Yo-Yo Dieting: What is it, and how to avoid it

As the New Year draws closer, many people are starting to think about the health resolutions they have in store for 2022. While setting SMART goals is a fantastic idea, too many people set unrealistic resolutions, with strict and unhealthy diets being some of the most common.


From completely eliminating sugar to eating like our ancestors did tens of thousands of years ago, many diets aren’t just bad for your physical and mental wellbeing — they can also lead to toxic behavior, like yo-yo dieting. 


To help you avoid falling into the yo-yo dieting cycle, today we’re going to break down exactly what it is. 


Read on to learn more. 


Yo-yo dieting 101 

As its name implies, yo-yo dieting is a cyclical form of dieting where people lose weight then gain it back shortly after. Most of the time, they develop yo-yo-like dieting tendencies by trying to adhere to an eating regimen that’s too strict. 


Complex or restrictive meal plans inevitably cause people to cave. This leads them to gain back whatever weight they lost while on the diet. It can also lead to severe mental and physical health implications. 


The effects on your body 

Our bodies rely on homeostasis to function. Sudden weight loss and gain can affect your body’s ability to maintain a steady internal environment, putting it at a greater risk for certain health problems.


For instance, restrictive diets often give you only a fraction of the calories that your body needs. This forces it to work harder to burn muscle mass and fat to produce energy, leading to increased cortisol and inflammation levels.


Likewise, weight fluctuations also lead to higher cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels. Yo-yo diets, therefore, increase your chances of suffering from a heart attack or stroke. 


The mental effects  

Besides impacting your physical wellbeing, yo-yo dieting can also affect your mental health


Restrictive meal plans can cause people to feel stressed. It often takes a lot of mental energy to adhere to strict diets, leading to anxiety, irritability, and other negative emotions. If you cave while on a diet, you might also start to feel guilty or inadequate


The weight gain aspect of yo-yo dieting can also be mentally taxing, as no one wants to see themselves gain back weight they just tried to lose. Feelings of guilt and even depression can manifest during this period of the cycle. 


Focus on sustainable dieting 

So how can you avoid yo-yo dieting and the negative physical and mental effects that go with it? The key is to focus on sustainable dieting that you don’t struggle to adhere to. 


Instead of cutting an entire food group out of your diet, try limiting your intake of it. Cutting all sugar out of your diet will be challenging and stress-inducing. But by being aware of how much sugar the products you buy contain and trying to control how much you get, you’ll see a positive impact on your body over time. 


You should also make a point to prioritize fitness and mental health. A nutritious and balanced diet is only one part of a healthy individual! 


A healthier you 

Strict and demanding diets can look tempting — especially when you want to see results fast. However, they’re almost always unsustainable and can lead to yo-yo dieting. 


Instead of crashing and burning, look into creating a sustainable, long-term diet plan that works. And remember not to ignore the other aspects of health, either!

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