By the time the average woman turns 45, she will have dieted 61 times.
If you are thinking that statistic is a little bit extreme, just think of all of the women out there continuously starting a diet every New Year, bikini season, high school reunion, beach vacation, and on Monday. These diets can easily add up. And before you know it, you will have dieted a whole lot of times!
Psychologically diets can actually be addicting. Just imagining you reaching your “goal weight” causes you to get excited. You subconsciously yearn for this diet-related thrill and set out to lose weight.
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There’s also an emotional factor tied to the dieting process, in that we link our happiness to our weight loss results. We look forward to the day when we will feel confident in a bikini. And we tell ourselves that we will reward ourselves with smaller sized clothes when we’ve reached our goal weight. We believe that we are more worthy if we have toned abs, and feel more beautiful with a thigh gap and toned arms. With the belief that our beauty and worth are tied to our body type and weight, we use diets as a means to feel better about ourselves.
Society doesn’t make it any easier either. In fact, we are conditioned to believe that we need to be fixed and altered so that we resemble an unrealistic, photo-shopped ideal. As women, we are subjected to unrealistic expectations that lead us to believe that we are greatly flawed. We are taught that our body is the enemy and that if it is not perfect, it not good enough. However, it is this self-loathing that the diet industry depends upon (and even encourages) to fuel their multi-million-dollar revenue. The diet industry is highly manipulative and preys on women’s insecurities to drive their business. They know that if women are desperate enough to lose weight, they will pay big money in exchange for desired results so they make sure that women believe their body is inadequate.
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We’ve been manipulated to believe that diets are a quick fix to our problems. We’re told that if we follow a specific plan, we can drop two dress sizes in two days, lose 10 pounds in 10 days, or get your best butt in three moves. And when the diet doesn’t work, we blame ourselves. We feel guilty for being unable to resist our cravings and are ashamed that we don’t have enough willpower. We believe that WE are the problem and NOT the diet.
But the fact is, diets are toxic – they promise you the world, but only end up leaving you defeated and discouraged with yourself.
But, I know what you may be thinking. You’re probably telling yourself “but I’ve lost weight on a diet” or “so-and-so went on this one diet and had amazing results”.
And yes that might be true but diets have actually been shown to be ineffective 95% of the time. Because when you limit or restrict yourself, you create an environment in which you crave larger quantities of what is restricted. So when diets encourage you to label foods as being either “good” or “bad”, you are more likely to crave the “bad” foods (and more likely to binge eat).
Plus, even if the diet does give the desired results, it’s likely temporary. This is because diets foster weight-cycling- the weight goes down and then comes back up (usually more than what was lost). Studies actually show that people who diet weigh more than those who don’t because their metabolism becomes messed up (so there basically is no point in doing it).
Diet culture justifies weight loss by relating smaller body size with greater health. It makes the assumption that your body weight is an indicator of health – the smaller you are the healthier you are. However, labeling overweight individuals as “unhealthy” is a false, blanket statement. In fact, one study found that close to half of overweight Americans (as indicated by their BMI) were considered healthy and that losing weight would not have much effect on their health.
The idea that diets can lead to healthy behaviors cannot be further from the truth. The reality is diets can be quite damaging to our mental and physical health. Diets have been found to cause obsessive or disordered eating, lowered metabolism, binge eating, fatigue, emotional disturbances, “final meal” mentality, fatphobia, stress, depression, self-esteem issues, etc. Knowing this information, it doesn’t really sound that diets are all that healthy does it?
WHAT’S YOUR VIEW ON DIETS?