When Diets Become Deadly: An Open Letter to Lifehacker’s Beth Skwarecki
By Laura Dumitrescu--Your Lifehacker piece, “Starving Yourself Two Days a Week Is Actually Not a Bad Diet,” is dangerous, not only for those struggling with eating disorders, but for the public in general.
The first thing I did after reading this article was to check the definition of the word “starving.” The definitions and examples that I found all suggest that “starving” can lead to death, suffering, and capitulation. Starving is never an achievement, and should never be written about flippantly.
Why would I do that to myself and my body? With 43 million adult women in the United States dieting to lose weight at any given time, it is irresponsible to “sell” a diet based on denying the body’s nutritional needs, which is unsustainable, unhealthy, and potentially deadly.
Your article’s title also suggests that your piece is about a “good diet.” Well, what’s the definition of a “bad diet” or “good diet,” anyway? These types of obsessive, black-and-white terms and ways of thinking foster eating disordered behaviors. You should never feel ashamed about giving your body the necessary fuel it needs to function and thrive.
The statement, “Let’s be real: most people are interested in weight loss,” suggests that most people are unhappy with their bodies and extreme dieting is a solution to these issues. If you believe your body is a “thing” that you want to experiment with because it’s trendy, you have the freedom to do so. But it’s irresponsible to encourage the public to do so as well.
It is easy to enter into disordered territory that would be difficult to recover from without damages, so we should try to create positive and safe spaces for people to be comfortable in their bodies. You mentioned that your extreme diet left you unable to concentrate on work at times – that is a signifier that your behaviors are interfering with your health. The brain consumes up to one-fifth of the body’s calories. Self-starvation results in the brain not getting the energy it needs, which can result in difficulty concentrating.
Next time, please consider writing a body-positive piece that encourages healthier attitudes toward food and weight. You could start by checking out NEDA’s blog, Body Posi Panda, Adios Barbie, and Nourish and Eat.
Here is a quote by Ariane Machin that also might inspire you: “Your body is an instrument not an ornament.”