Body Image and the Modern Diet

If you are like most women reading women’s magazines today, you get overwhelmed by the amount of advertisements for diet fads, foods that will help you count carbs, low-fat foods and recipes and products to cleanse or purge the system of impurities.  The current obsession with perfecting our bodies has become all-consuming for many consumers and very profitable for many small corporations and big companies.

In Hollywood where the pressure to stay thin is enormous, many women resort to unhealthy starvation tactics to maintain a BMI that is far below normal, but suitable for television and film.     Nearly every A-list actress has struggled with unhealthy body image at some point.  Magazines, talk shows and reality television all want to know what the stars do to maintain their figures.  When a woman is larger than the public believes she should be, she “doesn’t care about her image.”  When she is smaller, she, “has an eating disorder.”  So, though there is a small margin of acceptable size under the bright lights of Hollywood, there is definately an “acceptable size” that many argue may match the profit margin.  Skinnier is wealthier is today’s mantra according to some at the top of the earning scale.

Though the idea that appearance equates to wealth is superficial, it can be argued that our society does work this way, especially for women.  Since there is a retail market that appeals to nearly everything related to women and their bodies, there is also a very booming market that caters to women wanting to lose weight by dieting.  Here are the top five diets that work for many women in today’s society according to Consumer Reports.

The magazine rated the top five diets based on their nutritional value and effectiveness.

#5: The Atkins Diet

It’s a popular diet that’s successful for many, but there are drawbacks: It’s not a diet that people can stay on for a long time, and it’s not very nutritionally balanced.

#4: The Ornish Diet

 It’s heart-healthy and vegetarian.

#3: The Zone

This high-protein, high-fiber diet, has got the right amount of calories, and the short and long-term results are pretty good.

#2: The meal replacement Slim Fast Diet.

This diet relies on meal replacement shakes that give a feeling of fullness to help with cutting calories and cravings.

#1: The king of all weight loss plans, according to Consumer Reports, is the diet that took the Duchess of York from Fat to Fabulous: Weight Watchers.

For more information on these diets and others out there these days, see WebMD’s Health and Diet center.

It’s important, when evaluating diets and their effectiveness, to choose the one that’s best for you given your history of weight loss and gain, and your BMI.  The National Institutes of Health have a BMI calculator that allows you to calculate an appropriate weight loss goal for your age, height, and current weight.  Different diets work for different people and it’s crucial to make sure you don’t just choose a diet for it’s popularity, but for it’s long term benefits and reliability.

Dieting perils include any diet on which you eat fewer calories than you need to get through the day — like an 800-calorie-per-day diet, for instance. Diets that don’t allow any fat also can be bad for you. Everyone needs a certain amount of fat in their diet — up to 30% of total calories — so no one should eat a completely fat-free diet.

Beware of diets that restrict certain food groups also. A diet that requires you to say no to bread or pasta or allows you to eat only fruit is unhealthy. You won’t get the vitamins and minerals you need.  You may lose weight this way, but you’ll probably gain it back as soon as you start eating normally again.

The truth is, there are success stories related to almost any diet, and there are cautionary tales as well.  Research carefully to make sure that you have all the information you need before beginning any diet.  Also, know your body and its limits.  Know what is normal for you and what isn’t, so that you can recognize signs of a diet gone wrong.

Body Weight Scale


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