After dieting for over 12 years I am finally ready to quit dieting. Keep reading to learn why I am quitting diets for good and the resources I am using to do that.
Let me start by saying that I have no medical qualifications and this is written from my own personal experience. This is written to share my story and should not be taken as medical advice.
Diets Don’t Work (for me and many others)
The first reason why I am quitting diets for good: diets do not work. If diets worked, I wouldn’t have tried so many over the last 12 years of my life. And by work I mean they don’t work the way we hope they will.
Every time I start a new diet I tell myself it will be the one that turns me into a happy, healthy, vibrant, thin and beautiful woman. I will do this diet and it will be the one that sticks forever.
In reality, I become SO excited about my new diet for a couple of weeks or even a month. I start to lose weight and think that everything is working just the way it is supposed to.
Then, after 3-4 weeks on my new diet, my body starts to catch up. It realizes I am not consuming enough calories and I become lethargic and irritable.
Eventually, I become so irritable that I just give up.
Mentally I am devastated that I can never stick to a diet. Physically my body is all sorts of confused from the rollercoaster of calorie restriction.
After I give up on the diet, I eat whatever I want and it’s usually a lot of whatever I want to make up for the calorie restriction. I continue behaving like that until, of course, another diet catches my eye.
WOW! I am exhausted just thinking about that cycle.
I have repeated this same process of eating whatever I want, hating my body, starting a diet, loving it at first, hating the diet, and then eating whatever I want again since I was 15 years old.
At 27 I finally had the courage to say that I am DONE with diets, but it did not happen overnight.
Trying to Heal my Autoimmune Diseases
I was diagnosed with psoriasis in my late teens and psoriatic arthritis in my early 20s. Having two autoimmune diseases opened my eyes to how lifestyle and diet effects our health.
A lot of that realization was positive, but some of it was negative. My autoimmune disease diagnosis gave me an excuse to try even more restrictive diets.
When I was first diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis I was advised to start prescription drugs immediately to avoid permanent joint damage. There is nothing wrong with choosing to take prescription drugs, but at the time I made the choice to try to heal myself naturally.
At the time, natural to me meant diet. If I knew what I know now I would address the level of stress in my life first, but I was 23, just coming out as gay and working crazy long hours at my first job and didn’t even acknowledge the amount of stress in my life.
Instead of addressing my health holistically, I jumped right into a brand new diet as a no-oil vegan. No shade to vegans, but no oil veganism is miserable.
I did things such as cook my food with vegetable broth to avoid olive oil and made oil-free salad dressings.
The veganism lasted longer than you might think and I spent a solid 6 months of my life eating that way. It wasn’t until I was trying to train for a half marathon that I realized I was not fueling my body properly.
I slowly reintroduced eggs, then dairy, then chicken and fish and finally red meat.
This is where I remind you that it is possible for some people to feel fueled and satisfied while being vegan, but I was not one of them and I will talk about that more below.
Diets Disguised as Wellness
Since trying veganism four years ago I’ve had my stints with paleo, autoimmune paleo, whole30, keto, moderate low carb, dairy free low carb and carnivore.
I tried all of these diets with the goal of healing my autoimmune diseases or at least getting some relief from symptoms. Many of the diets did have positive effects on my autoimmune disease symptoms.
As soon as I started to feel better I would preach about it all over my social media and to my loved ones.
I’d say “SEE this works! Sure its hard and restrictive, but I feel so much better.”
That period of feeling so much better didn’t last forever. After a couple of weeks, my mood would change, I would lose energy and I realized how many social plans I was missing out on just so I can stick to my diet.
It is extremely difficult to write this and admit this. I feel like I put other women in danger of entering an endless diet spiral by sharing my health journey.
My hope is that by sharing this I will encourage other women to be honest with themselves about why they are cutting certain foods out of their daily diet.
I still think diet (what you eat every day) plays a huge role in how you feel physically, BUT dieting can be extremely detrimental to how you feel both mentally and physically. That conundrum is why I have resisted quitting diets in the past.
The Truth About All of my “Healthy Diets”
Many people will call veganism, paleo, Whole30, and low carb diets lifestyle choices and not diets.
There are people who eat each of those ways, do not feel deprived, and intend to eat that way for the rest of their lives.
I am SO happy for those people, but I know for many other people following those diets will keep them in a constant diet cycle.
