Senior Alex Radtke sits down to dinner, a plate of vegetables and chicken in front of her. In preparation for spring break in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Radtke has been trying to eat healthier at meals. This new lifestyle is Radtke’s pliet.
“Pliet” is a new term frequently heard in the halls of STA. Girls combine the words “Playa” and “diet,” thus creating the word “pliet.” Playa refers to Playa del Carmen, a popular spring break destination in Mexico for STA seniors. Diet refers to the diets that girls go on in order to look fit at the beach. For some girls, looking fit at the beach is synonymous with looking good in swimsuits. Many girls are concerned about their looks, not just during spring break, but after as well. For this reason, some girls are planning to continue their diets even after spring break passes.
There are 129 girls in the senior class. Of 60 senior girls polled, 23 are currently on a short term diet for spring break, 32 are not on a short term diet, and 4 are on a short term diet, but not for spring break.*
STA guidance counselor Amanda Johnson said dieting, especially for pliets, is about a lifestyle choice.
“I think the thing is that if you’re dieting for a specific purpose it’s most likely not gonna be something that’s gonna last,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re on a pliet it’s about a lifestyle choice. You have to choose different ways of eating otherwise [your diet is] not gonna matter.”
For girls who want to look fit in a bikini, Children’s Mercy Hospital nutritionist Lindsey Vaughn recommends an overall healthy diet. Vaughn cautions against completely cutting certain food groups, such as carbs out of your diet.
“If you want to lose weight, skip junk food, fast food and sugary drinks like regular soda,” Vaughn said. “I would not recommend skipping meals especially breakfast or cutting out a food group like carbs.”
According to science teacher Mary Montag, cutting carbs totally out of your diet can cause malnourishment which manifests in many different ways. Every cell in the human body consists of fats, carbs and proteins and if you cut any of those in an extreme way from your diet you create an imbalance in the body.
Radtke said her “pliet” is about eating healthy. She wants to be active and feel good about herself, partly so she will feel good about herself in Playa. She says she plans to continue her healthy eating habits into college.
“If I want some chocolate I’m gonna eat some chocolate but I’m not gonna go overboard and eat three candy bars,” Radtke said.
Radtke said she wanted to change some things about her body that she is not totally satisfied with when going to Playa.
“I don’t like certain thing about myself and I know I can do things to change it,” Radtke said. “Like I have really athletic legs and I want them to be toned. Looking good is feeling comfortable with how I look. I know I’m never gonna be stick thin. I’m confident with myself and that’s good for me.”
However, Radtke also notices girls at STA who diet in unhealthy fashions in preparation for Playa.
“I have seen some girls try the whole not eating thing for their diet and it is bad,” Radtke said. “You can tell they do not look healthy and they always complain about how hungry they are.”
Senior Trish Smith is also on a diet for spring break at Playa. Smith started this diet at the beginning of January. She uses a juicer to juice fruits and vegetables for dinner. During a typical day, Smith eats egg whites with cheese and vegetables for breakfast, a veggie burger with almonds, string cheese and a banana for lunch and for a snack hummus with carrots or almonds and yogurt or peanut butter.
“I’m mainly doing this diet because, let’s be honest, I’m going to be in my swimsuit all day,” Smith said. I went into [my diet] thinking that I just wanted to do it before Playa, but basically I’ve just been eating a lot healthier, so I think I’ll just try to eat the same after Playa but I won’t stress about [my diet] as much.”
Smith feels like the many dieters within the senior class encourage each other to stick to their diets.
“I think everyone just wants to feel comfortable walking around in a swimsuit for a whole week,” Smith said. “But there are a lot of girls on pliets, so it kind of makes it a little easier if you’re working as a group.”
Vaughn warns that dieting short term, such as dieting for Playa, will not have the long-term effect of maintaining weight loss.
“If you cut out calories for short term, a week or two, you may lose a few pounds but you will likely gain it back when you start eating like you normally do,” Vaughn said. “If you [diet] once you will not likely have long term effects, but if you fast for weeks at a time then go back to eating it can have very bad effects on your health.”
*Poll includes 10% margin of error.