Consequences of Maintaining a Low Body Weight?

By October 8, 2012

I am 5’4, *** lbs, and I eat something here and there but not real meals. Still I don’t think I have an eating disorder even though I want to keep my weight definitely less than *** lbs… Is there any danger if you maintain this weight for a long period of time? (just curious).   – Jane

Dear Jane, 

Even if our methods are not extreme, maintaining a low body weight or underweight status for an extended period of time does have its consequences. Our bodies (especially our vital organs, brain, and immune system) require proper nutrition and hydration. Without this, we risk a number of health problems, including fatigue, headaches, dizziness, lack of concentration, mood swings, depression, heart palpitations, skin pallor, diarrhea… even early onset osteoporosis and chronic bad breath.

And the dangers associated with lack of proper nourishment are not just physical – our emotional, mental, even spiritual health suffers too. We can become so fixated on maintaining a certain weight that we give up other areas of our lives, such as friendships, time with family, and growing our own self-awareness.

It’s important to know that self starvation (restricting, controlling, determining what is a “good food”/“bad food”), food rituals, compulsive exercise, fear of fat, preoccupation with appearance, or spending an inordinate amount of time thinking and feeling about food are all signs of disordered eating and unhealthy body image.

I encourage you to consider talking with a therapist or friend and evaluate how much of your energy is spent focused on maintaining a certain weight. There is a way to pursue overall health and nutrition and to live fully and content.