Have you ever noticed how many magazines on the bookstore shelf have a miracle diet on the cover? Not just Glamour and Cosmo, but Men’s Health and GQ too. Our weight-obsessed culture undermines our self-esteem by holding up ideals that are impossible to achieve. And it puts beauty and health at odds.
Women’s Issues: Little girls are raised with Barbie dolls as role models. Her shape pushes thinness to an extreme (if Barbie were a real person, she’d have to walk on all fours to support her proportions.) And although womens’ fashion portray stick-thin models as the ideal, 99% of women could never look like that due to their genetic make-up.
Men’s Issues: Men are coming under increasing pressure to sculpt the perfect Calvin Klein slim-line body. Male models have well-defined muscles and no body fat. And although these well-buffed models are the male ideal, 99% of men could never achieve this look because of their genes.
Many students diet to achieve an impossible weight goal. But dieting is not the solution. It is, in fact, counter-productive. Restrictive diets:
- Don’t ultimately work. Your weight is
genetically programmed. When you
eat less, your metabolism (the speed
and efficiency which the body burns
calories for fuel) becomes sluggish.
Your system fights to keep every
pound as if fighting off starvation: the
harder you diet the more your body resists losing weight. Ninety percent of all “successful” dieters soon revert to their old weight.
- Are unhealthy. You deprive yourself of essential nutrients which are almost impossible to get on vacuous diet foods. Also, people who “yo-yo diet” (alternatively gain and lose weight) are at greater risk for health problems.
- Are potentially dangerous. Dieting disturbs your relationship to food. It can make you afraid of eating normally. This can lead to disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binging, and compulsive over-exercising.
- Are boring, and can make you boring. When you restrict your eating you also restrict your interests, and obsess about food and weight until that’s all you think and talk about. Are emotionally draining. They substitute an external, unattainable image of beauty for genuine self-esteem.
Commit to self-nurturing, not self-deprivation: choose eating habits you can keep for a lifetime. Here’s some tips:
- Choose a nutritious diet, including an adventurous variety of fresh, whole foods (enjoy their color, taste, aroma and texture; avoid processed foods).
- Enjoy reasonable exercise (moving your body burns calories, builds lean body mass, and can reduce stress, build self-esteem, and give you more energy)
- Eat slowly, regularly and often (studies
show that people who eat three to five
small meals a day successfully maintain
a healthy weight; eating breakfast
can make you feel less hungry)
All foods can fit into a well-balanced
diet. Use the 80/20 rule: if you eat well
80% of the time, you can indulge the other 20%)
- Examine why you want to control your weight, and the price you pay for it
- Reject media images; accept and value yourself by taking good care of your body and soul
If you are concerned that you are overweight, don’t deprive yourself of food. Consider seeing a clinician to help you set realistic weight goals based on your body type and frame, and to establish an enjoyable, healthful eating plan.