Are you meticulous about counting calories, carbs, or grams of fat? Unfortunately, many equate limiting their food intake with being healthy. Restrictive eating can be harmful when it leads to undereating, nutritional deficits, and eating disorders. According to Livestrong, your body goes into “starvation mode” when you don’t eat enough. Starvation mode is when the metabolism slows to preserve enough calories for essential functions like breathing and blood circulation. If you’re cutting calories to lose weight, you should be aware that not eating enough can actually place you at risk for weight gain instead of loss, and many other health complications, including organ failure.
Instead of limiting food quantity, some women believe that restricting certain foods entirely is the way to go. The “clean eating” movement is one example of this approach. The problem with clean eating is that focusing on foods as either “clean” or “dirty” isn’t necessarily healthy. In many ways, this can be viewed as just another form of dieting, which is an important predictor of eating disorders, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
Other women may choose to skip meals or participate in intermittent fasting (eating within only allotted time periods). However, Eating Well reports that going too long without eating can lead to increased anxiety, lower energy levels, increased cravings for sugar and carbs, and digestive problems. It can also result in nutritional deficiencies and place you at risk for eating disorders. Bottom line? Make sure that you’re receiving adequate nutrition through a healthy, well-rounded diet.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA’s Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).