crash Diets
We’re inundated with images of rapid transformations and being sold the idea that you can make a drastic shift to your body shape and all your dreams will come true.
Reality’s normally a bit more disappointing than that.
It’s the small, subtle changes that become part of your lifestyle that lead to those long-term results.
It’s the appreciation and love for your body that makes you want to nourish it and keep it active and look after it and treat it well. And that usually doesn’t happen with a crash diet.
A crash diet might be the spark that gets you going. Like it was for me. I’m very open about that.
But a long-term healthy lifestyle isn’t a quick fix and the health impact of crash diets can be tricky to overcome.