Are There Double Standards for Weight Loss Diets?

Does a vegetarian ever say, “It’s a special occasion, I’ll have the prime rib!” Do vegans think it’s good for the soul to have a pint of Ben & Jerry’s now and then? Would Kosher Jews believe that God is sure to forgive them for an occasional nosh on something as delicious as bacon? Do organic food devotees worry they’re depriving their kids of a “normal” childhood if they never treat them to a Happy Meal? Have you ever heard an athlete credit their achievements to strict adherence to weekly indulgent “cheat” meals?

We’ve come a long way from the days when vegetarians were considered “nuts” who were risking their health. We know now that vegetarian diets are generally more health-supporting than the typical meat-based diet. People follow a wide variety of diets today–vegan, raw food, macrobiotic, paleo, strictly organic to name a few–the one thing they have in common is a primary focus on eating for health or even personal values with little concern for what foods are given up. People who make these types of diet choices are praised, admired, and seen as paragons of a healthy lifestyle who demonstrate their values with their nutrition choices.

When it comes to a weight loss diet, however, a double standard emerges. It’s assumed that human nature dictates no one should be expected to forego indulgent foods. Weight loss dieters are told they shouldn’t deprive themselves or they’re setting themselves up for certain failure. Yet, no one questions vegetarians, vegans, raw foodists, Kosher Jews, athletes, and others who make a health or values-focused commitment to a specific diet. Marketing and advertising, however, aggressively promote the idea that weight loss attempts must not compromise food gratification.

Not only is this double standard biased in its assumption that people who struggle with their weight are weak and undisciplined, it has established the paradigm that contributes to the cycle of diet failure, futility, and weight regain. This paradigm perpetuates the misconception that you are a victim, controlled by food and your rampant appetites.

You’ve fought to take control. You’ve been doing what the weight loss industry has told you to do. It’s time to opt out and make your own rules.

Is there a widely-accepted weight loss method that you’ll never do again?


1 comment

    • JoAnn on September 29, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Brilliant analogy! We’ve talked about this before. I get asked all the time if I’ll “go back” to certain foods. No matter what I say, they cannot conceive of doing this for health rather than simply weight loss.The notion of cheat meal or cheat day does not work because it is so contrary to how I want to live now.

    It is not to say that I never indulge in foods or beverage that are not nutrient-rich. It’s just that when I do (and it is fairly rare), I don’t convince myself that the indulgence will somehow along me to stay on my diet for the long haul. Quite the contrary. I do it knowing full well that giving in to a momentary desire makes it slightly harder to be on track the next, having set a physiological response in motion that will have to run it’s course.

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