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No Diet Day encourages acceptance of all body types

International No Diet Day (INDD) will be observed on Monday in Finland as well as other parts of the world. Activists hope that the occasion will help people accept themselves as they are – whatever their shape or size.

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Eating disorders can cause people to behave in what may seem to be irrational ways. Image: Onni Aaltonen / Yle

Eating disorders affect not only the sufferers, but their entire families. Oulu area manager of the Finnish Eating Disorder Association Tanja Tiainen says that sufferers are still stigmatised by eating disorders. However nowadays they are more likely to seek help at an earlier stage.

"Eating disorders are always associated with secrecy and shame, this is also the case for the loved ones of those affected. The sickness makes people behave in what may appear from the outside to be an irrational way," Tiainen said.

Members of the Oulu chapter of the association have been discussing how new sufferers of eating disorders can survive day-to-day challenges. The group considered how a new form of support would work in Oulu.

The idea would be to establish advisory groups for the parents, grandparents or spouses of persons suffering with eating disorders. This kind of support group has also been tested in Kuopio, Jyväskylä and Tampere.

"When our daily lives are affected too much by eating, exercise and above all thoughts about how much we weigh, then we can talk about an eating disorder. People with these disorders are constantly wondering when and what to eat next and how much they should exercise to burn off the food they've just eaten," Tiainen explained.

"Monday’s International No Diet Day observance will encourage people to abstain from dieting and from comparing themselves to others – even for one day of the year," she added.

The first NDD was celebrated in the UK in 1992. Since then, feminist groups in countries across the globe have adopted the observance.

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