Why I don’t diet

During some online brainstorming the other day about reclaiming the Fat Poz ReVolution (which is aparently being stolen by a weight-loss reality show), Pattie Thomas suggested video blogging “a brief bio on who you are, what your story is and why you [DO NOT] want to lose weight.” (Quote is from the reality show producers except for the added bit in brackets.)

Well, I’ve never video blogged, but the topic of why I don’t diet sounds like a good blog post to me.

So here goes. I’m the youngest of five children, and all my siblings plus both my parents have dieted. Amazingly, my mom lost the weight and kept if off. She was fat for a few years during the 1960s and 1970s, and maybe her fatness was going to go away anyway. But my dad, three sisters, and one brother have each tried dieting over the years and it never works. And each one of them keeps trying. (My brother has probably not dieted much, but he has done it.) Coincidentally, all of them smoke or have smoked, and I never got hooked on that either.

Am I lucky, or just smart? Well, I sure am lucky, but I also like to think that I learned from their experiences, which add up to the fact that diets don’t usually work. It’s hard when I go to the doctor and he wants me to lose weight. But after gaining a few pounds a year for several years in the 1990s, I’ve been at a stable weight for a long time. And, I’ve added whole grains and a greater variety of foods to my intake. But, no, I don’t diet for weight loss.

How would you folks answer the question “Why don’t you want to diet?” Or, getting back to Pattie’s original (slightly different) question, “Why don’t you want to lose weight?”

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19 thoughts on “Why I don’t diet

  1. You dont diet because your more content with you. Believe it or not, out of your family you have the highest sense of worth and self-esteem. You respect yourself even though you acknowledge your not the perfect person you wish to be.

    This is actually something i could wish for so yeah i think you are lucky. YOYO dieting is pointless and everyone actually knows this. I hope.

    Here are some possible reasons each or all of your family yoyo diets.

    1. they need a distraction from life, they used to feed their emotional self but now their starving it and getting the same distracting result. Once they lose the weight they may accept themselves and love themselves but they will soon notice they still have the same emotional problems or stresses and suddenly.. the weight loss isnt all that anymore so.. they eat.

    2. They think this time… is the time.. the time they will do it and keep it of forever.

    I dont know them personally but you should stick with this AWSOME mentality you have. keep on being good to your body and dont let anyone, even a doctor, knock your self-esteem.

    • Thanks, Movefasta. I think your point 2 is definitely in play. Not sure about point 1; it’s hard to get inside their heads.

  2. I guess I am lucky that no one has directly asked me questions about why I don’t diet in a long time. IF they did, they would have to bear a full on stormy response and would never do so again. That being said, my responses in the past have pretty much depended on who was doing the asking. A question like that from someone having no bearing on my existence whatsoever- gets no answer back from me. Someone closer in my circle of friends would get the true answer.

    I have yo-yo’ed for most of 45 years. More studies show yo-yoing is the worst thing that can be done, healthwise, when compared to just being fat. I keep myself healthy at my size, eat a balanced diet, and exercise. When I make plans to improve my health, it usually sounds more like “drink more water than soda” “go for evening walks, not just circumstantial ones”, etc. Losing weight is not the goal- making the healthier choices is.

    I can also reflect upon the choices of my life partner when discussing why I won’t diet. She was also a yo-yo dieter when we met 18 years ago. Coming into the relationship, she had been on a very expensive diet plan and was in debt from it. She knew that trying to make food choices “for real” as opposed to from a diet industry menu website would be difficult- and she actually wanted a partner who was comfortable in her own skin (me!). Ultimately, we had to make financial reality choices and the dieting had to stop. Within a few years, she had gained back all the expensive weight lost- and then some. SHe turned to her doctor for nutritional support and was directed to the high protein, low carb diets in vogue at the time. I agreed to help her with the diet, but not to diet myself. I ate what she ate for one weekend and was so sick from the lack of fresh veggies, fruits, and complex carbs that I had to call in the following Monday. That weekend was the last diet I ever did. However, my partner’s resolve was greater and she had more medical concerns related to her size (discomfort in joints, less mobility) than me. The high protiein diet over the course of 3 months time nearly brought her into kidney failure. She was leaking large amounts of protien in her urine and was seemingly always doing 24 hour urine collections. I sat her down and had a long reality check with her about what was going on- and how she meant more to me fat and alive than thin and dead. The dieting became more balanced for a time, but her physician was convinced that the pounds weren’t coming off as they should and she should consider gastric bypass.

    The words “gastric bypass” to me are tantamount to death orders. I was working at a health insurance company at the time and worked with complex medical cases. Included in this were gastric bypass patients. The company goal was to have successful cases with fewer complications- I wanted fewer cases. It does me mental harm to think about the situations that these clients went through. I had one client who came to see me before her procedure as a borderline acceptable case. Her BMI was not that high (yeah I know the number is a false god- but the company knelt to it), but she had comorbid diagnoses that made her elgible. Might I also add that comorbid diagnoses were as vague as “joint pain”. Who CAN’T say that they don’t have some occasional joint pain? Even from healthy activity, there are twinges now and then! ANyhow- the client was ultimately in a coma for 4 weeks from postoperative complications. She had a stroke at this time and was in physical rehab for months. And she had gone in as a healthy 28 year old. Awful. The anecdotes I have on the subject feel far too numberous to be just that- they felt more like true statistic of post op disaster.

