What exactly is the big deal with dieting? People are just trying to be healthier right? Obesity is such a problem in this country. Most people need to lose some weight to be healthy. By dieting they’re just learning to eat healthier foods right?
I overheard a coworker the other day talking about her diet. The girl she was talking to commented “I don’t know why you’re always on a diet. You look fine.” She immediately responded with “oh, you know, I’m just trying to be healthy.” What the fuck? You do not have to be on a diet to be healthy! Those two words are not synonymous.
What the Dieting Industry Doesn’t Tell You
- It’s not really all about helping you
- The diet industry is a $50 billion per year industry. We spend $50 billion per year on diet products. That’s some money. They’re probably pretty interested in keeping that money even if it means that a few people in this world aren’t really happy with themselves. Just saying.
- Can we talk about some of the self-hate that they put into their advertisements? “Want to look good?” “Want to be a better you?” “Anyone can do it!” These advertisements are based largely on shaming people into feeling bad about their bodies.
- The body time that is shown as the “ideal” in lots of advertisements is a body type that only 5% of Americans naturally have. They don’t want “normal” people to represent them. And as a result, we’re learning that we aren’t good enough.
- That tiny print at the bottom of the advertisement? It says that results aren’t typical. If they really want to make people feel better about themselves, maybe they should show us more realistic images of what bodies look like if we go on their diet.
- Dieting DOESN’T work
- 95% of people on a diet regain all of the weight that they lost within 1-5 years
- When you diet, your body becomes accustomed to the lower amount of food that you are feeding it. Dieting forces your body into starvation mode and your body reacts by slowing down its metabolism. After you’re done with the diet and you go back to eating how you were eating before, your body goes into “ERMEHGERD FOOD” mode because it thought you were never going to feed it again and starts clinging on to all of the food you give it. So unless you plan on staying on that diet forever (which would be a really sucky life looking at some of these crazy diets out there) don’t plan on keeping the weight off for very long.
- People on diets are 12 times as likely to binge eat as those not on diets. When your body goes into starvation mode it thinks that it is never going to be fed again and starts to crave food, leading to binge eating. If you’re lucky this won’t have super impacts on you mentally. But for some people that’s just going to lead to negative thoughts about themselves. They’ll wonder why they can’t stay on their diet, they’ll wonder why they’re such a failure, and they’ll feel hopeless. And there’s no reason for them to hate themselves just because they can’t control biology.
- Dieting is physically dangerous (that’s not healthy)
- Dieting is mentally dangerous
- People on diets have slower reactions time, have a harder time concentrating, loss of coordination and have worse memories
- Chronic dieting has been linked to depression, stress, and lowered self esteem
- 35% of normal dieters will continue on to be pathological dieters. Of those people, about 25% will develop eating disorders. Bet that’s not what they signed up for.
“But I’m not on a fad diet like a juice fast or a master cleanse. I’m on a HEALTHY diet like Weight Watchers or Atkins or Paleo or whatever the fuck they’re doing these days.”
- Is it something that you want to keep doing for the rest of your life? Can you imagine yourself being on this diet forever and being completely content?
- Does it label foods as “good” and “bad” or make entire categories of food “off limits” or “forbidden?” We should not be afraid of any type of food. There is no reason to be afraid of cake or carbohydrates or dairy or whatever. ALL food has a place in a healthy diet. You can’t eat only Doritos, candy, and doughnuts all the time, but you also can’t eat only grilled chicken, vegetables, and brown rice all the time. If you’re actually eating a healthy, balanced diet, you won’t feel deprived of anything. The key is moderation, nothing to extremes.
- Are you eating REAL, nutritious food, or are you eating their food?
- Are you responding you your hunger cues or are you following their meal plan? Are you listening to your body, eating when you’re hungry, and stopping when you’re full? Or are you following their menu/points/meal plan/food choices/etc.
- If for some crazy reason this diet was suddenly taken away from you would you still know how to choose foods and feed yourself?
“But my doctor supports it”
Get my point? I’m not saying don’t ever trust your doctor again. I’m just saying that maybe they’re not so immune to some of the crazy advertising out there. Maybe they’ve also been a little tricked by this whole dieting lie. I’ve heard horror stories about parents of anorexics begging their doctors for help and the only responses they get are along the lines of “she looks great! She should be a model” and “she still has some chub, she’s fine!” I’m not kidding. This is unfortunately uncommon.
And we’re just starting a cycle of it. People are learning it young and they’re just being set up to do this for the rest of their lives.
- 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner
- 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat
- 40-60% of high school girls are on diets
- 51% of 9 and 10 year old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet
- A study performed in England showed that 57.5% of girls between ages 12 and 15 listed appearance as the biggest concern in their lives.
We are teaching LITTLE KIDS that they have to diet, that dieting is good, they’re learning at an early age to associate dieting with health. And that’s going to be really hard for them to unlearn later in life, especially when they’re still going to be sent all of these incorrect messages. These innocent little kids, just going around doing kid stuff, are being told that they aren’t good enough. And they grow up continuing to think that they aren’t good enough, and they accidently teach others that they aren’t good enough either. This cycle needs to stop somewhere because if those statistics don’t make you just plain sad then nothing will.
This obsession with dieting is not really about health, it’s about aesthetics. It’s about using our bodies as proof that we are good enough and worthy. It’s about making money off of the insecurities of others. All it’s doing is making people feel bad about themselves. We’re falsely associating thinness with health and that isn’t correct. Studies have shown that it is the behaviors that correlate with health, rather than weight. You can be both perfectly fat and perfectly healthy. Instead of wasting our time dieting to lose weight we need to focus on making lifestyle changes to be healthy. And we need to respect that our bodies do know what’s best for them. We need to get rid of this idea that healthy also fits the current social standard of beauty. “Healthy” and “diet” are not synonymous.