The Smoke Signal

The Truth About Going on a Diet

Deven Stokes, Journalist, Editor

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As a student in high school, the concept of weight and shape is a very common topic. Many teens feel bad about themselves and take extreme measures because they feel that they are supposed to look a certain way.

When teenagers feel self-conscious about how their body looks, they feel the need to change in order to look how they desire to be. One of the most common ways teenagers alter themselves is through changing their diets.

Individuals who want to change their bodies resort to skipping meals, going on juice cleanses, or even cutting out the food that they love. But before teenagers start going on that diet, do they really know if they’re doing it properly or if they’re just harming their body?

The first rule to dieting is that if you’re starving, you’re hurting your body.

Neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt gave a TED talk explaining her experience with dieting as an early teenager. By studying the brain, Aamodt discovered that as the individual is dieting, the entire system of the human body is negatively impacted.

Sandra Aamdot at TEDGlobal 2013

Aamodt said, “If you lose a lot of weight, your brain reacts as if you were starving…when you are hungry, your muscles burn less energy.”

When your muscles are burning less energy, you are not burning any calories. Therefore, no weight is even lost.

The human brain can do many things, some beyond our comprehension. But our brain cannot detect what our body size is. Whether you are big or small, when your body is hungry, your brain tells you to eat.

Although dieting can change the body size, it cannot change our brains. Even if you lose weight, you brain will always be convincing you to gain it back. Over time, the human body will gain even more weight if they choose to diet at a young age.

About 50 percent of teenage girls have tried to change their body weight and 25 percent of guys have tried to alter their shape. Out of these teenagers, more than half of them who tried to diet were already at a healthy weight. Teenagers who don’t feel good about themselves are more likely to diet even when they are in good health.

Dieting is not only had harmful aspects to the body, but also to the mind. Dieting may make someone feel distracted, sad, tired, unmotivated, dizzy, and overall deprived of things they enjoy. These aspects can be harmful for the person’s mental health and put them in worse shape before the diet.

Although dieting has an overall negative outcome, eating healthy to lose weight is definitely possible if it is done in the proper way.

The best way to diet is to eat a wide variety of foods, drink lots of water, and to exercise. When being healthy, fruits and vegetables will make a big difference combined with a smart exercise program that works with your body.

The most important part of finding the right balance is to listen to your body. Being mindful of your body’s signals when you’re eating, exercising, and trying to do better is important.

Sandra Aamodt said, “Give yourself permission to eat as much as you want, and then work on figuring out what makes your body feel good.”

When dieting, teenagers force themselves to believe that treats are bad for their body. It has been proven that having a treat now and then will do more good for the body rather than harm. Treats can improve an individual’s mood, give them a burst of energy, and make them happy.

The key to eating well is to be mindful of what you are eating and more specifically, how much. Sweets will do no harm, as long as they are eaten mindfully and sparingly.

As my New Year’s resolution, I gave up dieting, stopped worrying about my weight, and learned to eat mindfully. Now I eat whenever I’m hungry, and I’ve lost 10 pounds.”

— Sandra Aamodt


Eating mindfully is proven to be the most efficient way to become healthy. By being a mindful eater, you’re focusing more on the importance of how the body feels compared to how much the body weighs on the scale.

 The purpose of a diet has been lost through images of what the perfect body is supposed to look like.  Perhaps if teenagers spent less time counting calories and more time focusing on what makes their bodies feel good, everyone would be healthier and enjoy life more.

Aamodt said, “What if we told all those dieting girls that it’s okay to eat when they’re hungry? What if we taught them to work with their appetite instead of fearing it? I think most of them would be happier and healthier.”

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