Yoyo dieting is a common consequence of trying to diet all the time. You go on a diet and lose some weight. After a number of painful days of eating nothing but cabbage soup or low-carb shakes, you finally return to your normal solid diet, only to gain all the weight back and then some. You endure the extra weight for some time and then go back to dieting. Up and down, up and down. That is the cycle of yoyo dieting.
How the Cycle Works
Experts agree that yoyo dieting is bad for you. It weakens your immune system, leads to increased body fat and can even affect your food preferences. But did you know that yoyo dieting can also affect your mind?
The repeated cycle of gaining and losing weight can have a distinctive impact on your self-esteem. Every time you regain the weight, you might feel like you’re adding another failure to your long battle with the scale. Add to that the taxing work of depriving yourself of food during the down cycle and you’ll end up exhausted, both mentally and emotionally.
According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, weight cycling or yoyo dieting can have negative psychological and behavioral consequences such as depression, feelings of ineffectiveness and guilt. Surprised? Don’t be. Think for a moment about the feeling of exhilaration you get when you stick to your diet and lose that extra weight that’s been making you miserable for some time. Now think about the feelings of failure you experience when you put it back on again. Repeat the cycle enough times and you might end up believing that you truly are a failure for not being able to keep the weight off. Studies have shown that anxiety and anger are also common during the yoyo dieting cycle.
Yoyo dieting can also affect your relationship with others and in turn make you feel isolated and unworthy. The last thing you want when you’re back on your yoyo dieting cycle is to discuss the issue with others. After all, who wants others to think you’re a failure for being back on a diet to lose the same 10 pounds all over again? This can lead to isolation. No lunches with friends, no food-related outings or meetings when you’re trying to lose weight (so you don’t have to explain why you aren’t eating), no explanations as to why you have no energy left because you’ve been living on chicken soup for the past week. As you withdraw yourself from friends and loved ones, you might end up feeling resentful. This resentment can sometimes be directed towards yourself –“I was weak the first time I was on a diet and now I have to do it all over again.” It’s hard to consider these failures as part of the process and easy to feel inadequate and confused.