Carla Lotus explains the dangers of dieting and focusing on weight-loss. Instead she suggests that we put our energy behind a healthy God-focused lifestyle.
The start of a new year is usual full of all sorts of resolution, particularly around food. The year ended with endless choices of home cooked delicacies and the classic festive indulgence. But most of us allow it because we know we plan to transform ourselves into wellness gurus in January. However, a question we need to pose to ourselves is; why would we want to put our bodies and mental well-being through a drastic change in January? Is doing this as productive and healthy as we think it is?
In the first month of the year, it is common to be bombarded with every kind of diet that proclaims rapid weight loss, whether it’s; a juicing detox, slim tea diet, low carbohydrate diet, gluten-free, dairy-free or fat-free diet the list goes on. It is also not uncommon for social media influencers to be paid to promote these crash diets and to see and read about these diets on TV adverts and in magazines. But, what often isn’t promoted is the downside and reality of these fad diets.
Unfortunately, they aren’t sustainable long-term solutions for weight loss or feeling better about your physical appearance, they have the potential to cause more harm than good. This is a common theme of diet culture which pushes the glorification of weight loss by any means necessary at the expense of your physical and mental well-being. It is the relentless pursuit to achieve the western societal ideal that is largely directed at women to believe that thinness equates to beauty and worthiness.
This is a common theme of diet culture which pushes the glorification of weight loss by any means necessary.
Examples of the effects of diet culture include but aren’t limited to; using exercise as a punishment, scales dictating your happiness and worth, equating health with thinness, labelling foods as good or bad, food anxiety, food shame or guilt, eliminating food groups and exercising to burn off calories to earn a “treat”. The implications of these diet culture induced behaviours have been disguised and portrayed as normal. Sadly, diet culture opens the door to mental and physical health issues such as eating disorders, anxiety, body dysmorphic disorder and malnourishment.
It can be hard for us as women not to get caught up in the web of diet culture and the pressures to physically look and adhere to beauty standards, especially when it is a central message pumped through the media constantly. It is like a rat race cycle to an unattainable physical appearance, but is it worth it?
Sadly, diet culture opens the door to mental and physical health issues such as eating disorders, anxiety, body dysmorphic disorder and malnourishment.
The good news is that we have hope as daughters of Jesus Christ, we can find security, comfort and guidance in him about our body image and worth which can help us to guard our minds from the pressures of society. Our bodies are gifts given to us by God, we are his masterpieces (Ephesians 2:10) and have been thoughtfully crafted and made in His image (Genesis 1:27).
We are reminded in Romans 12:2 to not conform to the patterns of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. When the world screams that identity, worth and security is found in our physical appearance we must turn from this way of thought. We should remind ourselves that our bodies can fail us at any given moment but Jesus Christ never changes and our worth and security is better to build on him who is consistent and the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) .
We have hope as daughters of Jesus Christ, we can find security, comfort and guidance in him about our body image and worth.
Does this mean that we shouldn’t make the effort to consume well balanced food options, exercise or be proactive in looking after the body that God has given us? No. It does not mean this at all. It means instead of looking to the world for ways to improve ourselves that aren’t always productive we can focus on honouring God and show him gratitude in the way that we choose to take care of our bodies. It is okay to desire to nurture your health, well-being and physical appearance and we can glorify God by doing so. We must just be mindful of the extent we are willing to go to make such improvements and be vigilant of the influences.
So, this new year if you’d like to make changes, be encouraged that there is no need to put unfair pressure on yourself. Maybe begin to think of how you can make gradual lifestyle changes which will be longer term and try to remember to do it as unto the Lord.