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In this article:
Ironically, trying to eat healthier can result in an unbalanced diet.
Learn some signs that your diet may not be optimal for your health and well-being.
A Providence nutritionist explains how popular culture and fad diets can encourage disordered eating.
When you’re trying to lead a healthy lifestyle that includes a well-balanced diet and regular exercise, it’s easy to blur the lines between being committed and becoming compulsive. When food becomes the only thing you can think about and what you can’t eat greatly outnumbers what you can, it may be time to re-evaluate your eating plan.
Here are four red flags of an imbalanced diet that may actually be doing you more harm than good.
1. It’s unrealistic and unsustainable
It’s easy to get over-enthusiastic and set lofty goals that call for a complete overhaul of your eating habits. Good intentions and determination can get you started, but adopting an all-or-nothing approach to eating is nearly impossible to sustain. Don’t set yourself up for failure with an eating plan that you can’t possibly continue long term. Although choosing kale over cookies most of the time is the more nutritionally sound choice, it doesn’t hurt to indulge every now and then. Depriving yourself of occasional splurges could actually lead to binging later.
2. It eliminates entire food groups
If the list of foods on your “ok to eat” list is getting smaller with every meal, you may be heading into dangerous territory. Obviously, if you have food allergies or a condition like celiac disease that requires you to eliminate certain foods, you shouldn’t include them in your diet. But a rigid diet that limits your choices with no scientific evidence to back up its claims can rob you of the nutrition your body needs. For example, eliminating dairy can reduce your calcium intake and affect your bones. Going vegan without replacing the iron you once got from eating meat with a plant-based source can lead to an iron deficiency, which causes fatigue and reduced brain function. Drastically cutting carbs can rob your body of a key fuel source and cause weakness and a host of other health issues.
3. It consumes all your mental energy
Are you so preoccupied with your diet that it’s all you can think about? Do you spend countless hours planning your meals—or maybe even avoiding them—and then spend even more time exercising excessively to burn the calories you consumed? Does your need to control your diet take top priority over everything else including friends, family, work, and social activities? When eating becomes an unhealthy, all-encompassing obsession, it’s a clear sign you’re on shaky ground.
4. It limits your social interactions
Do you regularly skip Sunday dinner with your family to keep from being tempted by the menu? Have your friends stopped inviting you to the weekly girls’ night out because you never join them anymore or your diet is so restrictive that you can’t go to most restaurants? Some of that is understandable if you’re trying to change old habits and adopt a more balanced way of eating, but your eating plan shouldn’t isolate you and keep you apart from the important people in your life.
Be aware. If you or someone you care about is showing warning signs of eating-related health issues, don’t wait—early intervention is often the key to a successful outcome.
Find a doctor
If you or someone you know may be taking a diet too far, the team of experts at Providence can help you recognize when eating habits are becoming a threat to physical and emotional well-being. Our registered and licensed dietitians can help you whether your goal is to treat a health condition, lower your risk of disease, manage your weight or eat wisely while maintaining a busy lifestyle. Use our provider directory to find the right Providence provider for you. Through Providence Express Care Virtual, you can also access a full range of healthcare services.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.
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