This May 6, put away your scales and form a new relationship with the person in the mirror for International No Diet Day. For so many people, and especially women, unattainable body standards and pressure have prompted eating disorders, low self-esteem, bullying, and unhealthily restrictive diets. When British feminist Mary Evans Young had enough of all this in 1992, she invited friends to “Ditch that Diet” – and it caught on massively. The global movement that it sparked has helped many individuals form a healthier relationship with food and their bodies, so today wear a light blue ribbon and eat a cheeseburger with pride!
History of International No Diet Day
Dieticians and dieting sprung up as early as the 18th century when obese English doctor George Cheyne underwent a tremendous weight loss by eating only vegetables and drinking only milk – completely abstaining from eating meat. He then recommended his diet to all who suffered from obesity, and wrote an essay titled “An Essay of Health and Long Life.” This essay advised fresh air and avoidance of “luxury foods,” and thus the first diets were born.
People have continued to use specific eating habits to become healthier or make their bodies fit a certain societal ideal. English undertaker William Banting created the first fad weight-loss diet “Banting” in 1863. It was still being printed as of 2007 and is considered a model for popular diets. It involved four meals of meat, greens, fruit, and dry wine per day.
In 1918, the first best-selling weight loss book, “Diet and Health: With Key to the Calories,” was created by American columnist and physician Lulu Hunt Peters. It promoted calorie-counting, which remains popular today. Since then, over 1000 weight-loss diets have developed, but most focus on consuming a low amount of either calories, fat, carbohydrates, or sugars.
Diet culture boomed. With an increasing amount of accessible media, from television to ads to the internet, marketers promoted body standards and ideals that were difficult for many people to attain. In many cases, photo editing and plastic surgery made these figures physically impossible to naturally attain, yet many felt the social pressure and turned to diets to thin themselves.
In 1992, English feminist Mary Evans Young had already battled anorexia, bullying, and body image issues for years, and had had enough. Though she originally intended her first No Diet Day to be celebrated only in the UK, she was inspired to see it spread internationally. In 1992, only a few dozen women in the UK celebrated the holiday, with “Ditch That Diet” stickers and a picnic. By 1993, women in various countries wanted to celebrate and the date was changed to May 6 to avoid conflict with Cinco de Mayo festivities.
Today, the stated purpose of INDD is body acceptance and body shape diversity and is symbolized by a light blue ribbon. However, many restaurants use the day as a marketing tactic to encourage customers to buy indulgent treats. Though the meaning of the day has evolved depending on who is celebrating, it is a feminist landmark and a crucial reminder to focus on health at any size, as well as an important way of exposing the dangers of dieting.
International No Diet Day timeline
English doctor George Cheyne publishes “An Essay of Health and Long Life” detailing a weight-loss plan that includes exercise, fresh air, and no luxury foods.
Scottish military surgeon John Rollo publishes “Notes of a Diabetic Case,” which describes the benefits of a meat-heavy diet for diabetics.
Lew Louderback writes an article about the damage of dieting and the importance of body liberation, which is a boon to the “Health at Every Size” movement.
Mary Evans Young institutes the first No Diet Day, with big dreams of taking it global.
The International Size Acceptance Association, an NGO aimed at advancing fat acceptance, is formed.
International No Diet Day FAQs
When is International No Diet Day celebrated?
On May 6.
Are there events for International No Diet Day?
We didn’t find any events but many celebrities speak out on body positivity on this day and social media is rife with memes and messages about the drawbacks of diet culture, so keep an eye out!
Where is International No Diet Day observed?
Around the globe, but especially in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Israel, Denmark, Sweden, and Brazil.
Are there other National holidays on the same day as International No Diet Day?
Yes. National Nurses Day and National Tourist Appreciation Day also fall on May 6.
International No Diet Day Activities
Cook something indulgent
No one should deprive themselves of the joy of cooking just because of a diet. Get creative and whip up something that feels a little bit naughty. If you can’t break your diet alone, recruit a friend to help you fashion the ultimate dish. Just remember to enjoy it mindfully - food doesn’t have to be a battle.
Post your food (and show self-love)
Instead of posting the four almonds, your diet allows you to eat for breakfast, get yourself a stack of waffles and proudly share them with the hashtag #NoDietDay. Even if it leaves you feeling vulnerable to criticism, you’re working towards accepting yourself more fully - and you never know who you might inspire.
Appreciate your body, as it is
Even though you promised you’d lose 15 pounds before you put on that adorable sundress, wearing it out and celebrating your form as you are will make a positive impact on you and others. Confidence is a practice and this is a great day to start. Remember, self-love is all mental and not physical, so today start removing thoughts that you’re too fat or aren’t good enough and start appreciating yourself as you are.
5 Myths About Dieting, Busted
Very-low-calorie diets, or crash diets, consist of less than 800 calories consumed per day. Unmonitored, these can afford insufficient nutrients and even lead to cardiac arrest.
Eggs & Cholesterol
Contrary to what some diets preach, eggs don’t confer unhealthy cholesterol. They are safe and healthy to eat as they don’t typically raise the level of cholesterol in the body. Truth is, studies have shown that they don’t hurt heart health and are very nutritious!
Many people are hopping on the gluten-free trend but it may be pointless - gluten-free diets typically are only recommended to individuals with celiac disease or other illnesses that would benefit from a gluten-free diet.
Can I Skip Breakfast?
This just in: breakfast is good for you. Indulge in the eggs and waffles! Studies show that breakfast skippers are more likely to be overweight than those who don’t skip the first meal. It’s also a myth that breakfast boosts metabolism.
Supplements, a Cure-All?
Though many desperate dieters turn to supplements to shed the pounds, they may be throwing their money down the drain. Very few actually work, which can be frustrating and expensive. Even the best ones can only help you lose a small amount of weight.
Why We Love International No Diet Day
Mashed potatoes? Yes. Brownies? Absolutely. Lasagna? Sign us up! On International No Diet Day anything goes - and there’s no shame associated with eating what you want. Of course, we appreciate International No Diet Day for its body positivity and self-acceptance, but we also sure do appreciate some good cheese fries.
It lets us focus on other things
As Mary Evans Young so keenly asked girls in 1992, “What do you think would happen if you spent as much time and energy on your careers as you do on your diets?” And the woman had a point. Focusing on constantly limiting and shaming yourself in the name of a diet steals focus from things that are proven to improve your life far more than being skinnier ever will.
It teaches self-love and acceptance
Sometimes, it can be hard to love the person in the mirror. Especially for young people and women, it’s been shown that societal pressures to look a certain way take a huge mental toll. From stick-thin models in advertisements to ever-present billboards heralding the latest fad diet, the physical ideal society has given us feels inescapable - and many of us weren’t made with the same cookie cutter. INDD reminds us that that’s okay. There is beauty in every size and shape.
International No Diet Day dates