I learned while researching health observances for work that today, May 6, is “International No-Diet Day“. According to the National Eating Disorder Centre (NEDIC), the day is meant for us to “encourage people to engage in healthy lifestyles”, “increase public awareness of the dangers and futility of dieting”, and “celebrate the beauty and diversity of our natural shapes and sizes”.
I have, as (sadly), many of you reading this probably have, some firsthand appreciation for this stance. A growing digital trend, body positivity and diet-shunning has come about as a reactionary solution to a society that has long peddled “fad diets” as ultimately harmful ineffective or short-term solutions to what we were being told was a problem with our weight. A controlled narrative subtly reinforced by the advertising and entertainment industry, it’s one that’s been incredibly hard to shake off.
I’ve been many different weights throughout my adolescence and young adulthood, but if there’s one thing I’ve almost never been, it’s happy. Let me tell you, I’ve done it all: Veganism, vegetarianism, low carb, high-protein…. and I can’t honestly tell you that any of it “worked”.
More often than not, you’re depriving yourself.
Diets focus on weight loss, and not on health. By eliminating entire food groups or macronutrients, limiting calories, and focusing on what you can’t have, diets cannot by nature be sustained long-term in a healthy way. Depending on your age, gender, activity level, heck, even down to your biochemistry, your needs are going to be different than the person sitting next to you.
You cannot expect to lose weight by “controlling your urges”- truly healthy weight loss comes with the ability to be aware and mindful of what goes into your body, and making sure to eat foods that sustain you and make you feel good. That’s it- there’s no complex, restrict this, only-eat-that solution (and anyways, that just sounds like a miserable time -take it from me)!
Promotes an unhealthy relationship with food.
Seeing food as “the enemy” and waging a war against “pesky calories” are red flags that your relationship with food is out of whack. While it’s true that portion sizes and hyper-processed foods are certainly bad for you, that shouldn’t mean that we view all foods through that same negative lens.
It’s okay to eat unhealthily some of the time, as long as you make an effort to eat healthy most of the time. It’s time to start thinking of food as the miracle fuel your body needs, and to treat eating as a sacred ritual done out of love and respect for your body, or a good in = good out philosophy.
Diets don’t change behavior.
Behaviors, habits, and beliefs are the cornerstones of any person’s approach to health- and diets do nothing to change those, contrary to what we’ve always been told. And they don’t take into account pre-existing health conditions, or any other health concerns you might experience.
As I said above, the change comes from adjusting one’s lifestyle habits. Sure, eating better is one of those changes, but not in the context of dieting.
The key takeaway is that it’s ultimately about balance. And I’m definitely not an expert- but I have tried starving and depriving myself, I’ve tried following fad diets, I’ve tried punishing myself every time I perceived myself as “overeating”… and yet was shocked that none of it worked!
Treat your body as you would a garden- plant only the seeds you want to grow, feed it what it needs to thrive, and most of all- be kind to it. It’s the only one you’ve got.
If you want to learn more about No-Diet Day, or about NEDIC, visit their website. I challenge you to spread the message, and share your no-diet lifestyle to help inspire others.
Keep it real,