Diet culture is everywhere these days. From paleo to keto and everything in between there are so many options to lose wight by choosing various diet plans. Dieting is any set of restrictive food rules (except medical or religious concerns). If at any point person is feeling shame or guilt about his/her food choices it is likely that the person approaching the experience of eating from a “diet mentality” (McGurk). The truth is the diet industry is a multi- billion dollar industry that profits by convincing people that there is something inherently wrong with their food choices.
I. Short History of Dieting Fads in America
II. Reasons to abandon dieting
1. Dieting doesn’t help with maintaining weight loss long term.
2. Dieting disconnects people from what their bodies actually need.
- Dieting makes people to binge or overeat.
- Dieting can potentially contribute to an eating disorder
Short History of Dieting Fads in America.
People were trying to follow certain diets to keep themselves heathy for centuries. However, between the late 19thcentury and early 20th century understanding, and image of weight shifted from health to beauty. Diets changed from meaning the foods people eat to a restrictive regimen focused on reduction. Even in the beginning of 20th century people considered that some fat is being useful on the body to have extra energy for fighting of the infections, before vaccinations and antibiotics were accessible (Rollin). One of the oddest diet fads in the history of dieting was Fletcherism. The craze lasted over 15 years and was very popular in England and the United States. Many famous people were “Fletchers,” including John D. Rockefeller, Franz Kafka, John Kellog, and Henry James (Saner).
In 1903 the insurance companies started to rate policy holders based on their weight. An art dealer in San Francisco Horace Fletcher was “too fat” to qualify for insurance and in order to lose weight he created his own diet. He had to chew every mouthful 32 times (once for every tooth) and then spit the rest out. He lost 40 pounds by doing so. Over a century later in 2011 Scientific American published a study done in China that showed people eat 12% less if they chew their food properly (Saner), so maybe that fad wasn’t so odd after all.
Reasons to abandon dieting
- Dieting doesn’t help with maintaining weight loss long term.
The idea that people fail at dieting because they don’t have willpower to do that is a myth. In first few weeks of dieting which can include everything from calorie counting, elimination of foods and food groups, intermittent fasting, people usually lose weight. But research shows that it doesn’t lead to long- term weight loss. Restricting foods make people want them more, which is why most people fall of the wagon in the first month or two of the diet (“Dieting Myths and Facts.”). Even if people can stick with the diet, their body will resist the weight loss because bodies see the dieting as a form of starvation. As a survival mechanism the metabolism slows and hormones that regulate appetite and satisfaction change.
- Dieting disconnects people from what their bodies actually need.
This is the important one. Even though dieting teaches people how to follow certain rules, it ruins people’s bond with their own bodies. Cravings and hunger signals are very individual, and they help to recognize the specific needs. It is important to listen to your body and not ignore the signs that are being given to keep it healthy and satisfied (McGurk).
- Dieting makes people to binge or overeat.
Overeating is a super common side effect of dieting. The fact that the most binge worthy treats are sweets, starchy things is not a coincidence. Our deprived bodies are asking for the simplest and fastest forms of energy, which are sugar and carbs (Rollin). It turns to a vicious cycle of binging carbs and then restricting them even more.
- Dieting can potentially contribute to an eating disorder.
Dieting is a great risk for eating disorders. Starvation and weight loss can affect the way the brain works in certain at-risk individuals. Restrictive eating behaviors can make it difficult to return to normal habits. Even if it doesn’t develop a full- blown eating disorder, dieting can contribute to disordered habits (“Dieting Myths and Facts.”).
Every single one of us wants to believe that there is some sort of fast solution to help us feel healthier or prettier. But the reality is that the restriction of certain foods and weight loss is not the answer to the issue (at least not a long term one). The important thing is to find out what is really behind the desire to lose weight and of course to love yourself.
“Diet Myths and Facts: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 13 Feb. 2020, medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000895.htm. Accessed Feb.18, 2020.
McGurk, Jennifer. “5 Ideas to Reject Diet Mentality and Start to Learn about Intuitive Eating.” Eat with Knowledge, 19 Dec. 2018, eatwithknowledge.com/5-ideas-to-reject-diet-mentality/. Accessed Feb.18, 2020.
Rollin, Jennifer. “3 Reasons You Should Never Go on a Diet.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 12 Oct. 2015, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindful-musings/201510/3-reasons-you-should-never-go-diet. Accessed Feb.18, 2020.
Saner, Emine. “People Have Been Crash Dieting for Over 2,000 Years.” Business Insider,Business Insider, 20 Feb. 2013, www.businessinsider.com/a-history-of-fad-diets-2013-2. Accessed Feb.18, 2020.