The blurry line: Dieting and restrictive eating


Food restrictiveness is when a person eliminates food from their diet with the goal of losing weight. This is different from when someone limits certain foods because of intolerance or allergy concerns.

Caroline Wilson

While people may think diets and restrictive eating are the best way to help with weight loss, diets can also negatively impact your body.  

According to Dr. Lora Reeves, registered and licensed dietitian, restrictive eating can lead to more cravings and wanting those foods even more because people know that they cannot have them. 

Restrictive eating can also lead to binges and overeating, which can hurt your progress toward better health and nutrition. While you may see quick results, they may not be successful in the long run. 

While some eat healthy during the week and have cheat days on the weekends, they tend to binge eat during the weekend, leading to an unhealthy lifestyle. 

“Typically, overly restrictive diets don’t work; you may see a response, but they are hard to comply with and limits nutrients that your body needs,” Reeves said. 

According to Reeves, all foods can fit into your daily meal plan because you need food from every food group; therefore, eating in moderation can lead to success and a healthy lifestyle. 

Eating in moderation does not entirely eliminate the foods you love but eating them less and being more selective on what you eat. 

As well as eating in moderation, exercising will also help you lose weight, which will help you gain energy and self-esteem. 

According to Reeves, when you are exercising and eating fewer calories a day, you reduce your calorie intake and increase your calorie burn-off, leading to a healthy weight loss.

While diets can be a great way to lose weight quickly, they can also take a toll on your body and metabolism. Specific diets can put your body in a state of starvation in which your body is trying to survive on what it is being given and storing more energy to use when needed. 

When people malnourish their bodies, it can lead to low energy levels and fatigue and can change a person’s daily functions. Under-eating can also lead to mood swings and irritation. 

“Negative effects can come over time, such as an anorexic person, in which they choose not to eat what their body needs, which can lead to mental side effects,” Reeves said.

Diets can also lead to unhealthy changes in a body’s daily functions and may see hormonal changes, an increase in mood swings and irritation.

“During the growth period for children or adolescents, severely restricting caloric intake will limit their growth,” Reeves said.  

Cycling through diets can also raise risks of mental and physical health; therefore, eating in moderation can level those out and can lead to a healthy lifestyle.

A great way to learn to eat in moderation is to eat your favorite food but just not as much, and watch how much is entering your body. People should be mindful of how much of a particular food group they are consuming.

What people eat is central to their health and wellness. Nourishing the body with the proper nutrients is essential to healthy and nutritious living.

According to Reeves, when people restrict certain foods or food groups, people limit the nutrients the body needs, such as calcium in dairy products. When people eliminate those groups of food, people also lose nutrients and vitamins the body needs to stay strong and healthy. 

“The body is a pretty interesting machine because it will adapt,” Reeves said. “If you do not give it enough calories, it will slow itself down to maintain what it needs to.”  

When you start to eat healthier and in moderation, you will see effects on your body. You may see a lower amount of bloating, and your mood will become more stable. You will feel better about yourself and have more energy during the day.

While everyone is different, and some may have more or fewer effects than others, the body does so many amazing things. Therefore, we should nourish it to make sure the body is functioning at its best capability.