Monday, May 06, 2013

International No Diet Day

I am on a short family trip to celebrate my mom's 90th birthday and enjoying the love and company of a huge extended family and friends. Needless to say .. there has been food. Luscious spinach salad, sweet fresh fruit, perfectly roasted chicken, rich creamy pasta. Delicious food is often a very special part of family celebrations - no matter one's culture.  I am grateful for what we have shared together over the past few days.

I woke up this morning happy to satisfy my craving for hot coffee laced with real cream (while blessing the family we were staying with for having real cream in their fridge!) and toasted homemade multi grain bread with nut butter and sliced bananas. Then I remembered that today is International No Diet Day. And I was grateful, once again, for having ditched dieting years ago and learning to pay attention to my hunger and fullness cues as well as learning what the body really needs to function at its best.  I am grateful to live in a country where I can choose to satisfy a craving for something sweet with fresh berries even in the middle of winter. Grateful to trust my body to take care of me if I nourish myself well with a wide variety of foods, enough sleep and joyful activity. 

In honour of International No Diet Day (INDD) I am sharing a blog post I wrote last year as a guest writer for the  National Eating Disorder Information Centre blog.  I hope this offers something for you and I encourage you to visit the NEDIC blog as well for many other thoughtful articles about food, bodies and health.  

International No Diet Day

I recently spotted a greeting card that said “I’m on two diets. There is simply not enough food on one”. Within the humorous message resides a very real truth… dieting means never eating enough. No matter how many new, creative ways that diets are re-packaged and marketed, the point is always to restrict nutritional intake and energy below what the body actually needs to sustain itself. While the multi-billion dollar diet industry promises a better body, better health and indeed a better life we now know that long term weight loss is not achievable for the vast majority of people. Dieting can lead to the development of an eating disorder and even when it doesn’t, dieting teaches us not to trust ourselves and keeps us in constant conflict with food and our bodies.

International No Diet Day  was first celebrated 20 years ago. It was sparked by the passion and frustration of Mary Evans Young, who had recovered from anorexia. She is the founder of a UK organization called Diet Breakers and is the author of Diet Breaking: Having It All Without Having to Diet. 

To learn more about the history and goals of INDD see NEDIC’s article here:

My healthy and peaceful relationship with food and body started when I declared a no-diet life. If this idea is new to you, here is an opportunity to practice this new way of living for just one day.

Ten ways to celebrate International No Diet Day

  • Be mindful of your body’s hunger and fullness cues today. Enjoy tastes, textures and smells. Take pleasure in what you choose to eat. 
  • Practice self-care. We experience our bodies differently when we take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • Make a list of things you like about yourself – considering your appearance, strength, achievements, skills and personality. Read it over as often as you can.
  • Send cards or emails to several friends or family members and let them know what you love and admire about them.
  • Take a critical look at every diet ad you see today. Read the fine print and take note of misleading images and words.
  • If the lunch time conversation at work focuses on dieting or weight, educate your coworkers about INDD. Better yet, ditch the diet talk all together … take your lunch to a park or treat yourself to a delicious meal in a local cafĂ©.
  • Take your life off of hold; whatever you are waiting to do once you have lost weight – do it now. Use the money you would have spent on diet products. Get a haircut. Go swimming. Sign up for an art class or walking club. Start a vacation savings account.
  • De-clutter your book shelf. Today is the day to toss your weight loss magazines and diet books into a recycling bin.
  • Educate yourself on the myths about dieting, weight and health. A good place to start is the Association for Size Diversity and Health 
  • Reach out for help if you are preoccupied with dieting and weight loss; you may need professional support if you have used exercise, food restriction, or compulsive eating to cope with difficult emotions or other problems. Dieting is not the answer. A compassionate counsellor or support group can help you heal and learn more effective coping strategies.