Embracing body positivity

Amany Abdel-Moneim , Tuesday 21 May 2024

It's time to shift the focus from restrictive diets and unrealistic beauty standards to embracing body positivity, self-acceptance, and adopting healthy, sustainable lifestyle habits

Embracing body positivity


After the world celebrated International No Diet Day on 6 May, it’s time to shift the focus from restrictive diets and unrealistic beauty standards to embracing body positivity, self-acceptance, and adopting healthy, sustainable lifestyle habits. 

Founded in 1992 by UK writer Mary Evans Young, International No Diet Day aims to promote body acceptance, raise awareness about the dangers of diet culture, and encourage individuals to prioritise their physical and mental well-being over societal pressures to conform to certain body ideals. 

By prioritising nourishment, practising mindful eating, staying active, managing stress, and cultivating self-compassion, you can achieve and maintain a healthy weight without resorting to restrictive diets or harmful practices. So, let’s shift from diet culture to self-love and empowerment, honouring our bodies and embracing the journey towards health and happiness with grace and gratitude. 

Here are some tips to help you lose weight without resorting to restrictive diets or harmful practices:

Focus on nourishment: 

Cultivate a positive relationship with nourishing, whole foods that fuel your body and support your overall health. Embrace balanced and varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Prioritise nutrient-dense foods that provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to nourish your body from the inside out.


Practise mindful eating: 

Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, as well as the sensory experience of eating. Slow down, savour each bite, and tune into your body’s signals of hunger and satiety. Avoid distractions such as screens or multitasking while eating, and focus on the flavours, textures, and sensations of your meals. By practising mindful eating, you can foster a greater sense of satisfaction and enjoyment from your food while reducing the likelihood of overeating.


Drink water regularly:

Drinking water before meals can help you eat fewer calories. One study found that drinking water before a meal reduced the amount of food consumed without significantly affecting satiety. Another study showed that drinking around 568 ml of water before a meal decreased calorie intake and hunger while also increasing fullness and satisfaction.

Replacing a sugary drink with water is particularly beneficial. If you replace calorie-loaded drinks such as soda or juice with water, you can experience an even greater effect.


Stay active:

Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and promoting overall well-being. Find activities that bring you joy and make you feel good. Whether it’s dancing, hiking, yoga, or cycling, choose activities that you genuinely enjoy and look forward to. Incorporate movement into your daily routine in ways that feel accessible and sustainable, whether it’s taking the stairs, going for a walk during your lunch break, or practising gentle stretching before bed.


Prioritise sleep and stress management:

Quality sleep and stress management play crucial roles in weight management and overall health. Aim for seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night to support optimal metabolism, hormone regulation, and cognitive function. Practise stress-reduction techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or journalling to combat stress and promote relaxation. Chronic stress can lead to emotional eating and weight gain, so prioritising self-care and stress management is essential for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.


Cultivate self-compassion and acceptance:

Instead of striving for unattainable ideals of perfection, practise self-compassion and embrace your body as it is. Shift your focus from external appearance to internal health and well-being, recognising that true beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colours. Challenge negative self-talk and societal pressures and surround yourself with supportive communities that celebrate diversity and promote body acceptance. By cultivating a positive body image and embracing self-love, you can foster a healthy relationship with yourself and your body.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 23 May, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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