Diet culture is so deeply embedded into our society, it’s almost impossible to know when you’re participating in it. The idea of restricting calories, deeming certain foods off-limits, and keeping that ill-fitting pair of jeans in the closet for when you “get skinny again” are all byproducts of living in a diet-obsessed world.
But the funny thing about diets? They don’t actually work. In fact, according to a 2016 study on preventing obesity and eating disorders in adolescents, dieting was the most important predictor of developing an eating disorder. And those who practiced extreme diet restriction were 18x more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who didn’t. That’s why it’s more important than ever to participate in No Diet Day, to help lead the next generation by example.
History of No Diet Day
As a response to the obsessive thoughts around weight and dieting, in 1992 Mary Evans Young began No Diet Day in the United Kingdom. Young is the director of the British group “Diet Breakers,” and was inspired to spread the message of the dangers of dieting after her own personal struggle with anorexia.
The overall goals of No Diet Day are to reframe the idea of a “good” or “bad” body shape, raise awareness about weight and size discrimination, to honor victims of eating disorders and weight-loss surgery, and to have a day free from food obsession.
The holiday began as a small celebration, with women ages 21-76 gathered in London’s Hyde Park for a picnic. Since that time it has grown: It’s now an international affair, with the social media hashtag #NoDietDay spreading Mary’s message far and wide. In fact, in 1998 the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA) and the National Organization for Women (NOW) created similar, separate holidays based around loving and accepting your size.
How to Celebrate No Diet Day
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the central concept of No Diet Day is to reject diet culture. And how exactly do you reject diet culture? Here’s what they suggest:
- Question cultural messages about food and weight
- Accept and respect your body
- Promote body diversity and encourage others to do the same
- Trust your body to know when it is hungry and full
- Work to eliminate body shame and stigma
Sure, it’s easier said than done to reverse an entire lifetime’s worth of food and weight-related thoughts, but that’s what No Diet Day is for. It’s a time to take stock of what dietary habits are no longer serving you, and figure out how to have a positive relationship with your body—no matter how big or small.
Here are 10 more actionable ways to celebrate No Diet Day:
1. Eat at your favorite restaurant, and order the dish you’ve been craving but never allow yourself to get.
2. Do a workout that you actually enjoy rather than whatever is going to burn the most calories.
3. No weighing yourself! In fact, just throw the whole scale out.
4. Make a list of things you love about yourself—none of which can be physical.
5. Get dressed without looking in the mirror after.
6. Try a new recipe that you normally wouldn’t make because it’s not “healthy.”
7. Throw away old, ill-fitting clothing and replace them with things in your actual size.
8. Start a journal to keep track of negative thoughts related to body image.
9. Create a cuss jar that everybody in the family donates to when they make negative comments about their own body or somebody else’s.
10. Ditch the nutrition labels and calorie counting for the day (or forever).
Become a Certified Health Coach
If you’d like to learn more about ditching diet culture for a lifestyle of holistic wellness, consider joining the Health Coach Institute for our six-month Become a Health & Life Coach program. If you’re already a coach and want to advance your skills, check out HCI’s Coach Mastery program. Feel free to get in touch with one of our clarity coaches directly by calling 1-800-303-2399.