why I don’t diet

I have toyed with the idea of this post for a long time.  I have a lot of anxiety about either being misunderstood or judged harshly about this topic, so it was easy to put off.

In March of 2008, I gave up dieting.  I had been thinking about it for about two years before that, ever since I read Geneen Roth’s Breaking Free From Emotional Eating.  What I read in that book resonated loudly within me and something deep inside knew, knew that it was a message for me, but I wasn’t ready to really face the reasons behind my emotional eating.

Finally, in March of ’08, I reached my breaking point.  I had been struggling with trying to diet for several months, but the pain of infertility just dumped me back in the arms of comfort binging time and time again.  I was miserable, and my struggle with food was just an expression of that.  I knew something had to change.  I re-read the book, and decided to take the plunge.  No more diets.  I would be dealing with my eating problem in a different way now.

Mr. X was initially supportive, but after about a month, became very critical of my efforts (especially when I started to gain weight and I didn’t freak out about it, when I didn’t immediately run back to dieting).  A huge piece of the downfall of my abusive marriage is tied to my decision to start dealing with my emotional eating, to stop dieting, to start caring for myself in tangible ways, and in my defining myself as different than Mr. X in regard to food.

I’ve talked here about my struggles with food several times.  Food is a struggle for me, and comfort eating is the primary way that I’ve learned to cope, learned to survive my pain.  The reason that I don’t just go back on a diet is that, for me, dieting is just the flip side of the emotional eating coin.  Instead of numbing out with food and with regrets about eating, I would be numbing out by obsessing about calories and fat grams and ounces lost or gained.  And what’s worse, the thing that feeds dieting for me is self-hatred.  I have to loathe my body just enough to push myself into deprivation mode.  This is what dieting is for me. I know it may not be that way for everyone, that’s why I don’t go on your blogs and wag my finger at you for dieting (well, that’s one of the reasons; the other is that I don’t want to be an asshole).  I have some pretty fucked up ways of thinking about food and thinking about my body.  If I diet, it just makes it all worse.  As hard as the struggle is right now, I know that dieting would be worse.  I am committed to working on my problems with food; dieting would only mask them and make them worse.

I don’t expect everyone to understand.  I don’t expect everyone to think that I’m right.  That’s why it took me so long to write this post.

I’d like to tell you about an experience I had last night.  I was thinking about eating, about how I wanted something or the other, but feeling not hungry in the least.  For some reason, I decided to challenge my “mouth hunger” and asked myself if I really wanted to eat.  A quiet voice inside said, “no.”  Immediately I was flooded by grief, by the very feelings that I know I’m eating to suppress.  I remembered thinking, “No wonder I eat so much.  I can’t feel this way all the time.”

I am hoping to learn new ways to deal with my feelings.  In the meantime, I’m going to love myself as much as I can, and for me, that means not dieting.

I will leave you with a quote from the book that has had the most positive impact on me in this struggle, When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies:

Self-contempt never inspires lasting change.

For me, the only way for me to sustain a diet is to live in a constant mode of self-contempt.  I refuse to do that anymore.


16 responses to “why I don’t diet

  1. I applaud your decision to not diet…and your understanding of YOU and how you operate best and worst.

  2. *HUGS* Be happy, love yourself. We love you.

  3. I can relate to this post. I loved losing weight, and buying new clothes, but I hated dieting. I hate going to the gym like it’s a job. As good as it is for my health (and frankly my marriage), it always feels like deprivation and punishment. What got me through the diet was pure rage, frankly. Mmmm, I think I should read that book.

  4. Which makes me wonder, are you also suppressing the good emotions? I mean, for me, once you start putting up emotional roadblocks, it’s easier to block all things.

    Anyway, I think you have to have a healthy attitude about food (and yourself) before you can worry about dieting and weight loss. Otherwise, you’ll just end up in a downward spiral.

  5. What a wonderful post. Saving this to re-read.

  6. you are awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

    I have eating issues, i eat when im stressed, sad, angry, bored, depressed, and twice on sundays 😉

    one thing i have been trting this last month is sunflower seeds. I know I’m not hungry, yet I cant stop eating, so I have a bag of sunflower seeds by the desk, instead of candies or food, or junk food, I grab a handful of seeds, don’t know what it is, maybe I just get tired or bored, but after that initial hand-bit I am done for a while.
    ICLW hugs!

  7. I too am an emotional eater.

    Good for you for acknowledging what works for you and what doesn’t, and what helps you be a healthier better you.

    Loving yourself is HUGE. I’m glad you’re coming to a better place with it all.

  8. You know, Cecily over at Uppercase Woman has talked about a lot of the same feelings about food as you do. She has tried doing something called Intuitive eating (not a diet at all) and it has made her feel so much better about food.

  9. I think it’s great that you stopped to listen to your body! Too often I am in my head. My mind will lie to me, but my body, if I stop to pay attention, will always tell the truth. It knows. About more than hunger.

    One thing that made a difference for me was yoga. Just being present in my body for an hour was a HUGE shift in wresting power from my mind. It made the listening more automatic.

    Great post.

  10. This makes so much sense but yet most of the time I feel completely powerless to stop. I hear you and understand that this is something difficult. Good for you for finding positive ways to work on it.

  11. Thank you for sharing your story. It sounds like you are on a great path of taking care of yourself and not worrying about what others think.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Never worry about what others think- never worry.

    So glad to have found your blog, while stopping by for an ICLW visit…
    No. 36: the unfair struggle (mfi, speedskating, weight loss)

  13. Greetings-
    Here via ICLW.
    First off, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, do what is best for you. Its sounds like you are doing that. It is huge! Being with a controlling partner (if that fits) forces a person to make choices they wouldn’t if they weren’t strongly influenced by the other person. In this situation you are listening to yourself and heeding to what your body/brain tells you, bravo!
    What you have done takes great courage and I applaud you.
    It is more important to address the root cause of your emotional eating as opposed to just dieting. Besides, do diets work?
    Best of luck to you on your journey.
    Be gentle with yourself, you deserve it 🙂

  14. You are so brave for putting this out there. I can relate. For me, too, dieting is about self-loathing. I can’t stay on a diet without absolutely hating myself and everything about myself, not just my body.

  15. I am an emotional eater as well. The other problem is that I just love to eat! I love trying new foods, new restuarants, and it seems like all of my social events take place around food. I am trying live a healthier lifestyle, but it is difficult.

    Thanks for having the courage to share your private thoughts!

    Shannon – January ICLW

  16. Good post. It makes me think. I have had some realizations lately with food that have me thinking about it. I eat to make myself feel better after I percieve I have failed at something. With this whole infertility thing, it has been more out of control than I want or feel good about. The hormones don’t help at all either. The realization has made me look at it differently this week.

    Take care of yourself that is the most important thing!


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