Can Dieting Become Compulsive?

The idea of being obsessed with dieting may seem far-fetched at first glance. However, when this idea is dissected it may prove to be a reality for some people. This can create a breeding ground for compulsive behaviour.

The word “obsession” is defined as “being an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind”.

Living in a world that is obsessed with thinness, it takes courage to be content with the number you are faced with on the scale.  When our weight doesn’t correspond with our desired weight or our clothes slightly no longer fit, we beat ourselves up. As a result, we often embark on a diet, which, when done appropriately yields amazing results. The problem begins when we start going overboard with trying to resemble runway models.

When on a diet one sees gradual improvement which in turn becomes a visible reward for their efforts. This reward comes in the form of that favourite jean you’ve been battling to put on finally fitting you with no hassles or praises from your personal trainer. The feelings one gets as a result of weight loss are fulfilling and become a source of achievement and motivation to do more.

How does something so fulfilling become a problem?

The problem begins when one doesn’t get satisfied with their weight loss achievement and begins to be preoccupied with losing more and more weight. This is dangerous because one begins to have conditions of worth, allowing the number of the scale to define who they are.

This is dangerous because people even begin to venture away from healthy diets and lean more to unhealthy diets. By unhealthy diets I am referring to relying on weight loss pills, skipping meals,purging, zero calorie diets and the list goes on.

Many of these diets result in quick weight loss and thus a person gets that “accomplishment high” by putting in minimal efforts. And because of the amazing results that come with these diets, one then becomes a compulsive dieter because they feel they can always achieve more and more. Thinness begins to be their condition of worth. They do not see themselves worthy unless the number on the scale is continuously dropping or receiving endless compliments about their weight loss.

At this point one may become so pre-occupied with diets and weight loss. This may prove to be detrimental to your personal relationships and overall happiness. This is because they have dedicated their entire lives to weight loss and dieting.

When embarking on a weight loss journey it is important to have a goal in mind. Whilst on this journey employ healthy weight loss strategies. When you reach your ideal goal and still want to continue to lose weight, use this as a point of reflection. If the outcome of your reflection is that your self-confidence and self-worth have become defined by the amount of weight you can lose per week. It is time to introspect and redefine your self-worth before you do any damage to the self, both physically and psychologically.

Post Author: Nokhetho Mhlanga

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