Ditch the Diet

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For most of us, fitness is equal to slimming. And when we realize the importance of being “fit”, butter, ghee, oils, coke and all such items are almost thrown out of the window and we reveal the inner ascetic in us. For a few days, that is. And then when we realize the futility of living like a cave-dweller, all the worldly pleasures of being a glutton rush towards us with their arms wide open, almost as if  welcoming us back to the House of Sin.

This temporary “ascetism” is characterised by various combinations of different types of food and often, by the absence of it. And exactly how is this perfect combination of different food groups achieved? By dieting, of course!

Diet.

The four-letter word that has changed over the years from being defined as “what you eat everyday” to “what’s being avoided everyday”. We all have engaged in some form of “dieting”(the modern meaning) at some point in our lives. Either from a self-conscious drive after realizing that old clothes are getting harder to fit, or from prodding from a parent who THOUGHT we were getting fatter. Surprisingly, dieting is followed only to reduce weight, even if someone doesn’t feel heavy. Like I said earlier, dieting is now more of what minimum you can eat to “survive”, rather than how much is eaten to “live” a healthy life. This fad of dieting started off with the film stars and their tall claims of living on juices throughout the day and avoiding this, that to eating nothing at all. It kick-started a movement of going to extremes.

Suddenly, everybody was declaring their dieting schedule and how much they lost in what time. Fasting was the easiest way to lose weight. Not necessarily, the easiest way to stay healthy as well. And soon cases of anorexia and peer pressure to look good, started rising. It didn’t help matters that mostly young girls were the victims of this fad and most of them confessed to following their favorite models or television stars, most of whom back then publicly declared their “diet plans”. This growing danger to public health spurned another set of fitness freaks. These people claimed to have diet plans for all ages, thus enabling everyone to have a customized diet, thereby reducing the risk of anorexia or bulimia. Such a great plan! Everybody HAS TO follow a diet, whether you need it or not. Whatever happened to eating everything and indulging in activities throughout the day? And most importantly, where was the importance of interpreting our own body signals? I mean, how difficult is it to understand what should be eaten and when? Add to it, a little help from the elders and you have the perfect diet. No need of the Atkins Diet, Blood Group Diet, Zone Diet and God-knows-what-else diet!

We, Indians, have always been obsessed with fair skin. Combined with the obsession for slimmer and even sickly figures, we were and still are heading towards an unhealthy future. Stars and their lesser avatars may have shifted to declaring their “healthy diets”, but just how healthy it is, still remains to be seen. Recent studies have shown that any form of dieting, actually increases the cravings for food and thus when not dieting, these individuals tend to eat more than they should, leading to obesity, thus causing more harm than good.

Sigh. So much bad news in one day. That too on food! If only the fat refused to stay, life could be beautiful everyday. Who said fat was bad? It’s just stored energy. And fat is necessary to survive the cold! How can we forget that? Agreed, that it doesn’t snow in the better part of the country, but what about the fact, that this fat gives the warmth necessary?

It’s not about what we eat and how much. It’s about eating happily and living with the contentment that we’ve been able to reach out to at least some of the bounties provided to us by the Almighty. Why even think of dieting with specific amounts? Why not just go with the flow? Problems are sure to arise, but let’s just deal with them in the healthiest way possible. If your stomach feels queasy, wouldn’t you be able to ditch the fried foods for a few days? It’s not as if you ate fried foods instead of milk from your infancy. This is the most important thing that people fail to realize. We are used to eating in a certain way from our infancy and childhood, but when on growing up, we shift to other food which aren’t linked to what we grew up on, there’s a change in the body. A sort of adjustment tries to begin inside our bodies. And let’s face it, we aren’t always eating healthy, which is also contrary to what we were fed during childhood. So, the body needs time to adjust, right? In between, if we have cycles of fasting and (over)eating, how is our system EVER going to be okay?

Let’s just STOP DIETING. Let’s get more involved in physical exercises and use less of gadgets for things that can do without it. Let’s just usher in an era of happy living, where nobody has to die of anorexia or bulimia. Let’s just… LIVE.

Believer. Reader. Brooder.