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Yesterday, we talked about the systems of oppression of patriarchy and white supremacy and how they define a very narrow standard of beauty to keep power with the already powerful.
We also talked about diet culture’s foundational belief that some bodies are inherently better than others (thin bodies are inherently more valuable than fat bodies).
Diet culture says if we want to be more desirable, worthy, and good, then we should make our bodies smaller by dieting.
But the hard scientific evidence, the absolute truth is that diets do not lead to permanent weight loss for over 95% of people.
One more time for the people in the back…
Diets do not lead to permanent weight loss for over 95% of people.
That’s right. Diets fail to work 95% of the time.
Now, you may be thinking, “But I went on a diet and lost weight!”
I believe you. Almost anyone can lose weight in the short term, regardless of the diet they try.
However, there is absolutely no cold, hard, scientific evidence to support the idea that the majority of people can get thin and maintain it for the long term.
The evidence we have says that less than 5% of people who lose weight keep it off for more than five years.
Every single study finds this (the five year regain of weight). Many folks regain more than they lost.
Not only do diets fail to make us thin, dieting also makes us unhealthier. Weight loss is often prescribed as a health intervention, but according to research,
“…this weight focus is not only ineffective at producing thinner, healthier bodies, but may also have unintended consequences, contributing to food and body preoccupation, repeated cycles of weight loss and regain, distraction from other personal health goals and wider health determinants, reduced self-esteem, eating disorders, other health decrement, and weight stigmatization and discrimination.”
Dieting also makes us fatter. Repeated cycles of weight loss and weight gain (weight cycling) has also been shown to lead to increased cardiovascular risks. Regardless of body size, people who lose and regain weight end up being at higher risk for heart problems.
The staggering truth is that the diet industry is a $60 billion per year industry with a 95% failure rate.
Let that sink in.
They are making a killing on selling a product that has zero evidence of being effective in the long term. They are using stigma, society’s obsession with beauty, youth, and thinness, and our own shame and self-blame to rob us blind.
Since dieting doesn’t work, this sets them up nicely to keep getting our hard-earned money over and over again. If they keep us distracted and preoccupied, they hope that we’ll make losing weight our mission in life. And many of us do.
Getting angry yet? Yeah. Me too.
I want to tell you something: if you’ve been on a diet (or dozens of diets, like so many of us have) and you didn’t keep the weight off… it’s not your fault.
The system is literally set up this way. We “fail” at losing weight permanently through dieting time and time again, but since we know that diets do not work long-term, we are set up to fail from the start.
But we never blame “the plan”, we always blame ourselves. We probably need to blame ourselves in order to feel motivated to try again. Our self-blame works against us, and for them.
Have you had enough? In case you’re wondering, I’m 100% convinced another diet is not the answer you are looking for. Let’s talk about a different way.
Health at Every Size
So if there’s no real way to get permanently thin, and if weight loss isn’t our best chance at health, then what? Let’s get to know a new health and wellness paradigm: Health at Every Size.
When I decided to kick diet culture to the curb, I started appreciating my body for everything it could do instead of what it couldn’t (get smaller). Ultimately, I decided that I would choose healthy habits instead of continually fighting my body.
Nowadays, I don’t hate myself. I don’t hold myself to unrealistic standards. I’m still fat, but it’s a heck of a lot more peaceful over here.
And I’m thriving, honestly.
What’s next? One pillar of Health at Every Size is intuitive eating. You might be wondering…Can you really trust your body to tell you when to eat and when to stop? What if you don’t remember what hungry feels like? We’ll talk about all that stuff tomorrow.
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