Debunking Myths about Dieting for Weight Loss

thin girlsUntil I researched, experimented and realized how dieting could change my life, I was cynical towards it and believed that dieting is for weight loss. But after nearly three years of mindful eating and one year of intensive self-education and testing a variety of diets, I now understand that dieting simply means restricting certain foods from your daily meals as opposed to going hungry because of dietary restrictions. Yes, dieting can benefit your appearance, but for me it’s been my improvement in mental health that has been much more drastic and self-motivational.

People ask why I won’t eat or drink certain things, assuming that I don’t have to diet because I’m thin. And from such casual conversations and personal experience, I am sure that most of us do not understand how food affects our bodies. I am learning new things each day and it took me more than 20 years to understand why I should eat well. Although I have always known that choosing to eat whole foods contributes to long-term health, I did not understand why people gave up eating certain foods completely; such beliefs were enforced subtly as I grew up, for example I used to get sugary lollipops at the doctor’s office! Nowadays I restrict my diet not just because it feels good, but also because I know that unhealthy foods are so cheap and accessible that eating mindlessly will eventually lead to a slow painful death.[1]

In addition to overall health, many people have specific allergies and intolerances that make eating certain foods especially difficult. About 5.5% of children have food allergies[2] and I believe that I was intolerant to dairy for a long time because when I stopped eating cereal (with milk) for breakfast, I stopped having migraines that had been plaguing me regularly for years. I still minimize the dairy I consume because my mind feels off when I have it sometimes. Also, I minimize grains in my daily diet because that seems to help clear my mind. Every body is different!

Directly contradicting the popular belief that dieting is for weight loss, some people go on diets to gain weight. Men in particular are more likely to try to gain muscle mass to fit into the strong male stereotype. [3] Also, some sports like boxing have weight classes that determine who you can compete against, so athletes that want to compete in a certain weight class may diet to gain or maintain a heavier weight than their natural state.

From gaining weight to simply staying healthy, people regulate their diets for many reasons apart from weight loss. In fact, I am more and more convinced that dieting is necessary to living a full, healthy life.

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