A big misunderstanding (and often critique) about the anti-diet community is that it’s anti-health, but this couldn’t be further from the truth! Being anti-diet encourages a more holistic view of health instead of cutting out certain foods and focusing on weight or appearance. While not everyone who is anti-diet struggles with an eating disorder or disordered eating, it isn’t uncommon for these things to overlap, in addition to those like myself who believe in the HAES and set point approaches to health. To clear the air and lay this misunderstanding to rest, here’s why being anti-diet is not anti-health:
Diets don’t work…and can be dangerous
Contrary to what the diet industry may want you to think, diets really don’t work. According to researchers from UCLA, at least one-third to two-thirds of people regain more weight than they lost within a few years of dieting, although they think these statistics may be much higher. Similar findings can be found in numerous other studies as well. Dieting can also lower your metabolism due to the consistent restriction of calories. Diets always remove something from your diet- whether it’s portion size/calories, meat, dairy, gluten, carbs, fat, etc.- and these restrictions can lead to additional health problems. Fatigue, nutrient deficiencies, amenorrhea, hair loss, eating disorders, weakened bones, and digestion issues are just a few of the side effects of malnutrition that can be brought on by restriction/dieting.
Anything that harms your mental health isn’t healthy
Not only can dieting cause a lot of stress and perpetuate poor body image and food guilt, but a starved brain is also a vulnerable one. Restricting calories and nutrients can lead to increased anxiety, mood changes, irritability, impaired concentration, obsessive thinking (including about food), and other negative emotional reactions. All of these things can have a huge impact on your mental health and having poor mental health is the same as being unhealthy in general, period. Anything that makes you feel bad in general or negative about yourself/your body is not healthy and is not worth it! Ditch the diet.
Make no mistake, dieting is an industry
They want our money! If all products worked the way they were supposed to, we’d have no advertising. The U.S. weight loss market was worth $72 BILLION in 2019. Billion. Seems pretty profitable, right? From laxative laced teas to waist trainers to expensive workout plans promoted by influencers- the industry is booming. It isn’t always easy to recognize something as a diet or weight loss ploy, but ultimately these businesses know that most diets fail and if they make us feel bad about ourselves, our bodies, and food- we might just come back to another product and try again. Remember that, although this advertising and these products are often enticing, they’re supposed to be that way- it doesn’t mean it will work and it also doesn’t mean they know what is best for you and YOUR body.
Diet culture contributes to systemic discrimination against those in bigger bodies
The use of the word “fat” as an insult, microaggressions, non-inclusive clothing lines, fat jokes, and even weight discrimination in the hiring process (trigger warning for the study linked due to the use of the word ob*se) are all examples of discrimination that those in bigger bodies face in our society. Diet culture, to be blunt, is all about thinness. Being smaller, leaner, skinnier, “fitter,” “stronger”- there’s always a message within our society that thinner is better and more desirable. Diet culture now has a larger platform due to social media, with #thinspo, #fitspo, and fitness influencers racking up thousands of likes and followers. When as a society we buy into these lies and the idea that you can determine someone’s health by their weight/apperance, we contribute to the discrimination against those in bigger bodies. We come in all different shapes and sizes- and that’s OKAY. By being anti-diet, we acknowledge these points as well as the fact that nobody has to change their body or feel like they need to in order to be worthy of respect.
I hope this article has cleared up a few common misconceptions about being anti-diet! Remember to share this or follow me on IG @recovroad for more content like this.
Featured image courtesy of Pexels.
All content on RecovRoad is based on personal experiences, research, and ideas. Please do not repost/share without credit and be aware that nothing on this blog takes the place of professional help. This is also a formal trigger warning: content about and relating to eating disorders may be triggering to survivors. Please see the “RESOURCES” tab, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 800-931-2237, and remember to take care of yourself.