6 Signs Your “Lifestyle Plan” Is a Risky Diet in Disguise

The number of people who say they are dieting is at an all-time low, according to research released in 2013. To anyone who realizes how risky dieting is, fueling everything from nutrient deficiencies to obesity, this could seem like spectacular news. But here’s the thing:

Many people are now dieting without realizing it.

The weight loss industry is extremely smart from a financial standpoint. (They must be, to profit over $60 billion per year.) As dieting’s risks and almost zero percent success rate became widespread knowledge, many diet makers have responded by changing their packaging. “It’s not a diet,” many claim. “It’s a lifestyle plan!”

While this may be true in some cases, I’ve come across loads of “lifestyle plans” that are merely risky diets in disguise. If you’ve developed one or more of the below problems since adopting a dietary plan, it’s time to make some changes.

An unhealthy diet can take many different forms.

6 Signs Your “Lifestyle Plan” is a Risky Diet in Disguise

1. You have wretched breath. Halitosis is a common side effect of ultra-low carbohydrate, aka ketogenic, diets. Without enough carbs, the body releases chemicals that stink up your breath—and that’s only one of many known risks. When I was working as a consulting nutritionist, I could almost always tell if someone was “low-carbing” with one whiff.

2. You’re lethargic and grumpy. There’s a reason psychologists coined the term “Atkins Blues.” Carbohydrates are your body’s main fuel source—and the cells in your brain need twice as much as the rest of your body’s cells to function normally, stay energized and produce the feel-good chemical serotonin. (Ideally, most of your carbs will derive from nutritious sources.)

3. You’re anxious and stressed. Stress and anxiety are two of the most common downsides of dieting, and derive from physical and emotional factors. Without enough carbs, your body can’t efficiently produce calming brain chemicals. The highly restrictive nature of many diets also brings a sense of deprivation, which is stressful. You can’t dine out with ease or end up fighting perpetual hunger—which is another red flag.

4. Sleep is a problem. The same chemicals that promote positive moods make way for restful sleep. Consuming too few carbs or calories can make it really difficult to snooze restfully. Stress and anxiety from dieting (aka “lifestyle planning”) can also fuel insomnia. You could also end up exhausted over all, feeling as though all you want to do is stay in bed.

5. You’re prone to diarrhea, constipation or kidney stones. High-protein diets commonly contribute hugely to constipation and kidney stones, especially if you skimp of fiber-rich carb sources, such as legumes. If you can’t stick to a diet plan without taking laxatives (including herbal forms, such as senna or “detox tea”), it’s not a sound plan. Juice fasts that promise detoxification often also cause digestive upset, along with a slew of other complications.

6. Your sex life is suffering. Risky diet plans lack balance. They’re often way too high in protein or far too low in calories, carbs and sometimes fat. All of this can tinker with blood flow, which is crucial for arousal and sexual function, and brain chemicals linked with turn-on and orgasm. Low moods and bad breath from dieting can also make the naked tango less appealing.

So what’s the answer? Listen to your body. Respect it, rather than starve it. Aim for a diet based on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Eat when you’re slightly hungry, stop when you’re comfortably full. Avoid diets that make grandiose promises, while, of course, avoiding any foods you’d don’t tolerate. Incorporate enjoyable activity into your lifestyle, cultivate a healthy sleep routine and pursue your passions. (Stress and unhappiness play a huge role in physical health.) Allow some wiggle room for foods you eat purely for enjoyment, keeping in mind that no one eats perfectly. The good news is, you don’t need to.

*If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms and they don’t seem diet or lifestyle related, or if they’re severe or long-lasting, seek guidance from your doctor. 

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Can you relate to this post? What have dietary plans taught you? What steps do you take to gain wellness without losing your self? I love hearing from you! ♥

Leave a comment


  1. Reblogged this on Alice White Author and commented:
    Another wonderful and informative blog post from my friend and fellow author, August McLaughlin.

  2. Or be born with a body like yours! I know you battled anorexia at one time, but I can’t imagine thinking you needed to do anything about your body. I had to lose 40 pounds for my health, but I didn’t do it with starvation quick weight loss programs. I did it primarily by shifting my eating to earlier in the day and eating very lightly in the evenings. And pretty much eliminating snacks except for my 35 calorie Blue Bunny Sweet Freedom Fudge Lite bars after lunch and supper.

    I haven’t commented on your posts in awhile, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about you. Keep plugging away on the issues you pursue.

  3. Reblogged this on Writer's Treasure Chest and commented:
    This is an excellent and informative blog post written by fellow author, founder of “Girl Boner”, award-winning health and sexuality writer and radio personality August McLaughlin. She’s amazing personality and knows what she talks about. To me this is personally important, that’s why I decided to share it. Thank you August.

  4. Well August, I have been vacant from your site for a while. Many apologies. I am glad that Aurora Jean posted this one. Very informative! I am so glad to see you moving along with knowledge and how you impart it to us!

  5. Wonderful advice! I worked in health food stores for years and watched people go through all kinds of diets and lifestyle changes and I agree, listen to your body, notice how you feel after you eat certain foods. I eat grains very infrequently because they make me sleepy and I retain water if I eat them a lot- but I’m not ‘low carb’ cause fruits! I choose to eat a mostly plant based diet with the eggs and shrimp as my animal protein sources because I feel good when I eat those foods. It has taken years to find out what works for me and not feel bad about not fitting under a label.

  6. I have learned most of these things over my years. Now, I need to revamp a bit as I have, apparently, slowly begun eating more carbs and now have high sugar levels. Some of it is also stress to having my father in a nursing home.
    Thanks for the home-run post.

  1. 6 Signs Your “Lifestyle Plan” Is a Risky Diet in Disguise | Dana Ellington Myles, MAPW

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