Yes, you can. You really can. Laxative abuse occurs when a dieter takes lots of laxatives on a regular basis in an attempt to lose weight faster or to compensate for binge eating. But it doesn’t work and it can be extremely dangerous, hence the term “abuse.” Let’s bust two big myths about laxatives to show just how dangerous abusing them can be.
Taking laxatives can help me lose weight faster.
Truth: Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you take in. Laxatives do nothing to burn calories, speed up your metabolism, or eliminate food from your stomach faster. They only act on the waste products that are already in your large intestine.
Laxatives are over-the-counter meds. They’re not strong enough to do any damage.
Truth: At the very least, laxatives will dehydrate you. If you continue to abuse them, you’ll disturb your electrolyte levels, which can cause heart damage, possibly leading to a heart attack.
Laxative abuse can lead to long-term consequences. It can increase your risk of colon cancer, result in liver damage, and gift you with irritable bowel syndrome. It also causes laxative dependency, in which your colon stops working properly, leading to chronic constipation.
Scared yet? The real truth is that you don’t need to pop a pill to lose your unwanted pounds. If you’ve been trying to lose weight for a while and haven’t seen any results, re-evaluate your meal plan. Perhaps your diet could use a few more healthy food swaps. Perhaps your exercise routine is getting boring—take a dance class, go for a hike with a friend, or get a very large, very energetic dog who will force you to walk faster when you take him out. And get inspired by Tracey Gold’s and Danielle Fishel’s stories; they overcame laxative abuse and began eating healthier diets for weight loss instead.