As we come into a new year, and a new decade, it is always a good time to reflect on the highs and lows of the past year, and 10 years. What are your resolutions usually based on? Typically it will be things to do with your health, like eat healthy, go on a diet, go to the gym, run every morning, start yoga, learn to cook healthier, quit chocolate or all sugar, and we all know time and time again these resolutions start with a big bang, motivation is high, yet we never stick to them.
How many diets or health kicks did you go on in the past decade? How often did your weight go up and down? How many times were you frustrated and annoyed that you were not strong enough to stick to your diet?
We often have unrealistic and unsustainable ideals that are manifested by diet culture, mainstream media, social media, culture, and pressures to live a perfect life that looks picture perfect to the rest of the world. Our pursuit of happiness comes at a cost- and ironically it is usually our happiness.
The idea we will be happy when we will be a certain shape, size and weight is a fallacy, however diet culture preys on our insecurities to make us think we are not good enough and that you can never be too skinny.
Our desire to be thinner is also ironically making us fatter- with 98% of all dieters who's aim is to lose weight end up putting the kilos back on and plus some.
Dieting that involves restricting your food intake and cutting out food groups is dangerous!
Physiologically it can upset your metabolism, lead to nutritional deficiencies, even make your food intolerances worse. For example if you have a dairy/lactose intolerance and you avoid dairy altogether your body will produce less of the enzyme lactase, (which is the enzyme that helps with the digestion) which means if and when you do have some lactose your symptoms will be significantly worse.
Restricting can also lead to obsessing about food that can lead to binge eating, which in-turn can lead to feelings of guilt, purging, shame and poor self esteem. Or restricting can lead to a sense of control that leads to under-eating and malnourishment, and bring on the onset of anorexia in people who have a predisposition to the disease. All of which are life threatening. Eating disorders have the highest mortality of all mental illnesses. All eating disorders can occur in any size body, and they do not discriminate. They also make the most honest person the best lier. You may never know if someone has an eating disorder. And any of your diet talk- especially in the office when you think you are just having a casual conversation about your "Keto" diet that is starting on Monday can be very triggering to some people. Even complementing weight loss can be very hard for some people to deal with. But this is a whole other conversation that will be put in another blog post.
I would like to ask you this question.
Is obesity the epidemic, or is it diet culture? Why are we stigmatising the so called obesity crisis and glamorising diet culture? When the diet culture, and weight cycling is a major cause of our increase in weight.
The evidence overwhelmingly states that dieting is a cause of weight gain, so if not dieting, then what? How can we address this cycle of self depravation, self destruction, and torment? ( I would also like to add that I could not find a stock photo that was really representative to diversity or the context I want to portray, however it does show how hard it is for people living in larger bodies to be represented in media- when there is really nothing to relate to- which also adds to the feelings of shame and guilt, that also lead to more of the diet cycling)
The first step is to promise yourself to never diet again. Please trust the process!!!!!
The second step is to ask your friends and family to support you in not talking about weight, or diets, or numbers that involve weight or steps, or anything to do with losing weight.
And the third step is to find health practitioners who follow the HAES philosophy, have an understanding of "anti diet", "intuitive eating" and "mindfulness". These people have the skills and knowledge to support you in changing your mindset, body image ideals, and diet culture beliefs.
I promise you it wont be easy to make these changes.
Changing eating habits, and mindset is hard! And this is why it is important to have a health professional to help you along the way.
It really is a complex process, changing mindset and everything you have been led to believe about food, eating and diets will be challenged!
But it is so liberating and freeing to let go of dieting, taking control of your life, and your thoughts about food and eating.
I am a PROUD non-diet dietitian. My passion is to help you free yourself from diet culture, and to love yourself just the way you are. I work with people with eating disorders, Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Orthorexia, and disordered eating habits (i.e chronic dieting). I am based in Christchurch, New Zealand and I am available for Skype consultations, or in my clinic at the St Albans Medical Centre.
If you would like some recommended readings, podcasts, or meditations that will help with your learning about this topic please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org I will send you links that will suit your personal needs.
2020- the year of NOT DIETING!