Trying to lose the COVID weight? Thinking about jumping in another FAD diet or cutting your calories in half? Diet culture is toxic; sadly, for us is everywhere we look. Thin people are automatically thought of as healthy.. but is this true?
NOPE, in reality, body weight means less about your health. To know if you are healthy without getting blood work and speaking to your doc (which should be your primary check), you should feel good every day. No energy crashes, no hair loss, no insomnia, no constipation, you get it, well.
BMI itself is not measuring “health” or a physiological state (such as resting blood pressure) that indicates the presence (or absence) of disease. It is simply a measure of your size. - Harvard University
Because women have been forced to believe that thin is what men want (which is unrealistic, and superficial, and wrong), we have been for decades slaves of an industry that sells us that starvation is the way to go. With juice cleansing, detox diets, fat burning supplements, and all that sass, it's sometimes hard to discern the reality from a manipulated lie!
If your goal is to lose weight, yes, calories matter a lot. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you should lose weight. But there is a way to take this way too far, leaving you depleted, nutrient deficient, and disappointed. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases defines a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) as eating less than 800 calories per day. Eating at such a low-calorie level makes it very difficult to obtain all the essential vitamins and minerals through just food alone.
Some of the symptoms you might experience if you are not eating enough calories are:
Obsessive thought patterns around food leading to eating disorders
Weakened immune system
Greater risk of long-term health problems such as hypothyroidism, inflammation, and diabetes.
How can low-calorie diets mess with your hormones?
Besides messing up your metabolism, causing loss of valuable muscles and organs and putting women at risk of nutrient deficiencies removing your carbs or not eating enough food can disrupt your hormonal balance:
Because your body perceives starvation as stress, long-term stress caused by low-calorie intake can cause you to overproduce the hormones cortisol and norepinephrine, creating an imbalance that increases pressure on the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands.
Your ghrelin hormone which is responsible for telling your brain when you are satiated goes up, this is why when you go to a party while doing a FAD diet the food "wins control over you"
Your satiety signaling hormone leptin goes down when you don't eat enough so you end up craving more and more food!
If you don’t eat enough, you may experience irregular menstrual cycles or amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is defined as a woman’s menstrual cycle is absent for 3 months or more. The most common cause of amenorrhea is hypothalamic amenorrhea, caused by too few calories, too few carbs, weight loss, stress, or too much exercise.
Very low-carb diets may cause a drop in thyroid function.
So what to do instead?
Instead of weighing yourself to measure progress, cutting out all the food in your diet, try using personalized non-scale goals like eating more vegetables per day, or getting enough sleep. By using this kind of goal, you will get a more positive, long-lasting, and health-promoting result than starving yourself for something that is not worth it, you being unhealthy.