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Lets Talk About Dieting (And How It’s Really Not All Bad)

It was recently brought to my attention that I view dieting in a completely different way to just about anyone else in my life; I’d always been told that diet is a bad word and a bad practice. Of course around this time of year, you tend to see more people signing up for gym memberships and discussing their weight- and like just about everyone else, I’d decided to go back to the diet I was on during the summer… an idea that the people around me completely misunderstood.

I was about to jump to my own defence, but I found myself saying ‘Hey Siri, define diet‘ before anything else- and to my surprise, the definition of diet is to ‘restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight‘. This definitely wasn’t the definition that I had been living by, and I finally understood why people would look me up and down when I said I was dieting, making passing comments such as ‘but you look fine‘ or ‘why can’t you just like yourself the way you are‘ or even ‘don’t do that to yourself, don’t get involved with that stuff’

Don’t get me wrong, I’m obviously aware of the negative connotations surrounding dieting and how the practice can often become damaging and harmful, rather than a tool for self control. However, I believe dieting has evolved far from the original definition, and can actually be a positive thing if it’s something you’re considering implementing into your life. But much like anything in life, if you of about things in the wrong way, it can get pretty ugly.

A diet should never be punishment or deprivation of the things you like, it should act as a way to regulate and control your eating habits

The definition of dieting that I’d been living by, is that a diet is simply transforming and regulating your eating habits and portion sizes. Unlike the textbook definition, this one is much less specific. Rather than it just being about losing weight, I believe people can use dieting to change or maintain weight, as well as making more health beneficial choices. A diet should never be a punishment, or a way of depriving yourself of the things you like and enjoy; it should act as a way to take control of your eating/drinking habits. I tend to crave unhealthy snacks late at night more than anything else, and rather than eating huge amounts whenever I please (which wouldn’t be beneficial to my long term health), I use dieting to manage how much I snack per day and how I can substitute my cravings for similar, healthier alternatives. This way, I can be healthy and eat all the things I like.

Dieting is extremely personal to the individual, and isn’t something that you should copy off of someone else. Creating a diet that works for you and makes you feel comfortable is essential, and having the right mindset and intentions will ensure that you aren’t inadvertently participating in dangerous practices. E.g. there’s a difference between cutting out the extra things you don’t really need, vs. cutting out the nutrients that are essential for your health. Counting calories, and punishing yourself and your body with less food and too much exercise when you haven’t met a goal, is often a sign of dieting gone wrong.

Much like anything else in life do your research, and instead of applying everything you read directly to yourself, adapt it in a way that suits your health needs and your lifestyle; there’s no guarantee that what works for others will benefit you in the same way. Dieting doesn’t have to be about no sugar, no dairy, no carbs- I’ve certainly never cut any of these things out of my diet, and still manage to live healthy. It’s all about balance, being in control and setting healthy and realistic goals and intentions.

If you plan on dieting this year, make sure you do so responsibly, healthily and happily.

What are your thoughts on dieting?

Alexandria is a twenty year old student, living and studying in the bustling city of London. When she's not studying; you're sure to find her travelling, writing, discovering new cuisines & dancing the night away.

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