Why I Don’t Diet

Published August 7, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Reading this post over on Fatties United!, inspired by the call from Dr Pattie Thomas to do video blogs on why we don’t diet as a response to the Fat Poz ReVolution apparently being stolen by a weight loss reality show.  Like Whaliam over on Fatties United!, I’m not one for video blogging, but thought it would be a really good topic to write about here on Fat Heffalump.

There are actually lots of reasons I don’t diet.  But the main one is very clear.  Dieting makes me gain weight.

I dieted from when I was a very, very young age.  Pre-puberty.  And every time I dieted, I just got fatter in the long term.  Every time I lost weight, I would get to a certain point and then no matter how much I restricted and exercised for punishment/bargaining purposes, my body would fight and fight and eventually, the weight would creep back.  In my darkest days, I was exercising between 6 and 8 hours per day (and the haters say that fatties have no willpower!) and eating almost nothing as well as being on prescription “appetite suppressant” amphetamines… and I was gaining weight.

So when I found Fat Acceptance, I decided I’d try to give up dieting and see how I go.  I was reading the work of The Fat Nutritionist who makes a LOT of sense to me, so for the past 2 years, maybe 2 and a half, I’ve been trying intuitive eating.  I found Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon PhD a bit after and that reaffirmed a lot of the thinking I’d been having about intuitive eating and activity for enjoyment rather than punishment or bargaining.

Surprise, surprise, for the first time in my life, I have maintained the same weight for two years.  Within a few kilos, but it’s been stable for the first time in my entire life (considering I’ve been dieting since before I hit my teens).

Another reason I don’t diet is because it makes me sick.  When I am dieting my hormones go all weird and my body tries to regulate those and I get all kinds of issues.  My depression and anxiety get worse.  My skin gets bad.  I get chronic reflux and gut issues.  My menstrual cycle disappears.  I’m always exhausted and cranky.

Yet since giving up dieting, my wellbeing has been so much better.  I get a fraction of the depression and anxiety that I used to get, my skin is clearer than it ever was, and for the first time since I hit puberty I have a regular menstrual cycle.  But best of all, I have more energy and am far happier.

There are dozens of other reasons I don’t diet, but these two are the most important to me.

So for those of you who don’t diet… would you share with us in the comments why you don’t diet?

54 comments on “Why I Don’t Diet

  • I dont diet because it makes me so anxious. I get so caught up in what I see as superficial things and I feel guilty not only about everything I put in my mouth but about even thinking about food, about wanting food and about everything I am. The diet becomes who I am and that is not who I want to be!

  • Fundamentally, I’m happy with who and what I am. Dieting makes me lethargic and unhappy. I don’t want to feel like that. Additionally, it’s never worked. Sure, I’ve lost weight short-term but then I put it back on, usually with a bit extra on top. Honestly, I think my body has ‘stablised’ at the weight I’ve been at for a few years now (I’m in my mid-30s) and I’ve (finally) accepted that it’s whether I like myself that’s important. And I do. Like myself, that is.

  • It makes me feel COLD! Last winter I was desperately trying to get 20kg off so I could get a lap band (didnt happen, thank god!) and I was freezing all the time, couldnt get warm got sick as a result. And I get around all day every day with this huge burden of guilt and fear of losing control, a cloud of desperation settles over me.

  • I became obsessive. And talked about it to everyone. I really love my food, and being on a super-restrictive diet made me come to resent meals. I found the same thing as you, that since I’ve stopped my weight has stopped fluctuating too. My weight is stable and I eat what I enjoy and what I crave. Some days that’s fresh fruit. Other days it’s Pear, Chocolate and Hazelnut Self-Saucing Pudding! I can go to a restaurant and choose whatever sounds good from the menu. I don’t have to make a super-restrictive, customised choice. I’m happier and less stressed. So glad I got off the bandwagon!

    • Oh how I remember the obsessive thing! I drove all my friends away with constant yammering about the exercise I was doing and how amazing whatever current starvation plan I was on! Aye caramba!

  • I hated the way men looke at me before I gained weight in my early to mid twenties – when I became plumper I felt safer. Then after the early health crises of my sons and my sister’s suicide, with physical and emotional exhaustion I really couldn’t manage my diet or my weight very well – not that I ate much junk food and fat, just too great a proportion of my food was carbohydrates. In my late 30s I went on a very strict regime, having found out my body’s problem was that it stored carbs extremely efficiently. After 6 months of hell I had lost 25 kilos or so, reaching the supposed ideal weight, but I could not face that strict regime as an ongoing practice and have regained 30kg over the 7 years or so since then. During that time of being slim again I found I really didn’t feel safe the way people looked at me. But back to being fat I don’t like being looked at as a fat person either. Now I react badly to wheat and dairy, and as a vegetarian who hates cooking, the whole diet thing is just too hard, especially with my kids having ongoing porblems (possible Marfan’s, Rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, and whatever else). Sometimes I feel self destructive & I’m not sure whether the comfort eating that follows is to counter that or fulfill it, sometimes I just feel it is so much nicer to be able to eat something I didn’t have to prepare that I just ignore that it has too much wheat &/or dairy, or is just too high in carbohydrates, just so long as it is vegetarian…

