Diet Culture: Yay Or Nay?
The decision to lose weight or alter one’s physical appearance is a constant struggle a lot of people face. Many times, people take drastic measures and go to extreme ends to achieve this goal. People sometimes go as far as starving themselves which makes them have an unhealthy relationship with food.
What Is Diet Culture?
Diet culture often refers to the rigid standards people set for themselves when they’re trying to lose weight or remain fit. It involves following a strict diet, cutting down the intake of some food, not eating a certain food, and constantly counting calories. Most times, diet culture focuses solely on the individual’s physical appearance and body shape as opposed to their emotional and mental wellbeing.
The Advantages of Dieting
Once we shift the focus from obsessing over our body image to prioritizing our all-around wellbeing, dieting can be beneficial. When done properly with the help of a nutritionist, it can improve our health and wellness. The following are the advantages of being on a diet:
It makes us aware of what we eat: People usually consume food without considering the health or nutritional value contained in them. This makes us unaware of the nutrients lacking in our meals and the ones we need to consume more of. For instance, it’s important to know how much protein or carbohydrates our bodies need. With a proper diet plan we become more conscious and aware of the food we take in, we’re a lot more in control of our bodies and can therefore make certain choices regarding our health.
It can promote healthy eating habits: Dieting that doesn’t focus on starvation and deprivation can force us to swap unhealthy food options for healthier ones. Changing your diet can be good for you especially if you’re usually not mindful of what you eat and you consume a lot of junk food.
The Downside of Diet Culture
Unfortunately, most diet regimes can be extremely strict and adversely impact one’s wellbeing. There are several disadvantages of diet culture, some of them are:
Negative eating habits: In cases where people are obsessed with their size and body image, they develop strict and unhealthy diet regimes to make them size down at all costs. This doesn’t only affect the way they perceive themselves, it also leads them to develop irregular eating patterns which could be harmful to their health.
It usually follows a “one-size-fits-all” approach: The major downside of most diet regimes is that they follow a commercialized approach which is the “one-size-fits-all” mindset. There isn’t one right way to be on a diet or an exact diet regime one has to follow. Diet plans should be tailored to the unique needs and health requirements of an individual. That is, a regime that works for one person may not work for another.
It can affect one’s mental health: People tend to feel guilty and beat themselves up about not being able to fully commit to their diet regime. They sometimes have “cheat days” when they give in to their cravings. This in general can negatively affect their mental health as they would usually have a heightened feeling of guilt and shame.
In essence, dieting isn’t inherently “good” or “bad”. One shouldn’t blindly follow any diet regime promising you would lose way rapidly. The recommended way to be on any diet is to do so with the help of a professional so they can come up with a meal plan for you that’s suitable to your weight goals and health needs. Not sure where to start from? Check out our various meal plan options.
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