Dieting is a national pastime. While the number of Americans who diet varies, depending on the source, the Boston Medical Center indicates that approximately 45 million Americans diet each year and spend $33 billion on weight-loss products in their pursuit of a trimmer, fitter body.
Dieting can lead to weight loss, which provides several health benefits. It reduces your risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke and osteoarthritis. You can gain these benefits by losing just 5 percent to 7 percent of your body weight, according to the Weight-control Information Network.
A study in the journal “Psychosomatic Medicine” revealed that dieting may not be the answer to being overweight or obese. Dieters often gain back the weight they lose, and dieting causes several psychological effects, such as stress, anxiety, lower self esteem, depression and irritability.
Cutting calories is a common way of dieting, but it’s not the only method; in some cases, it may be dangerous. Some diets require significant restriction of calories or elimination of entire food groups, such as no-carb diets. Following these methods will lead to nutrient deficiencies and side effects such as dehydration or fatigue.
Healthy Diet Methods
During a healthy diet — including one for weight loss — you can enjoy all food groups. Substituting healthy foods for unhealthy choices is another method. For example, you can substitute whole grains for refined grains, or replacing saturated and trans fats with healthy fats. Controlling portion sizes and eating more slowly can also help you lose weight, according to the American Dietetic Association.
Before you begin a diet, the National Institutes of Health recommends taking a few precautions. Consider whether the diet is medically or nutritionally safe. Watch out for warning signs such as an overemphasis on one food group, restriction of food choices and a lack of emphasis on caloric consumption. Consult your doctor before beginning a diet.