  • I don’t diet for a few reasons;
    1. I just do not have the time. In my family of 5 I have 2 gluten intolerants, 2 salicylate allergics and one under 2 years. Just keeping these people fed and nourished with good food made well is hard enough.
    2. I work a lot. I have utilised some of the low calorie meal delivery companies in the past but because of our dietary restrictions it is not viable. Actually a friend who cooks for me in times of high work hours is a much better (and tastier) option.
    3. There are so many other things in my life that deserve my attention – my children and my husband come to mind.
    4. I have a thorough medical each year. My cholestoreol is 3.2, my resting bp is 110/70 and by fasting bsl is 4, I can touch my toes in standing and in a long sit. They acknowledge I could stand to drop 15-20kg but have no other concerns about my health.
    5. Lastly, since I consciouly stopped watching commercial tv and reading variously monthly/weekly magazine publications I just am not exposed to the madness that prescribed how women are “supposed” to look.

    Life is much simpler and happier.

    • Banquos Mum – Number 3 is my favourite – there ARE many things in our lives that deserve our attention so much more than dieting!

      And yep, I stopped reading traditional magazines/newspapers and watching TV too – I’ve never looked back from that decision!

  • I refuse to diet for so many reasons. It messes with my mental health and brings out the worst parts of my personality. Obsessions, compulsions and perfectionism. This also makes me awesome at weight loss dieting which messes with my head even more.

    It deprives my body of the amount of energy, nutrients and stability it needs to perform the way I want it to.

    Mostly, it just made me take the all or nothing approach. So if I wasn’t dieting, I was binging. If I wasn’t good then I was bad. If I wasn’t exercising until I nearly passed out, then it wasn’t worth it.

    My body and my mind deserve better than any of this and because I love myself, I just couldn’t continue to treat me so badly any more. Now I am healthier and happier than I have ever been.

  • I relate to this post so much! My weight has only been stable for the past 2 years or so, and even though I’m “obese” I feel more at peace with my body now than I ever have. The very difficult thing is that other people in my life are still convinced I’m not trying hard enough, or too lazy, or whatever. Any time I have to go to the doctor I feel like I’m being shamed and pushed to lose weight. The worst thing in my life right now is that my partner of almost 6 years is convinced that I’m unhealthy, despite the fact that we eat the same food! And do the same amount of exercise! He has told me that he doesn’t know if we can have a future because he worries too much that I’ll get diabetes or some other condition. As if being skinny were insurance against illness or disability! Ugh.

    • Oh Rosie, I’m so sorry that your partner is treating you like this. It’s pretty awful to put that kind of ultimatum on someone.

      Just remember this – your body is YOURS and nobody else’s to decide what is healthy and how to treat it. Anyone who pressures you otherwise does not have your best interests at heart, but their own.

      HUGS.

  • I don’t diet for what I suppose are ideological reasons. I’m getting more and more involved in food politics and it’s becoming clear that distorted eating leads to distortions all the way through the food chain, whether it’s because ordinary foods start attracting a price premium for their supposedly magical nutritional properties, or because corporations start creating highly profitable ‘diet foods’ that have implications for the body that we don’t really understand yet.

    What I have done for the first time in my adult life is try (as much as possible) to stick to regular meal times. Revelation! It’s made such a difference to me and my relationship. Breaking bread together is really important; I’m coming round to the view that it’s not what you put on the table so much as the act of sharing with other people, or taking the time out if you’re alone, that’s really important and undervalued. Getting weird about food is a great way to kill a precious ritual.

    • Regular meal times are not only good for you physically (especially maintaining blood sugar levels) but as you say, breaking bread together is really important. It’s good for your soul, good for your psyche and good for your brain.

  • I don’t diet for the obvious reason: it doesn’t work. Or, not sustainably and permanently. The times in my life I’ve lost the most weight have, ironically, been more or less incidentally, through stress or illness, and that always went straight back on. When I tried to diet in my 20s, my body developed a kind of alarm system, and the cheese cravings (they were usually low fat regimes) would kick in incredibly quickly. (Note to the idiot who writes ad copy for Weight Watchers: Yes, the cravings were in my head, not my tummy, because that’s where your hypothalamus is, and it knows when you’re trying to do something stupid on its watch. Clever hypothalamus.) I’ve also had good evidence from the number of people I’ve known who are more hardened dieters than me, and who’ve steadily kept getting fatter over the years.

