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Warning: Dieting May Lead to Eating Disorders

Celebrate International No Diet Day on Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

TORONTO, April 25, 2014 /CNW/ - Billions of dollars are spent every year on the latest diet programs, diet pills and diet books, yet most dieters regain all of, if not more weight within one to five years1. Frequent dieting can lead to eating disorders - negatively impacting the mental and physical health of whole families. On May 6th, International No Diet Day, the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) is encouraging Canadians to break free of dieting with four alternatives that will help lead to a healthier outlook and relationship with food and with oneself.

"Many people go on a diet to lose weight in order to gain acceptance," says Merryl Bear, Director of NEDIC. "They believe that thinness is the recipe for health and happiness."

Children are watching and modeling this behaviour. In fact, 30 percent of girls and 24 percent of boys between 10 and 14 years old have been on a diet, despite being within a healthy weight range.2

"Dieting has become a rite of passage for girls as young as 8 years old," continues Merryl. "This is concerning, because dieting can be a precursor to developing an eating disorder. We need to break this cycle and teach our children to respect and appreciate the diversity of body shapes and sizes, including their own."

Instead, NEDIC promotes Health At Every Size(R) (HAES). HAES emphasizes size and self-acceptance, as well as healthy day-to-day behaviours, without focusing on weight.

As an alternative to dieting, Registered Dietitian Kori Kostka offers these four alternatives:

  1. Tap Into Your Own Intuition - As babies, we cried when we were hungry and stopped eating when we felt full. Listen to your internal cues of hunger and fullness and allow your body to guide your food choices.
  2. Be Mindful When Eating - Be present when eating. Chew thoroughly and enjoy the taste of your food.
  3. Recognize and Respect Your Set Point - Your body has its own natural set point - the weight it naturally wants to be in order to be healthy. Gaining and losing weight can wreak havoc on your natural set point. This cycle of yo-yo dieting confuses the body and the brain between binging and starving.
  4. Measures of Health and Happiness - The number on the scale does not determine how healthy you are. Wellbeing can be measured in other ways. Laughter, learning, rest, play, reflection, socializing, volunteerism, these are just some of the other ways that people can begin to feel good about themselves and their bodies.

"The body is built to store and survive, not lose," Kostka says. "When you diet, you starve yourself of energy, nutrients, as well as pleasure. That's no way to live."

Instead, Kostka suggests, "Balance eating for health and eating for enjoyment, while rediscovering the joy of physical activity."

If someone you know is a frequent dieter, he or she may have an unhealthy preoccupation with food and weight, and may need help. Encourage them to celebrate International No Diet Day on May 6th and to visit or call 1-866-NEDIC-20 for more information. Join the conversation on Facebook (, Twitter @NEDIC85) and tag comments and photos with #NoDietDay.

Through its education and outreach initiatives, its toll-free helpline (1-866-NEDIC-20) and its website (, NEDIC is able to provide information, support and advice to youth, parents, friends, educators and community organizations who are interested in promoting positive body image and prevent disordered eating. NEDIC is partly funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and is a program of the University Health Network. Thanks to generous support of Dove Self-Esteem Project, NEDIC is able to develop and deliver a turn-key curriculum for Grade 4 through 8 students that addresses self-esteem and media literacy.

Media Backgrounder

2 McVey, Pepler, Davis, Flett, & Abdolell, 2002; McVey, Tweed, & Blackmore, 2004; McVey, Tweed, & Blackmore, 2005

SOURCE National Eating Disorder Information Centre

Image with caption: "The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) encourages Canadians to celebrate International No Diet Day on May 6, 2014. (CNW Group/National Eating Disorder Information Centre)". Image available at:

Image with caption: "Merryl Bear, Director of NEDIC warns that dieting can have negative side effects, including increased risk for developing an eating disorder. (CNW Group/National Eating Disorder Information Centre)". Image available at:

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