International No Diet Day is celebrated annually on May 6, 2019. It began in the UK in 1992, so this is its 27th year! This is a day to celebrate our NATURAL sizes and shapes. A day to raise awareness about the futility and dangers of dieting. Science has demonstrated that dieting can lead to decreased mental health and it is a risk factor for disordered eating and eating disorders (see here & here). We also know that the pursuit of weight loss through dieting leads to weight regain for many (here & here). Dieting, for many of my clients, has been described as a life long friend/enemy. Many have been trying to change the size of their body for 20, 30, 40 and 50+ years because of pressure put on them by others or themselves, precipitated by the billion-dollar diet industry.
I understand that dieting can serve varying functions in one's life. Only you know what feels best for you. Does dieting feel right? How does it feel when it works, when it doesn't? Perhaps the functions that it is serving can be achieved in other ways? It can be terrifying for some to think about the consequences of ending dieting. But you can still achieve good health, if that is your goal, without dieting.
It is a tough culture out there, I'm aware. I am also aware that my natural size - thin, is not one that is judged or stigmatized, regardless of what I eat, or how I move or do not move my body. This is called "thin privilege" and it is wrong. Our culture puts "thinness" on an undeserving pedestal as "thinness" is equated with beauty and health when we know that beauty and health can exist at many sizes.
We are not asked to change our shoe size so why are we asked to change our body size? Our culture does not honour or encourage body size diversity. This is not only present in the literature, but also in many personal stories I have heard from my clients reporting weight stigma from friends, family members and health practitioners in their lives. We know that this stigma can also lead to disordered eating (here) and even healthcare avoidance (here, here & here).
We can still achieve health and well-being at every size, but we each have the right to determine what that looks like for ourselves. International No Diet Day encourages Health At Every Size®, which is based on the principles of weight inclusivity, health enhancement, respectful care, eating for well-being and life-enhancing movement. A non-diet approach to health and intuitive eating have been proven to lead to increased self-esteem, decreased body dissatisfaction, improvement in eating behaviours, metabolic fitness and psychological distress (here, here, & here).
"This day is about standing up against the narrow messages of health and standards of beauty that are causing so much harm," shared my colleague April Gates, MSW from The Wellness Collaborative, in Guelph.
Locally, the Waterloo Wellington Eating Disorder Coalition will be continuing their International No Diet Day campaign by posting signs in storefronts in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph & surrounding areas. This campaign was inspired by Candy MacNeil, MSc., Psychotherapist and has been in operation for 10 years! These signs provide true messages regarding, health, beauty and size. So keep your eyes peeled for these signs or pick up a body acceptance decal at one of these stores.
Can you take a break from diet or body size change preoccupation today? Does this seem really hard? If you would like to learn more about how to explore a non-diet approach to health or International No Diet Day then let's connect.