Thoughts on Body Image – From Those Who Have Never Dieted
I recently published a post about attitudes to dieting in which I promised to bring you the fascinating insight of fellow bloggers who’ve themselves never dieted. Surprisingly, despite expecting the percentage of people who have never dieted to be close to zero, there were actually about fifteen responses – making this a much longer post than I’d anticipated! So I’m going to launch straight in…
I have never been slim. Even at my very best I think I was a size 14 as a teenager. I came to terms with the fact I’m always going to be a larger lady many years ago. I am a fussy eater and if I even attempted to diet, I would probably starve because there wouldn’t be much I would eat. However, I’m happily married to a man who loves me for me and I am pretty happy with who I am.
I’ve never dieted. I’m naturally slim and don’t believe in it even if I wasn’t. I feel if you eat in moderation, enjoy food and keep active there is no need. Diets just encourage restrictive behaviours and often a negative relationship with food and are almost always not sustainable.
I have never dieted and am a size 8-10. I just eat a healthy balanced diet and exercise and allow myself treats when I want to. We do not own scales nor do I talk about my weight or how I look. It’s something that is really important to me as a mum of three girls to have a healthy relationship with my body.
I’ve never dieted. I’m too lazy! And I am fortunate that I am naturally skinny. I do have a bit of a tummy and a muffin top (well I definitely do at the moment as I’m 2 weeks postpartum!) but I won’t do anything specific to get rid of it!
I don’t own a set of scales so there’s no opportunity to obsess over my weight and I generally just eat what I want, although I tend not to buy crisps, cakes and biscuits so they’re simply not in the house. It’s not a conscious ‘diet’ decision that I make, though; those types of foods simply don’t occur to me when I’m doing my weekly shop. I’m more focused on meals and fruit than snacks.
I’ve never dieted but I’ve always been between size 8-12 I eat healthily and am always running around trying to catch up with my 8 year old son. But I turn 50 in April and am more than well aware what changes age and the menopause might bring. My mum’s body shape changed completely so I’ll be extra cautious with what I eat and how I exercise going forward.
I’ve never dieted… I spent my pre-teens up until hitting puberty as clinically underweight under hospital consultation. I then hit puberty and put on a ton of weight. Nowadays I tend to naturally fall between 8 stone and 9.5 stone, depending on how well I am (I lose weight when sick or stressed).
But just because I’ve never dieted, doesn’t mean I necessarily have a positive body image. I’ve been very conscious of the way I look many times in my life. And I don’t necessarily have the healthiest relationship with food (having dietary issues where certain foods upset my system means I’m often quite nervous about food – and I am always terrified of cooking meat and reheating things like rice in case I give us all food poisoning!) Honestly, it’s really quite severe anxiety and I’ve spent years avoiding eating out as it makes me so nervous.
So even though I’ve never purposefully dieted with the intention of losing or maintaining a certain weight, my relationship with food isn’t brilliant .
But generally speaking, even though there are times when I wish my body were better, it’s usually because of health reasons rather than anything to do with my weight or general body shape. In fact I was quite relieved to put on weight before my wedding, as it meant my wedding dress fit better. Mostly, I wish I were more toned around my torso, but other than that I don’t really think that much about it. It’s certainly not something I think about on a daily basis, but rather I’m more likely to be aware of it when feeling a bit emotionally tender anyway…
I don’t diet – I have ups and downs with my body image, I’ve put on about a stone that I haven’t shifted since having Martha, but I’m an ‘everything in moderation’ plus exercise kinda gal. I’m vegetarian and dairy free but the vegetarian is my brain deciding I don’t like meat any more, and dairy free is intolerance.
I have never dieted.
I was one of those smug thin people who would never put on weight even if I lived on chips and chocolate. Until I had kids. Now I’m not so smug. And definitely not so slim! But I enjoy my food too much to diet. I have joined a gym instead as I would rather enjoy food and work off a few calories than starve myself.
I am sure there are some diets out there that work, but all I ever hear is people saying they are on such and such a diet and totally miserable. I think life is too short for all that. I try to eat healthily and am trying to bring up my girls to have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies, but I do think it will get much harder as they get older.
I just like food. (Word.)
I’ve never dieted mainly because it’s not something that is common in our culture (Fiji). Our daily meals consists mainly of fresh veg & fruit plus seafood. Mind you I’m talking 25-30 odd years ago. If someone said to me growing up they were going on a diet, I’d laugh because you only got 3 meals a day as it was.
