Nutritionist 'Fixes' Cover Of Health Magazine To Make An Important Point About Dieting

"You don’t owe it to anyone to conform to unrealistic aesthetics that someone else decided for you."

While we may be used to seeing fashion and beauty magazine covers that perpetuate unrealistic standards of beauty, we often don't expect to see such messages conveyed on health magazine covers. So, when Laura Thomas, PhD, a registered nutritionist in the UK, recently came across a copy of Women's Health Magazine UK, she was surprised and frustrated, to say the least. 

Thomas then took to Instagram to fix the image. 

In a post shared on Monday, Thomas posted her new-and-improved cover . She transformed headlines such as "Get lean in 2018" to "You are awesome as you are. Don't go on a diet!" and replaced "Sculpt killer abs" with "Move because it feels good in your body and head. Don't kill yourself just to get visible abs." 

In addition to the body-positive changes, Thomas made ones that were food-positive and mental health-focused. "New Year, New Superfoods" became "Superfoods don't exist. All food is neutral" and "Outsmart your inner quitter" was changed to "Know your boundaries. It's OK to say no and prioritize mental health."

"This cover is the EPITOME of diet culture. This is, of course, their yearly 'transform' issue, which promises to 'shed kilos, strip fat, and build muscle.' But remember, going on a diet may transform your body (temporarily, diets don't work long-term), but it's not a cure for low self-esteem, it doesn't help you cultivate body acceptance or good body image, and it can lead you down the path of disordered eating," Thomas wrote. "That's the lie of diet culture. It promises you things will be better after you change your body."

Many media outlets focus on diet culture and feed into consumers insecurities, which can perpetuate body image issues and eating disorders. Thomas hopes to encourage people learn to focus on improving their relationship with food and their bodies long-term. rather than encouraging fad dieting. 

"What this message is REALLY saying is 'restrict your energy intake through disordered and restrictive eating & kill yourself in the gym, and don't even think about having a social life,'" Thomas wrote on Instagram about the magazine cover. "You get the point, right? This magazine has nothing to do with health and everything to do with tearing down your self confidence and preying on your insecurities in order to sell you something, either the magazine itself or their strategically placed partnerships." 

For the month of December, she's launched a "Non-Diet Advent Calendar" on Instagram. Every day, she uploads a tip on how to be better to yourself and your body this season. The goal is to teach people how to take the guilt out of eating, break restrictive dieting, and help them to practice self-love. 

"You don't owe it to anyone to conform to unrealistic aesthetics that someone else decided for you," she wrote. 

Amen. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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