If you went on an extreme youth diet years ago, now that you're older you might be wondering if you actually damaged your body in some significant way. The adolescent and teenage years, in particular, can be very challenging. The opinion of peers can cause great stress and worry. It's common for young people to make dieting decisions without clearly understanding the consequences.
Research on Youth Diets
As is true at any age, in youth, diet is important. Calories and adequate nutrition are needed for optimal health and growth. Studies show that going on an extreme diet before puberty can hinder proper bodily development. Extreme diets can also impact your body's ability to metabolize food properly. It has also been found that women who engage in yo-yo dieting at a young age tend to suffer from greater challenges in weight gain and obesity in adulthood.
Your Youth Diet
To determine whether your youth diet has negatively impacted your health in adulthood, look back on your dieting approach. Did you resort to extreme calorie reduction for an extended period of time? Did you cut out all proteins, all fats or all carbohydrates for weeks or months on end? These nutrients are necessary for proper muscular development, metabolic processes and energy generation. Cutting them out completely can interfere with important physical development.
It is possible that if your youth diet consisted of long periods of caloric or nutrient deprivation, that you did indeed endure some of the health consequences of dieting in your younger years. Many of the consequences of extreme dieting, however, are temporary. An excessively low calorie diet or fast can lead to fatigue, headaches, nausea and an inability to think clearly.
Whether or not you did long-lasting damage to your health depends on the extent and severity of your dieting approach. The human body is resilient. Unless you are dealing with serious organ damage or irreversible physical conditions, you can put healthy eating habits in place at any age.
Youth Diets and Yo-Yo Dieting in Adulthood
If in adulthood you are dealing with constant yo-yo dieting, this may be a pattern to observe closely. Some of the eating habits established in youth tend to carry over into adulthood. It is common for young people to wish for instantaneous results. Taking weeks and months to achieve a weight loss goal is sometimes too difficult to endure for an impatient young person. The idea of eating next to nothing for a few weeks seems promising. If this pattern is repeated enough times, your metabolism will often react by slowing down, which leads to greater weight gain.
If you find yourself in this scenario as an adult, it's not too late to break the yo-yo dieting habit. Ideally, you want to establish eating habits that help your body not only to achieve your ideal weight but also to maintain it. This means eating well-balanced meals and an adequate number of calories for energy production, muscular development and cellular rejuvenation. Regular exercise will accelerate your weight loss efforts and make it easier for you to maintain your ideal body weight.