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Why Dieting can become Addictive

We live in a culture obsessed with physical beauty and youth. Surrounded by marketing and advice designed to keep us chasing the dream of physical perfection, it can be easy to get suckered into buying that new face cream or trying the latest diet. In fact, occasionally readjusting your eating habits is a good idea. But for some people, dieting can become an addictive way of life. What causes some people to become obsessed with dieting?

*Unrealistic vanity

We all have our weak moments, but most of us realize that the celebrity standards of beauty are unrealistic. In order to be as thin as the pictures in magazines, you would have to follow a very low calorie diet provided by a nutritionist, work out with a personal trainer for hours a day, and have all your photos retouched.

Unfortunately, some people don’t get that message and feel intense pressure to measure up. So they go on a diet and lose a few pounds. Now they have proven they can lose weight, so if they go on another diet maybe they will get closer to their goal. They jump from one crazy plan to another, never quite figuring out that they are chasing an unattainable goal. Their inability to accept a more realistic view of beauty and health keeps them dependent on the next fad diet that will finally make them “thin”.

*Misdirected blame

Some folks have decided that everything that is missing in their lives is because of their weight. They would meet Mr. Right, they would ace the job interview, they would be a better mother, if only they could lose those last few pounds. But when they lose weight, their life doesn’t magically improve. It’s too hard to stop and take a close look at why they aren’t happy, so they just figure they didn’t lose enough weight. They have to keep dieting, because the alternative involves facing issues in their life they don’t want to face.


There are so many aspects of life that you have no control over. For some people, this lack of control can feel overwhelming. So when they start a new workout and see their body change, they grasp onto this one aspect of their lives that they can have power over. Whenever life throws them a curve ball, they can shave more calories off their daily allowance and see their body obey.

We can all take pride and comfort in the fact that we have the power to give ourselves a healthy, strong body. For someone addicted to dieting, they need to exert that power to an extreme to make up for their helplessness in another part of their lives.

*Comfort food

One reason that these issues can cause dieting to become addictive is that many of us turn to food for comfort. If you suffer from unrealistic vanity or a need for control, when your diet doesn’t fix the problem you may very well eat to console yourself. This can cause the pounds to creep back on, and start a vicious cycle. Whenever a person’s feeling of self worth is too closely tied to their physical appearance, a roller coaster ride of weight loss and gain can be the result.

If you feel like your dieting is out of control, talk to your doctor to determine what is and isn’t healthy, and look to your loved ones for support. We all should strive to have strong, lean bodies and a healthy relationship with food. But we also must remember that our physical self is only a part of who we are. The entertainment industry is not a good benchmark for how you should look. Instead focus on being physically and emotionally healthy and proud of what your body is capable of doing for you every day.