It’s Spring — time for proms, graduations, and thoughts of warmer weather. For many, this time of the year is also synonymous with insecurities about body size, leading many to start a brand-new diet. The billion-dollar diet industry feeds off our insecurities, and sales of the latest and greatest diet products soar. At the same time, the incidence of eating disorders also rises. Although eating disorders involve complex biological, psychological, social and cultural factors, dieting is a strong risk factor for their development.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, “Cultural pressures that glorify “thinness” or muscularity and place value on obtaining the “perfect body”; narrow definitions of beauty that include only women and men of specific body weights and shapes; cultural norms that value people on the basis of physical appearance and not inner qualities and strengths; stress related to racial, ethnic, size/weight-related or other forms of discrimination or prejudice” play a role in the development of eating disorders.
- Almost half of American children between 1st – 3rd grade want to be thinner & half of all 9 -10-year old girls are dieting.
- 91% of women recently surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting, 22% dieted “often” or “always”
- 75% of American women surveyed endorse unhealthy thoughts, feelings or behaviors related to food or their bodies
- 35% of “occasional dieters” progress into pathological dieting, (disordered eating) and as many as 25%, advance to full-blown eating disorders
- 95% of diets fail and most will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years
What’s a person to do?
If 95% of all diets fail and most people regain their lost weight (plus additional body fat) in 1- 5 years, what’s a person to do? Well, there is no magic in learning how NOT to diet. We must neutralize all foods by rejecting the diet mentality.
The only way to end your feelings of deprivation (through dieting) is to start giving yourself unconditional permission to eat. It is truly life-changing to discover your own internal sensations of hunger and fullness. If you are looking to achieve improved health parameters (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) and achieve a weight that is “just right” for your body, try Intuitive Eating!
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is a non-diet approach that is special because it encourages us to really tap into our internal wisdom in all areas. Intuitive eating means giving yourself permission to eat all foods! This helps reduce feelings of deprivation, which in turn helps reduce the desire to binge. No restriction, mental or physical, means no binges.
Sometimes we need to get angry at the system to really break free from our disordered eating and dieting behavior. Getting mad, seeing how the world pushes women to hate their bodies, and understanding that this isn’t the fault of the individual can be very freeing and can help push you towards healing.
You are brave. You know the truth about how diets don’t work. You have been there so many times. Stay the course. Learn how to trust yourself around food, not fear it. Learn to honor your body by taking care of its needs, not suppressing them.
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Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She is certified as an eating disorder specialist and is passionate about helping women at midlife, menopause and beyond to make peace with food and body image.
Erica is a highly sensitive nutrition therapist who takes the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, she will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!
Download our Free Intuitive Eating Guide and get off that Diet Roller Coaster for good!