    Another reason is the effect dieting had on my mental health. I mentioned in a post the other day about my ‘OCD diaries’ from the time I was counting fat grams. I actually have suffered bouts of depression and anxiety, and there’s a strong streak of obsessive-compulsive behavior in my family – I’m no mental health expert, but my mother had that kind of personality all her life, and in her later years started showing real OCD-like behavior. Most of it based on counting things. You can see why, for me, going near calories or scales feels like a very bad idea – and when I look back at those lists, from maybe 1993-94 or so, I can see that back when I did that, it was taking me to a very bad place, mentally.

    (Off topic but: there was a news story the other day about studies that have discovered that if you put someone on a diet, their brain cells will actually eat themselves in an attempt to survive and to alert the brain’s owner to make them eat something. Was the reaction to this discovery a): ‘Ugh! Why subject yourself to something that does that to your brain?’ or b): ‘Hey, let’s make some pills that enable the brain to ignore the fact it’s eating itself so people can starve themselves safely!’ Guess.)

    The final reason is more out of defiance than anything else, and it’s basically: why should anyone else have the right to tell me that I ought to suffer hunger in order to make them approve of me? (And don’t tell me it’s about ‘health’. It never was.)

  • I’ve never dieted. Or actually that’s not entirely true: I did try it once for about two days. I stopped after realizing how obsessed and miserable it made me in just that short time, counting the calories, thinking constantly about food and eating etc. I decided that was something I wasn’t going to dedicate my life and all my mental energy to. I’d rather be fat. That being said, of course I’ve been part of the dieting culture most of my life: attaching moral value to food, restricting some foods, even these magical thoughts of “I like being fat, but maybe if I was just 15 kilos lighter…” Only after finding fat acceptance have I really started to let go of these things.

    One of my reasons for not dieting has also been my personal rebellion against the people who’ve said I should. In particular my mother, who’s badgered me about my weight since puberty, when I still fit in the “normal” BMI category. Even though she herself has dieted unsuccessfully for 30 years now, she’s by far my biggest bully and I just don’t want to give her the satisfaction. It feels very childish in a way but also important. I refuse to let anyone treat me as “better” or “more attractive” or even a “good fatty” because of dieting.

    • I often wonder beep how different my life would have been if I’d have never dieted, if I had just accepted that I was who I was and just adopted the best possible lifestyle for me. How would I be now if I hadn’t starved myself, hated myself, exercised myself into illness and injury, and basically completely screwed my metabolism.

      It’s my hope to help people avoid wasting years of their lives with that crap like I did.

      • Yeah I wonder the same thing. I was 216 lbs when I started my first diet, I’m 270 now. My weight has been stable for at least seven years since I quit trying to lose weight. My hormones also get jacked up pretty easily, and at this point I would never want to attempt dieting for fear of disrupting my system, gaining back more weight and aggravating my depression. I’ve accepted my current size, but I do wonder what my body would be like today if I hadn’t screwed with it the way I did.

  • Dieting makes me fixated on food. Where, without restraint or restriction, I might NATURALLY eat only a certain portion of something, or not want it at all, making it forbidden or keeping track of exactly half a cup or having some kind of points scoring makes me extremely anxious. Can I eat this? Should I weigh it? When can I eat again? What can I have at this restaurant/party/gathering? Only since I stopped dieting forever have I been able to recognize actual saiety and even recognize clearly when I’m NOT HUNGRY and actually need something else, like a big glass of water or sleep.
    I don’t diet because nobody TALKS about food as much as dieters. Have you tried this dessert that actually tastes really rich but its only TWO POINTS?? Everyone is trying it you need to try it. Um, okay, I don’t usually eat dessert at all…..constantly talking about what one ‘can have’ or what ‘tastes like it has a lot of calories’ etc etc etc, makes the whole world about food. Now that I do not diet the world is about EVERYTHING ELSE and I can think clearly. Never mind that constantly talking about ‘in bounds’ food (and misery driven exercise with its follow on of accomplishment self righteousness) is BORING AS SHIT.

    • I hear you Shieldmaiden – it’s like food is all you can think about, eating is the only thing on your mind, the rest of your life takes a back seat to that constant thought of what you can and can’t eat.

      That’s not living!

    • Amen to all that. MY family is rather weight obsessed and I get tired of all the talk about whether foods are good or bad, what healthy things are being eaten, or how bad somebody’s been with their eating. Really, it’s all about pumping up their egos with how “good” they are for their food choices, especially when we go to a restaurant. I just want to snap at them and say, “If you really want this food, EAT it! If not, don’t and let’s get on with our lives!” Heh. And those 100 cal vitatops muffin tops that my sister raves about? Taste like cardboard. Not worth eating that kind of crap.

  • I have many reasons I don’t diet. Here are some, in no particular order:

    1) I’m a fucking accountant/tax advisor. This means that day in, day out I deal with numbers. I’m incredibly happy to be going through a job change right now, where I might get to be the chief fiscal manager (wish me luck!!) but that means even more numbers and a different type of accounting than what I normally do– far more complex transactions. But I otherwise concentrate in taxation; so that means I not only deal with numbers all day but also all kinds federal and state laws, rules, and constraints that tell people what they can and cannot do with their money.

