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If you can’t stop thinking of chocolate, that’s a clue you need to change your eating plan.
Popular fad diets like the Cookie Diet —which sounds delicious but is actually a very restrictive low-calorie eating plan — can help with short-term weight-loss. The problem is they’re hard to maintain. Diets that reign on deprivation can contribute to psychological stress as well as disrupt normal body functions.
Sadly, these restrictive plans rarely breed long-term success, and instead, they are like magnets, attracting overweight consumers to buy products and buy into programs that provide little more than false promises. Although side effects from stringent diet aren’t usually serious, they may cause uncomfortable symptoms or health problems.
If you have any of these physical and emotional clues, you should reconsider your eating plan:
Irritability and ‘hangriness’
Taking in too few calories can cause plummeting blood sugar levels and roller-coaster mood swings. Eating plans that are lower than 1,200 calories a day for women and 1,500 daily calories for men may also be nutritionally inadequate, leaving you tired, hungry and less patient than you might normally be.
Lightheadedness and headache
Unbalanced meal plans could possibly lead to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar producing symptoms of dizziness, shakiness, and panic-attack-like sensations, such as palpitations.
Many people don't realize that when they feel irritable, tired, and weak that it could be a result of dehydration, not just hunger.
Cleanses and juicing diets may provide plenty of liquids, but common ingredients in many juice or detox cleanses include aloe and an excessive amount of raw fruits and vegetables. These can lead to diarrhea, bloat, and stomach cramping. You may wind up losing more fluid than you’re taking in, leading to dehydration.
The severity of the symptoms may depend upon your sensitivity to the diet that you're trying, but if you're feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
Detox diets, like a Master Cleanse, that promise radiant skin, an increase in energy and a healthy colon may also bring gas, bloat, cramps, diarrhea. Cleanses claim they naturally eliminate the contents within your intestines, however, the excessive bowel movements they may create is not normal.
Your liver is the organ that purifies and cleanses any toxic or unneeded substances that pass through the body, making detox diets unnecessary.
No-carb or no-fat diets that suggest avoiding complete food groups require a whole brain and body commitment. Restrictive diets fail because you’ll miss eating your favorite foods or because you simply feel hungry all the time.
If you’re a carb-lover and you try to cut calories by cutting out all carbohydrates, it won’t be long before you feel like you’re hearing the theme song from the movie "Jaws", even when you think of crackers.
Although your goal may have been to lose weight, severe restrictions and undereating may cause you to overeat later. A 2014 study in JAMA found that severe calorie restriction increases hunger and causes the metabolism plummet at the same time. The more hungry we are, the more likely we are to slip and eat something really high in calories, right when your fat-burning engine is slowing.
And a recent in mice study showed that skipping meals could lead to an increase in belly fat storage and might even lead to insulin resistance, increasing risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
A Better Strategy
A diet is something you live with every day; it's not something you should you go on and off randomly. The word, "diet" means way of life; it's not just the numbers on the scale that count.
If weight loss is the goal, realistically shoot for losing a pound or two per week.
Expect plateaus to occur, especially during a menstrual cycle, or after a salty meal — both of which might lead to fluid retention and bloat.
If you feel like you'd like to lose weight more quickly, fight portion distortion by filling half your plate with veggies and fruit and divide the remaining half evenly with protein (lean meat, fish, poultry, egg, beans) and whole-grain carbs (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, potato).
For more from Bonnie Taub-Dix, go to Better Than Dieting at http://www.bonnietaubdix.com/