In February, when I spoke with registered dietitian Christy Harrison about her recent release.Anti-dietI didn’t realize the world was about to change drastically.
We talked about a spread Diet culture – The belief system that favors the slim ideal (usually white and heterosexual), that says certain ways of eating are good and others bad, and this encourages weight loss at all costs. It’s in Marketing and Healthcare, Our Views of Ourselves. Even though things look very different these days, it is all still true.
Diet culture is spreading even more in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Health brands are exploiting our fears and uncertainty by offering nutritional supplements. More time to scroll through social media and all the handpicked pics make us feel more Insecure about our bodies.
Most obviously, there are many Fear of gaining weight in quarantine That even a person who usually has a good relationship with food may feel pressured to start a diet. Those Who You suffer from an eating disorder or an eating disorder You may feel these pressures more acutely.
In Anti-Diet, Harrison chronicles the history of diet culture, uses evidence to point to flaws in our long-held beliefs about weight, and gives some insights into how to finally stop judging ourselves and others about how our bodies look and what we eat.
And there’s no better time to listen to these lessons than now, when the pressure to “watch what we eat” is through the roof (despite the fact that we are battling a global health crisis totally unrelated to food).
Below, Harrison breaks down some ugly facts about dieting and tips on how to get off the horrible cycle for good. Because, yes, it is possible to ditch the diet culture and feel good in your body.
If you cannot lose weight on a diet, this is not your fault – there is a lot of evidence that long-term weight loss does not happen to most people.
The idea that diets don’t work is nothing new. In his book “Anti-Diet,” Harrison traces the belief that 95% of diets fail to return to a 1959 Literature Review That looked at previous weight loss studies. The review found, essentially, that there is no diet or intervention that has consistently proven effective for weight loss.
And this is still true: The 2013 review Several weight loss studies have found that diets usually lead to short-term weight loss, but most people regain the weight within five years. similar 2011 review It has been found that many dieters actually regain more weight than they initially lost.
In any other case, we’ll be quick to say, “This thing didn’t work for me, this product is the problem. “But with diets, we think” I’m the problem. “
– Kristi Harrison, author of “Anti-Diet”
Harrison described this initial weight loss that diets bring as the honeymoon phase.
“I think often when this is a person’s first diet ever, there is a honeymoon phase of dieting where you see weight loss – even though not everyone does – and you feel you’ll be able to stick to it because there are no complications. I told HuffPost. “There is a feeling,” It works! It’s happening! ”
But none of this is permanent. “The body becomes wise and starts to feel the effects of hunger,” Harrison said. “On average, people lose weight for six months to a year, after which they start to regain the weight by the time the year comes, and the rate of weight recovery increases over time.”
She said that many people are not even able to reach this six-month mark, “because the hunger response really kicks in and causes people to start eating more than they did before the diet, which often leads to binge.”
In other words: the obsession and feeling out of control about food that often occurs several months after dieting is not a personal failure, but a biological response.
Because we live in a diet culture, people believe that the solution to one diet’s failure is to find another “better” diet.
Habitually jumping from one restricted eating plan to the next is so common that we have a name for it: Yo-Yo Diet.
But, as any past or current dieter knows, even very different diets tend to have the same result: initial weight loss, and eventual weight regain.
It’s absurd, Harrison said. In any other case, we’ll be quick to say, “This thing didn’t work for me, this product is the problem. “But with the diet, we think,” I’m the problem. Maybe this just isn’t for me, and maybe I’m not meant to be on the go faster, maybe I would be a keto person or 30 people instead. So we see people jump from diet to diet to diet. “
Weight rotation and stigma are harmful to our physical and mental health.
Although many people are nourished for aesthetic reasons, health is also a motivator. Those who live in larger bodies often ask their doctors (and sometimes their friends and family) to diet and lose weight to improve their health outcomes. But this advice often does more harm than good.
“Regardless of a person’s weight and even BMI control, weight rotation is an independent risk factor for all of these things that are blamed on the weight itself: heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, and deaths,” Harrison said. “When we diet, we will almost inevitably end up cycling in weight. This will put our bodies at greater risk than just saying the same weight, even if that is a higher weight.”
