A Permanent Trend: Dieting

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“The diet was tough for a few days, but I eat less in general now. [But I can’t help] feeling so free eating non-diet food,” said Safwan, pictured closest to the camera.

Recently, two sophomores, Safwan Z. and Aycin I., both thought it would be a good idea to lose some weight.

Modern society’s beauty standards have motivated many people to go on a diet to lose weight. ISG Jubail is no exception when it comes to keeping up with this trend. Comments like “I’m on a diet” or “I’m trying to lose weight” are far too common. In order to achieve this goal–having a “perfect” body–the students have attempted in many different ways.

Safwan and Aycin decided to partake in a diet program from Diet Center, an organization which was initially created in Lebanon by Sawson Jabri and Rifaat Jabri in the early 1990s. The organization provides a specially designed catering service that aids the dieting process. This spring, both of these sophomores reached out to Diet Center and used their programs.

“[I had been on a diet] for like a month,” Safwan Z. said. “I went to the center. It’s in downtown Jubail … You can choose what [program] you want. [For example,] if you want more detox.”

Every day at lunch, Safwan sat with his friends with a container of healthily made food.“My mom [suggested it to] me … [She] trusted them because she’s done it before.”

He would rip off the seal of the plastic container. The container was full of pasta or salads. Sometimes, the container was filled with beef steak with sauteed vegetables on the side. “I’m on a diet,” he would tell his friends. Safwan continued to eat the food in the container. This was his daily routine for a month, from March to April. After these 30 days, Safwan lost 8 kg.

He lacked the freedom of eating what he desired.”

— Danyal K.

According to the organization’s website, Diet Center provides calorie-controlled programs; customers can choose from the total consumption of 1000 calories, 1200 calories, or 1500 calories depending on their needs. They provide breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts, and they deliver the food. According to the website, their food is nutritionally balanced and contains less cholesterol, fat, and sugar. Not only do they provide their services to individuals, but they also cater to hospitals, schools, companies, and special events and give consultations regarding one’s diet and health.

“He lacked the freedom of eating what he desired,” Danyal K. said, a sophomore who ate lunch with Safwan on a daily basis. Danyal shrugged and added, “However, the results were noticeable.”

When asked to explain the details of the food that was catered, Safwan Z. said, “[The food] is healthy, but it doesn’t really fulfill my hunger. I [felt] like I was starving for like two days … It’s like a normal portion size, I guess. You get used to it.” He chuckled and added, “[It tastes good] for the most stuff … You just have to bear the taste for some of the food, but it’s ok.”

The normally-portioned food seemed to be not enough for a 16-year-old boy. According to the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, a government agency in the United States, for 16-year-old males, 2400 to 3200 calories are required to be consumed, and for females, 1800 to 2400 calories are required, depending onthe physical activity level. According to Felicity Langhans, the school nurse, if one doesn’t consume enough calories, he or she will not be able to function properly throughout the day. This can be especially critical to teenagers; with insufficient amount of calories, they are not capable of functioning properly at school, showing lack of concentration, low productivity, and efficiency.

Calorie Graph

When asked about her opinions regarding Diet Center, Ms. Langhans said, “I think that it’s not a bad thing; I’ve seen people eating [the food from Diet Center], and it’s got all the food groups in there … it saves you time as a parent if you have the whole family on [the program] … The only thing is, what I think happens is people do it for like three months, and then they don’t stick to it, so invariably, they are going to put on weight again.” She added that those who have been on Diet Center should stick to a balanced and healthy diet after they are done with the Diet Center program for the best results.

After hearing the question asking about why he specifically chose Diet Center to aid the process of weight loss, Safwan said, “I know I can’t do it myself … without the program, I [wouldn’t have gone] on a diet.” He grinned and said that the program from Diet Center actually helped him lose weight and that he would strongly recommend this to other people.

Inspired by Safwan, Aycin I. also decided to try out Diet Center’s catering service. She ordered a program that would provide her 1350 calories worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

It’s not all about [losing weight] … Sadly, through media, it is that way.”

— Ms. Langhans

“[I’ve been on Diet Center] for 14 days, and I lost 4 kg,” Aycin said, with a smile on her face. “Safwan [initially] told me about the program … I heard from other people that it was really good, and it did make [them] lose weight, and yeah, basically, I wanted to lose weight.” Just like Safwan, Aycin would eat what Diet Center provided for lunch during school. She would rummage through her locker full of books and papers to take out the plastic container, labeled Diet Center. She sat with her friends during lunch on the table next to the Joffrey’s in the MPR, eating salads out of the container. “The thing is, I’m not hungry. I eat more constantly now, [so] I’m always full. Surprisingly, I do lose weight [because the food is nutritional] … I didn’t find it necessary to wake up at midnight and just open my fridge and eat or go around and eat unhealthy things,” Aycin said when asked about the benefits of going on a diet aided by the programs from Diet Center.

Diet Infographic ASFDespite the positive comments on Diet Center and losing weight, Ms. Langhans shared her concerns about teenagers and their obsession with their weight these days. With a worried face, she said, “Sadly, through media, it is that way … they see all these good-looking models [being extremely thin], and they think that it’s good.”

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 69 percent of girls in 5th to 12th grade think that their idea of an ideal body shape has been altered by pictures from magazines. Additionally, it has been reported that at age thirteen, 53 percent of American girls are unhappy about their body, and this increases up to 78 percent when they reach age seventeen, reported by the National Institute on Media and the Family.

“If you have to [go on a diet] for a reason, doing a healthy diet is in … I also think that parents should be involved in making their kids aware that it’s not all about [losing weight],” Mrs. Felicity said.   

Even though there were several cases of success, Diet Center failed to become an engrossing trend in ISG Jubail. However, the struggle to be thinner and to be able to conform to modern society’s beauty standards continues among the students.

Ms. Langhans expressed a concern regarding this societal problem and said that losing weight should not be the main focus, but rather being healthy and keeping up a balanced diet should be the main focus.

“Everything in life is keeping a balance. You need to eat the right food, and you need to have a certain amount of sport … a balanced diet, a fair amount of sport, and active mind [is what’s important].”