According to a CDC report compiled in 2018, 49.1 percent of Americans tried to lose weight during some time in the past 12 months, and 56.4 percent of those Americans were women. That is about one half of all Americans, and more than one half of which were women. As toxic diet culture begins to grow stronger and stronger each year, the media has begun to emphasize the wonders of fad diets, including Whole30, the Atkins Diet, Paleo, and perhaps most infamously, Keto. These diets, regardless of how much celebrities endorse them, are actually very hard on the body and ironically promote unhealthy eating habits.
There is a major difference between improving your diet through an increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, protein and choosing healthier food options and fad diets. According to the Cleveland Clinic, fad diets can be identified by a number of qualities including but not limited to “elimination of one or more of the five food groups,” “lists of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods,” and anything that people can capitalize on when promoting the diet. Good diet changes involve none of these things and can actually help create a healthy balance with food, but fad diets make food into the villain, not the hero.
The complications that many experience while on certain diets should be enough to turn people off of it. For example, even though researchers have known for a very long time that carbohydrates are an essential part of a balanced diet, those who are following the Keto diet refuse to consume them, or at least restrict themselves so that they eat carbohydrates in very small quantities. This means that people on Keto are not only cutting bread and pasta out of their diets, but fruits and whole grains as well. The ultimate goal is to send the body into ketosis, a process in which fat is burned to produce energy, which generally only happens naturally when a person is starving themselves. Similarly, the Atkins diet and the Whole30 diet both deprive the body of carbohydrates in similar ways, and the Atkins diet specifically does not focus on portion control nor exercise to lose weight.
Because of the intense amounts of restriction involved in these diets, it has been proven that dieting and eating disorders are directly related, Eating Disorder Hope reports. Especially when considering the prevalence of diet culture in American society (according to Eating Disorder Hope, each year, “more than 50 billion dollars” are contributed to new diet products), it is not shocking that multitudes of Americans struggle with eating. National Eating Disorders reports that young people who diet, according to a study done in 2016, are “5 times more likely to develop an eating disorder” than their peers who did not.
The biggest contributor to the prevalence of diet fads is, quite simply, the media. Every few weeks, a new body type becomes a trend, thus putting pressure on people (primarily women) to change their bodies in accordance with the new standard that day. Our bodies, however, are not a trend- we cannot control the way in which our body stores fat in the same way that we cannot control our eye color or height. As celebrities endorse fad diets, we are being told that natural processes that our bodies go through is something to be ashamed of. As BCC News says, instead of providing a good example, celebrities are contributing to the mass amounts of shame that come with eating in America.
It’s time to break the cycle of food shame and start using food to bring us together. Using facts and research is the only way to know if we’re eating healthy, not the words of celebrities who claim that they know your body better than you do. Our bodies are not trends, nor should they be abused by unrealistic diets to fit the mold.