Scale Back: It’s International No Diet Day!


By Sharon Haywood

“I worked out today so I can treat myself to a piece of cake.”

“When I lose these last ten pounds, I’ll go to the beach.”

“Next week I’ll eat more. I’ve got to fit into that dress this weekend.”

“I can’t eat that! It’ll go straight to my hips.”

Sound familiar? Have you put any thought into the actual quantity of time that you spend thinking about your body and/or food? Pay attention. You might surprise yourself at how much brain space is devoted to calculating calories, self-loathing, and deprivation. Have you ever imagined the relief you would feel if you could abandon the quest to obtain the ideal body? If you haven’t, it’s time to liberate yourself from the no-win game of dieting. May 6th is the perfect day to start.

Since 1992, May 6th has been designated International No Diet Day (INDD). This body-loving campaign is associated with combating eating disorders and honoring the people who have suffered because of one. For this day, we can thank Mary Evans Young, a UK feminist, the founder of the British anti-diet movement, Diet Breakers, and author of the best-selling book, Diet Breaking: Having It All Without Having To Diet (Hodder & Stoughton, 1995).  She started INDD after recovering from anorexia, although the day isn’t just about eating disorders. This movement draws attention to the fact that a great many of us suffer from disordered thinking regarding food and our bodies, not just those afflicted with anorexia and bulimia.

INDD is more about not depriving yourself for a 24-hour period. It beckons you to make peace with your body and your relationship with food. And not only for your mental health. Various studies show that yo-yo dieting has been found to be damaging to one’s physical health in conditions such as congestive heart failure, hypertension, and clogged arteries.[1] What’s more is that investigators have evidence that illustrate a significant correlation between thinness and shorter lives.[2]

As you savor in the freedom and pleasure of eating exactly what you please this May 6th, contemplate that every single day could be diet-free. Easier said than done. Chances are, if you diet you’ve been counting calories for a long time. Abandoning the habit isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s a process – one that leads to greater self-acceptance. Start small. If you need some help, choose one of the following actions to start creating a new diet-free reality:

  • If you regularly weigh yourself, cut down how often you do with the goal of getting rid of your scale completely. Celebrate by throwing a scale-smashing party.
  • Stop asking, “Do I look fat in this?” Make the commitment to stop questioning your friends, your lover, and especially yourself for a full week. Then, at the end of that week, commit for another week and then another, until you have deprogrammed that question out of your awareness.
  • Listen to your body. If it asks for a brownie, don’t give it a carrot. You’ll just end up eating a bag of veggies before succumbing to your true craving. If you deprive yourself, you’ll probably eat not just one brownie, but rather, a plateful. Your body knows what it needs. Learn to respect its innate wisdom.
  • Eliminate one diet food from your grocery list. Anything labeled fat-free and light falls into this category. Choose another low-calorie item to phase out of your food choices until your fridge is filled with exactly what your body wants, not products that you think will get you thinner.
  • Do at least one thing that you’ve been postponing until you have lost weight: Buy that new outfit, sign up for dance class, or ask your crush out on a date.

Although May 6th helps raise awareness regarding eating disorders, use it to take a look at your own body and your relationship with it. Take the INDD pledge and spread the word. The more of us that reject the pressure to diet, the less it will be touted as the norm. And that will translate to a happier – and healthier – society.

[1] Paul Campos, The Obesity Myth (New York: Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2004, 33.

[2] Crespo et al., “The Relationship of Physical Activity and Body Weight with All-Cause Mortality: Results from the Puerto Rico Heart Health Program,” AEP 12, (2002): 543-52.

Related Content:

Girls and Dieting: Then and Now

How Diets Decrease Your Self-Esteem and Not Your Size!

Three Steps to Transform the National Weight Debate

Dare to Resolve to Ditch Dieting

No More Hunger Games: Unlearning a Lifetime of Habits and Societal Norms with Intuitive Eating

16 thoughts on “Scale Back: It’s International No Diet Day!

  1. Ha, No Diet Day also happens to be my anniversary! Two reasons to eat cake! Anyhow, I love this post. It took me years to unpack the dieting mindset, and I can’t believe how much more brain space I seem to have! The hardest part for me though, is learning to listen to my body and not my mind. When I crave that brownie, is that my body or my mind talking? Will that brownie make me feel good or give me a sugar headache? Just something to consider, because there’s more to eating normally than just giving up dieting.

  2. Giving up diets was the best thing i ever did – it gave me full recovery from eating disorders and relief from obsession around food, diets and weight loss. I have been diet free for 4 years now and have completely recovered from all eating disorders as a result

  3. As a therapist I have met many women dieting themselves out of self-hatred and severe body loathing so I definitely agree with this…especially ‘listen to your body’…but this does take time and conscious effort to develop. If your body is very heavy or very underweight and groaning with toxins from poisonous low-nutritious food then it can be a struggle. The addictions and cravings caused by salt and sugar are nasty little voices that urge you to consume more of them…this is not your inner voice of health and ‘innate wisdom’…discernment is the key and it can be learned through positive health and engaging with your body in a loving gentle way !
    Dieting is no way to respect yourself and as well as the health issues you list, osteoporosis and depression can also be a major problems for many women from years of yo-yo dieting and under-eating

    Positive affirmations written or stuck on the walls and mirrors help…
    I like being me,
    I am the embodiment of love,
    My body supports me with health and strength and I support my body with nutrition and loving acceptance…
    it might seem silly at first but looking yourself in the eye and saying such phrases really does work.

    My menu here for International No Diet Day…Moroccan spiced Lamb with chick peas and Quinoa cooked with dried fruits garnished with coriander and lemon flavoured yoghurt and fresh chopped mint…followed by a slice of home-made chocolate tart with orange and almond pastry…enjoyed with gusto, no guilt and certainly not going on a diet tomorrow or any other day!

    It always strikes me as so terribly sad that in some parts of the world people can’t afford enough nutritious food and are starving whilst in the west we deny ourselves in the midst of abundance and feel pressured to try to look like we are starving… :-/

  4. AMAZING ARTICLE! I vow never to diet again. The past few years I have tried to just find quality food and dance a lot. I figure my body will take care of itself.

  5. “Pay attention. You might surprise yourself at how much brain space is devoted to calculating calories, self-loathing, and deprivation. ”

    I have been following the Weight Watchers diet plan for some time. I do not hate my body, nor do I deprive myself of anything. I just use moderation. I love my body, and I am slowly making it a better body. I stop hating it once I ceased being a teenager.

    As for the calorie counting/points, it’s pretty much second nature. I spend very little time doing such. Besides, I have a spreadsheet to do it all for me. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.