When Weight Loss Becomes Dangerous

Weight loss is challenging and sometimes difficult to achieve.  There are many health and emotional benefits of losing weight and looking great is one of them.  Choosing a manageable eating plan and exercising makes losing weight much easier. Dropping the pounds is the exciting part of weight loss while keeping them off is much harder.

Losing weight is exciting and sometimes quite addictive due to the reaction of friends and clothes fitting better.  However, losing too much weight is unhealthy and being afraid to eat for fear of getting fat reduces the quality of your life. Continuing to lose weight after achieving a healthy weight may result in eating disorders.

The Body Mass Index (BMI) measures body fat and height ratio.  A healthy BMI measures 18.5 and 24.9. Any result above or below this range signifies an unhealthy weight.  Presently the BMI is the most reliable indicator of whether you are a healthy weight. The reading is inaccurate in people with a large muscle mass and young children.

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Healthy Weight Loss

Weight loss is pretty simple on paper just eat fewer calories than you burn off.  However, we eat due to many reasons besides hunger. We eat because we enjoy food, are unhappy, are with friends, we are overweight, we feel tired and just because it is there.  Emotional eating usually involves consuming high-calorie foods such as ice cream, burgers, pizza, chocolate and sweets provide temporary comfort to our problems. Often guilt proceeds a major binging session and the weighing scales provide hard evidence of our indulgence.

We generally fail at the first hurdle because we take dieting to the extreme and deny ourselves our favourite food.  Human beings crave food they can’t have and give into temptation pretty quickly. An effective weight loss plan incorporates treats into the daily allowance so wine, chocolates, cakes and meals out are still possible.  Some people successfully lose weight by themselves and use willpower and determination to reach their target weight.

Slimming groups offer dietary advice, rewards and support to encourage weight loss.  Members of these groups successfully lose weight and manage to maintain a healthy weight once they reach their goal.  Gradual weight loss is healthy and easy to maintain while crash dieting is temporary and difficult to stick to. The NHS and doctors surgeries provide valuable weight loss advice and are worth looking into.

Losing Weight Unhealthily

Extreme weight loss is as unhealthy as being overweight.  Women require 2000 calories a day to survive while men require 2500.  Consuming fewer calories leads to weight loss normally eating 500 calories less is a good start.  Choosing to eat less than 1000 calories is inadvisable because you deny your body of vital nutrients.  

The effects of not eating enough food include; cognitive impairment, effects hormone balance and encourage unhealthy food choices.  In the long term, food denial leads to metabolism changes, lowers muscle mass and reduces energy levels. In extreme cases, it damages your internal organs and leads to long-term complications.  

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia result in dangerous weight loss.  Sometimes the result is so extreme the sufferer is close to death. Both of these conditions are very complex and difficult for the sufferer and their families to overcome.  There are a number of triggers for these conditions including negative comments about weight, seeing yourself as fat and attempting to gain control of life. Obviously, it is more complex and requires a great deal of support, therapy and learning how to overcome the condition.

People with these conditions are very good at hiding them because they have psychological roots and are difficult to stop.  If you suspect you are anorexic or bulimic and are ready to start treatment please make an appointment with your doctor. Maybe you suspect your friend or a family member are suffering tell them about your worries and encourage them to visit their doctor.  It is possible to overcome these eating disorders with lots of support and determination.

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By Birpal Virdee (June 2018)