Here is Why You Never Need to Diet Before Summer Starts

Summer is a beautiful season of no school, warm nights, frozen treats and unforgettable adventures.

Unfortunately, summer is also a season for dieting and insecurity, with dieting and exercise posts slowly creeping onto TikTok and Instagram. These posts are usually accompanied by captions that appear to be health-positive like, "Get fit for summer," or "What I eat in a day when I'm cutting calories."

They may appear harmless, but these messages can be incredibly toxic. They share a common theme that subtly—or at times not so subtly—implies that you need to lose weight to look your best. It isn't a new phenomenon created by social media as diet culture has existed for a very long time, but social media is just the latest way it exists in our society—and due to the pandemic's nature and increased screen time, we are more susceptible to diet culture messages. On top of that, the rise of eating disorders in youth is at an all-time high. BBC reported that Seed, an eating disorder charity based in the UK, saw a 68% rise in patients between the ages of 10 and 19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Diet culture is impossible to escape, but it's essential to be aware of the messages we are receiving, as dieting can have negative long-term mental and physical effects. We all want to feel our best for summer, but that doesn't have to include dieting. Here are five reasons why you shouldn't diet for summer and what you can do instead to glow up in time for the best season of the year.

1. Dieting is Not Healthy

Most people repackaged diets as "healthy eating," but it's often the opposite. Dieting for prolonged periods is physically demanding. Undereating can cause fatigue, headaches, poor sleep, nutritional deficiencies and developmental problems. It can also affect your mental health, making you depressed and anxious. Instead of dieting, think of ways you can incorporate healthy habits in your life. A real "glow up" happens when you nurture your body from the inside out. A genuine healthy lifestyle will make you feel better, not worse.

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2. You Want Lasting Change, Not Quick Fixes

Diets are not sustainable. You may lose weight at first, but you will most likely gain it back after the diet is finished, which can start a vicious dieting cycle. It's better to make goals for yourself like drinking more water, incorporating more vegetables into your meals, stretching every morning, signing up for yoga classes or starting to run a few times a week at the beach with your friend. These are small goals that will improve your mood, increase your energy, boost your fitness level and encourage you to continue making positive choices. You can always create new goals and continue to improve, like training for a 10k, but it should come from a place of your health instead of your appearance. The key is to make healthy changes because you want to feel your best, not because you're following a popular diet from your favorite influencer.

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3. Diet Culture Says You Have to Lose Weight—You Don't

The definition of diet culture from EDRDpro is "a belief system that focuses on and values weight, shape, and size over well-being." Diet culture is all around us and sometimes we don't even realize it. We internalize messages we receive from the media, friends, family and popular culture. It encourages the idea that only one type of body is desirable. Understandably, you might feel external and internal pressure to lose weight, but the truth is that all bodies are beautiful. You don't have to lose x amount of weight or look a certain way to feel confident in how you look. It can take years to unlearn diet culture, but you can begin now by reminding yourself that you do not need to change. You are beautiful right now, as you are.

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4. Dieting Can Damage Your Relationship With Food

Dieting, whether it's cutting out sweets, starting a juice cleanse, skipping meals or lowering calories, changes the way you eat. It turns a normal relationship with food into one focused on becoming smaller rather than supporting your body. A great way to maintain a normal relationship with food while introducing health goals is to stop labeling food as "good" or bad." Focus on including more nutrient-dense food that makes you feel better. It's great to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet, but you don't need to cut out cookies or ice cream. Any food is healthy in moderation! Eating a balanced diet, including nutrient-dense foods and treats when you want, is healthier than any restrictive diet.

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5. It Takes Away Your Body Confidence

Dieting may make your body image worse. It makes you focus on your "imperfections" and ignore what you love about yourself. If you're struggling with body confidence right now, one of the best ways to cope with this feeling is by surrounding yourself with positive body messages. Here are five outstanding body-positive accounts to follow on TikTok, which are just a start. It's okay to be insecure; everybody has insecurities. Learning to love and take care of yourself in a healthy way is difficult, but it is easier than wasting time not liking yourself. A healthy body and relationship with food will always be more important than risking your health.

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Summer is also known as ice cream season! Check out THESE weird ice cream toppings that totally that shouldn't work but totally do.