You Are What You Eat?
Sizing up a diet-obsessed culture
In a Positive Light
In general, human beings benefit from structure; as such, committing to a lifestyle that is built around healthy habits will naturally create a healthy diet. It is approaching dieting from a restrictive, strict approach that is the issue or using the wrong motives to fix your daily consumption of food.
“Pros: you set yourself a goal and you push yourself, but if you push yourself too much it can go too far, and once you start dieting it becomes a fad and it is in your head and it’s obsessive. I think that if you want to eat healthy to improve yourself, you should, but I don’t think dieting is the best for your mental health,” said junior Michaela Bureau.
Dietitians can be useful tools when trying to figure out the best overall diet for you, and it should be a plan that suits your food preferences and lifestyle.
According to Time magazine, a March 2017 study found that people who internalize weight stigma have a harder time maintaining weight loss. That is why most experts argue that pushing people toward health goals rather than a number on the scale can yield better results.
A big factor in diet crazes is the conflict between ordinary people and the slender people portrayed on the media. The apparent dilemma is that the average American woman is 5’4” and weighs 165 pounds with normal BMIs between 18.5 and 24.9 while the average Miss America winner is 5’7” and weighs only 121 pounds with an abnormal BMI of 16.9 (Center for Discovery).
Adolescents are influenced and exposed to distorted ideas of what bodies should look like due to unrealistic advertisements and depictions of women and men in the media and can even be “fat-shamed” by fellow peers for not having the ideal body type. This can create low self-esteem and give way to the negative motives for dieting and the repercussions that follow like eating disorders.
“I see fat-shaming as not loving everyone’s body. Everyone should be happy with their body no matter what they see themselves as; it’s your body, why not love it?” explained Bureau.
Based on statistics from the National Eating Disorders Association, in the United States alone, eating disorders will affect 10 million males at some point in their lives. However, due in large part to cultural bias, males are much less likely to seek treatment for their eating disorder compared to females.
“I think [dieting] makes girls and boys feel like they have to be on a diet to be how they want to be,” said Bureau.
Males are exposed just as much to unrealistic bodies, and can form misconceived notions about their weight and physique, particularly the importance of muscularity. Oftentimes males are questioned of their masculinity by societal pressures as well. Starting with action figures, much like the Barbie doll for girls, males are depicted as lean and fit or excessively buff.
By comparing themselves to this, males are now dieting and working out to an extreme, taking more steroids, packing in the protein powders, and becoming vulnerable to anorexia, exercise bulimia, and muscle dysmorphia.
In real life, people who are happy and successful come in all shapes and sizes.Taking good care of your body by eating well and being physically active is a good way to feel better, and remember, everything in moderation is a good way to find balance. If inspiration is ever needed, look at some of Lifetime Fitness’ artworks called the positive poster project by Jennifer Carney-Brush; they are all about promoting positive body image, self esteem, and love for yourself.
“It’s a reminder to stop being so hard on yourself,” she said.