Posts tagged ‘anti-diet’

Health at Every Size (Updated)

As many of you know, after 10 long years of dieting and trying to morph my body into something it, quite simply, is not, I’ve given up my pipe dream. Alas, I’m not going to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. I’m hard at work at Intuitive Eating, learning to trust my body, myself around food, and handle my emotions (rather than binge eating).

In my spare time, I’ve been reading every book I can get my hands on and joining every group, subscribing to every newsletter, about Intuitive Eating. Currently I’m enrolled in an 8-week program called Total Immersion Intuitive Eating with coach JoLaine Jones (don’t you just love that name?) of Genuine You Coaching, honing my self-love skills.

However, during my search,  I came across an incredible movement called Health at Every Size (HAES), started by author Linda Bacon, PhD. What is this movement? According to Bacon’s book, Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight:

Let’s face facts. We’ve lost the war on obesity. Fighting fat hasn’t made the fat go away. And being thinner, even if we knew how to successfully accomplish it, will not necessarily make us healthier or happier. The war on obesity has taken its toll. Extensive “collateral damage” has resulted: Food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, discrimination, poor health… Few of us are at peace with our bodies, whether because we’re fat or because we fear becoming fat.

Health at Every Size is the new peace movement.

Very simply, it acknowledges that good health can best be realized independent from considerations of size. It supports people—of all sizes—in addressing health directly by adopting healthy behaviors.

The HAES movement encourages people of all sizes to improve their health through improving, and honoring, their relationship with their body. We should adopt a healthy lifestyle out of R-E-S-P-E-C-T for our body, not to be a number on a scale or a size tag inside our pants.

As someone who has struggled with body image, binge eating, and dieting for much of my young adulthood, this is something that truly resonates with me.

I encourage you to check out the HAES website, sign their pledge, join the community, and start taking steps to love yourself…and others…totally and completely.

UPDATE: I am honored that Linda Bacon PhD herself has commented on this post. Truly in awe! The correction she made is that the HAES movement has been in existence before Linda did her research and wrote her book, and she is just one of the many “freedom fighters,” as she calls herself and her colleagues, working to get the Health at Any Size Message out there. Thank you, Linda!

February 10, 2010 at 2:33 pm 4 comments

Falling Off the Dieting Wagon..For Good!

Hi friends,

Yes, I know I’ve neglected you since Thanksgiving. It’s been crazy hectic in my life, and I needed to take a little break and get things in order. I’d rather write when I’m feeling inspired rather than rush to put something together just for the sake of it.

Today, I have a VERY important annoucement. I am OFF dieting. Yup, you heard me. O-F-F D-I-E-T-I-N-G. No more. Nada. And guess what else is really shocking? I’ve been eating sugar. Yup. I’ve been eating sugar EVERY DAY for the past 2 weeks and it’s been AWESOME. Seriously, I LOVE chocolate. I forgot how much. Do you want to know how many times I’ve had a binge? NONE. Zip.  And do you want to know how happy I am? Extremely. Immensely. So happy I want to run around nekkid. (not really, but you get the point)

The Universe delivered the book “Intuitive Eating” into my hands about 3 weeks ago.  This book “spoke” to me, and related to me, in ways that were so spot in it was spooky. I started crying after I read the Introduction. I recognize, from reading, that  my chronic dieting, and dieting mindset, has really held me back. At points, when reading, I was so shocked that I could let my thinking get so far off course.  So, I have started my path as an intuitive eater, which means, in a nutshell, that I listen to my  body for what it wants, and I give it exactly that. I eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full, and give myself permission to eat whenever and whatever I want (there are no good and bad foods).

The most important factor, which is very strange to me, is that weight loss is NOT the goal. Rather, gently letting your body reach it’s natural weight is the goal. It takes time…months, maybe even a year. But your body knows best, (and if you let it have whatever it wants, it will naturally want healthy foods, which luckily I enjoy). I must admit, I have no clue what my natural body weight even IS. I lost a lot of weight in college (through proper diet and exercise) and then after college, spent the years dieting, restricting myself  (and binging, too) and spending hours in the gym. I kept that up for a good long while..until I couldn’t any longer. Fast forward to now..after a very tough semester and turning to food to help me get through the stress, I’m heavier than I have been in years. So who knows. But the major shift, again, is actually NOT CARING. I am more in love with living a life peacefully with food than fitting into a super small size.

So, this is my new adventure, and I’m giving it everything I’ve got. I went to the grocery store last night and allowed myself to buy whatever looked good. In addition to my favorites (which are healthy), i picked up Salt and Vinegar potato chips, gluten free fig newtons, laughing cow cheese, chocolate jello pudding, and the most amazing chocolate ever–Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt. And now that I’ve been allowing myself to have these foods around the house, they kinda lose their allure. I had one square of chocolate, savored it,  and I was satisfied. Imagine that.

So, won’t you please join me on my path to eating intuitively. If my journey is anything like other “IE” eaters, it’s going to be bumpy and rocky. Two steps forward and one step back. It will take time. But, for me, I see a shift already. I feel like a HUGE weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can stop putting pressure on myself to be the “perfect” eater. Now, I can just be.

 Check out the website and feel free to ask me any questions about the process.  For your reference, below are the 10 guidelines for Intuitive Eating, taken from the website.

Intuitive Eating Principles

1. Reject the Diet Mentality Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.

2. Honor Your Hunger Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.

3. Make Peace with Food Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.

4. Challenge the Food Police .Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating under 1000 calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created . The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.


 5. Respect Your Fullness Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?


6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor The Japanese have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence–the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough”.


7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food Find ways to comfort , nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.

8. Respect Your Body Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.


9. Exercise–Feel the Difference Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.


10 Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts

December 8, 2009 at 6:50 pm 5 comments

To Diet or Not to Diet

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.

July 16, 2009 at 2:23 pm 1 comment

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