Dieting refers to the practice of eating food in a regulated fashion to improve an overweight or obese state. Nutrition refers to provision of essential nutrients to the human body to promote growth and support life. These essential nutrients include Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates, Vitamins, Dietary Minerals, and Water. A Balanced Diet plan which incorporates all the essential nutrients in adequate quantities generates efficacious results.
However, most of the times, Dieting is a conscious effort embraced by people with the sole objective to lose weight and enhance their appearance. This often leads to adopting manipulative practices to get instant results. Such faulty and extreme Dieting practices may result in Malnutrition & other Health Deficiencies. Hence, whilst adopting a Dieting plan, one should not ignore the nutritional facet, and should not indulge in fallacious techniques.
One adopts Dieting practices primarily for the following reasons:
- Weight Loss and Enhancing of Appearance
- For Treatment of Obesity
- Weight Gain or Maintaining Stable Body Weight ( Practiced by Athletes)
- To Combat Diseases
Extreme Dieting, also known as Crash Dieting, involves eating meager amounts of food, and may produce debilitating effects on one’s body. It may not only generate physical side effects, but may also instigate mental dissatisfaction.
The physical consequences include Physical Fatigue, Dehydration, Continuous Hunger Pangs, Malnutrition, Gallbladder Disease, Acidosis, Constipation, Atrophy of Muscles, Seizures, Rashes, and Sinus Problems. It also interferes with maintenance of Body Tissues, Brain & Nervous System Function, Bone & Muscle Systems, and overall growth & development.
Such Dieting techniques inhibit the body’s metabolism, and may result in regaining of lost weight after completion of the Diet plan. This regaining of weight triggers feelings of Low Self-esteem, Irritation, Emotional Distress, and the risk of being more vulnerable to Eating Disorders.
Impact on Nutrition
When the purpose of Dieting is to lose weight by skipping meals or restricting calories, it directly hampers the body’s metabolism. The body starts burning energy at a decreased rate. It may also result in loss of muscle tissue and water.
By eliminating starchy foods from the diet, the body loses its best source of fiber and energy. Low Protein intake inhibits absorbing energy from meals. The body starts losing muscle instead of fat, and results in fatigue and rebound craving for fatty items. The overall result is Malnutrition and Low Energy.
Not Dieting, but a Balanced Diet
An unhealthy Dieting Regime restricts intake of energy and invites a variety of complications. A healthy Dieting Plan gives the body adequate nutrients for performing physical activities and maintaining wellness. In other words, one should adopt a Balanced Diet, and not a Crash-Dieting Regime.
The term Balanced Diet implies meeting the nutritional needs of the body, without providing any nutrients in excess. Carbohydrates provide energy, proteins support muscle cell construction, fatty acids help in brain & cell membrane construction, vitamins help in metabolic processes, and dietary fiber affects overall health.
However, an excess of any of the nutrients is not advisable. A Balanced Diet consists of eating of a variety of foods from each of the food groups, which include, Milk Group, Meat & Beans Group, Fruit Group, Vegetable Group, Grain Group, and Oil.
While adopting a Dieting Regime, one should observe the following precautions:
- Do not skip breakfast
- Eat foods from each of the Food Groups at every meal
- Intake of at least three meals in a day
- Eat when feeling hungry
- Stop eating when the stomach is full
- Follow a Balanced Diet low in Saturated and Trans Fats, Cholesterol, Added Sugars, Salt, and Alcohol
- Do not feel guilty while eating
- Obtain adequate information about daily calorie intake, size portions of food, and healthy choices from each Food Group.
Physical Activity Requirements
While practicing a Dieting Regime, it is always advisable to balance the calorie intake with regular physical exercise.
Support and Help given by the Caregiver
Faulty Dieting plans often affect the mental state and well-being. When such Dieting plans do not produce the desired results, one tends to suffer from feelings of Depression and Low Self-confidence. In such eventualities, the caregivers should provide moral support and help in boosting confidence.