For adults and children, the concept of dieting or restricting eating for health reasons is commonplace and even considered healthy. A part of modern day living is to constantly monitor and reconsider which foods should be eaten and which avoided. Our general appetite for more nutrition news is seemingly insatiable.
Unfortunately, when these studies are fully evaluated, it's clear that they do not represent trustworthy science. There is no regulation of this information, and anyone is allowed to impart their own personal wisdom as fact in a new book, diet or food fad.
The result is a world where it is virtuous to follow any diet without considering the validity of the recommendations or the health of the suggestions. Even the medical field tends to be unclear as to how to change eating behaviors since doctors themselves have minimal training in nutrition.
Diets rarely consider some basic facts about our bodies, nutrition or metabolism. We focus mostly on calories and ignore other critical pieces of information such as essential items of nutrition necessary for healthy body function. We don't take into account the variety of foods necessary for general health. We also do not consider that changes in metabolism almost always, in countless studies, lead to a reversal in weight loss from every diet. How can a society supposedly grounded in science be so willing to forgo reason and diet incessantly when all evidence points to failure?
Therein lies the confusion. We all diet when reliable data points to its failure. We even encourage or turn a blind eye to dieting children until a real problem, such as an eating disorder, presents itself.
A final issue is that all this dieting has increased the incidence of eating disorders significantly in the last forty years, yet no one seems to acknowledge this change.
Three pieces of information can help explain why an entire society continues to make the irrational decision to diet without even considering the consequences: the desire for thinness at all costs and as a panacea for our daily woes; the collective panic over endless supplies of processed, irresistible food; and the total lack of protection by industry or regulatory agencies from the massive change in available foods in recent decades.
I have written about these concerns in this blog before, and nothing has changed in recent years. This post serves as a bridge between the risks of starvation and the ways to combat the societal pressure to diet. The next post will focus on ways to rethink and revise our thoughts about dieting.