I’m a bit embarrassed to say that May 6 – No Diet Day – completely passed me by until a friend posted about it on Facebook. So I figured I’d make up for that miss by writing a blog post about No Diet Day .
How Did No Diet Day Start?
This is an internationally recognized day that began in 1992, thanks to a woman named Mary Evans Young. Young was a British feminist who’d had body image issues, suffered bullying, and struggled with anorexia. She had already formed the organization Diet Breakers, but then she got the additional inspiration to start No Diet Day.
The moment came when Young heard some of her coworkers talk about whether or not to have a cookie. As the National Today website notes, she then said, "What do you think would happen if you spent as much time and energy on your careers as you do on diets?"
No Diet Day was begun to draw attention to the many negative effects of diets, including rapid rounds of weight loss and gain, as well as the shame and guilt that comes when diets fail. (Remember, it’s the diet that fails, not you.)
It’s also a good reminder to celebrate bodies of all sizes and shapes and to educate people about eating disorders.
How to Celebrate Not Being on a Diet
You can celebrate the no-diet approach in many ways. Here are a few, but you can probably think of more!
Mindfully Eat What You Love
You can start with yourself and eat what you really want! This could mean experimenting with something new that you’ve been wanting to try but didn't because it had too many calories, or you can stick with something tried and true that you know you love.
Whatever it is, eat it mindfully, so you get the full flavor and enjoyment out of it. Make a nice presentation, sit down, and focus on everything you enjoy about the food.
In my case, I bought some black raspberry chocolate chip frozen yogurt, which is one of my favorites. I put it in an ice cream dish and sat down at my table to eat it, focusing on the creaminess of the frozen yogurt, the sweet crunch of the chocolate, and happy memories of other times I’ve had this treat.
Plus, when you let yourself eat without deprivation, you’re better able to notice what your body is telling you about what it wants and needs. This might be ice cream, cookies, or cake, or other comfort-type foods like mashed potatoes or mac n’ cheese. But it could just as easily be soup, an orange, a grain bowl, a handful of nuts, a salad, a hardboiled egg, or more.
Celebrate What Makes You Special
This is also a great time to think about what’s special and great about you. Don’t consider your weight, or Hollywood ideals of beauty, just focus on you.
This could be something about your appearance. See if you can find some positive things about your body that you usually ignore. Maybe you like your hair, or your eyes, or your smile.
And think about what you do well and what people like about you. Do you have a creative talent that you share with others? Do you have a good sense of humor? Are you a kind, supportive friend?
Maybe you like to garden and have beautiful flowers outside, or you grow fruits and veggies to include in your meals. Or perhaps you make an awesome chocolate chip cookie.
Whatever it is, appreciate those aspects of yourself that make you who you are!
You can also use this approach with others. Compliment coworkers, friends, and family by telling them how much you appreciate their skills or something they’ve done rather than focusing on standard ideals of beauty.
Focus on Your Passions
This is also a great opportunity to consider all the time and energy you’ve spent on dieting and weight concerns, and then consider what else you could do if you weren’t focused on diets.
Is there something you’ve always been interested in doing but have put off until you lose weight? This is a good time to stop putting it off and give it a try!
Is there a cause you care deeply about and want to be involved in, but you’re too self-conscious about your size and don’t want to volunteer? Think about how much it means to you, and try to let that motivate you past those fears so you don’t mind being around other people (at least, once we can be around other people again).
Dieting consumes so much energy, and you could accomplish a lot if you spent that energy elsewhere.
Spread the Word
And finally, you can help educate others! This could include explaining:
Harmful effects of sizeism and weight stigma
Ineffectiveness of diets and the diet industry
Links between diets and eating disorders
It’s also important to let people know how much happier and healthier you are when you’re not dieting or fixating on weight. You can simply enjoy your food and your life, and those around you will almost certainly also be happier when you’re not obsessed with food choices.
Use the No Diet Approach Every Day
I love the idea of No Diet Day, but I don’t think it should be just one day. Why not have a whole year of No Diet Days? Or declare that from now on, every day is No Diet Day?
I know it’s hard to resist the pressure of our diet culture, and it’s very easy to slip back into that mindset. But if you can take the No Diet approach for one day, think about how you feel during that day. If you’re a lot happier and more relaxed, isn’t that worth doing more often?
Whatever you choose to do, remember that diets aren’t required, and they won’t help you the way you might want them to.
And you deserve to be able to eat without guilt or shame and to enjoy what you eat.
On that note, happy eating!