Bites Radio

Let's Talk Diet Culture

December 09, 2020 Vanessa Jane. Registered Dietitian Episode 4
Bites Radio
Let's Talk Diet Culture
Show Notes Transcript

What's the deal with diet culture? Today we talk about the possible side effects of harsh dieting, and the consequences chronic yo-yo dieters could face! Like what you hear? Help us out by writing a review on iTunes!

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Welcome back everyone, I am your host and registered dietitian, Vanessa Jane, coming at you today with a highly controversial public service announcement. Are you ready?...

Diets don’t work, and even more so diets are extremely harmful to our health. Diets don’t fail you because you may gain back the weight you lost. Diets fail you because they require you to invest precious time, money, and energy into a system that causes mental, physical, and emotional harm. If you walk away from this podcast with any knowledge today, let it be this. I believe that if we all spent as much time and energy into being mindful of our own bodies and building a healthy relationship with food as we do when we try a new diet every time we want to lose weight, we would most likely be a lot more satisfied with the end results and skip out on the physical and mental harm we are causing ourselves every time we diet. Our bodies like to stay in something called homeostasis. Homeostasis means that our bodies are going to correct mistakes and maintain optimal functioning that is unique to each and every one of our bodies. Let’s put this into perspective, when you go on a diet your brain chemicals will alter the way your weight is regulated by several mechanisms. First, by stimulating an increase in appetite, and second, by signaling your body to protect its fat stores in a more aggressive way. And this is a good thing. Just like carbohydrates and protein, fat is an essential nutrient for our bodies. After all, if you lose too much fat you’re going to die, so your brain chemicals are there for your survival. 

Brain chemicals can sense that you are in danger and they will do everything they can to protect you. You’re going to end up being hungry all the time. In addition, you will be thinking about food all the time and this is going to teach your body to store more fat. When you go off the diet, your body doubles the enzymes that it makes and stores fat in your body. Specifically, it shifts hormones such as leptin and ghrelin that control your appetite. Dieting will slow the rate of weight loss with each diet you go on. So every time you go on a diet, you’re going to lose less weight by decreasing your metabolism. Your body becomes more efficient at utilizing calories because your body’s need for calories is lower. This is your body trying to keep you alive. Your body does not know the difference between intentionally going on a diet and starvation. 

Random fact of the day: Did you know that dieting actually slows down your metabolism? Let’s create a little visual. Think of your metabolism as a campfire, what are you picturing? Fire and logs right? Now, think about this fire with 10 logs on it, that’s a pretty big fire! Now, imagine you take 5 logs off the fire, what happens? The fire gets smaller! This fire and logs analogy is a pretty good representation of what happens to our metabolisms after we go off a diet. Basically, every time you remove the logs, which are calories…the flame dwindles, aka your metabolism starts to slow down, and eventually goes kaput. 

Let me explain further… Let’s say you go on a strict diet to lose weight. When you weigh less, your body typically needs fewer calories. However, nutrition is not a one size fits all. The number of calories an individual needs is unique to that person and is affected by many different factors including metabolism, activity levels, stress levels, health history, allergies, and intolerances. So when you go off your diet and start to eat again, even if you’re eating the normal amount of food that you used to eat before you went on your diet, your metabolism is now slower and you will most likely gain weight more easily. This is due to the binge or restrictive cycles and increased cravings, related to increases in brain chemicals like neuropeptide Y. Neuropeptide Y is secreted when your brain chemicals sense that you’re not getting enough calories and when you’re not getting enough carbohydrates and it causes you to feel cravings. Basically, what I am trying to say here is that your body alone knows exactly what it needs to function at its highest capacity, but you have to be willing to listen to it and understand what it’s trying to tell you rather than forcing it to do something that it’s not meant to be doing. 

Other Negative Physical Side Effects of Dieting Include:

  • Heart disease (from weight cycling aka yo-yo dieting)
  • Headaches
  • Menstrual Irregularities
  • Fatigue 
  • Dry Skin 
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle fingernails
  • Loss of satiety cues (hunger and fullness) 


I am sure that if you have gone on a diet or two before you may have experienced one or more of these negative side effects. However, these side effects aren’t the only consequences of dieting. Not only do diets have immense effects on our physical health, but they also can cause emotional and psychological damage. If you want to learn more about this topic, stay tuned next week for our Monday episode about the emotional and psychological effects of dieting. 

If you feel like you are ready to take steps toward ditching dieting and gaining food freedom after listening to this episode, follow the links in this episode description, or the link in the Bites Radio show details. That’s all for now, see you back here next week!