    I can tell you from 6 years of tax and accounting experience, this is NO exaggeration: the stupid and subjective counting involved with dieting and all these mental disorders praised by society (like how women especially are motivated to skip meals for post-work cocktails because it all ‘counts’) is waaaaay harder on one’s brain and sanity than any rules the IRS or FASB could possibly throw at any given accountant. Having to “budget” for office birthday cake, cocktails, and essentially saying what you “can’t” have”….attempting to lose weight these neurotic ways is like a full-time job. I ALREADY HAVE ONE.

    Give me balancing a REAL corporate budget any day. Telling myself I can’t have an extra piece of toast in the morning when I wake up starving is not the same thing as the IRS telling one of my clients he couldn’t write off a Playstation as a multimedia console (true story!)

    2) As I mentioned, I’m an accountant, not a scientist or nutritionist. But I know people who are. And they ALL agree that the diet industry does more harm than good. They trust me with their taxes, I trust them with their knowledge about food. They too agree that food is not the antichrist. Yes, there’s some questionable things that large food companies do nowadays, and chemicals that go into a food due to lack of regulation, but generally food is not going to fucking kill us! These nutjobs make it seem as though EVERY kind of you food you eat is going to kill you/make or keep you fat in some way:

    “Don’t eat white ANYTHING!”

    “Get ORGANIC vegetables even though they cost 3 times more than conventional and last half as long!”

    “You’re getting convenience food from Whole Foods? It’s just as bad as what’s at 7-11!”

    3) So on that note, you know what? WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE ONE DAY.

    Even if you did all the “right” things, you can get the same icky diseases. Or get hit by a bus, or end up in a drive-by shooting, or freak accident on the subway.

    Just because you work out 6 days a week and eat no sugar, white flour, etc. does not make you morally superior or any more or less likely to live til 300.

    4) I don’t diet because of the endless amount of conflicting information out there– by everyone from these shady diet companies that are out for your money, random strangers, doctors, personal trainers even, and some nutritionists that are clearly being endorsed by the diet industry to spew total BS. It’s too much conflicting information, many sources of which are unclear and/or scientifically unsound to know what’s really right.

    Hence I tune it out and eat foods I like and that make me feel good, that I can afford. I avoid foods that don’t agree with me and that I just hate the taste of.

    5) I want to get a t-shirt made that says “BREAD WON’T KILL YOU DAMMIT!” I am sick to death of bread being treated like it’s HItler! Out of all the carb-haters out there that just demonize EVERY form of carbs that exist, they always make bread out to be like this evil thing that will doom you to be Jabba the Hutt. Bread tastes good dammit. It makes sandwiches, toast, croutons, crumbs, and whole host of other deliciousness. In fact, up until the recent carb-hating crazes of the early 2000s onward, bread was seen as the staple of the family pantry. All throughout the Middle Ages and colonial times, families and individuals being able to afford/bake bread was seen as highly important. And don’t those jackasses always like to say “there were no fat people before 1900” or something equally stupid? Yeah, do the math on THAT one then!

    6) The amount of utter neuroses involved in dieting, like not wanting to go out to eat or go to parties, is not worth it. Nor is taking away time spent with my family and friends and doing other things I enjoy when I’m not working (with other peoples’ numbers) to sit there and put my cereal in goddamn measuring cups in the vain hope my collarbone pops out more. Ditto for actually measuring out a TABLESPOON of peanut butter: do you have any idea how much peanut butter sticks to things?! That’s why I use a butter knife.😀

    • I want to get a t-shirt made that says “BREAD WON’T KILL YOU DAMMIT!”

      I’d buy one of those. I don’t think the fear of bread is really that new; books and mags as far back as the 1920s solemnly warn dieters to cut it out, and that got fairly intense in the 60s, when virtually every women’s mag had at least one ad for ghastly-looking ‘starch-reduced’ products you were supposed to eat instead. I also remember how shocked many people were in the 80s when the F-Plan Diet (which my dad was talked out of by his doctor) included bread and potatoes. But yes, the current low-carb revival has gone way beyond that. Barring the book of Genesis, I’ve never before heard anyone claim that fruit (apart from the always-damned banana) was evil – I think that’s a new one.

      To me, there’s a real issue of status and privilege going on with the whole carb thing. For the majority of the world’s population, wheat, rice, millet, maize, beans, lentils or whatever are, as they’ve been since the Neolithic, the major part of their diet. And that’s what enabled us to spread out, occupy new territory, and sustain a much larger population on much less land. Being a hunter-gatherer was (and is, in the few places it’s still done) hard. That’s why we mostly gave it up. For everyone to go back to it, we’d need a lot more wilderness and a lot fewer people. And for well-to-do Westerners to say that their expensive, high animal protein regimes are ‘the optimum human diet’ is just wrong.

