To diet or not to diet?

As a dietitian, one of the most common questions I receive is “What do you think of (fill in the blank) diet?”  The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry with new and emerging ideas appearing regularly, and are defined by photoshopped images in magazines portraying a perfectionistic and unrealistic view.  

What’s wrong with diets?

Most diets reduce or eliminate a main macronutrient (ie. low carb or low fat) or focus on a primary food item with a claim to promote a specific goal.  The problem with dieting is that they have an end date which sets individuals up for failure and for the never-ending yo-yo dieting cycle. When people diet, they rely on using will-power to avoid their favourite foods, thus creating an unhealthy relationship with food.

In addition, the goal of processed foods is to make people want more of it. When people feel deprived, they are more likely to binge and eventually regain more than the weight they lost. The majority of diets fail to produce permanent weight loss and the adverse effects can include nutrient deficiencies, and even eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia in severe cases.

On May 6th, I would like to invite you to join me in celebrating International No Diet Day by rejecting the diet mentality and honouring health instead.  It is a day to raise awareness of the damaging short and long term effects of unhealthy fad diets while celebrating the diversity of all body sizes and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

The New Trend

Instead of going on a diet this year, go on a non-diet! The non-diet trend is an intuitive and mindful-based eating approach that supports self-esteem, body acceptance and diversity. The focus is on recognizing your body’s unique hunger and satiety cues and following through by eating when you are hungry, stopping when you are full and occasionally eating as much as you want.

It’s time to make peace with food and our body by learning to enjoy food again- from chips to vegetables. Instead of worrying about food’s effect on body image, let’s focus on food’s role in providing the nutrients the body needs for physical and emotional health. Instead of exercising to reach a goal weight, let’s focus on getting out, being active and finding hobbies you love to keep your body healthy.

Registered dietitians are the experts in food and nutrition, and educate people on how to effectively and responsibly eat for their own bodies. A healthy approach focuses on small adjustments that lead to lifestyle changes that eventually become habits that are part of our daily lives. You don’t need to feel deprived of the foods you love to lose weight and be healthy.  Let’s start with avoiding strict food rules and focusing on a balanced, non-restrictive, sustainable eating plan that you can stick to for the long run.

To celebrate International No Diet Day, honour your body, celebrate diversity and join the conversation by using the hashtag #NoDietDay. To learn more about the non-diet approach to weight management, contact ChristineRezkRD@gmail.com.

Opening the dialogue on weight bias and stigma

Today three in five Canadians are classified as overweight or obese. According to Obesity Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization obesity is classified as a progressive chronic disease and a leading cause of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stoke, cancer, arthritis and other detrimental health issues.

Weight needs to be addressed as an integrated and preventative piece in healthcare, but this topic often brings extreme controversy and a slew of emotions. The subject of weight is frequently pushed to the curb because it can be uncomfortable to bring up. Why? This is because weight is often associated with negative biases and stigmas – views that come from ourselves and those perpetuated by others.

Weight bias is defined as the negative attitudes and views about obesity and about those living with obesity. Meanwhile, weight stigmas are the social stereotypes and misconceptions about obesity. When we promote personal biases and social stereotypes and treat people with obesity unfairly, this becomes weight discrimination. Such treatment closes people off to talking about their weight.   

So how can we open the dialogue on weight to address health in a positive and respectful manner? One way is to reflect on our existing views and engage with this topic more mindfully: through thoughts, our choice of words and how we care for others – choosing empathy and compassion over judgment and criticism. This includes active listening, acknowledging and being sensitive to the factors that may influence health behaviours resulting in weight changes.

It’s important to address the social, cultural, financial and environmental influences from peers, family, workplaces, community settings, social media, advertising, and many others, that have daily impacts on a person’s health. At Get Well Clinic, we integrate this ethos into our multidisciplinary practice to help individuals reach their health goals while providing compassionate care that addresses the mind, body and spirit.    

Visit www.getwellforlife.ca or call 416-508-5691 for more information about our Weight Management Program.

Editorial: TEDxDownsviewWomen

On November 29th, our neighbourhood will host its own TEDx entitled, TEDxDownsviewWomen Conference “Showing Up.” It will showcase women who are change makers, creators, performers, and inspirational women from different walks of life right here in Toronto.

           2018 has been informally deemed as the “Year of the Woman.” It is a year where the #MeToo movement has exposed the sexual violence and harassment in industries like Hollywood but also here in Canadian politics. It is a year where the dangerous and toxic “incel” culture (a culture that is deeply misogynistic) has been cited as an inspiration for the attacker in the Toronto Van Attack in North York that killed ten people including eight women. 2018 is also the year where a record number of women, nearly 40%, were elected into Queen’s Park as MPPs.

           Women have been spearheading change and on November 29th they will have the opportunity to present and explore the ways in which they have influenced change in their personal circles, fields, and local communities. Speakers and performers include women from diverse backgrounds like planetary science, gender and equity disciplines, medicine, entertainment, and business.

           This is the first TEDxDownsviewWomen event and the diversity of the participants reflects not only the different women who are enacting change but also reflects the strides that women right here in country and city are making.

To learn more, check out the event at https://tedxdownsviewwomen.com.