The Harmful Side Of Diet Culture As A Teen



This graph shows different ways teens tried to lose weight.

Kira Hodgson, Staff Writer

What makes diet culture so harmful for teenagers? Diets are supposed to help us right? Yes, diets should help us but that is not always the case for many teenagers. With diet culture being so popular on social media sites such as Instagram or Tik Tok, as well as in television, and movies, each one has the same message that being thin, and muscular will make us feel beautiful, and happy. Unfortunately, teenagers have to deal with that pressure all the time and it makes them believe that they need to go on a diet to change themselves, which could make their health take a turn for the worse.


Here are some common “dieting” habits that teenagers should stay away from that are considered unhealthy for their mental and physical health and could lead to developing eating disorders such as Anorexia or Bulimia which is caused by skipping meals, over exercising, restricting or cutting off specific food groups, and drinking excessive amounts of water.


When you skip meals, your body isn’t getting the proper calories and nutrients which can cause the body to have little energy to function and lower your metabolism, leaving you feeling sluggish and tired. This habit ties in with not eating enough calories to meet your nutritional needs.


It is true that exercising is good for our bodies because it helps us get rid of excess energy and promotes fitness, but it’s possible that exercising too much can lead to problems like fatigue, poor immune system, inability to recover from workouts, overuse injuries like stress fractures, sleeplessness, and depression. Teen girls who are active in sports could develop a condition called “The Female Athlete Triad,” which is a combination of disordered eating, menstrual disturbances and decreased bone density.


Restricting or cutting specific food groups can impact both physical and mental health. However, if you are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy it’s possible to switch to non-dairy products like almond milk or dairy-free yogurt. Vegans can also cut out meat without sacrificing their protein intake. Protein is also found in beans, nuts, and legumes.


Drinking water is great for our bodies because it helps protect our organs and tissue by keeping your body hydrated and helping it maintain optimum levels of moisture, getting rid of waste in our bodies and so much more. However, drinking excessive amounts of water is bad for you because your kidneys can’t get rid of excess water, this is called hyponatremia which can be life threatening.


Going on a diet doesn’t have to be negative. There are healthy habits you can easily get into that won’t be harmful for yourself. A few easy tips you can do is setting up healthy and realistic goals for yourself, eating balanced non-processed meals, and adding some physical activity when you can. Healthy habits like these can give you more positive results for your overall health than any diet ever could.