To Diet or Not to Diet

July 16, 2009 at 2:23 pm 1 comment

diets are meanI read an interesting article in the Styles section of the New York Times this morning, titled “Tossing Out the Diet and Embracing the Fat” by Mandy Katz. Katz shares a trend that is gaining movement in the dieting world—the practice of anti-dieting.  Proponents of anti-dieting have spent years and years on unsuccessful diets, only to end up at the weight they started at (or even heavier). They’re fed up with dieting! According to Katz:

This movement — a loose alliance of therapists, scientists and others — holds that all people, ‘even’ fat people, can eat whatever they want and, in the process, improve their physical and mental health and stabilize their weight. The aim is to behave as if you have reached your “goal weight” and to act on ambitions postponed while trying to become thin, everything from buying new clothes to changing careers. Regular exercise should be for fun, not for slimming.”

Anti-diets celebrate the body in every form and reject the uber-skinny body shape that women (and men) feel pressure to achieve.  Foods should not be labeled “good” or “bad,” and guilt is a dirty 5-letter word. Exercise should be enjoyable, with FITNESS as the goal, not weight loss.  In essence, the anti-diet movement seeks to liberate those that have been slaves to diets and meal plans, and allows them to say “fuck it” and truly savor life with no restrictions.

I was pleased to hear that women (and men) are starting to shun diets and a backlash to the multi-billion dollar diet industry is slowly being created.  People are finally understanding that DIETS. DON’T. WORK. Period. Exclamation point! I’ve spent most of my life on diets, feeling guilty for eating dessert, being self-conscious when I was younger because I was heavier than most of my friends, and experiencing an overall dislike for my body.  It was only when I decided in college that I was sick of being unhappy, and I wanted to be happy again, that I began to lose weight.  In the past couple of years, I’ve worked VERY hard to re-wire my brain to focus on acceptance, love, and eliminating the words “good” and “bad” when referring to food. It’s a daily struggle, but I’m getting there.

 A friend recently asked what I thought of her new 6-week diet plan she created for herself, consisting of grapefruit 3x a day and scarcely any carbs. I told her, right away, that it scared me-it was impractical, unsafe, and she was guaranteed to fail. It reminded me of the diets I used to put myself on. And ridiculous diets like those have given rise to this new non-diet movement-so hooray for that!

 I understand the absolute freedom it brings to say to Suzanne Somers and Dr Phil “Take your diet and shove it!” To be able to enjoy a cupcake because you want something sweet. Or to enjoy a salad on a hot summer day because you just want it—not because it’s low in calories. And studies show that people who are not on strict diets are just plain ol’ happier. I know I am (I’ve spent many years miserable, but very thin. I’d rather have a little extra padding and be happier!)

 On the flip side, however, there may be some issues raised with the non-diet diet.  It doesn’t give you license to throw caution into the wind, to eat whatever you want, whenever you want (although that may happen at first, as it did to me when I stopped truly dieting). Experts such as Dr. Walter Willet are concerned that the anti-diet approach will make people think they have the green light to eat in excess, giving rise to more weight issues in this country.  I know in my case, although I’ve made huge strides in my eating, I have implemented guidelines for myself to keep my weight in a healthy range, like no second helpings and not eating (or trying not to) after 8pm.  

So, I am support of the anti-diet, as long as a high level of health and wellness is maintained.  IF someone starts gaining lots of weight, feels poorly, and starts having digestion issues, for example, that is when a closer look should be taken at the non-diet approach. Really, what matters in the art of eating is noticing how you feel when you consume certain foods and finding what works well for your body. And just like me, that may include setting up certain guidelines to help you feel your best. It’s the only approach that works, I promise you. 

In the end, to diet or not to diet is a personal preference. More importantly, however, what matters in life is that you love yourself and savor each and every single delicious bite of your big juicy life.

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Beni ha-ha (or “Benihana’s gets the last laugh) by Matt Finding Time for the Burn–from Naked Apartments

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Abbs  |  July 16, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Hooray for the anti-diet. My dad and step mother are always gaining weight; why? Because they go on every crazy diet…Atkins, modified Atkins, South Beach, Special K…you name it. Again, hooray for the anti-diet!

    Reply

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