For the past year of so I have talked off and on about my experience losing weight. It’s been a long 14 months of researching diets and finding what worked for me. But surprisingly, it’s when I learned about diet culture that I actually started losing weight.
In December my mom and I were driving back to Portland to get me home in time for the New Year. I am not a podcast driver, but my mom is so I let her put on an episode of Heather McMahan’s “Absolutely Not” with guest Dietitian Sammy Previte. Little did I know this was the podcast that would change my worldview on health, food, and weight. Heather and Sammy didn’t talk about weight loss, but about health promoting factors and giving your body the food it needs to be its best self. And suddenly I was Enthusiastic about breaking down Diet Culture.
Diet Culture is pretty much everywhere. It’s in the diets you’re told every day you need to go on if you’re so much as a pound over 120. The doctor looking at your waistline when you come in with a funny tummy. Those millions of “weight loss” smoothies and snacks that kill your wallet, but are worth it because you’ll finally fit into those jeans you wore three pregnancies ago. And it’s harmful as anything.
My Journey in Achieving Body Comfort
In the 14 months I have been actively losing weight, for 12 of them I was actively following a diet. From counting my calories to joining Weight Watchers to trying Noom to getting mad at myself when I was eating the equivalent of a rabbit’s dinner and not losing a pound overnight – it was some of the most harmful I have ever been to myself. I was not getting enough nutrients. There was so much stress about eating too much, and the minute I fell off the wagon I fell hard and became depressed at how bad I was at losing weight. But that’s what diets are – unsustainable ways to lose weight that have such strict regulations that we beat ourselves up the minute it’s not working.
And when I told myself I couldn’t live this way for the next 70 years of my life and gave Diet Culture the big heave-ho, I saw so much improvement.
Since January 1st when I told Diet Culture to go bother someone else, I have lost more weight than I did in those 12 months. And not because I’m trying some new fancy diet. I am being kind to myself and listening to what my body needs, which decreases my body’s need to binge, and my body is naturally changing because it is receiving the nutrition it needs to be healthy.
I talk about losing weight – which is the first no-no of stopping Diet Culture – because it was something I didn’t think would happen when I was eating 1,400+ calories a day and allowing myself dessert. But also everyone’s body is different. I have a lot of extra weight that’s been dying to get off for years, which I’m naturally shedding due to lack of binge eating. Not everyone will have these results. But by focusing on health promoting factors in regards to your diet, and regular exercise, the body finds its natural size. And I know I won’t be losing weight forever. At some point my body will find its natural shape, and with the sustainable lifestyle of intuitive eating I can remain that shape for years to come.
If you’re reading this and thinking “Yeah, I’m really sick of dieting and losing and gaining weight every week and just want to be a healthy person” here’s some of my favourite Stop Diet Culture/Promote Healthy Living tips I’ve picked up that really inspired me to continue with it.
Stop Diet Culture/Health Promoting Habits
Feed Yourself Consistently
When you’re hungry you make bad decisions. Skipping meals is nothing more than Diet Culture talk for “starve so you’re skinny”. If you’re not a big breakfast person, find something small to have readily available to nosh on the minute you’re hungry instead of bingeing out at lunch. I know I’ve been guilty of saving up all my calories for dinner – but all that means is I’m starving all day and then come home and make horrendous food decisions. Fuel yourself with food throughout the day with grains and protein to ensure you are running at your optimum speed and can make healthier choices.
Stop Thinking About Food as Good/Bad
The best lesson I learned – food has no morality. It’s food. I used to obsess over how a cookie would ruin my life, how I was a bad girl for having a cookie and I should be stronger. It’s a cookie! This was a really hard lesson to learn that I still struggle with every day. But I have found that when I fuel myself with health promoting foods that the cookies and cakes and pizzas and pastas of the world don’t look so bad.
Check In With Yourself
Mindfulness is such a big thing in every aspect of our lives. So why shouldn’t it be associated with our diet? Check in with your body for hunger cues and what it needs to be its best self. So much of my life has been “I’m hungry, but dinner is in a few hours so I can wait” and that’s not okay. If my body is hungry, it needs to be fed. If I feel weak, it wants to be fed. Your body will always tell you what it wants, it just needs to be listened to
All of these have helped me live a happier life where I’m less consumed with “being skinny” but with being healthy and comfortable in my body. I am so thankful to Heather McMahan and Sammy Previte for being the podcast we listened to in the car, it truly has changed my life and hopefully will change others.