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The Don't-Try-It Diet

by Julie Douglas

Sometimes we get too obsessed with dieting. I know because I used to starve myself. Depriving myself made food even more appealing. I became obsessed with food until I couldn't concentrate on anything else.

Do you ever think about going on a diet? All the ads in magazines and on TV about diets make them seem really appealing. But did you know that most dieters regain all the weight they lost? And often they regain even more weight?

We've all known a girl who seems to have the perfect body. You might think she never eats or that she takes extreme measures to stay thin. Maybe she does. But maybe she's just naturally thin and has a high metabolism, which she maintains by NOT constantly dieting.

The fact is, you don't need to diet either—even if you wear a bigger size than your friends. Many things decide your size and weight, including genes, bone structure, whether or not you've hit puberty, and lifestyle. This combination is different for everyone.

Diets deny your growing body the nourishment it needs. If your weight drops too much, your body will override your brain and make you eat. That's because everyone's got a "set point"—a weight that your body tries to keep no matter what. When you diet, your set point gets higher since your body is afraid you'll "starve" again, and it wants to have plenty of fuel saved. Your metabolism also slows down because your body wants to save energy. So you have less energy, and you gain weight more easily if you diet. You can't outsmart your body by dieting.

The best way to keep your metabolism healthy is to eat nutritious food and get regular exercise. Try exercising every day—ride your bike to a friend's house, jump rope while you watch TV, or walk to the store to get a treat. (It's OK to eat junk food once in awhile—sometimes denying yourself junk food can lead to bingeing, or eating too much at once). Your body will thank you for your healthy lifestyle by having lots of energy, and you'll feel good about yourself, no matter what your size.

About 10% of North American females develop an eating disorder. I've been anorexic/bulimarexic myself, so my experiences back up what I've said. We need to stop obsessing over food and see it for what it really is—nourishment and fuel. And, remember, who you are is made up of a lot more than your size.

Metabolism: How your body changes what you eat into energy. Some people's metabolisms are higher than others, which means they burn fat more quickly.

If you or someone you know is too concerned with weight, call these free hotlines for advice: American Dietetic Association—1-800-366-1655 and National Eating Disorders Association Hotline—1-800-9312237 or email info@NationalEatingDisorders.org.

Julie Douglas, 16, lives in Ontario with her parents, three younger brothers, and two pet rats. She loves music, painting and hanging out with her boyfriend. She wrote a "Body Language" article for the July/August 2003 issue of New Moon and a book with her mom, Ann Douglas, called Body Talk: The Straight Facts on Fitness, Nutrition, and Feeling Good About Yourself (Maple Tree Press 2002). Check it out!

© 2004 New Moon® Publishing, New Moon®: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams, Duluth MN.

 

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This article is from New Moon  , a magazine written for girls by girls. Here is a complete list of the New Moon articles on girlshealth.gov.

Content last reviewed May 15, 2008
Page last updated $tools.date.format("MMMM", $date1) $tools.date.format("dd", $date1), $tools.date.format("yyyy", $date1)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

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