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The Non Diet: Make It Your Own

With obesity and eating disorders running rampant through our society, people are starting to question what dieting is all about and why for most people, it's not a long term solution.

Beauty Tips Girl Friday

Although around 70% of women and 25% of men in the U.S. are on a diet at any one time, more than half the population is considered obese, and other Western countries are experiencing the same problem. Worse than the problems generated by weight issues and eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia for the country as a whole are the impact on individual's mental and physical health. People are dieting themselves into starvation, learning to vomit in a futile effort to rid themselves of extra calories and living miserably from one meal to the next, one weigh-in to the other.

Some experts are saying that what's wrong with our culture relates directly to our efforts to solve the problem of perceived overweight. Eighty percent of women perceive themselves as overweight, largely because they are comparing themselves to celebrity models and actresses who are typically several inches taller and twenty to thirty pounds lighter than most American women. Even little girls are on diets, trying to achieve or maintain unnaturally low weight. But with everyone dieting, people are also getting fatter and fatter. Why?

It's the dieting. When we diet, we restrict our food intake, with the result that our bodies slow their metabolism down, burn calories at a slower rate, reduce our energy levels and try to conserve our fat stores. Constant hunger makes it difficult to concentrate, creates moodiness and fatigue and leaves us vulnerable to other diseases. Some people spend so much time being truly hungry that they stop recognizing their body's hunger signals: these people are the ones at risk from eating disorders because they give up eating normally and sometimes give it up entirely.

There are all sorts of weird cultural ideas about being overweight, including the ones that thin people have more willpower, dedication and moral strength than fat people. None of this is true: weight is largely determined by genetics, which cause our bodies to fasten on a set point for weight. When we lose weight and fall below the set point, our bodies switch into emergency mode, limiting fat burning and attempting to gain weight as fast as possible once the diet is stopped. But even with modern education, people of all ages assume that if they just try hard enough, they can attain any weight they choose. When they fail to lose weight and keep it off, they feel they have failed entirely as human beings.

Experts agree that the best diet is no diet at all. The more we yo-yo between weight gain and loss, the more weight we gain and the less we lose, with each attempt at dieting resulting in a larger weight gain when the diet ends. Yo-yos are bad for the health and bad for the mind and spirit, which is seriously affected by the despair and self-loathing that yo-yoing weight creates. Ditch the diet!

Let's consider some new possibilities. Researchers have found that there are people who are technically "overweight", but whose health is excellent and whose bodies work just as they should. If you could be overweight and still be happy, still be loved and still be healthy, maybe being overweight wouldn't matter a bit. Now, guess what? There are people who are overweight, some very overweight, and they have great love lives, plenty of friends, and fine health.

In a wonderful counterculture move, men and women of all sizes are starting to question the standardized—and fictionalized—concepts of beauty. Some, called "fat acceptors" are working on turning the word "fat" into a positive word. Size acceptance is one way to love yourself and to admit the possibility that, regardless of your size, you deserve to be happy and treated right.

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