The Hidden Costs of Diets

Welcome back to the Balanced Dietitian Podcast; The place where we talk about all things, food, body, mind, and the anti-diet. I hope that today is a good day for you and if it’s not a good day , I hope that you’re able to take care of yourself today. I hope that you’re able to show up as you are, and support yourself in whatever you need, because some days are not meant to be good days. I feel like that’s one of the life lessons that I’ve learned this month; Not every day is gonna be a good day, and that’s okay. So no matter how you’re feeling today, I hope that you get to meet yourself where you’re at. What a gentle way to live, right? 

Let’s get to today’s podcast.

When I started to diet, I did not know the consequences of dieting. I did not know what would happen to my body, and to my mind. I didn’t know because I was not informed properly. I was told that dieting was gonna make all my dreams come true and that I was gonna feel so good, and that’s not actually what happened.

Do you know what actually happens to our bodies when you diet? Why does our body not like dieting? What can actually happen when you diet?

I believe in body autonomy. We can all do what we’re meant to do and what feels best for us, but I also believe in informed decisions.

So today, I encourage you to get informed on the hidden costs of diets so that you can make the best decision for you.


  • [03:17] The PROBLEM and the SOLUTION that diet culture has created
  • [06:03] Diets were designed as a short term solution
  • [9:01] How diets effect our Hormones
  • [10:24] Other bodily changes brought on by diets 
  • [13:55] Weight is the least important part of us BUT it is a part of diet culture you need to know about

[03:17] The PROBLEM, and the SOLUTION, that diet culture has created

I feel like diet culture has done a beautiful job, BEAUTIFUL JOB, at creating a problem, which is your body, right? We’re inundated with messages like, ”your body’s not good enough” ” your body’s not okay” “your body is inadequate” and that can make you feel so uncomfortable in your home, right? In your body.

Not only did diet culture make us believe in the problem, but they went on to sell you the solution, which is dieting. They tell us that this is what we need to feel better. They tell us we’ll be healthier and more confident. 

And the worst part? We believe it! We believe it even though they don’t tell us about the downsides and the hidden costs of dieting.

So, what are some things that, if you could talk to little tween or teenage you, you would want to say to yourself before starting a diet? 

[06:03] Diets were designed as a short term solution​

First things first, diets were not meant to be sustained over time. Diets were designed to be a short-term approach, because it literally plays against our biology and our genetics. Think back at like all of human history, all of our ancestors, when they were deprived it was a sign of famine. It was a sign that there was a really big issue. We still have that same bodily response today. When I deprive myself, when you deprive yourself, when we restrict chronically over time, when we are under-eating, our body perceives it as a threat. Our body can’t rationalize, “oh, it’s because summer’s coming and she’s trying to lose a few pounds for summer!” No, that’s not how it works.

They were never meant to be something that was gonna support you long-term. You either start a diet and you have to continue dieting forever, or we diet and then eventually we realize that it doesn’t work and say “f this!” 

Because diets are not a short term solution, they can often become life-long solutions, making the loss of experiencing life one of the biggest hidden costs associated with dieting.

We’re here on planet earth and we’re living life, and I believe that the quality of our experiences is what really matters at the end of the day. If you’re not gonna experience life, what’s the point? Experience doesn’t mean going on vacation; it means how you show up every day. It’s how I talk to myself, the joy or laughter that I can feel, connecting with other people. Diet culture taints that. 

[9:01] How diets affect our Hormones

Another big hidden cost from diet culture is the impact it has on our body. Our hunger and satiety hormones are very much influenced by diets. Most dieters will have an increase in their hunger hormones up to a year after dieting. So once you’ve dieted, your body will send you more hunger signals to make up for the diet. That’s not a failure; That’s your body trying to help you. This is literally your body wanting to save you.

Diet’s also lower your satiety hormones, so not being able to feel as satisfied or having our hunger cues completely go offline. This can cause a big disconnect from our body. 

On top of that, we also have an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone. Dieting is stressful on the body and we know that stress has many implications on our health long term.

[10:24] Other bodily changes brought on by diets

Another hidden cost that we never hear about when it comes to diets is the effect it will have on our biochemistry. There are studies that have shown that folks who are dieters, versus non-dieters, will have an increase of dopamine release and the reward system when they eat palatable foods.

This literally means that when I am a dieter my body will release more neurotransmitters when it comes to food. Food feels like it tastes better than normal because my body wants me to eat more – it’s telling me that it wants more of this food. 

When I’m a non-dieter, food won’t create that same increase in those neurotransmitters. My rewards systems are not highly activated, so I can eat something and enjoy it, and that’s it. So I can eat it. I like it, but I get to move on afterwards. This also leads most dieters to become emotional eaters, because the reward system is so impacted by diets. 

Diets affect our psychological health as well. When we diet, we can start to become very obsessive with food, with our body, have higher cravings, and have lower concentration and focus. Non-dieters, on the other hand, tend to have more positive body image. Folks who are intuitive eaters tend to report having higher body satisfaction overall. To me, that makes a lot of sense.

Lastly, and one that we hear about a lot, dieting can actually lower metabolism. When we’re not meeting our body’s needs our body tries to adapt to match what we’re giving it, which means that over time our metabolism goes down. When our metabolism goes down, restriction no longer leads to weight loss, which means we need to restrict more to continue to lose weight, which in turn affects our metabolism more. 

This constant cycle has us searching for quick solutions and other programs, which can wind up costing us A LOT of money. There are actual studies that show that in the United States, over their lifetime, women spent approximately $400,000 USD on the diet industry. That’s $650,000 Canadian! That’s a house ( a really nice house actually). 

[13:55] Weight is the least important part of us BUT it is a part of diet culture you need to know about

You guys know that I am weight inclusive. I believe that weight is the least important part of us. I believe that weight gain is fine. I believe, that if you start dieting, because diets tell you that you’re going to lose weight, you need to be informed about what can actually happen.

Long term studies, over 10-20 years, have shown us that if you compare intuitive eaters and dieters, intuitive eaters tend to have a very stable weight. Our bodies loves stability! Dieters on the other hand, continue to gain weight year, after year, over a 10 to 20 year period. 

It’s really important to know that diets typically lead to higher weight gain over time. This has a lot to do with a combination of the other things we talked about earlier, metabolism, hormones, cortisol, reward system, emotional eating…Everything leads back to weight gain because of the trauma on the body. Your body wants to protect you, and in this case weight gain is it’s way of protecting you. 

I think it’s really important to note that weight gain is not a bad thing, but when you start dieting to lose weight, you need to know that diets don’t tend to produce long-term weight loss. They tend to actually lead to more weight gain over time. And that’s just how it is.

Knowing all of this now, you get to make a decision. Right? We get to choose, which is a really cool thing. We get to choose what we want to do moving forward. How do we wanna show up? Do we wanna continue to diet knowing all this information? Do we want to heal the relationship between and our bodies, so that we don’t have to deal with dieting? For me and for many of my clients, choosing to heal our relationship with food and body changed everything.

So if you’re sitting here thinking to yourself, “f diet culture”, yes, I’m here with you. Yes, the anger is real, and if you are ready to do this work and motivated to heal your relationship with food and your body for good, 2023 is the summer. This is the time.

I’m gonna invite you to join the Balance Program.

Not only are we celebrating the third anniversary of the Balance Program this month, but we are also opening the Doors to the Balance Program NOW!

I wanna be along with you for the ride. I’m so excited for you and if you are ready to do this work, I’m so ready for you. I’m ready to do this with you because you deserve it.



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