Healthy Living

Think Going On A Diet Is Harmless? Think Again.

02/27/2017 10:37pm ET | Updated March 10, 2017

It’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week--a great time to be reminded that we are put on this earth to do so much more than diet, put our bodies through hell, and obsess about weight loss.

The National Eating Disorders Association has published a series of infographics to help spread the word about eating disorders and some of the risk factors that can lead to disordered eating.

NEDA has found that dieting is one of the most important predictors of developing an eating disorder among 14- and 15-year-olds, and that among even non-overweight girls, over one third reported that they were engaged in some form of dieting.

We’re in the midst of a global crisis when it comes to women and body image. 85% of women opt out of important life activities when they don’t feel good about their looks, which means that almost every woman (see my video below) is holding back on life because she doesn’t feel like she’s pretty, or thin, or sexy enough.

The way we break through this barrier as a global community of women is by doing the work on an individual level to love ourselves, our appearances, and our bodies harder than ever before.

If you think that your choice as an individual woman to go on a new diet, to buy into yet another plan or program, or to otherwise engage in restricting your eating for the purpose of weight loss, is only affecting you--think again.

Each time you buy into the $60-billion-dollar diet industry, you’re telling society (and other women) that you support a culture that makes women believe they have no value until they achieve their “after” photo status and lose 10 (or 20, or 30, or more) pounds.

It’s time to put a stop to this, and to declare a new way for ourselves as women. It is no longer acceptable to define our worth on the basis of size. It is no longer acceptable to perpetuate the idea, as individuals and as a collective, that we should spend our precious time, money, and energy trying to lose weight and perfect our bodies.

To be clear, I’m not advocating that you stop taking care of your body. Quite the opposite! I know for myself, as someone in recovery from Binge Eating Disorder, that it’s possible to use eating and exercise choices to hack our way into loving our bodies harder than ever before, rather than using those choices as weapons of self-destruction.

I still struggle as an individual with not letting my focus rest on perfecting my body. For me, a “good day” as a recovering binge eater is when I go to bed and my thoughts don't revolve around what I ate that day, or whether I got enough cardio in.

I know how tough it is, believe me. There's a ton of pressure out there to buy into the diet myth, and we're bombarded constantly with marketing messages that make us feel like who we are, and the bodies we organically have, are not enough. But when I'm able to make my days revolve around my purpose and the impact I'm making and the people I'm helping, rather than my exterior--that's a good day.

Bottom line: every woman deserves to be head-over-heels in love with her body.

Teenage girls shouldn’t be developing eating disorders and dysfunctional feelings about their bodies that will plague them for a lifetime. They should be developing into young women that will make the world a better place through their contributions as mothers, sisters, friends, professionals, lovers, and citizens.

Our behavior as individuals matters a great deal in contributing to either fueling or ending this global crisis, and the pandemic of eating disorders that plagues our society. Which side will you choose?

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