Why Diets Don’t Work
This week on The Slut Show Ellen Moore is joined by intersectional feminist, fat bombshell and activist Laura (she/her). They discuss feminism, the body positivity movement, self confidence, disordered eating behavior and selflove. This week’s Slutty Science delves into the scientific research illustrating that dieting will always backfire and isn’t a cure, but rather ‘a cure that doesn’t work, for a disease that doesn’t exist’ (Dooner 2019).
This week’s Slutty Science builds on the Slutty Science from episode 3. In that episode we discussed how diet-culture is based upon capitalism, rather than health concerns. Looking into beauty-standards, BMI and the so-called “obesity pandemic”. Today I’d like to focus on why diets are scientifically proven not to work.
Please note: this article contains information about eating disorders, fat-phobia & mental health problems, which may be triggering for some readers.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a foundational concept in psychology, which describes basic human needs, like the two - arguably - most important ones: food and rest. ‘If those basic survival needs are not being met, it is almost impossible for us to truly move on to any other area of our life’ (Dooner 2019, p.55). So, as long as you actively try and consume less food then your body desires you are still dieting and that will always eventually backfire (p.46).
‘Controlling the food you put in your mouth is not how we are wired. It is not how we were made and it is not how we ate for our entire existence through history, until very recently. Nobody finished a meal before they were fully fed because of “portion control.” [On the contrary] portion control was, historically, the unfortunate side effect of not having enough to eat’ (p.82).
Let us take a closer look at some of the bullshit “health rules,” we have - for some reason - blindly accepted. Starting off with butter. The big B is often associated with heart disease and frankly, that is just untrue. Looking at the facts ‘heart disease was really rare in America in the early 1900s, when people ate lots of butter and saturated fats. Between 1920 and 1960, heart disease rose to become America’s number-one killer. [However], during that [exact] same period the consumption of butter dropped from eighteen to four pounds per person, per year. [Instead] we started [massively] eating margarine’ (p.109).
The war on sugar, a product that has been called more addictive than cocaine and is often considered to be the cause of diabetes, however ‘impaired sugar metabolism is the result of diabetes, not the cause. [...] In fact, not eating enough carbohydrates can even make diabetes symptoms worse’ (p.103).
Lastly, our fear of salt. About this Kresser stated that ‘when average life expectancy is plotted against the countries’ average salt intake, the trend shows that higher salt consumption is actually correlated with longer life expectancy.’
The body mass index, we discussed in the Slutty Science from episode 3, is considered to be a way of measuring health. A “normal” BMI, claims you are supposedly healthy. In reality however, the whole thing is completely arbitrary, because ‘many studies have demonstrated that higher BMIs actually have lower mortality rates. [Similarly,] many studies have shown that weight loss or too much exercise has been associated with poorer health, higher stress hormones and increased mortality’ (p.36). Concluding this week’s Slutty Science with a suggestion for you, me and everyone else: how about we stop commenting and assuming people's health, by looking at their size, shall we?
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‘The Slut Show With Ellen Moore’: A place to speak openly about shit you and I have to deal with on a daily basis. About feminism, insecurities, feeling like a bomb ass bitch and obviously about loads of sex. Raw, real and uncensored, Ellen Moore brings you your weekly dose of empowerment.
- “Does Sugar Cause Diabetes?” n.d. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Accessed June 20, 2021. https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/does-sugar-cause-diabetes.
- Dooner, Caronline. 2019. The F*ck It Diet. https://www.bol.com/nl/f/the-f-ck-it-diet/9200000094649424/.
- Flegal, Katherine M., and Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh. 2013. “Overweight, Mortality and Survival.” Obesity 21 (9): 1744–45. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.20588.
- FRAME, D. 1996. “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Revisited.” Interchange (Toronto. 1984) 27 (1): 13–22. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01807482.
- Kresser, Chris. n.d. “Shaking Up the Salt Myth.” Accessed June 20, 2021. https://chriskresser.com/specialreports/salt/.