  • The times when I tried dieting, I would get horribly snappish with everyone around me and obsessive about the foods I was trying to avoid. Besides, I found that when I didn’t diet and just tried eating intuitively, I wanted more veggies and they tasted good to me again. Considering the fact that I was the kid who always requested spinach for her birthday dinner, it was horrifying to me to find that dieting made me resent every delicious, green, vitamin-filled bite of salad or steamed veggies. It actually made me crave things I’d never liked at all, like marshmallows and the sorts of incredibly sweet desserts you find at fast food restaurants. Normally I’m a bit of a sweets snob, having grown up in a household where if you wanted dessert, you baked it yourself from scratch. And while I adore an occasional slice of pie or cake, I find most commercially produced ones sweeter than I care for.

    And then I just couldn’t think clearly. I’m a writer. I’m a constant reader. I’m an avid punster. My brain is my livelihood and my favorite toy. Anything that clouds it is simply not welcome in my life.

    Even if dieting could offer me an extra year or two of life, would I want them? Obsessive, confused, angry years are not the most attractive concept on the table.

    Besides, I’ve got five generations of family photos on my wall of people shaped just like me who lived mostly into their late eighties and early nineties in hearty health, and then died quietly in their sleep. If my dad hadn’t spent his late teens to his early thirties messing with asbestos in the engine rooms of ships, he would probably still be here and barely starting to slow down at this point. My ancestors were coal miners, farmers, teachers, lawmen, and office workers… and they were mostly the same shape, no matter how much physical effort they had to put into day-to-day living. Why should I expect to be the odd one out?

    @Rosie Young: Mr. Twistie was diagnosed with diabetes shortly before we got married eighteen years ago. As of his last checkup, he’s been put on insulin shots at bedtime, and I’ll help him if he needs me to. He’s also had three rounds of heart surgery in that time (angioplasty, triple bypass, and finally last summer three stents inserted). At no time have I found his health issues to be some sort of burden on me. I do my best to help him without becoming the food police (which I admit to my sorrow is sometimes a strong temptation). It would never occur to me to think we have no future until one of us doesn’t have one at all anymore. Even if I lost him tomorrow, I would consider every single nanosecond worth that pain, because he is the other half of my soul. You deserve someone to think that way about you, too, no matter what your health situation.

    • Twistie I had the same weird cravings for overly sweet things, and overly salty things as well in my diet/starvation days. Yet nowdays, deprive me of vegetables for more than 24 hours and I get very tetchy indeed.

      I think we as a society keep trying to predict the future or even stave off the inevitable. Instead of living our lives to the full, we spend them fighting off the spectre of death. That’s not how I want to spend my life, that’s for sure.

  • Amen, Twistie, to what you told Rosie Young. And I send all kinds of good thoughts & positive energy to you & Mr. Twistie. I hope he is with you at least another 40 years. We all need & deserve someone who loves us unconditionally & who is the other half of our soul.

    I don’t diet for many reasons, starting, I suppose, with the political, since I have been part of fat acceptance/liberation for over 31 years now. I will be 62 next month & am now the fattest I have ever been, which I now understand I WOULD likely be, regardless of my dieting history, because it is NORMAL to gain weight with aging & menopause, childbearing, nursing, etc., & for most of us, being somewhat heavier when we are older is even protective & likely to help us live longer. However, I equally have no doubt that, had I never jumped on the bandwagon & starved myself, measured out the half-cups & quarter-cups of this or that I was ‘allowed’ to have, etc., I might have been a little less fat. Dieting made me weak, tired, sick. For about 2 years in my mid-20’s, I was, at just under 5’6″, with fat genes, surrounded by generations of fat family (like Twistie’s, mostly people who have lived into their late 80’s & 90’s), maintaining, through starvation & compulsive exercise, a weight of between 125-130 pounds. When I was 16, my normal, non-dieting weight ran 155-160 & I was only about 5’3″ then, so I had not finished growing.

    Indeed, denying my body food caused ill health, it caused preoccupation with food, cravings, exhaustion, short temper. It did nothing good except garner me occasional compliments from being who encouraged me to ‘keep going’, ‘you’re doing great.’

