When we embark on a diet, we’re setting sail on a “grand” journey of:
Obsession. Success. Bad Day. Relapse. Failure.
I’ll Start The Diet Again On Monday.
Jacki Monaco is a Green Mountain alum who blogs about overcoming binge eating disorder. Her story was featured on CNN.com.
Every time I’ve adhered to the strict rules of a diet, trying to color in between the lines so carefully and so perfectly, I have felt like a failure…even when I have succeeded.
The Weight Of The Numbers
For me, the numbers have always worn me down to the bone, chiseling away at my self-worth. How many calories? How many pounds? What do I weigh? What size are my pants? For a girl who has always LOATHED all forms of math, I found a way to let numbers eat me alive…while I lived to eat.
At different points in my life, the numbers and the dieting have held the key to my happiness. So, I’m a true believer that dieting makes people fat! But seriously, what does that even mean?
Dieting Makes People Fat
To be clear, when I use the word “fat” in this blog, I’m referring to the fact that diets cause people to gain weight, beyond what’s right for us naturally. Part of the way it does that is that our bodies crave nourishment and most diets deny us the proper amounts of fats, carbs, or proteins or they cut out certain types of food entirely.
Eventually, our bodies say, “ENOUGH!” But because we’ve been depriving ourselves for so long, we then overeat, overcompensate, overindulge…and we binge.
The word diet is so often misused or misinterpreted. “Having A Diet” that is made up of certain foods that make your body feel good is different than “Going On A Diet.” The latter is temporary. It has an end goal, and that goal has two outcomes, and those outcomes, well…they have outcomes, too:
A You reach your goal
A. You realize you can’t live on cottage cheese and diet soda forever, but you’ve denied yourself for so long that you binge and you gain the weight back…plus 10 pounds
B. You become obsessed with seeing the numbers go lower…and lower…and lower…. You’re constantly thinking about food and realize that this “perfection” isn’t attainable. Eventually, this leads to a binge and you gain the weight back …plus 10 pounds
B You don’t reach your goal
A. You “show yourself who’s boss” and starve your way to “success”…Only to binge and gain the weight back…plus 10 pounds
B. You practice self-hate and punish yourself for your failure…with food…You binge, and look at that, you’ve gained the weight back (and say it with me now)…plus 10 pounds
Have You Ever Met A Happy Dieter?
Have you ever met a happy dieter? I don’t mean the woman who’s on her second week of juicing and is elated to report that she’s dropped 5 pounds like magic! I’m talking about the woman who’s exhausted her metabolism with every fad diet on the market. She’s disappointed, distraught, and thinks that reaching a certain goal weight will completely change her life.
Dieting makes people fat because dieting is a full-time job.
If you are 110% focused on succeeding on your diet…
what you are you thinking about 110% of the time? FOOD!
Eventually, thinking about the fact that you “can’t” eat certain things makes you angry. You realize the unfairness of it all and you plot your revenge against your latest diet. You disobey all the rules. You don’t eat just one chip, two cookies, or three dark chocolate covered almonds. You eat three bags of each to make up for lost time. This revenge turns into a binge. And well, the rest is history.
If you struggle with food issues, then unless your body literally can’t handle a food, labeling any food completely off-limits will drive you mad. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, moderation saved my life.
Having A Diet Vs. Being On A Diet
“Having A Diet” is a puzzle. It’s figuring out whether gluten really is your enemy (it’s not for all of us) or that not eating after 9:00 p.m. makes you feel better the next day. Putting the permanent pieces together for a long-life change will bring on more success and happiness than any “bikini-body-ready celery-only diet.”
When we learn to incorporate food that makes us feel well into our diets, and lessen our intake of soda, sodium, sugar or whatever it is our bodies aren’t responding well to, we’ll see a change. Just what that change will be for each individual isn’t foreseeable; our bodies all work so differently. And that’s what’s so frustrating. There isn’t a formula and what works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for you.
Figure Out What Foods Work Well Your Body
The only way to figure out what YOUR body needs is by loving yourself enough to take the time and pay attention. You need to spend time with yourself. Dieting is a quick, cheap, crappy way to reach a goal that we only think matters. Society said, “Be thin! Then you will be happy!” Society is a mess, so let’s take her opinion with a grain of salt, shall we?
Once I figured out which types of food worked well with my body and which foods didn’t, figuring out my day-to-day food intake became less of an obstacle and more of a game: “Yes to dark chocolate! No to popcorn!” Our bodies are constantly giving us clues, it’s up to us to listen for them, pay attention, and make changes.
Putting “How You Feel” Before “How You Look”
I know how hard it is to put “how you feel” above “how you look” but when you start the former, the latter follows. Slowly, but surely.
Dieting makes people fat when we put all of our efforts toward thinning our reflection, instead of filling up our lives. Diets convince us that if we just follow the rules, work hard enough, and eat fewer calories, we’ll reach our goal. But…the big question is…then what?
The Answer: Obsession.
Read This Related Article:
Are You Obsessed With Food?
In the next Binge Eating Diaries, we’ll take a deeper look into the concept of Obsession and how all-consuming thoughts about food can guide us straight for a binge.
See you all in a couple of weeks.