Are You a Victim of Diet culture?
Are you apprehensive about weighing yourself on the scale? People have developed a strong sense of self-consciousness as a result of the bizarre standards set by influencers. People are being misled by their desire for a thin physique. They typically believe that attractiveness simply results from having a thin body and a chiselled face. This has resulted in the rise of toxic diet cultures.
Diet culture is the term for the widespread idea that appearance comes before physical and mental wellbeing. People’s physical and mental health has been ruined by this idea. It is one of the causes of people’s low self-esteem and constant concern over their appearance. Everyone is trying their best to fit into society’s foggy concept of beauty, with a plethora of diet trends gaining a foothold onto social media. Starvation, skipping particular foods, selective eating, avoiding nutritious food, etc. are some harmful effects of diet culture that contribute to a variety of eating disorders and mental health concerns.
Diet culture has a number of negative effects, including:
Bloating is a condition where the stomach feels uncomfortably full and constricted because of air or gas. In addition to abdominal pain, this is also accompanied by excessive burping or flatulence. Different diets and food limitations might cause an increase in gas production that results in bloating. Due to stringent diet restrictions, one may frequently keep their stomach empty, which causes gas buildup in the stomach, resulting in bloating. Some diets include foods that make one feel bloated and gassy, like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, prunes, and apricots.
Dietary elimination of foods high in soluble fibre, good fats, and natural sugars leads to constipation. Soluble fibres aid in the retention of water, which promotes smooth bowel motions. The difficulty in passing stool may occur when these are substituted with low-carb alternatives, which are typically insoluble fibres (seeds and roughage). Fatty foods promote bowel mobility; when foods high in healthy fat (egg yolk, dairy products) are excluded, waste movement becomes difficult, resulting in reabsorption and hardening of the stool, causing constipation. Natural sugars have a slight laxative effect on the intestines, attracting more water, which aids in the easy passage of wastes. If these sugars are eliminated from the diet, the person may experience constipation.
Consuming low-fiber meals, less water, consuming milk products, less physical activity or stress cause constipation
Many diets incorporate fibre-rich foods. Fibre is believed to be beneficial to digestive health, but in excess, it can be harmful. Consuming too much fibre can result in flatulence and diarrhoea. As a result, it is recommended to include limited amounts of fibre in the diet. When experiencing diarrhoea, it is recommended to avoid fibre-rich foods such as pears, apples, prunes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, oatmeal, brown rice, etc. for a few days until the condition improves. In a few cases, a person may be sensitive to particular foods, including milk and milk products (lactose intolerance) and foods that contain gluten (celiac disease), which can result in diarrhoea if consumed as a part of a diet. When consumed as part of a diet, some foods high in natural sugars can cause diarrhoea because they act as laxatives on the digestive system.
Alterations in Gut Microbiota
The gut contains a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. The ratio of beneficial to harmful bacteria may alter as a result of different diets, which can cause bloating, changes in bowel habits, and irritable bowel syndrome. The rapid introduction of more prebiotic foods may alter the gut microbes and lead to gastrointestinal sensitivity. As a result, it is critical to incorporate such items into the diet in tiny amounts to enhance tolerance and minimise negative effects.
Dieting necessitates the elimination of certain nutrient-rich foods, resulting in deficiencies. A dairy-free diet may lead to calcium loss and vitamin D deficiency. Thiamine, riboflavin, iron, calcium, folate, vitamin D, and magnesium might be absent from a gluten-free diet. Meat abstinence can result in iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and docosahexaenoic acid(DHA) deficiency. Beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, and zinc deficiencies might occur from following a ketogenic diet.
Diet culture can cause a person to avoid herself if she does not conform to society’s body standards. It may create a sense of shamefulness about one’s eating habits and result in disordered eating (irregular eating habits). Frequent dieting, anxiety, skipping meals, calorie counting before eating, guilt or shame for eating, and adhering to strenuous exercise regimens are all symptoms of disordered eating. Eating disorders can cause serious health problems such as heart, brain, and bone damage, as well as digestive issues.
Trying to live up to societal norms in order to be recognised as beautiful will not only make one feel less confident, but it will also harm one’s physical and mental well-being. Dieting is one such common social trend with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on how well one comprehends the benefits and drawbacks of certain diets. Every person has a unique body type that necessitates specific foods and is intolerant to others. Dieting not only has the potential to disturb the body’s natural equilibrium but can also trigger certain diseases, which would worsen the problem. In order to make the necessary dietary modifications, one should see a certified dietician rather than choosing a diet plan on their own.
About Author –
Dr. Sarada Pasangulapati,
Consultant Medical Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist , Yashoda Hospitals - Hyderabad
MRCP(UK), MRCP (GASTRO), CCT (UK), FRCP (GLASGOW) Fellowship in hepatology and Liver Transplantation (Cambridge)