How the diet mentality affects your mental health and top ways to fix it
Most of us grew up in a world believing that being thin is equal to being healthy and fit. But this is not true!
Although weight can be a very good indicator of our fitness levels, it is not the only one. Also, it can often be misleading. People who have a higher proportion of muscles in their bodies tend to weigh more. And having more muscle is actually an indication of good physical health. Not only does it make you more agile, but also leads to better metabolism and stronger immunity.
So, what is it?
The diet mentality stems from the belief that being thin is everything and that dieting is the only way to good health. It involves crash diets, and massive food restrictions and often leads to a distorted self-image.
The diet culture divides food as good and bad. Things we can eat and things we should not. And these aren’t restricted to a couple of small items, but consist of entire food groups, like carbs and fats. Food is viewed as a positive or a negative thing, not as a form of nutrition that is powering our bodies.
Thanks to the diet mentality, some women actually take pride in their super-active metabolism and being too thin. They can take weight gainer powders for women to help them maintain healthy body composition.
How does diet affect our mental health?
The diet mentality has a direct effect on our physical and mental health. Physical, we lose out on a ton of nutrition, but mentally it does a lot more damage.
Creates an unhealthy relationship with food
Being a part of this diet culture and looking at food as good or evil leads to us creating a negative relationship with food. We end up micro-analyzing everything we eat and stop enjoying the foods we love.
Indulging in your favourite dessert is often followed by guilt and shame. And so, the tiny bit of happiness we would have got is taken away in a matter of minutes. And this brings me to my next point…
This leads to eating disorders
All the over-analyzing and guilt result in eating disorders. An eating disorder is when you have issues in your eating behaviour and is associated with stressful thoughts and emotions.
Eating disorders not only affect us mentally but also have a long-term impact on the physical aspects of our bodies. It can lead to serious malnourishment, or obesity and can definitely impact the composition of our body resulting in numerous diseases.
Stress and Depression
A direct impact of eating disorders is low self-esteem. We constantly look at ourselves as ‘not good enough. This causes a lot of stress and can lead to depression. And being depressed will have direct effects on all other aspects of your life, may it be personal or professional.
So, the important question to ask is…
How to break free from the diet mentality?
Follow an inclusive diet
Stop looking at food as a good or a bad thing. Instead, look at it as a way of nourishing your body and keeping you alive. And be thankful for all the amazing things you get to experience.
Build your physical strength
Treat your body well. Give it good food and then make sure you work out. Train your body to increase your overall strength and agility. This will help you in every aspect of your life.
Moderation is the key
Following an inclusive diet often comes with the worry of weight gain. This is when you need to remember that moderation is the key to good health. Eat everything you like, but eat it in moderation. And this isn’t too tough to follow when you know that nothing is off-limits.
Listening to your body for hunger and satiety cues is a very crucial step toward healthy living. Eating mindfully means being able to understand when your body is hungry and needs food, and stop eating when you are full. This process involves understanding your body at a deeper level, but once you do, you will not have to worry about following a diet.
Stop judging yourself on the scale of weight
Remember that good health and fitness is more than scale weight. It isn’t about seeing a number on the scale and getting happy. But instead, it is about being able to move around easily, playing with your kids without getting tired, and ageing well. So, the focus should always be on getting fitter and not on losing a couple of pounds on the scale.
Accept yourself for who you are
Although this is the last point, it is also the most important. Stop worrying about society and what people think. Sure, looking a certain way is important and can boost your self-image. But honestly, people will judge you irrespective of how good or bad you are. So instead, accept yourself for who you are and then work towards a better, more awesome version of yourself!
Written by: Khushali Shah
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