The Billion Dollar Diet Industry’s Dirty Secret

Woman on a diet

There is a secret the multi-billion dollar dieting industry does not want you to know. According to a growing number of research studies the weight loss, promised by so many diets on the market today, is at most short-term and in some individuals may have the reverse effect. It seems that calorie restricting diets, especially when undertaken by those in a healthy weight range, may lead to increased weight gain and put you at an increased risk for obesity. These studies have shown that in comparing dieters to non-dieters the dieting groups showed a larger mean annual weight gain. Twin studies have confirmed these findings.

The reasons for this are both physical and psychological. Restricting calories in one’s diet has been shown to lead to an increased fixation on food. The body’s response to this ‘short-term starvation’, as coined by dietitians’ Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, is overeating as a means of restoring the body’s energy stores. The 1945 Minnesota Starvation Study, which restricted the caloric intake of 36 male volunteers to 1560 calories a day, was the first of its kind to illustrate the human response to decreased calorie intake. The effects, which mirrored many of today’s chronic dieters, were an obsession with food, increased rates of depression and a 40% decrease in metabolism. In essence, for most of the population, there are no ‘good’ calorie restricting diets.

From a Chinese medical perspective the diet one should eat to lose weight is one that meets the needs of the particular individual and addresses his/her body’s needs. Outside of the parameters of eating locally sourced whole foods, no diet is seen as perfect for all people. For example, individuals whose weight gain is the result of a weak digestive system need to focus on nourishing foods while those who are exhibiting symptoms of heat within the digestive system need cooling foods. Food is viewed not as something to be controlled but something to be in harmony with and eating as a pleasurable experience.

Amelie de Mahy L.Ac, providing acupuncture and Chinese herbs to the communities of Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Danville, Concord and Pleasant Hill.