I am well aware of how horrible diet culture and food restriction is. I also know how it is to feel absolutely out of control when you are steps away from a breakroom table overflowing with holiday treats, which you are trying to avoid because you can’t just eat one, you’ll eat the whole goddamn table.
This week, I asked my Facebook friends to share what foods they would eat if there were no rules. And the comments were enough to make my mouth water. Pizza. Mozzarella sticks. Fried chicken. Red meat.
And then one friend asked who was making these rules.
My red flags started whipping in the judgment wind. I refrained from answering, choosing to hit the “laugh” emoji instead, acting like her question was just funny and not triggering. But you know me, I’m not one to keep quiet when I’m triggered. So I finally said something flippant about age and getting rounder and then moved on….
And then clicked over immediately when she replied back: “I enjoy the health of having an appetite. I love my body and tell it so in all of its forms. So, basically, I eat whatever feels good to eat in any given moment. I adjust my clothing for my fluffy body.”
Yeah. Thanks for sharing. How lucky for you.
Don’t get me wrong; what my friend shared was an absolutely healthy way of treating your body. I follow a million body positive accounts to try and grill this type of thinking into my head. I am well aware of how horrible diet culture and food restriction is.
I also know how it is to feel absolutely out of control when you are steps away from a breakroom table overflowing with holiday treats, which you are trying to avoid because you can’t just eat one, you’ll eat the whole goddamn table.
I know, because for two months last year, during the holiday season to boot, I did exactly this when I went on the “Fuck It Diet”. What is the Fuck It Diet? It’s when you realize that society is obsessed with diet culture and thinness and you decide to do away with all food rules and just eat food. And let me tell you, the two months I did this “diet” were glorious. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and how much I wanted. I ate foods that were “bad” for me. I ate after dinner. I ate seconds. I ate carbs, and sugar, and cheese, and gluten. If I wanted it, I ate it.
The positive parts of this “diet” were eventually letting go of cravings (because no food was kept from me), along with any guilt associated with food. I also stopped feeling hungry and out of control around food because I was eating until I was full.
The bad part? In two months, I gained 20 pounds, along with joint aches and extreme bloating, and none of my clothes fit me anymore. I’d wake up in the morning, and I felt awful, like a truck ran me over. My mood plummeted, and so did my self image. I hated what I saw in the mirror. I was bigger than I’ve ever been in my life.
So January 1, I did the New Year’s Resolution thing and joined Noom for weight loss. I started walking every morning while it was still dark. I invested in some dumbbells, bands, and a kettlebell for home workouts. And I committed to the 1200 calories Noom allows, minus half of the calories I burned.
Except…I got hungry. It was a rare day I stayed within those calories. And after about five months and zero pounds lost, I left Noom feeling like an absolute failure. Oh! And my cholesterol was dangerously high – probably a leftover symptom from the Fuck It Diet.
So then I tried macro counting. I reconfigured my allotted calories and focused on reaching my protein levels. I upped my weight training routine, started going to the gym, and began seeing some definition in my muscles. I weighed everything, and most days I was successful.
And yet, zero pounds lost.
So in September, I took a break from dieting again. But this time it was not a no-holds-barred Fuck It Diet approach, but just a focus on eating healthy without counting anything. I weighed myself daily, and just adjusted when the scale started to teeter.
This was probably the healthiest approach to food stuff, and the closest I’ve ever come to intuitive eating (which is what the Fuck It Diet was supposed to be instead of the two month binge I made it). And while, yay, I didn’t gain weight, I’m still interested in losing this extra weight.
So this month I am reducing calories once again, this time through intermittent fasting, which has helped me in the past. Basically, I fast for the first part of the day, drink a protein shake with nut milk for lunch, and then enjoy a regular sized meal for dinner with a glass of wine – all without the guilt since I have calories to spare. It’s been three weeks, and the pounds are dropping sloooooowly. But they’re dropping. We’ll see if this trend continues.
I have issues with food. I’m well aware of this. A dietician might tell me to just eat healthy, regularly spaced meals, and I’ll tell them I’m constantly hungry when I do this. When I eat something healthy, I want the unhealthy thing, and I will continue to eat until I finally succumb and just eat the thing I’m craving. The reason fasting is working for me, is because it turns my stomach off for a while, and then I get a guilt-free meal at the end of the day.
Is this sustainable? Hell no. Is it working for now? Sure.
My point is, I’d love to be that person who eats what feels good to eat. But you know what feels good to eat? Lots of cheese. All the bread. A pound of red meat. A giant bowl of ice cream with all the toppings. Food, and then more food, until my belly can’t handle anymore. I’d love to be the person who loves my body in all forms, but my high cholesterol isn’t a fan, and neither are my aching joints. I’d love to adjust my clothing for a fluffy body, but I can’t afford to keep buying bigger clothes, and I’d really like to fit back into my smaller clothes.
I’d love to be the person who never even thinks about food beyond needing fuel, who doesn’t think about my body except how it helps me get from point A to point B, who doesn’t succumb to the pressure of society’s favor for fit and young women… I’d love to believe all the body positive posts and the food freedom movement….but it just feels harder than trying to lose weight.