The Diet Industry Profits Off of Lying to You

A dramatic title, for a cruel marketing ploy that has dire consequences on women and girls (and all humans!) everywhere. The National Organization for Women reports that 40-60% of elementary school girls worry about their weight and appearance. By age 13, 53% of American girls are “unhappy with their bodies.” By age 17, this statistic jumps to 78%. 

No one exists in a bubble; we are influenced by our environments. A 9 year old child, who should be concentrating on their times tables and what kind of braid to wear in their hair, does not just wake up one day and decide that she is “fat” and “ugly.” She is taught to think that way, by TV, radio, social media, magazines, and sadly, the women around her. As she grows up, these teachings only intensify. 

It would take a very lengthy article to dive into all of the harmful misinformation that is peddled at us 24/7, so I’ll choose to focus on only a few of the most common and egregious falsehoods. 

Number one: Repeat after me: I do not need a juice cleanse. You do not need a juice cleanse. No one needs a juice cleanse. Why? Because we do not need to spend our money on juices to “cleanse” us- we have organs to do that. I personally think that a better name for juice cleanses is “starvation.” Juices are not meals. They will not fulfill your daily caloric needs. You never, ever need to skip a day, or three days, or a week of eating food. We need to eat food multiple times every day because we are humans and need to carry out our life functions. 

Number two: Diet pills, detox teas (“tummy teas” / laxative teas), appetite suppressants, etc are all scams. You may have seen these scams shoved in your face on Instagram, by celebrities like Khloe and Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Cardi B, and even Demi Lovato, who has suffered from an eating disorder herself. If you ever see this reckless behavior by a celebrity or influencer, I highly recommend unfollowing or blocking them immediately. They are taking (lots of) money in exchange for telling you that you are too big and need to harm yourself with artificial products in order to be smaller. Not to mention, there is no way that they use these products themselves, and not only because they simply do not work. These stars have chefs, trainers, plastic surgery, and photoshop. Don’t bother wanting to look like them, because they don’t even look like themselves. 

Number three: Crash dieting is not normal, healthy, or okay. Do not starve yourself before you go on vacation. Do not starve yourself before a music festival. Do not starve yourself before an event where you will be wearing a certain dress. Ignore advertising that claims to have the secret to losing 30 pounds in one month, or 10 in one week, or 5 in one day. Unless you are highly overweight in a way that is detrimental to your health, it is generally not safe to lose more than about one pound per week. Weight loss, for those who need or want it, is a slow process with lots of literal ups and downs.

Number four: There is nothing immoral about eating whatever you want, and there is nothing moral about restricting yourself.  The language we use when we talk about food and eating needs to be re-examined. No food needs to be your “guilty pleasure.” It’s okay to eat snacks, or dessert, or whatever it may be for you. Someone being physically smaller or weighing less than another does not make them inherently more beautiful, desirable, lovable, disciplined, successful, or even healthier. Someone being physically bigger or weighing more than another does not make them uglier, lazier, or of lesser character. 

Number five: Food is not our enemy. It should not be looked at as a temptation that we have to avoid. It is not a challenge to be overcome. Food is our fuel. It is okay to eat carbs. It is okay to eat sugar. You do not need to “earn” food by exercising a certain amount and burning a certain number of calories. We can eat at night, because it’s a stupid myth that late night eating equals weight gain. Our bodies are working and digesting 24/7, no matter what our man-made clocks say.

Avoid falling prey to whatever the “beauty standard” is right now. Don’t eat only watermelon because you saw your favorite YouTuber do it. Don’t forget that diets, workouts, and appearances are trends just as much as clothing and music. What will never go out of style, though, is you finding ways to look and feel your best, whatever that means for you. You were not put on this Earth to fill a particular jean size. No one will go to your funeral and say that what they loved best about you was that you never ordered cake after your meal, or that you had a defined stomach. You do not owe it to anyone to look a certain way. You only owe it to yourself to nourish and love yourself. Prioritize the well-being of your heart, mind, and soul as much as you do your body.