Psychological consequences of food restriction

J Am Diet Assoc. 1996 Jun;96(6):589-92; quiz 593-4. doi: 10.1016/S0002-8223(96)00161-7.


A review of the literature and research on food restriction indicates that inhibiting food intake has consequences that may not have been anticipated by those attempting such restriction. Starvation and self-imposed dieting appear to result in eating binges once food is available and in psychological manifestations such as preoccupation with food and eating, increased emotional responsiveness and dysphoria, and distractibility. Caution is thus advisable in counseling clients to restrict their eating and diet to lose weight, as the negative sequelae may outweigh the benefits of restraining one's eating. Instead, healthful, balanced eating without specific food restrictions should be recommended as a long-term strategy to avoid the perils of restrictive dieting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / physiology
  • Diet, Reducing / psychology*
  • Diet, Reducing / standards
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Education, Continuing
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / etiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / physiopathology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Food Deprivation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Weight Loss / physiology