International No Diet Day aims to tackle serious issues concerning diets and body awareness. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The celebration of ‘International No Diet Day’ today has put the focus back on weight discrimination, sizeism and body shaming, with dieticians warning against the dangers of irresponsible dieting and consumption of unhealthy foods.

First observed by Mary Evans, founder of Diet Breakers and a victim of anorexia in 1992, International No Diet Day aims to tackle serious issues concerning diets and body awareness. Celebrating the diversity of people of different shapes and sizes, International No Diet Day is marked by taking a one-day break from diets, to pause and review the reasons and methods for observing various diets.

Nutritional deficiencies

Sakina Mustansir, Clinical dietician, Prime Hospital Dubai, said, “A cure for quick weight loss and health changes is what fad diets have grown popular for. They are extreme diets restricted in major food groups like fruits, grains etc which would keep us at risk of nutritional deficiencies but still widely accepted by our population due to the dramatic results they promise.”

Sakina Mustansir

But as she cautioned, “What most of us don’t realise is these extreme restrictions do help us lose weight but they also elevate stress, depression, anxiety, emotional disturbances and the worst is - after going through all of it, most people regain weight once they resume their natural lifestyle and eating pattern as these plans are not sustainable at all.”

Weight discrimination

Mustansir weight discrimination and body shaming are unfortunately quite prevalent in society.

“They can have serious negative consequences for those who experience them. This can include being treated unfairly at work, being a target of negative comments, teasing or bullying because of one’s weight which could lead to poor body image, low self-esteem, risk of developing eating disorders like anorexia or binge eating, depression, anxiety, social isolation which could exacerbate physical and mental health problems,” she explained.

As such, she said it is extremely important to recognise that weight is not a symbol of health or beauty. “Weight discrimination, body shaming are unacceptable behaviors. Everyone should be treated respectfully and with dignity, regardless of their shape and size.”

Lubna Abdussalam Dhalani, Dietician at Aster Clinic, Bur Dubai, said, “A fad diet involves eating high-fat, low-carb or high-protein foods that promise a quick fix, such as one magic food or combination of foods that can change your body chemistry. However, fad diets are not balanced, too restrictive, expensive, not sustainable, and can actually cause weight gain.”

Lubna Abdussalam Dhalani

According to her, fad diets can be tempting because they promise a quick solution to a long-term problem. “However, restrictive or extreme diets that lack scientific basis can put your health at risk. Following a fad diet may result in a cycle of weight loss followed by weight gain.

Fad diets do not promote healthy and sustainable diet and lifestyle habits, and therefore will not result in long-term weight loss.

They tend to appeal more to people’s vanity than to their desire to stay healthy. The focus is on inches and pounds, rather than reducing the risk of diabetes or heart disease. Those who follow fad diets are more motivated by their desire to change their appearance than their health.”

Aim of International No Diet Day

• Help end weight discrimination, fatphobia and sizeism.

• Understand the inefficacy of commercial diets and learn about the diet industry.

• Embrace body diversity and challenge the idea of one ‘right’ body shape.

• Declare a day that is free from dieting and obsessing about shape and weight.

• Compliment people on contributions, achievements and skills, rather than focusing on appearance

Source: Daysoftheyear.com