    I have always been active. I have cerebral palsy, I am an abuse survivor, I cannot sit still. I am up & down, going around the house..kitchen for a drink, bathroom, out around the yard. I swing my arms, wiggle my fingers, tap my toes, swing my legs…you know, all the things the ‘experts’ tell us to do because that is what they believe all ‘thin people’ do. I do not have a car or a license, never have, walking has been my main form of exercise, &, not counting all the walking doing housework, shopping, childcare, etc., just walking outside, I have walked over 60,000 miles in my life. I have also had several separate periods of around 4 years each wherein I exercised about 4 hours every day…walking miles, doing 1500 crunches daily (kept that up nearly 8 years this last time), modified pushups, lifting weights; I wore out an exercycle & a cardioglide after putting over 4000 miles on each one. If it were in my genetic cards to be thin, I would BE thin. I am fat because I am supposed to be fat, I am doing fine, aside from arthritis & the fact, which I accept, that I am likely to become somewhat more disabled & have more mobility issues over time. Ironically enough, despite being the disabled one, I have also usually been the healthiest one in my family. I don’t diet because I don’t want to be hungry, because I don’t want to keep getting fatter, because I do not want to increase my risks of early mortality by several hundred percent (which is what happens when older people diet), because life is short for that bullshit. I don’t watch weight loss shows or commercials, & I quickly delete the ‘health emails’ I get which assure me that ‘obesity’ is the ‘greatest threat to our health’ & that ‘overweight & obesity are all about consuming more calories than you burn; eat less, move more, you too can be thin.’

    Right…I can also sing with the Metropolitan Opera, dance ballet, & be the Tooth Fairy. All those things came as easily to most of us as being thin.

  • Short Answer: I don’t diet because dieting makes me sad.

    Long Answer, in list form, because lists are awesome:

    –I don’t diet because dieting adds another thing for me to feel like a failure about. It is, for me, an ugly cycle of temporary feelings of victory when the numbers go down followed by feelings of inadequacy whenever they stop going down, or don’t go down fast enough or low enough.
    –I don’t diet because, as shieldmaiden1196 mentioned, it makes me fixated on food, far moreso than when I stopped dieting (irony for the win!).
    –I don’t diet because it’d take me being on a diet forever in order for me to reach some goal that’s been moved every other week.
    –I don’t diet because I’m pretty sure that dieting would kill me before being fat did.
    –I don’t diet because being hungry all the time just plain sucks.
    –I don’t diet because there are more things that I can find in common with my peers than dieting. Those other things might also be more fun.
    –I don’t diet because life’s too short for self-flagellation for something that isn’t even a sin.
    –I don’t diet because dieting is boring and hurtful to myself and other people. While school is also boring, at least it’s beneficial, even though I might not see any benefits yet. Work will also be boring sometimes, but at least work will also be beneficial. Dieting is boring, and only offers temporary benefits while the harms it causes will make themselves apparent, either immediately or eventually.
    –I don’t diet because the price is too high for a product that delivers so little.
    –I don’t diet because dieting is inextricably tied to my Pentecostal past, and I really don’t want to go back there again, ever.

    In short, I don’t diet because dieting makes me sad.

  • I don’t diet because of my mother’s anti-example. She’s that classic yo-yo dieter. She wasn’t even fat when she started, just wanted to lose those 5 or 10 extra pounds. She blamed her body for people not liking her from a very young age, and yet even I could see that her social problems had everything to do with personality and nothing to do with weight. She tried desperately to instill in me that diet mentality, and taught me a lot of body hatred, because she wanted a diet partner. She could, and did, force me to diet for years as a child, until I learned to steal food so I didn’t have to be hungry anymore. The one good thing about the forced childhood starvation, is that now, as an adult, I am simply unwilling to face starvation ever again.

    It was very obvious to me that losing weight did not solve problems. Nor was dieting any kind of permanent solution, because you just ended up fatter than when you started. But dieting could, and did, distract one from their real problems, kind of like alcoholism or drug addiction.

  • I don’t diet because it leads to an unhealthy relationship with food. When you’re not dieting, it’s easier to just eat when you want and stop when you feel full. There’s no restriction on what you can have unless you have a medical condition where certain foods make you sick and/or can kill you. You don’t feel guilty about eating a cookie. If you don’t want to eat at a particular time, you also don’t feel like you’re being “good”, you’re simply waiting for a different time to eat. Not dieting makes you independent and mentally healthy.

    I also don’t diet because if I did, my diet would be all I talk about. I’ve worked with women who were on diets and the only things they discussed were calories, weight, and moralizing foods. It was extremely boring to hear them drone on and on and on. When you’re not dieting, you talk about more interesting topics.

  • I don’t diet because I was made to diet all through my childhood. When I left home for college, I stopped dieting and haven’t done so since. I had come to the conclusion that it didn’t make me thin but did make me unhappy. It made me feel different and excluded.

    I had had to watch my family sit down to one meal while I was made to eat something entirely different. Dieting made me fee like I wasn’t worthy of eating the same foods they did. I remember the day I resolved never to diet again when it came into my power to choose. A single pea rolled off my plate and onto the floor. I was so hungry I chased that pea down and ate it. Even as a child I knew that wasn’t right and shouldn’t have to happen.

  • I don’t diet because it is a disordered way of eating that does not lead to health.

    Years of dieting made me paranoid about every morsel that went into my mouth. That food was either good or bad and that I was risking my health every time I even had a bit of these so-called bad foods.

  • I think it’s an interesting reflection of cultural imperatives and judgment that people feel to compelled to explain why they DON’T do something which should not be considered “normal” behavior. The indication is that they should be doing this and have to explain themselves.

