The word ‘diet’ once referred simply to the food beings habitually eat. However, in a negatively dynamic society, the human population application of the term has developed into restrictive means of losing weight rather than a dietary guideline. From the idea of a diet itself to the culture surrounding it, everything about this concept is wrong.
Today’s idea of a diet perceived by many is faulty in a lot of ways. Many popular diets promote cutting out a major food group, such as carbohydrates or fat, which is actually the opposite of helpful. Based on Teens Health from Nemours, restricting these food groups is actually unhealthy because one won’t get the vitamins and minerals needed from the cut out categories. In addition, the source discusses how these limited diets don’t actually maintain the weight loss over time; they usually result in short-term weight drops.
Another common misconception is linking dieting to better mentality and health. Some people view weight loss as the “key to happiness.” However, this idea of causation without any correlation can be very destructive. Society mistakes weight as the only measure of health, when, in fact, it is not the sole factor. According to Psychology Today, “You can be considered overweight and be healthy. You can also be considered thin and be unhealthy. A person’s weight is simply not a good barometer of their overall health.” All bodies work differently, so no singular diet accommodates to all of them.
In terms of mental health, people can mistake weight loss as a solution to other points of distress in their lives. Clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior stated, “It’s not the external achievement of some goal that’s going to make us happy. You think that will automatically change your life in some meaningful way, but it could be that your life pretty much remains the same.” If a person were to mistakenly link these two and be let down, it can do more harm to their mentality than help.
Once we’ve established diets aren’t effective, it’s important to take a look at the societal culture that is promoting this process, making it seem effective. Many celebrities and popular brands plug diet promotions to their massive followings. The Kardashian/Jenner family are infamous for these types of brand deals, posting many kinds of weight-loss products which aren’t necessarily proven to work.
In addition to these weight loss designed products, “low-fat” labeled foods can be added to the list of diet category foods that aren’t actually good for a person. Many brands may cut out fats from their products in order to market it as such, but will make it much more processed and full of sugar. Based on Healthline, foods like low-fat cookies, frozen yogurt, sweetened breakfast cereal and reduced-fat peanut butter all have high sugar content that make up for any efforts to cut out fat. In reality, they aren’t healthier options, they’re just a marketing opportunity. This creates another fallacy around diet foods that are supposed to lower fat content, when it’s just more unhealthily processed.
This technique of using a large following to advertise products that do not necessarily work contributes to the toxic diet environment. Despite being shunned and criticized for it, many of theses celebrities continue posting these advertisements, creating an atmosphere that puts pressure on shortcuts to weight loss.
While society’s image of dieting may seem bleak, there are still healthy and correct ways to lose weight that doesn’t involve an extreme way out. According to Teens Health from Nemours, “The best way to diet is to eat a variety of healthy food. Aim to eat more fruits and veggies, whole grains, and drink water instead of sugary drinks like sports drinks or sodas. Cut back on meats high in fat (like burgers and hot dogs), fried foods, sweets, and other junk food.” Specialized dieting products and a push on quick weight loss is not necessary or efficient. It’s all a matter of lifestyle, individual health, and a comfortable mentality.