Why Yo-Yo Dieting Can Be Healthy

by Tom Ewer

In a recent post I argued that there is no reliable evidence for the negative health implications of yo-yo dieting. Today I want to go one step further by arguing that yo-yo dieting can in fact be good for you – perhaps not in the strictest biological sense, but in terms of your general health and wellbeing.

I like to think of health from a holistic point of view.

If I can’t sleep, I have a health issue. If I I can’t breathe properly, I have a health issue. If my arm drops off, I have a health issue. These potential issues all relate to my overall health. Health is not just about whether I’m more likely to have a heart attack because I gained 5lbs.

My holistic approach to health is why I think yo-yo dieting can promote good health (i.e. good physiological and psychological condition). Because let’s face it: we all like to treat ourselves. We all like to eat the food we love. Even the most gluten-free of vegans out there might eat a chocolate bar if it were somehow revealed that there were no associated weight-gain or physiological health issues.

So when I think of my own tendency to yo-yo diet, I don’t just think about the physiological health implications (although as I have argued previously, yo-yo dieting hasn’t been linked to any proven negative physiological health implications) – I also think about how my eating habits affect my overall physiological and psychological state.

Yo-yo dieting allows me to eat whatever I want (within reason), most of the time. When I start to get a little more “malleable” than I would like, I know it’s time to cut back, but I know that it’s not forever. It’s how I operate and it works for me. Furthermore, I think a lot of people out there would benefit greatly from an adjusted approach to weight management that doesn’t involve seeing yo-yo dieting as the enemy.

I’m happier when I get to eat what I want. Furthermore, I’m perfectly happy to go on a relatively short-term restrictive diet in the knowledge that it’s the price I pay for being able to eat what I want most of the time. That means I’m happy all the time, adhering to a gastronomic way of life that has been in no way proven to be unhealthy. What could be wrong with that?

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