Most of us know that losing weight involuntarily can lead to malnutrition. But, have you ever tried to lose weight on purpose, knowing that the effects would not be healthy?
First, let’s define malnutrition:
Malnutrition is a lack of proper nutrition, caused by not having enough to eat, not eating enough of the right things, or being unable to use the food one does eat.
Malnutrition as it relates to intentional weight-loss is often a sign of disordered eating or lack of education. When you’re cutting back on calories in an attempt to lose weight, it’s not unheard of to miss out on key nutrients that help your body function on a day-to-day basis.
When Malnutrition becomes a Problem
Most of us have a “bad day” every once in a while where we don’t eat much or we don’t eat enough nutritious foods. A busy schedule or an empty wallet are common culprits of malnutrition. However, some people struggle with their weight-loss goals to the point that they purposely restrict foods to cut calories and watch the scale drop faster.
Malnutrition becomes a problem when the body continues to lack nutrients. It can’t function properly without elements it needs from food. These nutrients often include protein, vitamins, fiber, magnesium, calcium, zinc, fats, minerals, carbohydrates, etc.
When the problem persists, common symptoms may start to appear:
- Hair loss
- Significant weight-loss
- Water-electrolyte imbalance
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of muscle
Addressing the Problem Head-on
If you or a loved one is suffering from malnutrition as a result of attempts to lose-weight, you should recognize that malnutrition is very dangerous. It can weaken the immune system against infections, diseases and more. In some cases in can also lead to death.
Typically, when this issue occurs from intentional weight-loss, there is some element of poor mental health involved. It is helpful to discuss the affected person’s thoughts and behaviors with a mental health professional as well as a primary care physician.
If malnutrition persists, it will probably be helpful to run a diagnostic test that checks out the health of the body. A blood test or urine test may be warranted. Your physician or that of a loved one will educate about these test results and offer a plan for improved health and recovery.
For more information on malnutrition, as well as what health professionals and tools are available to help with recovery, CLICK HERE. For help with finding a health professional to address problems with weight and malnutrition, CLICK HERE.