I also didn’t grow up with incorporating snacks in between meals so would usually have three meals for the day and that was it. I still struggle today to remember to buy snacks for my kids and when I forget I always say, but did you die? I feel having that type of lifestyle from an early age has influenced the way I live as an adult in terms of being aware of what to eat and not to eat.
Also I have three kids aged 14, 7 and 1 and I try to lead by example for my older two by being proactive with keeping fit, we go for daily runs together. Do I eat takeaways and KFC? Heck yeah I do, but everything in moderation. Plus I love to cook so majority of the time we eat at home.
I have never dieted and my diet is not particularly healthy (I eat a LOT of chocolate). I am naturally active though as a mum of 4 little ones who doesn’t drive and I have always been active without ever really being sporty or a gym user.
I think health is about everything in moderation and balancing your choices and body image is more about what goes on in our own heads. I have a belly and there are so many faults I can point out with myself, but I try to accept them because they make me who I am. I think I am more conscious of all of this as a parent as I want my children to be body confident.
I’ve never dieted. I don’t own scales and I love food. Post 2 children my body has definitely changed but strengthening my core and doing more cardio exercise would help (if I had time and inclination). Most mornings I don’t even look in the mirror!
My attitude towards health and body is we cook most meals from scratch but we also eat take away. I try not to describe food as treats just what it is. I endeavour not to draw attention to my body in any kind of way so far as the children are concerned, even when my daughter asks why my belly looks like it has a baby in even though her brother is 1, but I don’t react. I don’t usually wear make up day to day but I also like lipstick and nail varnish which makes for some good conversations with my daughter! And my preconceptions about shaving legs and under arms when she asks what I’m doing and why.
But I guess I’ve never dieted because I have never needed to – I’m happy as I am.
I have never dieted and I will NEVER ever diet!
Before children, my weight stayed the same whatever I did (I think I burned calories with the stress of teaching full time). Since I had my fourth baby, I’ve put on about 10kgs (1 1/2 stone), but it doesn’t really bother me that much (other than I have a wardrobe full of clothes I can’t wear).
Food makes me really happy and I think life is too short to be constantly worrying about what you eat, what you shouldn’t eat and how many calories / protein / *insert latest fad* are in my food. I want to make sure my children grow up loving food, accepting what they look like and never worrying about body image.
I’ve never dieted, I don’t believe in them.
I was naturally slim when I was younger as I used to love swimming and cycling; I did a swimathon aged 10 and someone dropped out from our team so our coach asked could we split the extra lengths – I just ended up doing all of hers as felt fine – swam 70 lengths and at 11 I cycled in a charity bike ride for miles – Cheshunt to Enfield. I am now naturally larger than I was then as my hobbies have changed – I’ve swapped swimming and cycling for family days out and reading!
I have always been happy whatever weight I’ve been (I worked in Milan for a few weeks in 2012 and piled on the pounds. I can honestly say I wasn’t happier when I was slimmer my weight just has never bothered me – whatever it has been.
What is the Percentage of People Who Have Never Dieted?
Well, according to my findings, in the group I asked the percentage of people who have never dieted was just over 3%. I also ran a poll on my Facebook page and the results from that were equally fascinating, coming out at 19% from 69 votes. Both of these figures give me hope, as does the fact that we appear to be turning a corner culturally – more and more women seem to be aspiring to achieve a strong physique as opposed to a skeletal one.
Of course it really is cultural, because very different body shapes are held up as the ‘perfect’ figure depending on where you are in the world.
My saddest realisation from conducting this little social experiment is that of the vast majority who are not happy with their bodies, their aspirations are often unrealistic. The programme I watched suggested this, and my own research supports the fact: too many of us are attempting to attain a body that is simply not a healthy weight and in some cases not even a natural composition.
To be completely clear: it’s fashionable and therefore desirable to be underweight. It’s also in vogue to have a disproportionate waist to glute ratio.
In other words, the figures many of us attempt to attain through diet – or other more drastic measures (fat burners, beauty procedures, or even surgery) – are not representative of normal body shape!
So, what can we do to encourage our children to learn from our mistakes and ease the burden of societal pressure to look a particular, unrealistic way?
- Question everything – the images we see around us are almost without exception distorted;
- Place emphasis on how our bodies perform and what they can do, rather than how they look;
- Place emphasis on the value of our attributes and actions, rather than our appearance;
- Find activities and team sports we love, that just happen to help keep us fit as a byproduct;
- Dance – even if it’s in the kitchen. Even if it’s badly;
- Don’t fixate on a number on the scales; in fact – throw them out!
- Be mindful of what you eat and enjoy everything – in moderation!
For more tips and advice check out my post about the magic diet that works long term.