Dieting in BCA

Julie Sung, Reporter

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The beginning of spring brings forth a plethora of new activities and interests. However, there is one practice that persists regardless of the current season: dieting.

Dieting is traditionally defined as the practice of regulating what one consumes in an attempt to maintain, decrease, or increase body weight. Although “diet” generally has a positive connotation, one that it is associated with self-improvement, studies have noted that dieting and most methods of weight management do not often occur in a manner that is “healthy” for the person dieting. The Canadian Paediatric Society notes that “concern with weight and shape is extremely common during the adolescent years. In addition to being exposed to the very real health risks of obesity and poor nutrition, teenagers are being exposed to the unrealistically thin beauty ideal that is portrayed in the media”; BCA students are not exempt from the influence of this media exposure.

With school dances and spring/summer break approaching, many BCA students have felt increasingly pressured to alter their physical appearance. A female junior explained that her desire to go on a diet stems from wanting to “lose weight and fit better into my clothes,” she continued, “but when I feel really hungry I have small portions of carbohydrates.”

While the student acknowledged that her dieting habits are not the healthiest, she says she would not change anything. “I don’t really care because it is not super destructive to my body. We eat unhealthy things all the time, even if they are labeled as healthy, vegan, etc. There isn’t a single person I know who has an actual healthy lifestyle. Dieting is popular among my friends because it is an easy way to lose weight, especially if you are preoccupied with school and work. People our age just want fast results.”

Not surprisingly, the same perspective on dieting is not shared by all students. For some others, like junior Greg Katz, dieting is not a weight loss journey, but rather a method of developing healthier eating habits. “I feel like many people think diet is synonymous with weight loss. However, that’s not at all true. I try to eat healthy veggies and fruits because I truly believe that ‘you are what you eat.’”

Greg states that while he believes in the importance of eating vitamin-rich foods, he strongly dislikes restricting himself. “I think it is also important to be able to break one’s diet once in a while and enjoy something a bit on the unhealthy side. With school, it is kind of hard to truly eat what I want, however, I try to eat a lot of vegetables, protein-rich foods, and stay away from processed products as much as possible.”

Despite the differences in the two students’ dieting habits and opinions, both agreed that dieting for weight loss, as many do in both adolescence and adulthood, can be attributed to the societal standards of “beauty.” Moreover, both students believe that it is incorrect to make assumptions about one’s intentions for dieting, as there are many who diet simply to develop healthy eating habits at a younger age. While a school-wide survey was not conducted, it is clear that dieting may be highly prevalent among students at BCA; more effort should be directed to ensuring that students are making nutritional choices that are both physically and mentally healthy.