Why we need to finally get over dieting – for good | The Flow

We need to cut down on unhealthy habits


University is peak time for discovering yourself, and while that is mostly be for good, it can also come with a great deal of anxiety. Away from home for potentially the first time in your life, having to make new friends and manage bills and money, all while trying to study – no wonder so many students find it difficult to maintain proper balanced eating habits. Yet why is it that countless people still feel like they have to diet?

For so long, we were told it was inevitable that we would put on the dreaded "Freshers 15" – 15 pounds of extra weight due to night after night of cheesy chips, and the newfound freedom to buy whatever food we wanted, whenever we wanted it. On the other side of the spectrum are those who don't eat enough in their first year, either due to the the lack of structure around meal times or not knowing how to cook properly. This, combined with the dreaded Freshers' Flu that seems to last the whole year, can lead to illness throughout the uni term.

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Diet? or pizza? I know what I'm choosing

These days, dieting and counting calories seems outdated, conjuring up images of late 90s Bridget Jones chain smoking, skipping meals, and subsequently binge-eating her sorrows in order to get a man. The ideals we looked towards in our teenage years are finally being seen as unrealistic expectations for modern young people, particularly for women. A journal study from the US National Library of Medicine found that 100 per cent of female mannequins represented an "underweight body size" – not to mention that a number of these mannequins actually represented a size and weight that would make its human equivalent unable to menstruate.

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Meal planning at home vs eating a delicious meal with friends

The fact that these mannequins are still to this day touted as the default for clothes sizes promotes the unhealthy body image that has surrounded women for centuries – and still promotes unhealthy dieting today.

Celebrities such as Joe Wicks and his "Lean in 15" book series have not died down as body image campaigns have increased, either – and honestly, I'm over it. As students, our time is already taken up by studying and CV enhancing activities. Who has the mental capacity to think about dieting on top of all that?

It's no surprise that eating disorders have been on the rise and that countless women can either say they themselves have had a disordered way of eating, or know numerous people who have. These celebrity-branded diets are not the way to go in order to help combat these issues. We should be trying to improve our relationship with food, seeing it as nutritious, delicious, and rewarding, before anything else. Eating a balanced diet on the whole is a much more healthy way to try and lose weight if that's your goal, especially when coupled with fun and regular exercise. Starving ourselves through unnecessary and complicated diets needs to go back to Dante's circles of hell, where it belongs.