I recently read your article, “Doing without diets,” from the May 5, 2012 edition of The Telegram and I found it very enlightening. I cannot agree more that today’s society has a disturbing preoccupation with weight loss and the methods Canadian’s are using to drop pounds can have a negative effect on their overall health.
Although there is a lot of talk about the obesity epidemic in this country, most of the methods used to get obese populations to a healthier weight require some type of food deprivation. Methods such as the Atkins diet eliminate an entire food group (carbohydrates) while a program like Weight Watchers limits your caloric intake by giving food point values. They all come down to reducing consumption and lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.
Pamela Ward, a MUN PhD candidate, instructor in the School of Nursing and member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Applied Health Research’s Affinity Group on Eating Issues, Disordered Eating and Body Image did a great job explaining this issue by pointing out the main problem which is diets fail
90 per cent of the time, they lead to a negative mentality and the relationship between body size and health isn’t as clear as we believe.
Today’s society has an extremely narrow view of what defines health.
Most people see a thin woman or man and assume that they must be a poster child for good diet and exercise. The reality is very different. People need to be educated that there are many different variations of a healthy body.
I’m not trying to say having an extreme excess of weight is healthy, but I am saying that striving for a “perfect” body is unrealistic because this perfection does not exist.
This obsession with an ideal body type has lead to a society striving towards dangerous goals and I believe it is the reason eating disorders are becoming more prevalent across the country.
Ward’s words that we are, “stigmatizing one segment of the population instead of putting it (money) towards the overall health of the population” strikes a nerve that I think everyone in this country needs to acknowledge.
The conversation of diet and weight needs to change drastically.
We need to change the focus away from what can’t I eat to what should I eat? Changing that one word eliminates the incessant feelings of deprivation and the preoccupation with food that Michelle Allison discusses in your article. Asking what should I eat opens the doors to becoming educated on what foods will nourish your body and provide it with the fuel it needs. It allows individuals to learn the benefits of eating foods to improve their health and feelings of well-being as opposed to only looking at the scale.
Learning to be a healthy individual shouldn’t be limited to calorie counting and I enjoyed this article for pointing this fact out. It is refreshing to see someone discussing the issue’s with our weight loss methods and explaining that diets are not the solution for all individuals who consider themselves or are labeled as unhealthy.
Thanks for a wonderful read.