**Trigger warning, topic is about weight loss diets and disordered eating.**
I was thinking about my own life of dieting, and how I felt all those times, and what my own health was like in those years.
When people say fat people should go on diets “for their health”, they’re not factoring in a) how dieting affects the body and b) the mental health of the fat person. Even if they are genuinely concerned for someone’s health and not just using concern trolling to police fat bodies because of their appearance, how much thought do they give to what dieting turns people into?
Now let’s just establish here that we know that fat people aren’t lazy gluttons and that we’re not all stuffing our faces 24 x 7 and that “dieting” doesn’t equal “just eating healthy”. I know that’s the rhetoric that is spouted at us all the time, that we just have to “Put down the donut/cheeseburger/whatever.” Let’s make it nice and clear that I’m talking about food restriction or replacement, rather than the mythical “just eat healthy” that the anti-fat seem to think we are not doing already. When people say “Just eat healthy.” they don’t actually mean that, they mean diet, because hey, there’s no possible way a fat person can already be “just eating healthy”. I’m talking about weight loss diets. Calorie counting, no carb, no fat, no sugar, cabbage soup, replacement shakes, Atkins, South Beach, Pritikin, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, grapefruit, high protein, high fibre, high cardboard… whatever the fuck diet we were on at the time. And this includes any of the disordered eating habits too – bingeing, purging, starvation, laxative abuse, diet pills, exercise bingeing, and even weight loss surgery. Anything that is designed to restrict, reduce or purge for the supposed purpose of making us thin.
Can I ask… have any of you ever known a person, fat or thin or somewhere in between, who has been on a weight loss diet/programme, who is/was actually HAPPY while they are doing so?
I know I was never happy. I always felt like shit. Having to measure every bit of food, count points, calories or grams, having to think about what I was going to eat every minute of the day. I couldn’t just relax and spend time with friends, because I’d have to think about what foods met my diet. Organising lunches for work was a headache and I was always on my guard for people questioning my eating habits (or lack of them). Grocery shopping was even more nightmarish than I find it now (and I hate it now, thank God for online grocery shopping!) because almost everything was “forbidden” on whatever diet I was on at the time. I was always hungry. When I did get to eat, it was shitty. Either it was really bad food (cabbage soup?) or it wasn’t even food at all, it was some powdery substitute or rubbery/cardboard diet version. I never wanted the things I was “allowed” to eat, and yet I was so unbelievably hungry all the time that I had to eat them when I could.
Physically, my body fought me all the way. I was constantly sick with every cold and virus that came around. My skin was bad. My teeth were terrible. I constantly had to fight bad breath and diarrhea. I had constant hayfever and headaches. I never had any energy and never slept properly.
Emotionally, I was depressed, anxious and obsessive. Depressed because I hated being hungry all the time and having to eat things that tasted like cardboard or rubber, depressed because no matter what I did, I could never lose weight and keep it off. Anxious because I never knew where I could get “suitable” food, and I hated anyone knowing I was on a diet. Anxious because my blood sugar was always low and I was shaky and couldn’t concentrate. Obsessive because food might actually GET me, if I let down my guard.
Yet all of this was supposed to benefit my health? How?
We all know that diets fail on the long term in 95% of cases, with weight regain plus more, but we never talk about how bloody miserable dieting is. How nobody is actually happy while they are dieting, and because 95% of them find diets fail, they’re not happy in the long term either. The whole diet culture just sets people, particularly women, up to be miserable all the time, both during dieting and then when it inevitably fails.
And this is supposed to be for our health? This is supposed to be “taking care of ourselves”.
I call bullshit.
Instead, we can put all that crap behind us, re-learn to eat to nourish us, let go of exercising as some kind of penance and learn to find activity that we enjoy and live our lives to the fullest no matter what our weight.
I know which sounds like taking care of myself to me.