Say No To Diet: Combat Anorexia and Malnutrition

15 years old Shiba stood by the worn down door of her small clumsy 2 bedroom house in the slum area of Kalyan Puri, her eyes looked hollow and her collar bones were painfully visible from the distance. She weighs not more than 38 kgs.

When asked about the reason of her being underweight and so painfully thin she pointed towards the glossy poster of a Bollywood actress with a wafer-thin waist, pasted at the back of her house door with cello-tape. “I want to be like her. She is so beautiful and slim. Earlier I used to be plum but I decided to stick to only water and cucumber for my meals and I lost so much of weight in just 2 months”. “It’s not good for girls to be fat because then it’s become difficult to get them married” Replied her mother. “Though it’s not easy for us to get enough money to keep buying salad items for her but we try to manage. She’ll be of marriageable age very soon and we have to find her a decent husband which won’t be possible if she is fat” she added further.

Such is the pressure of being beautiful and thin in our society that it’s making people go to the extent of starving themselves and their daughters and sisters like Shiba who in her age should be eating healthy and study well but instead they have been put on diet and encouraged to enhance their beauty by losing weight because getting married is more important than studying.

Girls like Shiba are not just going on diets but are putting themselves at the risk of Anorexia which is more dangerous than they can ever understand.

“Anorexia is about poor body image. When you are constantly told that thin is beautiful, then your opinion about your own body is certain to change to fit the accepted standard”.

Solid measures are needed to be taken to promote healthy body image and highlighting the disastrous consequences of Anorexia. It is a condition which can play havoc with the health of adolescent or preadolescent by retarding their growth.

The trend of young girls who don’t have any weight-related issues but are going on diets is increasing. They want to fit the beauty standards of the society which emphasis on being thin more than being healthy.

Increasing explosion of television has also added to the injury by advertising and promoting abnormally thin as beautiful. The houses in the area may not have proper sanitation but have access to cable and television sets.

Through various counseling sessions, Nidhi Foundation has tried to educate the people of the community about the importance and benefit of healthy eating and we discourage children as young as Shiba to go on diets. We want these children, especially girls who have an excessive pressure of being slim and beautiful to adapt healthy eating habits and staying fit through physical activity rather than cutting on nutrient food and starving their bodies to the level of hunger and malnutrition.

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