Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rejecting the diet mentality

It seems like everyone is on a diet these days or as some people put it “watching their weight”. To which I really want to ask, where is it going to go? But that isn’t polite. Every where you turn some company is advertising the new quick weight loss solution and someone is buying into it, going on and on about how they dropped X amount of pounds in negative 40 days. If these diets actually worked, why are there so many of them?

All joking side, diets/dieters really bug me. Early in my recovery they just made me angry. It was sooo hard to see everyone doing and talking about what I was trying so hard not to do. You know, I was sitting here trying to re-learn how to normalize food and eat it, and a lot of people around me were calorie counting and restricting “bad” foods while discussing how they were going to exercise for eating too much. In the beginning of my recovery I couldn’t be around this. The slightest hint of diet talk sent me into a tailspin and usually left me giving into the eating disorder. After all, I just wanted to fit in and with the eating disorder I could be the “best dieter”.  

Now, it just makes me sad. It’s hard to watch people scrutinize themselves and everything they eat or don’t eat. And it’s even sadder that “diet talk” is largely present in any conversation that involves a group of women. Why do we continue to put ourselves down and cut out foods that we enjoy? Why do we constantly measure our worth by our weight? Why is being thinner and weighing less so important? We are so much more than that. Now, I refuse to take part in “diet talk” and weight shaming and it isn’t because I am jealous. It’s because it’s boring.

We all need food to live, why make it more than that? Let’s face it, being on a diet doesn’t make you better then anyone else, unless you are trying to win the “who is more miserable” contest. And if so, count me out. Studies show that the secret to gaining weight is actually trying to lose weight. Sounds backwards, but from what I have seen is pretty true. Have you ever successfully gone on a diet, lost weight and kept the weight off? Maybe a few of you but I think if we are all being honest with ourselves, this isn’t the case for most people.

A few months ago I was in line at subway and I heard a girl (who I assume was about 10/11years old) talking about how she was going on a diet for her new years resolution and didn’t want anything but half a sandwich for lunch. (Sans condiments, cheese and anything other then meat and veggies) She even went as far as to scold her brother for getting mayo on his sandwich and talked about how she was going to reward herself with a new dress if she was able to lose weight.(Not that it matters but she was not overweight by any means) This was the most disheartening thing I have ever witnessed. It took everything inside of me not to reach out and give this girl a hug and explain to her how beautiful and awesome she was and how she didn’t need to be on a diet or lose weight.

Is this really the direction that the world is moving towards?

You may be shaking your head at me by now and its fine, we can disagree. If you want to be on a diet that is your choice. Just as it’s my choice not to be and even more so to fight against it. Although I have a long way to go in my recovery, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My weight doesn’t determine my worth. My food choices don’t make me a bad person. And I truly believe that bodies come in all sizes. I also love the fact that I can enjoy a piece of cake or a brownie without that nagging guilt. The freedom that I have gained in recovery and by rejecting the diet mentality is worth every pound that I have gained. In fact, it’s not just weight that I have gained, but I have gained my life back and I wouldn’t trade that for anything, including losing weight or “fitting in”.

Trust your body, it knows exactly what you should eat and how much it needs. There isn’t a secret formula and no diet guru knows what is right for you. You can be happy with your body at whatever weight you are and enjoy food at the same time. I don't think a single diet out there can make that same guarantee. 

Here are some resources that have helped me:

And a few books that have been recommended to me that are awesome:

 A little disclaimer: An eating disorder and a diet are not the same thing. Eating disorders are not extreme diets or diets gone wrong. They are mental illnesses. I am sharing my perspective of my recovery from an eating disorder and how I feel about diets, because I believe that some of the things I have overcome and learned can help people; those who suffer from an eating disorder AND those who are chronic dieters.

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