5 negative impacts of weight loss culture
How many times have you said “diet starts tomorrow” or signed up with a weight loss shake or supplement company? How many times have you not achieved the magnificent results promised or found yourself struggling? How many times have you felt a total failure for not being as successful as you feel you should have and believed you would be?
The majority of people who have struggled with weight issues will know exactly what I mean. Those of you who have been successful are in the minority. Diet and weight loss culture is all around us but how beneficial is it really to our physical and mental health? The answer, in short, is not very, and I will discuss 5 reasons why.
- It can create an unhealthy relationship with food and eating.
Weight loss and diet culture can often revolve around restricting foods, and sometimes complete food groups. If you then incorporate these foods, you have “failed”. And boy does that have impacts on your feelings of self worth. Some dieters are incredibly motivated and when they start to see the sort of results they are looking for, it can promote them to further restrict, or to become obsessive with following their plan and not straying. This can create feelings of self hatred when weight loss plateaus or slows down and can perpetuate a deeper obsession with food and exercise.
- It can have negative mental health impacts by setting you up to fail.
As I said before, many of these diets work by restricting food intake. While you might initially see results, many of these diets are not sustainable in the long term. They do not leave much, if any, room for social activity that might be centred around food and drink. And let’s face it, isn’t it a joyful experience to spend an evening eating and drinking delicious things with people we love spending time with?
The feelings of failure associated with dieting can lead to a lot of negativity. People can become pre-occupied with their weight and diet, thinking of little else. The comparison of themselves against others who they perceive as more successful than themselves at dieting can be a miserable experience. Not exactly setting a solid foundation for positive mental health.
- It can perpetuate an unhealthy and distorted body image.
We are bombarded with images of the worlds most beautiful people on a daily basis via many different forms of media. Very few of these people have physiques that are true representations of us real folks. These celebrities and models often have trainers, chefs, nutritionists etc and spend hours out of each day working out. It is their job to look a certain way. We also have no idea of the lengths they may go to in private to achieve their physique’s. A persons size is not always representative of their health. Someone can be desperately unhealthy while having a socially acceptable and attractive physique. It can be highly unrealistic to expect your body to look like that of the models and celebrities we see in the media. Would you expect to squeeze your size 8 feet into a size 6 shoe? No? Then why do we have this expectation with our bodies?
- It can deprive you of essential nutrients.
Since most diets work by restricting food intake, then you are instantly reducing the nutrients you obtain from your diet. Some diets restrict entire food groups which can drastically reduce the nutrients that your body is getting from your diet. Balance is key with nutrition and restricting foods and food groups does not allow for balance. Depriving your body of nutrients can not only lead to deficiencies, but it can also lead to overwhelming cravings for the nutrients that your body needs. However, to give in to the cravings and eat what your body needs would mean “failing” at your diet. It can also encourage binge eating which isn’t going to make your body feel good.
- It only offers a “one size fits all” approach to health and weight loss.
Are you exactly the same as the person next to you? No. You are completely unique and individual so why not eat that way? Why do we expect success and identical results from the exact same plan that another person is using? Their body is completely different to ours. We each have different strengths and weaknesses, different nutrient levels, different health levels, different lifestyles, different stress levels, different schedules, different microbiomes, different biology. Our results will not be the same yet our expectations are. It is not realistic.
What can we do to negate this? Well, you can start by consulting with someone who can prepare a sustainable plan for you that takes into consideration your abilities, your lifestyle, your likes and dislikes, food sensitivities, health concerns and goals, stress levels, employment and budget, activity levels, home life, hobbies and interests and so much more. A holistic nutritionist will prepare diet, lifestyle and supplement recommendations that are tailored to the individual that you are and your needs and goals. There is no “one size fits all” approach with holistic nutrition. While we can give general advice such as advising everyone to eat plenty of veggies, your particular plan will tell you what vegetables will support your health concerns and goals and why. There are no hefty monthly subscription fees and pricey products being delivered to your door each month when you consult with a holistic nutritionist. You get to reach out and discuss things that are working and things that aren’t working and then we work with you to find alternatives that will suit your body and your lifestyle. We don’t believe in restricting or depriving your body to achieve results. We operate from the perspective of optimal health.
We measure your success by how you feel and not by what the scales report.