The anti-diet movement isn’t just about dieting, it’s about understanding that the body can be healthy at any size.
The idea that being overweight is an inherently bad thing is a misconception. Harrison said that many people of high weight are metabolically healthy. (And, of course, it can be metabolically unhealthy when you are underweight) The 2015 study Of more than 100,000 people in Denmark found that those in the “overweight” category lived the longest, on average – a conclusion that is consistent with previous findings.
In response to this evidence, the Health in every size The movement encourages people to “accept and respect the inherent diversity in body shapes and sizes and refuse to idealize certain weights or turn them into disease.” It also aims to end stigma and discrimination and make the world accessible to everyone, regardless of their weight.
Harrison said it’s important that you understand all of this if you want to truly reject diet culture, give up dieting and become more intuitive eaters. Mindful or intuitive eating It encourages you to focus on cues of hunger and fullness, prompts you to slow down and enjoy meals, and not offend any foods. It is not a diet program; It is usually a way of life.
It can be very difficult for someone in a larger body to reject diets and diet culture due to the discrimination they face.
Throughout the book, Harrison acknowledges her excellence as a skinny, white, and sexually compatible woman. When you live in a body that society considers “acceptable,” quitting dieting is easier than it might be for someone who lives in a more marginalized body.
“People with much larger bodies face discrimination every day, and it is natural to want to lose weight as a way to get rid of it,” he said. Kimi Singh, Is an anti-diet dietitian and fat-releasing activist.
“If you are a person with a smaller body working towards acceptance of the body and becoming easier to eat, then make sure that you are also working on acceptance of all bodies and body sizes to help all people feel safe in switching off dieting.”
Singh provides her clients with background and evidence about why the diets are not working and encourages them not to pursue weight loss, but ultimately leaves them the choice. If you are a person with a smaller body working towards body acceptance and becoming a lot easier to eat, make sure you also work on acceptance of all bodies and body sizes to help all people feel safe in staying away from dieting.
It might be difficult to imagine a life without diet, but it is possible. Here’s how to do it.
The number one hurdle to quitting diets altogether is that these days, many of them claim that they are not diets at all.
“Diet has transformed and changed shape into this healthy thing that is now very difficult to detect,” Harrison said. A “healthy diet” is about demonizing some foods while raising the standard for others; Eat the things that are supposed to be “right” and remove the things that are supposed to be “wrong.” It promises healthy and moral superiority, but it always promises to be thin as well. ”
Harrison recommends rejecting any “healthy” diet or lifestyle that comes with rules – eat this and not that, eat an X amount, and only eat between hours Y and Z. Even once you do, you may find that you have a lot of older food rules swim in your head.
As an early step on the journey to rejecting diet culture and switching to more intuitive eaters, Harrison encourages customers to jot down any food rules or ideas that come to mind during the day.
“It’s amazing to see. There are usually dozens of these thoughts throughout the day,” she said. “You realize,“ Anytime I start to think about food, these rules or judgments come up. “Just being aware is the first step.”
Then, you can start questioning any rules you might have.
“People who have lived in a diet culture all their lives often have this accumulation of rules,” Harrison said. “It could even be from completely paradoxical diets – like demonizing fats and distorting carbohydrates.”
Ask why you are still sticking to these rules of diets that haven’t served you, and then work to ignore them.
Don’t be surprised if eating without food rules or making judgments seems out of control at first.
“Your mind and body have been deprived so much that there will be this pendulum swinging from the restriction side along with eating all of the food,” Harrison said. “I call it the restriction pendulum.”
But this does not last forever. “In the end, you will be able to really settle in the middle, and reach a place of calm and balance with food,” she said.
The reward goes beyond just a better relationship with food and the body. “It’s amazing to see what happens when people eat intuitively,” Harrison added.
At first, learning to be an intuitive eater takes some effort. But once you click on it and not constantly worry about what you can and cannot eat, you will regain a large amount of brain space.
“You don’t think about exercising or your weight,” she said. “You think about all the other things that you really care about. You are free to do your job, engage in your relationships, and are truly present in all the big and small moments of your life. There is so much available for people once they stop dieting.”
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