Diet Culture, it’s a NO from me

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It’s the new year and it’s time for a new you! This is the year, and nothing is going to stop you from fasting until 1 pm and only eating green foods. By January 11, we find ourselves exhausted  and exasperated, alone in our car accompanied by the remaining half of a family bag of Doritos. As we lick the nacho cheese dust from our fingers in disgust of ourselves, we don’t know where we went wrong. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. I have spent every January of my teen life trying to stick to some intense regimen of eating just to let myself down and I am over it.

During and after the holidays, there always seems to be a large focus on food, specifically dieting. The word in general is enough to make one cringe, or scoff if you are a part of the large percentage of the population that has attempted and failed in this endeavor one too many times. So many times we restrict ourselves and lose honesty about what is truly achievable for our bodies and lifestyles. The idea of “being on a diet” implies that one day you will be off a diet, and in turn right back where you started. It simply is not sustainable. 

After falling through with endless commitments you make to yourself, it can be easy to lose hope. Diets can become more and more extreme with each additional attempt. Many diets and diet myths encourage dropping a specific food group that they claim is the culprit for the majority of fat. However, a balanced and well-portioned diet is the best way to get healthy. You can’t stop giving your body an entire food group or meal and expect it to continue to perform as it has before. Especially with such a busy time of the school year, adding physical fatigue to mental exhaustion is a recipe for disaster. When you reduce your eating by a drastic amount or eliminate food groups the body is accustomed to, it actually slows your metabolism and puts your body in survival mode because it is trying to store as much of your nutrients and fat as it can. 

It is important to change the mindset of dieting. Living to lose is much different than living to gain. And there is so much to gain; your sanity, your trust and integrity with yourself, and your confidence. Rather than trying to drop pounds, maybe try stepping off the scale and gaging your progress on how you feel. Being healthy does not always mean being your skinniest. Try to treat your body not as a project but as a tool. Your body is not who you are, it what carries who you are as a person. Our bodies can do amazing things but only if we treat them with respect. 

If you or a friend are struggling with an eating disorder or harmful eating habits, please contact the confidential NEDA helpline (800) 931-2237