I wanted to talk about this subject since “dieting” is such a hot topic in our society.
Sure, it’s important to watch what we eat to ensure we are getting good nutrients and to exercise to encourage a healthy lifestyle and to maintain a healthy body, but sometimes we can take this whole “healthy lifestyle” thing a bit too far.
Please note that I am not a doctor and can not diagnose anyone. I just want to open up dialogue on a topic that I think is often pushed aside.
Never in my life have I personally been underweight or overweight. Due to an active lifestyle, balanced diet, and good ol’ genetics, I’ve been able to maintain a healthy weight for my height. (I know the blog world is a curious bunch, so I’ll tell you my stats: I am 5’7 tall and and around 140lbs. I range anywhere from 138-143lbs on any given day. It’s completely normal for our bodies to do that if anyone is wondering!). I’ve been at this weight since I was 20 years old. And according to the BMI scale, I am approximately at 21.9, which is in the healthy ideal range for someone of my stats.
- Underweight = <18.5
- Normal weight = 18.5-24.9
- Overweight = 25-29.9
- Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
Calculate your BMI here. Where do you fall?
Now if I am going to be completely honest in this post, I will say that I have had thoughts of wanting to be thinner (and I still do from time to time). I look at others around me, whether on TV, people in my “real” life, or even other bloggers, and sometimes get an urge to want to “lose just a few pounds”, because then I’ll be perfectly happy and content. Right?
Wrong. These thoughts are nothing but self destructive. They are especially destructive for those of us who are already at a completely healthy weight for our bodies. You start getting into an unhealthy mindset and can fall trap to taking a healthy lifestyle too far.
Every day we are bombarded with images of the female body and what we’re “supposed” to look like. Before you start wishing you looked like any of these people, you should first know that there are harmful effects of being underweight.
The Downside of being too Thin
Adapted from this article
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a body mass index (BMI) that falls below 18.5 is considered underweight by medical standards. If you experience low body weight due to emotional, physical or unknown circumstances, seek guidance from your doctor.
Some of the main causes of weight loss that leads a person to being underweight include; stress and depression, malnutrition, abuse, eating disorders , and dental or oral problems.
Weakened Immune System
Being underweight can be a serious risk to the immune system by making it weak. If one is undereating, than they are most likely not getting all the nutrients that they need. Makes sense; I don’t see how you can possibly get all the recommended nutrients when eating to few calories. Many of these vital nutrients are key players in boosting our immunity and ability to fight off illness and disease.
We often think of osteoporosis as an “old person’s disease”. And while it is something that usually occurs as we age (especially women), it is also something that can arise in our early years if we do not take care of our bodies.
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones and makes them brittle. Having osteoporosis increases chances of one having fractures and broken bones. The body needs energy that is found in food to strengthen bones.
Women in menopause are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis, but serious weight loss especially because of deliberate food restriction or illness is also known to reduce the levels of muscle mass. For growing teenagers, the muscles may not develop well by being underweight.
Many pregnancy complications have also been related to a woman being underweight, resulting in miscarriages especially in the first three months of the pregnancy and in severe cases it may actually cause infertility or make it almost impossible to conceive.
Women who are restricting their intake may also experience menstrual cycle irregularities or they may lose their cycle altogether
Underweight conditions can also result in anemia, which is when the body is unable to transport enough oxygen through the red blood cells.
Some symptoms one may feel if they are anemic can be feelings of dizziness, heart palpitations, exhaustion, or one may even faint.
Anemia is causes by low iron intake. Again, this makes sense if someone is restricting their calories, they are more than likely not getting the recommended values of iron through their diet.
What YOU can do
If you are someone you know is underweight or you notice one has lost too much weight than it’s important to address it. It’s important for yourself or your loved ones to get to the underlying cause of the weight loss (stress, anxiety, an eating disorder, etc).
If you are not sure if your weight is an issue than ask yourself how you feel on a regular basis. Some physical signs can be depression, loss of muscle, and lack of energy. It’s important to also note how your menstrual cycles are. Remember, if you are on the pill, this can mask any underlying issues!
I really hope everyone can take something from this. I know it can be difficult to have images of so-called “perfection” thrown in our face, but it’s not reality. If you are at a healthy weight than stop trying to “lose just a few pounds”. Learn to accept yourself and your body. Remember, life is not just about food and exercise. It’s MUCH more than that.