Why I hate dieting. A Rant.

Actually the title is a little misleading because I have never been on a diet in my life and I have no intention of ever embarking on one. The thing I hate about dieting is the concept itself, the discussion around it, the emotional relationship with food and above all, the unrealistic body image pressure that most women are subjected to from an early age.
It is a topic I have been discussing with my daughter recently and I was reminded of a book title 'Fat is a Feminist Issue'.  I hadn't actually read the book (but now really want to - to delve into the subject a little more deeply).
I found an interesting Irish Times article  where the author, Susie Orbach, discusses the continuing relevance of the book - written in 1978, the title continues to hold true and is perhaps even more relevant today.

Cloud concept diet
Image courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The fact is, that dieting originates in the belief that we need to change ourselves, that our bodies are flawed and need to be moulded into some kind of acceptable state.  That our 'normality' is not chosen by ourselves, but dictated by societal and media pressure.
A constant bombardment of airbrushed images of the female form gives us a completely unrealistic notion of what it is to be female.
We are shown what the 'ideal' is and expected to conform to that, regardless of age, body shape or any other number of factors.  What better way to subdue an entire sex than to make them feel inadequate and lacking most of the time?

Where does this pressure come from?  It would be far too simplistic to say that it's men but it certainly could be considered as another little link in the patriarchal chain. However, I do believe that it is a complex web of consumerism, habit, marketing and probably many things I haven't even yet considered.

The beauty and diet industry is absolutely massive, a gigantic money making force that has nothing to gain from women feeling confident about how they look.

Cosmetics companies, magazines, hair product manufacturers, the fashion industry - all of these have an enormous vested interest in making us feel like crap about ourselves.

And don't get me started on the weight loss gurus/organisations and the horrendous 'diet'products that they peddle, empty of nutrition and never a substitute for healthy real food.

Frankly if they were all that successful, there would be millions of happy healthy women out there, content with their body image and never feeling the need to diet again.

This really isn't the case, though, because they just feed into the food obsession - the belief that food somehow has a moral component. I'm 'good' if I eat an apple (not because it's healthy, mind, but because it is less calorific) and I'm 'bad' if I eat a cream bun.

Eating food does not involve some kind of moral choice here, it is simply a way to nourish and feed our bodies and I do think that this emotional bond with food is part of the problem, something that can only be exacerbated by dieting or depriving ourselves. By elevating sugary products to the elevated status of seldom allowed 'treats', we give them a power they just shouldn't have.

As I said, I have never been on a diet. It is important to me to be healthy and I think that we all need to take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally, and eating well is part of that. However, I don't feel even the slightest pang of guilt if I decide to have a bar of chocolate or a piece of cake and I think that we, as women, need to start feeling confident. Not just having confidence in our bodies, but confidence in ourselves, our choices, our abilities and our strengths.

Loving yourself is a corny concept, perhaps, but I do believe in it very much. How many times have you thought 'I wish I was younger/slimmer/taller/less wrinkly/etc.'?
Why not just enjoy who you are right now?
I also firmly believe, for anyone who has daughters, that we need to stop this endless negative body image cycle. Everytime you critique your body, you are giving a message to your loved ones that you don't value yourself and that message is slowly imbibed by young women and taken to their hearts so that they start to feel inadequate about themselves too.
It really needs to stop and I feel very strongly about this.  We need to throw away the magazines, stop aspiring to be some unattainable female 'ideal' and we need to shout from the rooftops how bloody amazing we are!

Mum and daughters

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  • Cathy
    Cathy 16 February 2016 at 15:47

    I think dieting can be a good thing if you do it in the right way. I wouldn't call eating healthily dieting though, just being careful and aware of what we eat x

  • Unknown
    Unknown 16 February 2016 at 16:00

    Totally agree that we need to stop the endless negative body image cycle that so impresses on young girls these days. Interesting and thought provoking post!

  • Ana De-Jesus
    Ana De-Jesus 16 February 2016 at 17:32

    Well said, our perception of body image is completely distorted and we need to realize that it is okay to have flaws because that is what makes us human. The need to alter ourselves might be in part by men but ultimately it is because the media enforces it as a norm we must follow.

  • Anosa
    Anosa 16 February 2016 at 19:22

    Loved this post, I am not big on dieting. I tried to do it once but I love my food too much. I do however try to eat more healthily

  • Unknown
    Unknown 16 February 2016 at 19:58

    I just aim to be healthy! and I definitely had an unhealthy attitude towards food, the body image issue is a big one and I definitely agree you should learn to be happy, regardless of how you do it x

  • Unknown
    Unknown 16 February 2016 at 23:33

    You're so right. Dieting for the wrong reasons is extremely unhealthy. If it's external pressure, for example, or a desire to fit in, then you're definitely right.
    I am, however, quite keen to lose weight. It's purely because I want to make sure that I live to see my kids grow up for as long as I can. With a paternal history of young age heart attacks, I want to do myself as many favours as possible!

    • Cliona Kelliher
      Cliona Kelliher 16 February 2016 at 23:40

      I know what you mean Grant, I had a major health scare last year so being healthy is very important to me right now, I think that's probably the best reason to lose weight!

  • Kara
    Kara 17 February 2016 at 07:24

    I use the phrase healthy eating - I have put on weight recently and it is affecting my joints so it is the sensible thing to do

  • Unknown
    Unknown 17 February 2016 at 07:27

    Completely agree, very aware of this with daughters.

  • Kizzy
    Kizzy 17 February 2016 at 08:24

    Great post and an interesting read. Who needs to diet if you eat healthy, I think the word Diet should be removed from our vocabulary and replace with healthy eating.

  • Unknown
    Unknown 17 February 2016 at 08:29

    Some of the liquid diets and weird things out there kind of scare me. No one can seriously believe that they can sustain themselves on those products?! I agree with you and I never go on a 'diet' I just change my outlook on food, and make better choices! Too much pressure to be perfect.

  • Paulita
    Paulita 17 February 2016 at 09:05

    I too have never been on a diet! Life is too short! I eat healthy and everything else in moderation

  • Unknown
    Unknown 17 February 2016 at 09:27

    I agree with the whole having a unhealthy attitude being bad and of course I'd never want my daughter to do a diet fad because of the way the media can portray body images.

    However I think if your a unhealthy weight, and not happy then eating healthy and exercising won't do no harm xx

  • beautyqueenuk
    beautyqueenuk 18 February 2016 at 18:40

    Whilst I do agree with some of your rant lol I do think each to their own x

  • Michelle
    Michelle 19 February 2016 at 08:42

    I hate the word diet and when I try to diet it never works. If I say i'm healthy eating I seem to do better

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