Alternatives to Dieting

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"Wanna guess what my opinion of dieting is? Yep, exactly. It is all kinds of hope wrapped up in a shiny package that wears off after days or weeks or months and almost always leaves you feeling worse than when you started. Most people who go on a diet and lose weight will gain it all back in 1-5 years. Not only that, most people gain back more than they lost.

When I say "most people," I do mean most. 95% of diets fail. Those are not good odds. Those are not even just bad odds. Those are HORRIBLE odds. And yet, at least 45 million of us will take those odds each year, in the U.S. alone. The diet industry is worth $72 billion because we are so desperate to all be in that 5% that "makes it." The ads promise us that we can be, and we really, really want to believe them.

We have been told by the media and by our families that if we change our bodies and make them thinner, we can be accepted, admired, and loved. We can feel good about ourselves. Every time someone comments on our weight, their own weight, or someone else"s weight, this is what they are conveying. This is the metaphorical weight our bodies carry. This is the pressure we put on ourselves to eat less and ignore what our bodies want. The diet industry is literally banking on us buying into that pressure. They create it and perpetuate it. They profit from it.

If you say that you diet not just to be thinner but to be "healthier," I am raising an eyebrow at you. Being fat or in a bigger body does not automatically mean you are unhealthy. Not even a little bit. It is very possible to be fat and healthy. It is very possible to be in between thin and fat and be healthy. It is very possible to be thin and be unhealthy. Health is not about our weight. Health is about what we do in terms of moving our bodies and eating food. If you believe that fat people are fat because they eat too much and don"t exercise, you are engaging in weight bias, or weight stigma.

Bodies don"t work exactly the same. A fat person can eat the same and exercise the same as a person in a thinner body and still be fat. Different bodies have different needs. Bodies don"t process food or use energy at the exact same rates. They have experienced different levels of trauma. They are built differently from birth. They have different genetic backgrounds. They are not meant to look exactly the same any more than we are all meant to have the same personalities. Body size is not indicative of health. Stop correlating weight with health, please.

The diet industry people promote weight stigma, of course. The more scared we are of not being thin, the more money they make. Meanwhile, we lose. But not in the ways we had hoped. When the weight comes back, we lose a little more hope. We lose the joy briefly felt while our body was acceptable. We lose self-esteem. We feel like we did something wrong. We weren"t even good enough to make a "guaranteed" diet work. We turn on ourselves, and we turn on our bodies.

Diets take a lot from us. Diets take our money. They take our energy. They take our focus. They take our time. They take our connection with our body. They take away a lot of fun and enjoyment. They ultimately take our self-esteem. Yo-yo dieting takes our health. All for a 5% chance to have a potentially sustainable thinner body."

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