The Dangers Of Diet Culture

January. The month of cookery book mania. Everywhere you look there are TV personalities and Instagram stars selling you their *totally unique* new diet plan for the new year. These plans often involve cutting out seemingly random food groups in an attempt to "tone up" and finally get the bikini body of our dreams.

Sounds good, right?

On the surface, the explosion of dieting culture seems a good thing in a society apparently plagued by an obesity epidemic. Everyone is lining up to tell you how little bread they are eating, and the incredible health benefits of juicing. Maybe I'm just being cynical, but when I look at diet culture I see anything but health. It can be incredibly dangerous for you, physically and psychologically. Here are 3 reasons why you should ditch the dieting this January. 

1. The Guilt Factor.

It's a vicious cycle. You tell yourself to cut out the junk food, wave goodbye to your cookies and tell everyone you know that you have never felt better. For around 2 hours. Or, if you are like me, more like 2 minutes. The sugar levels plummet, and you find yourself piling a basket with 2-for-1 Oreos and half price tubs of cookie dough. It's all fine until you look at the aftermath and feel that guilt rising up. You feel like a failure, scrolling through photos of models on social media - models who you are positive have never annihilated a bag of Doritios in under 0.000002 seconds.

Diets perpetuate the idea that foods should be labelled "good" and "bad", and if you eat the "bad" food you are by default failing to be good. By no means am I saying you should be getting pizza in every night, but aren't we all tired of being told what to do? Isn't there a rebellious part of everyone that is attracted to doing the exact opposite of what we *should* do? When we tell ourselves to cut out food groups in order to look a certain way, we are associating food with guilt rather than with nutrition and happiness. Ironically, this is a lot more psychologically unhealthy than any 2-for-1 ice cream deal I know. 

2. Do Diets Work?

The short answer is that most of the time they don't, in fact they often do the exact opposite! A recent study of 31 long-term dieters concluded that, while most were able to lose up to 10% of their body weight, within four or five years "the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more." Let's be honest, nobody is going to be able to survive on a juice cleanse their entire life, nor would anyone want to. Many people diet to lose weight, but the reality is that weight not does reflect health. You don't have to look like a Kardashian to be healthy, health comes in lots of shapes and sizes - you do you!

3.  Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

It goes without saying but you don't need to diet to be happy. You don't need to be a certain weight to start the new year, it can be just as wonderful the way you already are. It's easy to fall into the social media rabbit hole of weight equaling bad. There will always be someone on the internet or the pages of a magazine smiling at you, making big bucks from a magical weight loss tea or a new excercise plan. That celebrity doesn't know you, so please don't restrict your happiness based on a stranger's poor career choice. Every human body is different and none of us are obligated to look the same. Enjoy food in all it's various nutritious and non-nutricious forms, enjoy exercise because it makes you feel good, and not because you want to look like someone else who is entirely different to you. Eat, drink and dance your way into this new year, secure in the knowledge that you are not - and never will be - defined by a number.