Can Past Nutritional Sins Affect Your Health?

If you've made nutrition mistakes in the past, your body may still forgive you if you change -- now!

By Jennifer Nelson
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

So you may not have made all the right nutrition choices in the past, but it's unlikely you caused any permanent harm, right?

WebMD wanted to be sure, so we took it to the experts to get the scoop on why some of the nutritional missteps you were guilty of in the past are taboo. And what, if any permanent effects, these prior dietary failings have in store for you. Can these past nutritional skeletons haunt your health today?

Yo-Yo Dieting

If your weight has fluctuated up and down the scale -- and your closet houses an array of pant sizes to accommodate your ever-changing waistline, you're not alone.

Yo-yo dieting is one of the most common nutrition mistakes you can get caught up in. Lose a few pounds here, gain them back there. What's the big deal, right? The National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity from the National Institutes of Health looked at whether yo-yoing, also known as weight cycling, had an adverse effect on body composition, energy expenditure, risk factors for cardiovascular disease, or interfered with future efforts at weight loss. Although conclusive data on the long-term health effects of weight cycling are lacking, the task force determined that maintaining a stable weight should be a priority. Anything beyond a 5-pound variation should tip you off.

However the WISE study (Women's Ischema Symptom Evaluation) funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute did find that yo-yo dieting actually lowers levels of good cholesterol (HDL).