Adult obesity rates began to increase dramatically in Western society in the 1980s, due to an increase in the popularity and consumption of high-energy convenience foods. Alongside this, a new trend in dieting occurred, with many people trying new and often unsuccessful ways to restrict their food intake and lose weight.
Unfortunately, depriving ourselves of the foods we enjoy and exercising as a form of punishment is not a sustainable, long-term solution to weight loss. It can often lead to rapid cycling between weight gain and loss, beliefs that our bodies are bigger or heavier than they actually are, and body image dissatisfaction, which can result in mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
It can also put us at high risk of disordered eating patterns such as fasting, binge eating, intentional vomiting, laxative use and cutting out whole food groups.
Non-dieting eating styles
Given dieting regimes are so often unsuccessful, the non-dieting movement evolved from the fact dieting and food restriction can actually contribute to weight gain, fat storage and altered body shape and size.
Non-dieting eating styles such as “intuitive eating” and “mindful eating” suggest everyone possesses the natural mechanism to ensure good nutrition and a healthy weight.
Non-dieting eating styles promote:
• listening to your body
• eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full
• eating mindfully without distractions such as television and smart phones
• moving daily for enjoyment rather than punishment
• accepting the body’s natural size and shape
• removing food guilt
• ending food preoccupation by removing any form of food restriction.
Being more in tune with the body’s internal cues can help individuals avoid obsessive food consumption and harmful dieting.
The non-dieting eating style “body-mind philosophy” places value on the health and energy of the body and promotes an unrestrained relationship with food that encourages healthy weight management and positive self-esteem.
Non-dieting eating styles shift the focus from weight management to health promotion. This encourages body acceptance in contrast to the common body dissatisfaction aspect of restrictive dieting.
Body acceptance improves self-esteem, body image satisfaction, and physical and psychological well-being.
People who have non-dieting eating styles accept themselves and their bodies in order to care for their health. This approach focuses on the fact those with stronger self-esteem and higher mental well-being are more likely to adopt positive eating behaviours.
These eating styles also focus on exercise as moving the body for enjoyment, instead of concentrating on calories burned. Rather than focusing on trying to lose weight, we should think of exercise as helping to make us feel energised.