A staggering number of women are dieting at any given time. Did you know that in the United States alone, over $40 billion is spent on diets and dieting products every year? This is comparable to the annual education budget spent by the US federal government. Nearly 70 percent of women (excluding those with actual eating disorders) are trying to lose weight. Research surveys have found that three out of four women have an unhealthy relationship with food or their bodies.¹
What exactly is going on here? Dieting can so easily fall under the guise of being “healthy”, but when we take a closer look at all that dieting involves, can this really be true?
The False Promise of Dieting
Especially during transitional and/or emotionally taxing times in a woman’s life, such as pregnancy and postpartum, raising children, etc. dieting can feel like a temporary solution, a tangible means of finding some sense of control in the midst of chaos.
In a sea of nutrition overwhelm, following a diet can seem like a navigation tool that promises you will reach your destination. “If you only cut out these foods and avoid these ingredients, you will find [fill in the blanks]."
The reality is that diets are based on a false premise that reaching a certain weight or body size will lead us to a life of satisfaction. This is a lie that perpetuates the deadly diet cycle that countless women find themselves trapped in. It is not uncommon for a woman to spend years of her life, time, effort and even more money on failed diets, dieting products, weight loss supplements, etc. all in the name of trying to be healthy or reach a desired weight.
Sadly, these efforts are futile and only lead in a downward spiral to body dissatisfaction, self-hatred, low self-esteem, and an overall fear of food. For some women, dieting can be a trigger that leads to the development of an eating disorder.
Understanding the Warning Signs
If you have found yourself stuck in the vicious cycle of dieting, know that you are not alone. Awareness is the first step toward making any change, and understanding where you are can help you change courses on your life’s journey.
Look for these warning signs that might reveal if your diet is leading you into a death spiral:
You find yourself spending a considerable amount of time thinking about food, weight, and your body
You weigh yourself frequently and/or worry about weight gain
You feel guilty when you break your diet “rules” or aren’t able to follow the plan
You find yourself swinging between extremes of restricting and binging
You feel out of control when you eat certain foods
You feel anxious at social events or places where there are foods you are not “suppose to” eat
You avoid social functions or gatherings because of food
You find that pervasive thoughts about food and your body prevent you from enjoying what is meaningful in life, like relationships, hobbies, activities you love, etc.
You may feel addicted to food
You find yourself jumping between different diet fads
You feel that by reaching your goal weight, things may feel easier in life
Dieting has become the socially acceptable norm in our society - but let’s be real: dieting is only preventing you from truly thriving in life. How many precious opportunities or moments have you lost because of time focused on dieting or striving toward an unmanageable way of eating?
On the surface, dieting may feel like a solution to a problem, but what if there is truly nothing wrong with your body or weight? Maybe the real problem lies in fear-mongering ways of diet culture, where we are constantly submerged in misleading information about food along with the lie that we will only be happy once we reach a certain weight.
Finding Freedom From Dieting
It’s time you jumped off the dieting bandwagon and learned how to really live healthfully. No diet rules. No diet books. No dieting. Period.
Food and eating do not have to be a scary thing. Maybe you’ve been a chronic dieter because you don’t know anything different. Or maybe, you are afraid of food outside the parameters that a diet might give you. You don’t need to sacrifice your well-being for dieting any longer. Especially if you are a mama, chronic dieting can negatively influence how your child perceives their own body and relationship with food.
Get out of the dieting death spiral today and begin a journey toward body kindness, freedom with food, and the ability to enjoy the pleasurable aspect of eating again.
¹ UNC School of Medicine, “Survey finds disordered eating behaviors among three out of four American women” Accessed 4 November 2017