    No one has to explain their behaviors to anyone and fat people in particular don’t have to give any justifications for choosing not to diet. It’s your body. It’s your business.

    • Just a side point Screaming Fat Girl – this post is not designeed for anyone to justify or explain themselves, it’s for fat people to discuss and share why they chose to take the path they did, and for other fat people to hear an alternative view.

      I’m through with trying to prove anything to the haters, but it is important that we fat folk talk about this stuff with our peers.

  • I just recently embarked on not-dieting for the first time, for a combination of many of the reason listed here.
    1. I have too many other things that need my attention, including three kids (one on the autism spectrum), a marriage, a household, and managing my own mental health.
    2. I feel emotionally unhealthy when I am fixating on calories, fat grams, points, minutes on the treadmill, etc. all day.
    3. I have daughters. I want them to see their mother happy with who she is, not punishing herself and trying to change into someone “better”.
    4. I have been dieting for 20 years without success, always gaining back plus more. I am anxious to find out if I can stabilize by not dieting.
    5. I have several strikes against me right now – genetics, antidepressant medication, an ankle injury, stress of coping with a newly diagnosed child with ASD among them. It seems foolish to doom myself to failing by trying to achieve weight loss at this time.
    6. It makes me miserable. I am not one of those people who feels empowered by dieting – I just feel like a slave. I don’t want to do that to myself anymore.

  • I’m 21, and up until a little over a year ago spent years yo-yo dieting that ended in severe bulimia by age 19. I had extreme weight fluctuations up until that point, when I found myself binging (after another restrictive diet) again I had started purging and the binge/purge cycle became addictive. It got so bad I had to enter PHP treatment after my sophomore year of college, and I have been in recovery ever since. My weight has been stable for well over a year now, and for the first time in my life I am at peace with my body and my eating. After following meal plans for quite some time to normalize my eating, I now am eating intuitively- sometimes that’s “healthy” stuff and sometimes it’s brownies or poptarts, etc.

    I will never diet again. It is not worth putting myself through so much pain, not to mention as many others have said, it’s been horrible at controlling my weight anyway. Through the diet/binge cycles in the past I was at times much much heavier than I am now (though my set range is still on the overweight side of things) and the times being thin never lasted more than a few months.

    I’m not going to be thin or even “normal”. But I’d much rather take that then ever be in the pain of yo-yo dieting or my eating disorder ever again. I’ve seen most of my family yoyo diet, some older ones for their entire lives. I’ve wasted enough time playing games with food, I just want to live my life.

    I am now strongly against dieting, against shame over our food choices, against guilt-induced and pleasureless exercise routines, against bonding over body bashing and weight talk. I’ve had enough, and though I definitely understand why people still choose to diet, I hope one day our culture will stop trying to push people into being thin disguised as concern for health. I know I’m a lot healthier now then when my BMI was a lot lower anyway.🙂

  • Wow, excellent post and the comments resonate with me completely. I don’t diet now for a multitude of reasons (including very mother related issues) but my Number 1 big reason for not dieting now is my daughter. She’s only two but I never want to have any behaviour or thing in the house that makes her dislike her body or screws up her relationship to food.

  • I don’t diet for 2 reasons.

    1) It makes me constipated, and when I’m constipated I get really ornery.

    (Trigger warning: graphic description of someone dying)
    2) My mom passed away this year from liver failure. Liver failure that I think had something to do with diet pills, years of yo-yo dieting, and drinking when she felt like a failure. I did liver research for my post-doc, and know that NAFLD is often attributed to sudden and rapid weight loss. Watching someone die like that is nasty. She was in so much pain. For 2 years. Her legs and face would retain 20 lbs of water for which she would have to take diuretics, which then gave her days worth of diarrhea. Her potassium would then get too low from the diuretics and she would go through paralysis and have to be hospitalized. Towards the end stages, couldn’t eat. Anything. She also had to limit her fluids to about 0.5 liters a day because of the water retention (“ascites”). When she died from a ruptured abdominal aneurysim due to portal hypertension, the hospital said the bulge in the vein was about the size of a baseball before it burst. She had gone in a week earlier because she couldn’t speak and was drifting in and out of consciousness from hepatic encephalopathy.

    They (the hospital) had a grand total of 6 tubes in her belly when she died, the tubes were sucking out all the blood from the ruptured vein and the 80 lbs of water in her belly that accumulated from the liver not being able to process anything…her hands were black, from ruptured vessels…her eyes, though closed, were bulging out like golf balls from the intercranial pressure build up (either from fluids or from blood, I didn’t care to ask at that point since she was dying). I imagine that hurt so very much. It was probaly the most painful and horrifying thing I have ever seen in my life.

    There was basically no quality of life for her for the last 2 years of her life, just in and out of the hospital. And guess what the freaking bills are? Close to 600,000.00.

