Fad diets have never worked… Clarilda Sharon looks at how we can move away from dieting to eating for good health
Symbolized by a light blue ribbon, ‘No Diet Day’, observed on the 6th of May, is a focus on ‘health at any size’, dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle. When you hear ‘No Diet Day’, maybe you are inspired to go off the rails, buy treats, and binge eat everything you crave! But the true meaning of the day is actually a reminder of body acceptance and body shape diversity. Furthermore, it is a crucial reminder to focus on wellness and expose the dangers of dieting. So, why not form a new relationship with the person in the mirror by putting away your scales inspired by the International No Diet Day?
Many people, especially women, experience eating disorders, unhealthily restrictive diets, and low self-esteem as they succumb to the pressures of unattainable body standards. Mary Evans Young, an English feminist, introduced the concept of ‘No Diet Day’ after having battled bullying, anorexia, and body image issues for years. Though she originally intended to observe the day only in the UK with a few dozen women who joined her with “Ditch That Diet” stickers and a picnic, she was inspired to see it spread internationally. By 1993, women across various countries had joined the bandwagon.
Are we bingeing on diet culture?
Today, with so much going around us, especially in the era of unsolicited advice on social media, you and I are easily persuaded to fall prey to the false body images we see. Models posing with perfectly fitted dresses, unchecked photoshop, influencers flaunting their beach bodies, and friends sharing pictures of their zero figures can be truly intimidating and can honestly make us long for the same. And before realizing it, we are swearing on cutting carbs from the very next day!
Over the years, the word “Diet” has been strongly perceived as eating less food and consuming weight loss supplements. However, what we fail to account for are the consequences of lowering our intake. From our brain craving the feel-good hormones that usually have us end up overeating to not getting the adequate amount of nutrients our body needs, connecting diet to eating less costs us both physical and emotional health big time.
At its worst, diet culture contributes to eating disorders, which can wreak havoc on growing bodies, especially those of teenagers. For women between the ages of 15 and 24, the mortality rate of anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the rate for any other cause of death.
Even when not this extreme, unrealistic expectations of our physical appearance leads to only one thing – hating our bodies!
What’s the antidote to this madness? Wellness! Wellness is more than a buzzword – it is an active process toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Whether you are 20 or 70, wellness promotes healthy aging. And how is that done? By eating the right foods and making healthy lifestyle choices.
Pramilla Ohlson, nutritionist, social media influencer, and a mother of two, said in a conversation with ASPIRE, “Eat the right foods, not fewer foods. It’s not just what you eat; it’s how much of what you eat. It’s all about knowing healthy eating principles, such as balancing your plate, knowing compositions, etc., and following them every day. These principles are easy-to-do and make up for good health in the long run. It never has to be complicated. There are many healthy foods in every culture. Work with the healthy foods from your own culture, and don’t try anything different because you won’t be able to sustain it.”
We must treat our bodies well. You may follow a healthy diet with a healthy workout routine and still have negative thoughts. Or you could own a beautiful body and hence be body confident, but eat mostly junk and not move your body at all. Either way, you’re not moving any closer to health. Reason: Health is about wellness, and wellness is about equally connecting the body, mind, and soul.
Am I eating the right food? Am I drinking enough water? Am I sleeping enough? Am I letting myself relax? Is my mind flowing with positive thoughts? These are the questions that need attention. “Especially with women, there is very little emphasis on building muscle mass. If you don’t have muscle mass, no matter how good-looking you are, your body will fail you in the long run. Focus on Satvik food (foods freely provided by nature) that give life to your mind, body, and soul. We must ask ourselves – Can I grow old with this diet? – because when we have health, we add life to our years”, explained Pramilla. After all, healthy eating is not just for how our body looks on the outside, but more for our body inside.
Loving yourself matters!
Recognize that your body is beautiful exactly the way it is. Worry less about your body shape, weight, beauty standards and more about being active and healthy. Shooting for unrealistic body types and losing weight rapidly by sacrificing your greater health may change your body temporarily, but it is just a way of causing yourself harm. Instead, aim for a healthy lifestyle and simple life-changing habits to be happier and healthier. We guarantee that as you become healthier, loving your body will become more inherent to you. Don’t judge yourself based on a number. Throw away your scales of comparison. Instead, revel in your own uniqueness, and don’t let the pressures of society come in the way of embracing yourself, flaws and all.