Yo-Yo Dieting May Lead to Chronic Inflammation, Disease, Unhealthy Weight

By Marsha Hudnall
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This isn’t the type of cycling we’re talking about but you get the point.

Who among the frequent readers of this blog hasn’t lost and gained weight numerous times?  If you’re like many American women, this describes you.  It certainly does me in my younger days when I was determined to lose weight.  Which I did over and over again in between bouts of gaining it back.

In professional parlance, this is called weight cycling.  Many of us also know it as yo-yo dieting.  Regardless what we call it, it’s not as harmless as many of us might think.

Yo-yo dieting is linked to inflammation which is linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, unhealthy body fat

 There’s growing consensus that inflammation is at the root of many of the chronic diseases that are affecting us today — everything from arthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and, yes, even unhealthy levels of fat on our bodies.

Taming that inflammation is the major focus of a food as medicine approach to health and healthy weights.  So for those of us who have already flamed the fire through frequent weight loss and regain, there is hope for recovery.  If we continue to yo-yo diet, however, we only add fuel to the fire.

Stop dieting to break the link.

But what if you “need” to lose weight (“need” not being defined as a number but as knowing you’re not healthy/don’t feel well plus your doctor keeps saying, “If you’d lose weight….”)?

Our best advice:

  • Stop trying to lose weight. Practically, that translates into stop dieting.  When you continue to diet, you continue the behaviors that may have contributed greatly to getting you where you are right now with your health.  As the saying goes, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.”
  • Focus instead on adopting healthy behaviors such as mindful eating (also called intuitive eating and attuned eating) which leads to healthier eating for many weight strugglers.  Also start to move your body to feel good, not to burn calories.  And focus on managing the stress that often leads us to emotional eating and creates a host of other problems as well.
  • Make sure any plan or program you decide to follow for health is truly non-diet. A lot of programs say they’re not diets, but any program that has you counting points or other numbers or otherwise limiting your food intake in order to lose weight is a weight loss diet.
  • If you have health problems such as gastrointestinal disturbances, muscle/joint pains, or even struggle with unexplained hunger and food cravings — all problems that can interfere with our ability to live a healthy lifestyle — our Food as Medicine program may help.  Take this questionnaire to find out if it’s right for you.

Doing all this adds up to changing our focus from weight to health.  It’s what the Health at Every Size approach is about.  It can do a body good.

What’s your focus — your weight or how you feel?  Can you separate the two?

8 Responses (Add Yours)

  • I love this post. Such a great reminder that eating well and exercise should always be about health and how we feel. If we focus on good health, the rest will naturally fall into place — leading to healthy contentment.

    Thanks for this!

  • Rachel says:

    If this is true about inflammation, I definitely want no part of it.
    .-= Rachel’s last blog post..Days of Grace: 140/365 =-.

  • Sagan says:

    I definitely can’t ALWAYS separate the two… but I’m well within my healthy range so at least it’s good to know that any time I gain a few pounds, it’s not hazardous to my health.

    I really like what you’ve said about “stop trying to lose weight”- that’s key! I think that if we focus on being happy and healthy, that’s when weight loss kicks in (if we need to lose weight). Our bodies tend to follow how our MINDS are… it’s the mental adjustment that’s the first step!
    .-= Sagan’s last blog post..The Living Healthy in the Real World Guide to Grocery Shopping, Part One: Preparation =-.

  • Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  • [...] to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, unhealthy body fat,” writes Marsha Hudnall, RD, in today’s post on A Weight [...]

  • Great (and IMPORTANT) post! And yes, I am learning to separate the two. I’ve gotten to the point that how I feel is much more important than how much I weigh.
    .-= KCLAnderson (Karen)’s last blog post..I Am Finally In My Right Brain =-.

  • Marsha says:

    “Healthy contentment” — now that’s a goal, Dara!

    I’m with you, Rachel. At least I don’t want any part of chronic inflammation. A little is essential to health but there’s way too much of it going around these days for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is because of a misplaced focus on weight instead of health.

    You are so right, Sagan. There’s no separating mind and body. And our minds have much more power than we give them credit for.

    That is so fabulous, Karen!

  • Sarah Dickerson says:

    Perfect timing – I was just contemplating yet another diet, even though I know it won’t work. Thank you for the reminder!

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