There is now additional credence to the idea that dieting changes not only the body, but also the mind, according to recent evidence presented in the New York Times on Sep. 21. Dieting is undoubtedly expensive given the number of 'lose weight fast' scams that abound and its limitations cause craving, but the mental burden of dieting might be the most cumbersome of consequences.
Voluntary calorie restriction involves processes of constant thought or rumination, decision making, and consequent guilt revolving cyclically until the diet ends. When you are concerned and debating about whether to eat a cookie, determining whether the costs outweigh the benefits, life is passing you by and what is happening around you becomes secondary to the food before you.
Unfortunately, this circumstance is not constrained to when a dieter is faced with a food decision. It has been shown that dieter's experience "spontaneous cravings" as a consequence of deprivation, threatening distraction and minimizing mental space at any given moment.
The consequence of having this mental space allocated to food and eating not only prevents focusing on other events, but it also diminishes cognitive functioning. Logical and spatial reasoning, self-control, problem-solving, and the ability to absorb and retain new material are all affected.
One study in 2005 showed what happened when a group of non-dieters and dieters consumed a chocolate bar. Non-dieters ate the chocolate bar and continued on with daily life. Dieters, however, continued to ruminate about eating the chocolate bar long after they consumed it.
An extrapolation of these studies relates to poverty. Similar to the idea of trying to focus while your mind is consumed with dieting, poverty poses an immediate and sustained mental burden on the poor, in terms of both food and income deprivation.
The basic gist of this information can be understood as cognitive functioning is impeded when there is an immediate need or focus that bypasses in important other areas of thought. It is important to ask ourselves what would you do with the amount of mental time and space you allocate to dieting and food? Think of what could be achieved if immediate concerns such as dieting or more seriously poverty, were eliminated.