The January fad-diet phenomenon

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It’s not news that the marketing department of shops deliberately organise their products and layouts based on the time of year, playing on the weaknesses of the public looking for any excuse to indulge. Valentine’s sees flowers, chocolates, jewellery; Easter encourages the consumption of incredible amounts of chocolate; and Christmas is no different. Presents, cards, chocolates, booze, you name it, the shops have it (and you want it).

Once the Christmas binge (which it has now inevitably become) is over, however, the shops become a little different in their targetting. Wherever you go at the moment I can guarantee you will see something or other linked to losing weight, getting fit and achieving that body image you have always dreamed of, advertising ways to shed those unwanted pounds we piled on over the festive period. Book stores fill the front desks with Dukan Diet, Weight Watchers and the like; every other advert on the TV is somehow related to a weight loss society; magazines are filled with slogans such has “EAT THIS and change your body forever” (on Glamour’s front cover this month.)

It’s the same in the run up to summer too; “how to get your beach body in 5 days” and the like. But why? What is the need? These miracle diets which profess will change your life, won’t. Eating grapefruit and eggs for four days, living on smoothies filled with vile spices and ingredients, or following a 3 day diet plan is only going to get your hopes and shopping bill high, and is anything but healthy.

What I don’t understand is why we’re so obsessed with it. If the shops didn’t play on the idea of festive “needs” (what family of four really needs two tins of Quality Street?) the public wouldn’t be so obsessed on shedding those excess pounds and working out to try and eradicate that extra tyre. It’s not just the shops the media are just as bad (though this is an argument which is all too familiar.) As a girl (the primary target of such weight loss obsession) I can see the effects this has and I’m not excluded. Why do we want to follow an unhealthy plan of obscure amounts of bizarre food just to lose half a stone in a matter of days, and why do we think it will work and be maintained? Companies such as Weight Watchers and Slimming World aren’t as successful as they are for no reason. They encourage healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle, and have plenty of successful stories as evidence.

It’s got me thinking, what if we didn’t care as much? If we obsessed over it less, the effects would be much more welcomed and we’d feel a much better sense of achievement instead of constantly battling with ourselves by weighing-in daily to see if the 1kg of celery is having any effect. It’s basic really: eat less, exercise more and accept that in reality we can’t all look like Jessica Alba or Cheryl Cole. If we didn’t have that extra mince pie, you wouldn’t have a period of trying to squeeze into the jeans that were already a little bit tight. Don’t eat yourself up and you won’t beat yourself up.

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