As the weather gets warmer and summer nears, the pressure to get the perfect summer body is growing faster than ever. Social media is full of quick workouts and diet plans that promise to be foolproof in losing weight fast.
In 2017-2018, the obesity rate in America rose to over 40%. While this may have caused many Americans to want to change their eating habits, toxic diet culture is not improving these statistics and could actually be making the issue worse.
Diet is defined as food and drink regularly provided or consumed. However, a diet is rarely implemented into someone’s life for a long period of time. Diets are supposed to be short-term solutions to a long-term problem, but juice cleanses, 24-hour fasts and a week of not eating sugar are not permanent solutions for weight loss.
If you’re trying to lose weight before the summer, do not resort to excessive or super restrictive dieting or excessive working out. Not only will it not fix the issue long term, but it can actually lead to worse disorders.
Because extreme dieting is almost never used regularly in people’s day-to-day lives, it’s normal for these dieters to gain back the weight quickly. In fact, 80% to 95% of people who lose weight eventually regain it. This can be due to many factors, but unrealistic dieting and exercise plans are large contributors.
Another issue surrounding toxic diet culture involves the possibility of developing serious eating disorders. Thirty-five percent of “normal dieters” progress to pathological or very restrictive dieting and 20-25% of those individuals develop eating disorders. This can also lead to malnutrition. Symptoms of malnutrition can include fatigue, irritability, depression and anxiety. So, instead of feeling great and more energized like they had hoped, dieters become miserable to the point of their bodies begging for food.
Restrictive eating can also lead to a binge eating disorder. Dieting can cause massive hunger cravings. As the body desperately craves the calories and nutrients that it has been prevented from getting, the dieter is more likely to cave and binge on foods they were originally restricting themselves from.
This toxic diet culture is contributing to a very vicious cycle. There will always be people who want to lose weight. Those people will do restrictive and agonizing diets, intense and depleting workouts, eventually gain the weight back and start the whole cycle over again.
Both men and women are guilty of wanting to lose weight and lose it fast, but we must understand it is a complex process that takes place over time. We should not look to TikTok for one week cleanses and hope we stay skinny forever because of it.
The idea of obtaining the perfect summer body is damaging both men and women to the point where they turn to these dangerous diets and exercises, ultimately causing them not to lose weight or possibly worse. It’s so easy to let societal pressure tell us that we need to look a certain way, but this cycle of on-again, off-again dieting is too toxic to handle.
Instead of this restrictiveness and overexercising, we need to learn balance. We need to learn that our bodies are made to nourish and protect us; we can’t be hurting them by starving and overworking them. No summer body is worth that much aggravation.
Hannah Campbell is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hannah by tweeting her at @hannahcmpbell.