So why didn’t those diets work for me? My hope deep down was always that the diet would make me lose weight.
Outwardly the ultimate goal was health, but internally my ultimate goal was weight loss.
I preached on my Instagram and blog that avoiding grains, dairy, and carbs made me feel amazing! Superhuman almost! But it was a lie and not just a lie I told my followers, it was a lie that I told myself.
If one of those diets turned into a lifestyle for me over the last 4 years, I wouldn’t need to keep trying new ones. But it didn’t, so the obsessive cycle continued.
Why I am Quitting Diets for Good
On my most recent diet attempt I chose the most restrictive diet yet: the carnivore diet. I told everyone I was trying this diet to FINALLY heal my autoimmune symptoms and have lasting health.
Guess what? It worked. It actually cleared my body of psoriasis and I had 0 arthritis pain.
But guess what else? Beneath my story about health and wellness I was secretly telling myself that this was the diet that would FINALLY make me thin and keep me thin forever.
SO I lost those last 5 pounds and you know what happened? I was miserable. More miserable in my own head than I have been since I was in high school.
My hormones were all messed up, I lost my period, I was constantly moody and irritable AND I refused to go to restaurants or get any takeout.
I LOVE all foods and dieting took the joy out of eating and experimenting in the kitchen.
I saw what the constant dieting did to my physical and mental health and said “enough is enough!”
Finally, I accepted that I cannot continue living this way. The diet cycle ends now in 2020.
What Happens Now?
Okay so now you know why I am quitting diets for good, but what does that mean for my life? It means I allow all foods. And I mean ALL FOODS.
I am letting myself eat things that used to just be normal food to me, but that my diet mind had convined me were off limits. Things like full bowls of cereal and soft pretzels and real, full fat ice cream whenever I want. I
t might sound like I am being wreckless, but I’m not.
Even after just 3 or so months of living this way I find the less I restrict foods, the less wild cravings I get for them.
All food is allowed and no food is good or bad so eating pizza doesn’t become a moral dilemma anymore its just food.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t easy. This is hard work every single day.
If you’re like me and you’ve spent years of your life dieting, deciding to stop all of that and just eat is not a simple concept.
There are things that are hard for me to accept like weight gain, but I also have gained so many other things. Things like a regular period, less moodiness and irritability, clearer skin, the ability to go out with friends before I check the menu etc. etc.
But you Built your Business on Diets
This is something I don’t know how to address yet. Yes, much of my audience found my from my Whole30 journey, grain free recipes, and other diet style recipes.
Right now I don’t know how to be anti-diet, body neutral and share recipes the same way that I was before. This whole journey works best when I look inside and I am truly honest with myself.
So when I say to myself, “Now that you have quit diets how do you want to eat?” I think, “I want to eat everything! Some days I want gluten and dairy-filled pizza and some days I want salads and grain-free granola.”
What I am eating every day is reflected in the recipes I make for this blog. So, if I am eating everything, I will be sharing everything.
I will still make notes of recipes that happen to be gluten free, dairy free, paleo etc. because I think it is useful information for many.
How do I Learn More About Quitting Diets for Good?
First, if you are struggling with an eating disorder I encourage you to go to the NEDA website and read this post about where to start.
If you are a chronic dieter but are not struggling with an eating disorder there are many resources you can use to stop the dieting cycle.
Lisa Hayim is a registered dietitian who specializes in helping women ditch their diets and start living bigger lives beyond obsessing over food and weight. Her courses Fork the Noise and Ditch Diets Forever have been extremely helpful to me. You can click here to check out and sign up for Lisa’s courses.
I HIGHLY recommend the book The F*ck It Diet. This book was the one that first opened my eyes to the anti-diet world. I have now listened to the audiobook twice and find the information to be invaluable.
The podcast Diet Starts Tomorrow is diving into a lot of intuitive eating topics on their more recent episodes and they have even interviewed Carolyn Dooner the author of The F*ck It Diet. I also recommend the podcast Outweigh.
Something that has been huge for me in stepping away from diet culture has been to change who I follow on social media. I am following new accounts that help me celebrate my body and the food that I feed it.
This is just the beginning of this journey. I know that there will be times that I am tempted to diet again, but I am committed to coming back to my why each time I am tempted. As always, I will continue to share this journey with all of you.