International No-Diet Day is Sunday, May 6. Twenty years ago, Mary Evans Young of the British group Diet Breakers founded the holiday out of her own struggles with her body and weight. A non-diet day. She observed how much time and energy women devoted to their diets and raised the question: “What do you think would happen if you spent as much time and energy on your careers as you do on diets?”
As the only non-diet residential program for women, every day is no-diet day at Green Mountain. Still, even when no longer following a restrictive eating plan, many of our participants tell us that they have internalized the diet rules, what we refer to as the “diet mentality,” from years of habit. And whether or not they identify as dieters, they may still spend a great deal of time and energy on their bodies, on disliking them, on trying to change them. Body dissatisfaction is so prevalent, it has been described as a normative discontent.
So what if we took a day off? A day off of dieting? A day off of exercise we hate? A day off of criticizing our body?
Here are some ideas from the women at Green Mountain:
“I’m going to buy a dress I’ve been eyeing for a while. Although I don’t “actively diet,” I still find myself waiting to do things until I’m thinner. But not today! I’m ordering the dress because I deserve to feel good in it now!” Lisa C, 37
“I’m going to celebrate by rejoicing the fact that I’m NOT on a diet! I’ll do something fun, something that makes me happy, like playing basketball or going to the pool.” Tanis O, 32
“To celebrate I will make some really awesome food and enjoy the meal; I will not sit in front of the TV. I will honor the legions of young women still trying to find that perfect diet and convey to them that it’s not out there! Not dieting is eating a variety of awesome food.” Barbara S. 56
“I’m going to focus on what I CAN do, instead of what I CAN’T do! I can eat a full, balanced, great meal and feel satiated. The old me thought I needed to eat a small meal and feel hungry.” Mary F, 59
So, how will you celebrate yourself on International No Diet Day?