How Dieting As A Teen Can Hurt You Later

Young people often go on severely limited diets to quickly drop weight, but drastic calorie reduction burns up essential muscles and tissues.

Bipasha Das | Aug 22, 2019

Teenage is a time of great changes. It is normal for adolescents to be overly conscious of their body image. But perceptions of body type—overweight or underweight—tend to produce negative body image, affecting self-confidence self-esteem. When we hear of “going on a diet,” we usually think of reducing meal sizes or eating differently, to try to lose weight. This makes food an enemy. Many don’t understand that if they loose weight rapidly via fad diets, they also put their life at risk. Drastic calorie reduction makes one lose weight by burning essential muscles and tissues. And also entails water loss. So, avoid crash diets.

Some hard facts

About 1 in every 2 teenage girls and 1 in every 4 teenage boys have tried dieting through crash diets, globally.

Why diet?

•Body image: Because hormonal changes contribute to growth spurts resulting in weight and height gain. Lots of psychosocial stress and changes also occur during this period, thus making teens consider their body image to be of paramount importance.

•Culture matters: Because teens tend to idolise celebrities and imitate them. This motivates teens to go on crash diets. Thinness is not just an “in thing,” it is also linked to power, popularity and success in media portrayals. Teens imbibe that

•Peer Pressure: Because, teasing and bullying from peer group add to psychological pressure on teens.

The risks

Crash dieting deprives one’s body of essential nutrients, both micro and macro, leading to:

•Vitamin deficiencies: Iron and Folate deficiencies along with Vitamin A, B, C and K deficiencies.

•Electrolytes imbalance: Potassium, calcium, sodium and magnesium are important electrolytes for basic functioning of the heart, kidney and brain. Deficiencies can lead to electrolyte imbalance. Lack of calcium leading to osteoporosis (softening of the bones)

•Mental health problems: Crash dieting may predispose one to some mental health problems, including depression, unstable mood, anxiety and serious eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia. In severe cases, it can lead to unhealthy behaviour among teens, for instance, using drugs.

Danger Signs

How do you know if your diet is out of control? Warning signs include:

•Eating in secret, sneaking food, or feeling out of control when you eat

•Thinking about food all the time

•Restricting activities or avoiding family and friends because of food or need to exercise

•Fear of food

•Vomiting after taking meals or using laxatives

•Feeling weak, light headed, or dizzy from not eating

Go for healthy diet

1.Eat right

•Do not skip your meals specifically breakfast or lunch. They are your important meals to provide you energy for the day.

•Enjoy a variety of foods and healthy snacks

•Drink plain water instead of soft drinks or sweet juice

•Consume high fibre foods. As a teen you may enjoy eating out, but stop eating once you feel full.

2.Fruits and vegetables: Try snacking with plenty of fruits and vegetables

3.Physical activities: An important part of staying healthy, so spend at least 30-60 minutes daily doing some physical activities in the form of walking, cycling , stretching etc.