Putting the die in diet

Some take weight loss to the extreme

Peyton Hainline, Sports Editor

Our culture screams diet, and with it being the beginning of a new year, it’s screaming louder than we can bear. Everywhere you turn, there is a new product or plan claiming quick fat-loss and promising to help you shave extra weight.

According to Boston Medical Center, “an estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year and Americans spend $33 billion each year on weight loss products.”

Appearance has become a focal point of our society and leads us to pursue thinness with the idea that shrinking our body size will be the key to health and happiness. With this idea so engraved in our minds, the diet industry has emerged into a $60 billion industry.

So what will it be next? Low-fat, keto, paleo, Whole30, gluten-free? 

Propose none. In fact, I advocate for stopping diets all together.

Weight loss can have its benefits such as lowering the risk for many diseases, but often times dieters go to unhealthy lengths in the name of their mental and physical well-being.

In its basic form, the word diet simply describes the food a person or organism eats, but over the years it has grown to imply restriction, obligation, and guilt. With this negative, new connotation unfolding, dieting has achieved the power to consume one’s life, while diminishing their self-confidence and feeling of freedom.

Most people start a diet or get wrapped up in chronic dieting because they’re striving for an ideal body size or weight, but many fail to realize the empty pay-off that accompanies weight loss.

Award winning author Andrew Shanahan writes that, “for many people, when they reach their target weight there is initial joy, but it quickly pales with the realization that losing weight isn’t a golden ticket to a trouble-free life.”

In other words, a number on the scale is not a measure of your worthiness or a determining factor of your happiness. Thus the restrictive nature and rigid food rules of dieting can actually be doing more harm than good.

So rather than obsessing over perfection and idolizing a bathroom scale, I believe that our society needs to take a step away from dieting and instead simply prioritize health.

Health comes in many shapes and sizes, and this entire approach starts with acceptance and kindness towards yourself, even if that means settling for a higher number on the scale. Give yourself permission to be happy with the way you are instead of doting an unrealistic fantasy of perfection.

It’s time to devote our attention away from outcomes and external joy, and shift thoughts towards appreciation, living in the moment, and watching ourselves grow.