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International No Diet Day, observed on May 6th, was started by Mary Evans Young in 1992 after her recovery from anorexia nervosa.
It celebrates the acceptance of physical differences and the diversity of the human body, and also promotes a message about the dangerous consequences that a restrictive and unorthodox diet can cause to our health.
Many women spend a big part of their adolescence and adult lives following exhausting diets. One reason why this is happening is because of the beauty standards that are presented as ideal in the world of fashion. These unrealistic standards are leading many women to dangerous diets and eating disorders.
I remember a childhood friend of mine used to follow a strict diet because she was “afraid of getting fat,” as she used to say. Growing up with a mother who also followed a restrictive diet most of the time, she adopted the same attitude toward food.
I also recall my own “bad” relationship with food in the past. In my adult life, eating became more of an automated process focused on me responding to either my physical or emotional hunger, so my food choice and quality weren’t the best they could be.
The truth is that my relationship with food only started to improve once I cultivated self-awareness. Once I learned to listen to my body and its needs.
Since I started incorporating yoga and physical exercise into my daily schedule, my perception about eating has started to shift. I started to recognize what kind of food my body actually needs. I started to understand when I am really hungry and when my hunger is my body’s need for water.
My body gradually started to ask for lighter and less processed food, naturally and spontaneously, without being on a diet or depriving myself of food. This caused a spectacular change in my everyday life. My sleep quality, mood, and resilience improved, and I started feeling healthier, stronger, and more flexible.
I believe this is how anyone with an eating disorder or who struggles with restrictive diets can start to heal: by reconnecting with our bodies and reclaiming our relationship with them. By understand that they are part of us and stop treating them as something foreign. By hugging our bodies and taking substantial care of them. By accepting and decoding their messages.
Our body is a vessel to all experiences, and it shows us where we stand. It knows which foods it needs and which ones burden it, and it will always let us know. It reacts to each of our thoughts and feelings and every external stimulus. It’s our home in this lifetime—and we can’t move out of this residence.
Would we let our home remain unkempt and dirty? No—so why do we let our body suffer, filling it with guilt, shame, and deprivation?