Fad diets are wildly popular when an urgency for sudden and immediate weight loss is needed. As an example, this alarming trend is commonly seen among teenagers in anticipation of prom season, where fitting a certain size dress seems ideal. Add in peer pressure and the influence from the media, and you have a dangerous mix of factors that can lead to much more problematic behaviors in the long run.
The Dangers of Fad Diets
We’ve heard and seen fad/crash diets in many forms: from juice cleanses to 2-3 day fasts to eating only fruit or taking herbal supplements, there is seemingly some type of fad available for those who are seeking quick weight loss.
These types of diets are trendy among some individuals who are anticipating a special event – be it a prom, wedding, or special night out. When there is pressure to look a certain way or fit into a special outfit saved just for the occasion, fad diets might be looked to as a solution for rapid weight loss. However, these fads are much more than meets the eye.
Even if only on a fad diet for a short time, the effects can certainly range for the long term. Many individuals might observe some amount of weight lost during the time spent on a fad diet; however, these effects are never long term, as a person cannot realistically maintain the extreme measures taken on these diets. Any weight that is lost is largely in the form of water weight, which is regained quickly once normal eating is resumed.
Temporarily starving the body through any means is incredibly triggering, as it creates an even greater sense of urgency to eat in the face of hunger. Most people who engage in fad diets will suddenly become obsessive with food and may ultimately have binging episodes once they are no longer able to refrain from eating.
Trigger for Disordered Eating
The most dangerous aspect of fad dieting is how these behaviors can lead to much more severe implications, particularly in someone who may be susceptible to developing an eating disorder. What might start out as a harmless attempt to lose a few pounds can spiral into a full blown eating disorder, which is potentially fatal. In fact, studies have shown that adolescents who engage in fad dieting may be more likely to develop an eating disorder in the long run .
If you have a loved one who engages in fad dieting, especially during times like prom or wedding season, consider sharing your concerns in a loving and gentle way. Weight loss is never an answer for anything, and having some extra support can perhaps quench a desire to utilize fad diets for any reason.
References:: Prediction of eating problems: An 8-year study of adolescent girls. Graber, Julia A.; Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne; Paikoff, Roberta L.; Warren, Michelle P. Developmental Psychology, Vol 30(6), 823-834.
About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Director of Content and Social Media for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.
As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 12, 2017
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com