Dieting is boring, expensive and ineffective, says Victoria Marsden, a counsellor at Auckland’s Eating Difficulties Education Network (EDEN) and who could disagree? Diets undermine and distract us, subverting our dreams and ambitions. They keep us playing the anticipation game, encouraging us to put our hopes -and our happiness- on hold until we look thin enough to really start living.
Some diets eliminate carbs, others push proteins, powdered meal replacements or special supplements. The more extreme the diet, the more we’re likely to fall off the wagon or slip into unhealthy cycles of bingeing and purging. Who hasn’t gone on a diet, felt so miserable that they obsessed about food, and ended up eating more, rather than less? It’s a cruel irony, but hardly surprising that a number of studies link dieting and restricted eating with weight gain. One recent study of more than 16,000 children aged between nine and 14 showed that over time children who dieted gained significantly more weight than children who never dieted.
Research also suggests that weight loss can be psychologically taxing and, says Marsden, combined with weight cycling (yo-yo dieting) can actually increase the risk of disease and death. What’s more, dieting and restrictive eating heighten the risk of people developing disturbed eating patterns and eating disorders.
Being slim does not always mean being healthy, just as being overweight doesn’t automatically equate withpoor health. “Research suggests that there are even a few health benefits associated with being moderately overweight and that it is a lack of fitness, not fatness per se, that predicts ill-health and mortality risk,” says Marsden. It’s also possible that how you see yourself is not how you really are. One New Zealand study found that 80 percent of women were within normal weight ranges, but only 18 percent considered their weight to be normal.
Instead of embarking on another doomed diet, or focusing on your body’s perceived flaws,try channelling that energy into better loving the one you’re with.Giving up dieting and learning to love and accept yourself just as you are will give you self-confidence, better health, and a more enduring sense of wellbeing, says Marsden.
Source: Good magazine. For more information go to www.good.net.nz
Copyright Sarah Heeringa/HB Media. Published in Good, issue 12 (April/May 2010), on sale now. See good.net.nz for more sustainable living tips, projects and information.
Copyright © U Leisure Limited 2013