How to Overcome (and Avoid) Yo-Yo Dieting

Yo-yo dieting is a big concern, and many people worldwide struggle daily. It is a diet plan where, with the help of increasing and decreasing weight, one can maintain the body. Temptation comes in all forms: at workplaces, school, and socially. It's not uncommon to be surrounded by friends or family members struggling with weight-related issues, especially if you're looking for inspiration rather than support. Most people who do a yo-yo diet eventually experience disordered eating symptoms such as anorexia and bulimia. Women are more likely to have these symptoms than men due to societal expectations that women should stay thin to get men's attention. They are also more susceptible to hormonal changes related to pregnancy and birth control pills.

You may also wonder whether you need to go on a diet. You don't need one if your current weight is within the normal range for your height. Focus your energy on making positive lifestyle changes (eating better, exercising more) rather than worrying about what you eat. But if you find yourself bingeing and purging or struggling with disordered eating, it's better to talk to a licensed health professional immediately.

Risk Factors of Yo-Yo Dieting

Although weight fluctuation is normal, you may be at risk for yo-yo dieting if your actions harm your health. This is especially true if you experience a rapid and unhealthy weight change. As per a report, in the United States, approximately 30 percent of those seeking treatment for eating disorders are men, and 10 percent are teenagers.

It's not easy, but try not to beat yourself up if you have a yo-yo diet — it's just that easy to slip into old habits. Your body is smart enough to do this independently without your help — and it often tries just as hard as you do to keep it in check.

But if you feel like you're being driven to take drastic measures, it's important to know some of the most common risk factors for yo-yo dieting. Remember that any one factor can trigger or aggravate disordered eating behaviors.

Why Some People Do a Yo-Yo Diet?

Everyone has to eat: Your body needs protein, carbohydrates, fat, and water. If you don't get enough of these items while you usually eat, your body will take those elements from elsewhere in your diet, irrespective of the food items you go for. For example, your body might rely on fat when carbohydrates run out.

Unhealthy Weight Stabilization Habits

You might have always been thin and active, but things changed in your teens or 20s. As a result, you began gaining weight fast, making you feel worse about yourself since childhood and setting the stage for yo-yo dieting. Identifying why this happened to you may be difficult, but learning more about this common pattern can help.

Here are some common reasons for weight gain:

  • You need to get enough sleep. You feel sluggish and tired, which makes you more likely to look for quick fixes such as food. If you work at night, you risk developing slow metabolism.

  • You eat unhealthy foods. The standard American diet (SAD) is filled with fried and processed foods and sugar (which comes in many forms). Food manufacturers know that these items taste good, but their high-fat content makes you want to eat again soon after your hunger is satisfied. In addition, these items have a high sugar content that leaves you craving more sugar.

  • You’ve developed a food addiction. People who binge on pizza and beer all the time might not be full-blown alcoholics, but they can develop a kind of addiction to food that keeps them away from losing weight. It's important to avoid triggers that make you want to eat more. If you're struggling with this issue, speak to your doctor or therapist about less harmful ways to cope with cravings. Because it is seductive and easy to get hooked on, food addiction is challenging to treat without professional help; once you’re in recovery, getting a support group together or thinking about developing healthy rituals can help.

  • You need to make more time for yourself. Although you might take it easy at work or school to conserve energy, it makes you tired and worn out on weekends. Not only does it get harder to find the motivation for productive activities, but your lack of sleep can make you see all those weekend activities as an excuse to eat. You must be aware of how much time and effort you spend catching up with friends, going out to eat, and watching TV when you're already too tired to do anything else.

If you’re concerned about your risk for yo-yo dieting, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about potential options for weight stabilization. If you’re satisfied with your current weight and body shape and have no medical need to lose weight, you might also try some other techniques −

  • Acknowledge what could be triggering the problem. Once you recognize the situation, it’s easier to find a healthy way to cope that doesn't involve unhealthy eating habits.

  • Find helpful coping strategies beforehand. Some apps and online plans can help you plan meals and snacks for the day, which can be especially helpful when you're on the go.

  • Identify when and how you eat junk food. Understand why this happens and find healthier ways to satisfy your cravings.

  • Make fitness a priority. Although it seems impossible, it's easier to maintain a healthy weight when you're active and fit rather than sedentary and overweight.


A good diet can help you live a healthy life without getting lost in yo-yo dieting and eating disorders. This can include healthy eating habits such as consuming foods rich in phytonutrients, eating breakfast daily, and limiting your consumption of processed foods and saturated fats. It would help if you were supplemented with vitamins to keep your body fed up with essential nutrients lost when you consume processed food, so you get the full benefit of the nutraceuticals in them.

Updated on: 08-Feb-2023


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