Do you weigh yourself very often? Have you become a slave of the scales and your weight dictates how you are going to feel the rest of the day or the week? A failure or someone who is meeting agreed targets? You are not alone, there are many people who follow this daily ritual and sooner or later will make the decision to start yet another “miracle diet”.
Make no mistake, diets , and the obsession with the weight, are a product created by the consumer market that generates millions of benefits at the expense of our mental and physical health. Keep in mind that the diet market was valued at $ 192.2 billion in 2019 and is estimated to be worth $ 295.3 billion in 2027.
It is also not a coincidence, that the companies that sell these ‘miracle diets’ or products belong to the food industry conglomerates. The same ones that manufacture highly processed products, rich in sugars and fats and highly caloric and highly addictive!). Although they deny all responsibility in the obesity and type 2 diabetes worldwide epidemic, they play a very important role. Are they securing clients for their weight loss programs? Possibly yes !!
For example, Weight Watchers was purchased by Heinz in 1978 and sold to the Artal company in 1999 for $ 755 million. Slimfast was sold to Unilever, makers of ice cream Ben & Jerry and many other well-known highly processed products; Jenny Craig’s diet, very popular in the United States, belongs to Nestlé, one of the most profitable food company.
Sadly as doctors, we are seeing many of the consequences of this culture in our daily clinical practice and in our social environment:
1. The weight, becomes a tyrant that determines if it is a good or a bad day, dictates failures and successes
2. Obsessions with food and eating can take over people’s lives. Eating in response to pleasant or unpleasant emotions takes precedent over eating because of hunger.
3. Permission to binge on food because ‘we’ll go on yet another diet’ becomes a common thought
4. More weight is regained after a slimming diet; people fool themselves into thinking that “it won’t happen again with the next diet.”
5. Taking diuretics or laxatives, induce vomiting or restrict food intake to control weight before eating or after binge eating can become a serious issue.
6. All of the above causes problems of self-esteem, shame and guilt.
However, we believe that if society does not change, people will need the right help and support to break this vicious cycle. The first step is to adopt a nutritious and balanced diet. Thereafter working on emotions and thought processes will follow.
There is no doubt that it will take time to unlearn learned habits and behaviours, but we know that it is possible and that it will be worth it.