    And not that it matters, but my mom was what society deemed conventionally beautiful–she looked like Zsa Zsa Gabor. I just want to scream “WHY?!!! For what?” Her quest for beauty and her unhappiness with herself literally cost her her life.

    My apologies for the graphic nature of this post, but I hope that someone lurking and reading who has not accepted themselves yet and is still tempted to diet might think otherwise after reading this. It can cost you your life, and if you get liver failure from dieting/diet pills, it won’t be a pleasant end. In case you think I exaggerate, do a Google image search for “ascites” and “end stage liver disease”.

  • I used to enjoy Weight Watchers. Our group leader gave us green stars for every victory. Victories included remembering to stay hydrated, trying a new exercise, being able to do something without getting out of breath that hadn’t been possible before, losing just .2 pounds (“Stick of butter!”) and so on. I learned a lot of good things there. My most important takeaway was that I had been treating myself as the household garbage disposal: eating whatever was left over, whether I wanted it or not, because if it went into the trash it would be “wasted.” I also benefited from getting it into my mind that there were no “bad” foods.

    Then she moved. The new group leader stuck to the script and suddenly WW became a colder place. There were “bad” foods. There was much less laughter and camaraderie. It was all about pounds, round numbers only please. I had to go off the program soon afterward because I was pregnant; while I was away, I thought it over.

    Every week, I was beating myself up for not sticking to my diet plan. Why wasn’t I sticking to my diet plan? Because I already had two kids, two jobs, and a house to keep. Some days both breakfast and lunch were whatever I could grab on the way past the cupboard and eat with one hand. Or the special at Subway, no matter what it was, because it was within my budget. Or I couldn’t cook dinner because the kids were sick or somebody had made an enormous mess. Was this going to change? No. Did I need to get full? Yes. Were WW bars going to do that? No way.

    I needed to exercise more because I felt better when I did. I had time to exercise OR attend WW, that’s how tight my schedule was. I used to walk briskly to the meeting, but I didn’t feel motivated to do that anymore.

    Was what I was getting at WW with the new group leader worth $40 per month? No. I didn’t feel supported anymore. I felt like a statistic that was dragging down the group’s numbers.

    So I quit.

    My clothes have gotten tighter since then. I don’t like it. In response, I have really worked on intuitive eating. I have discovered that I am addicted to certain things–that is, I crave them and I eat them even though I know that an hour or two later I will feel ill; I eat them even though I’m not actually hungry; I eat them when I know darn well that I am really thirsty and need water. I had a glimmering of this insight in WW, but now that I am not always worrying about my points budget, I can concentrate on finding other ways to get full and to fill the needs that the addiction momentarily satisfies. I have also been able to take more time for exercise, which feels good. I don’t want to get any bigger, but WW wasn’t helping me anymore. And WW was the sanest diet I knew of.

  • The interesting thing is that what you are all describing is sane sensible eating. Food to feel good and keep you doing what you need to do. Having to explain why you dont eat processed “diet” crap and go through the stress of dieting on top of the stress of a normal (or far-from-normal) life shouldnt be necessary.
    I dont diet because thinking about calories makes me hungry. Really really irrationally hungry. And I dont want to have to obsess about keeping a tiny number of pounds off- fitness means more. Id prefer to know i can complete a full bodyrock workout than that Ive lost 5lbs

  • I don’t diet for many reasons…the first of which, after 47 years of trying to be a skinny person, I realized that it wasn’t going to happen for me. The Fat Nutritionist website led me to this blog, Kath, and that’s when my eyes were opened. I could not believe it!

    It never, ever occurred to me…not even once….that I didn’t have to torture myself and go through the hell that I had been going through physically, emotionally, mentally – you name it, I’ve been there. No more starving, counting, exercising to the point of needing (and having) double knee replacements. It’s all over!

    It’s only been about a year now and, although I am a very obese woman, I am now on the right track – finding my way in this world without shame. It’s like being reborn. Everything is new. I even boxed up all my old “smaller” clothes. I’m not going to need them.

    I still have my flashbacks….”oh oh, I’m not going to fit in that booth” – things like that. But, for the most part, I feel incredibly better.

    I still have to deal with family and friends and their “helpful” advice and comments. I just frankly tell them that I am not going to diet anymore and I don’t want to talk about it. I even told my mother-in-law that she might as well accept my body as it is because this is the one I was born with and it wasn’t going to have some kind of metamorphasis and turn me into a thin goddess. I know that my family loves me and their comments and advice come from concern (for the most part), but it’s not helping me, so I can’t allow it any longer.

    I know I wouldn’t be this large if I hadn’t spent most of my life dieting and exercising and regaining and losing again and again and again. But, I have to let that go as well. I am who I am right now and I’m going to make the best of it.

    Thank you, Kath..for putting yourself out there and helping us all. Thanks to each of you who comment – you are all an inspiration. We are allowed to be who we are and we can be happy and healthy. What a revelation!

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