A while ago I decided it was time I got in shape again. As many of you know this is easier said than done. I’m sure many of you suffer from the same affliction that I do, it’s called “do-anything-except-for-actually-going-to-the-gym-and-not eating-crap-in-the-evenings-itis”. Sadly this affliction has far reaching consequences. Hours of my time each week are taken up by this illness. Evenings and weekends spent ‘researching’ diets and exercise regimes online, all the while digging into an assortment of calorie-rich snacks – cookies, crisps, chocolate, ice cream – you name it. The all too familiar cycle consists of a period of occasional gym visits and abstinence, followed by weeks of procrastination and indulgence, only to begin again. I suppose that occasionally going to the gym is still better than not going at all, but maybe baring my dirty, flabby and indulgent secret to the world (yes DR readers you are the world!) will finally motivate me to go more often! But let’s face it, probably not.
It was on one of these ‘research’ missions that I came across something that seemed at first glance wonderful; today is International No Diet Day! So on this day do we throw all healthy eating habits out of the window and binge on MacDonalds? Tell me more – I thought!
Soon though, my initial excitement wore off. Superficially, I thought it was just going to be a day where we throw caution to the wind and get a free pass to eat whatever we like for one day, but when I started reading about what this day is really supposed to be about I came away feeling that these people really have the wrong end of the stick.
According to the proponents of INDD, this day is all about fat acceptance and to highlight the potential dangers of dieting as well as the unlikelihood of success.
My first quarrel with their argumentation is why we should promote fat acceptance when it is not healthy? ‘Health at any size’ is the slogan that I have heard many times when researching this article, something I have to say I support, but not in the way that it is currently presented with the focus on fat acceptance. Although I feel that people who are overweight or morbidly obese should not be discriminated against, does encouraging them to lose weight count as discrimination? Simply look at the health issues involved – diabetes and heart disease for a start. It is really (if you’ll pardon the pun) a growing problem. The underlying reasons for this are complex, with not just Western countries afflicted, but also the poorer regions on our planet. There have never been so many obese children as there are today. Whereas being overweight was traditionally seen as a sign of affluence, it is now more often one of poverty. Poor and uneducated people eating processed junk food loaded with sugar and fat all day long because that is either all they can afford or they simply don’t know any better.
So what is the fat acceptance movement all about?
Basically they are a social movement that campaign for equal rights for overweight people, who they feel are discriminated against on public transport and in the job market as well as being seen as second class citizens and the object of ridicule. They also claim that health issues that have been linked with obesity are either exaggerated or completely untrue and are lies perpetuated by a society that intrinsically hates fat people.
This is where they lose me. I wholeheartedly believe that nobody should be discriminated against for reasons of religion, sexual preference, race, colour or appearance so don’t get me wrong. However, when people start denying that there are health issues that are DIRECTLY linked to being overweight, the rest of the things they say just kind of go in one ear and out the other. I’m all about loving yourself, but not about giving up on health and fitness simply because you happen to already be overweight. Because increasing amounts of people are obese or overweight, must we see it as natural just because that is what the majority is?
Of course there is another issue that International No Diet Day is trying to highlight – the danger of crash dieting, yo-yo diets and eating disorders that also pose serious health risks. These unhealthy eating habits are equally bad and dangerous. It seems we have become a society of extremes – more obese people than ever, as well as a worrying amount of (young) people suffering from eating disorders.
Perhaps, in stead of celebrating International No Diet Day there should be something like an International Healthy Eating & Living Day where we promote exercise, a balanced diet, and teach people how to cook inexpensive but healthy meals. I’m not saying we should promote anorexia or crash dieting – but shouldn’t we at least strive for health and fitness?
So in short, let’s all celebrate International No Diet Day by doing just that, screw the diet and exchange it for something a little more lasting that will do you for a lifetime – adopt a healthy lifestyle!