    But back to the story of my partner as a cautionary tale- she did not let me know about going to the bariatric surgeon for quite some time. It was thru a series of flukes I even found out she had been going for pre-op appointments. I finally went with her once the insurance approved her surgery. I was not convinced (and still am not) that it was a good idea. Her surgeon and nurse practitioner reviewed the complications of surgery, talked about post op diets, etc- but failed to keep in mind that she would need blood thinners due to a history of blood clot in her leg and pulmonary embolism. I had to keep reminding them about needing to plan for the blood thinners. It felt very assembly line. She lost the weight quickly and most folks applauded the success.

    I was the only one who saw the truth behind the closed doors. SHe has never (now 8 years later) been able to eat meat again. No matter hw she chews or “processes” her meat, she can’t tolerate it. Her teeth have become brittle and chip easily despite all the calcium supplements recommended. Her first meal of the day is vitamins and supplements. SHe was told that she wouldn’t need to worry about reflux medications- lie. She has worse reflux now than ever. She had a GI bleed problem and required lots of testing and ultimately an upper endoscopy.

    I will NEVER ever allow anyone else to dictate what size or health status is appropriate for me unless it is a discussion with my health care professional- and then- that person had better not be thinking that weight loss is the answer to all.

    • Thank you, Diva Jean, for your powerful story. It certainly highlights the fact that thinner is not necessarily healthier, and that weight loss can be detrimental.

  3. I don’t diet because I nearly died of anorexia several years ago. During my slow and challenging recovery, I’ve learned to love and nurture my body. For me, weighing more is healthy. When I was very thin, I was sick: weak, depressed, apathetic. Now that my body has settled on its (higher) natural weight through Health at Every Size, I am well again. I have energy, ambitions, generosity. For the first time in years I feel like I’m truly alive, participating in the world and taking in all it has to offer.

  4. I don’t diet anymore because I finally realized that there’s no way I can accomplish the things I want to do if I’m wasting most of my physical and mental energy striving for some impossible “ideal,” and there’s no reason I should have to sacrifice my dreams for some arbitrary societal norm.

    Practicing HAES has given me back my energy, as well as giving me the confidence I needed to stand out from a crowd of other qualified applicants and get accepted by my top choice medical school. Now, I’m happier and healthier than I ever was when I was thin – and I can’t wait to graduate and do my part to eliminate size discrimination from within the medical establishment.

  5. Excellent question.
    I don’t have as dramatic a story as some of the other posters. My last diet was in my teens.
    At a lower weight, I felt like crap. I understand that there are some people who feel wonderful when they lose weight, but I’m not one of them. It felt very unnatural.
    I hated the way people treated me when I lost weight. Sure, I’m going hungry, and people treated me as if that were a great thing! WTF? People talked to me who hadn’t had much time for me before, like an aunt of mine. Now, I accomplished some pretty impressive things at the time, but this weight loss was the one that got all the praise. It made no sense to me. It sounded very phony. Really – if people didn’t like me when I was fatter, how did I all of a sudden get likeable?
    Perhaps poignant in retrospect, losing weight didn’t get me the things I did want. I wanted my mother to be nicer to me. I wanted to feel attractive. Didn’t happen. I learned a few hard lessons here, and never dieted again.

    • Thanks, Mulberry. I like your story because it once again highlights that we’re all individuals, and even if weight loss is fine for some, it’s not for all. Plus, you gained some valuable (if sad) insights.

  6. I can’t in good conscience honestly say that at least part of me wouldn’t like to lose weight still, but I don’t diet because it doesn’t work and actually makes me gain weight instead.

  7. I was forutnate — I never had the “willpower” to diet, and I’m too cheap to pay out money for a diet plan so I’ve spent precious little time on diets.

    I don’t diet — so many reasons. I enjoy food and eat a lot and don’t want to give that up. (To people who say “nothing tastes as good as thin feels” I want to say Really??? Have you ever had a slice of cheesecake???) I feel strong and healthy and am turning into an avid cyclist — longest ride this year was 43 miles. All my numbers are good. I don’t diet because I get crabby when I’m hungry. Because I’d rather be strong than skinny. Because I know that some days all I’ll crave is fruit and veggies and other days I’ll want plates of pasta as big as my head and that maybe my body needs both and I’ll go with what it wants.

    And mostly, I don’t diet because I don’t need a full-time job counting calories. And it’s dang near impossible to count calories if you eat real food. If I pop open a can of soup, I have a calorie count. If I make a big pot of beef and bean soup with homemade broth and lots of carrots, onions and celery … figuring out the calories is slightly less complex than the Normandy invasion. I’d rather eat real food than know if I’m adhering to some arbitrary calorie count.

  8. I think I may have said something wrong the 1st time I tried to post. Apologies if what I said was inappropriate or triggering.

    So I m going to distill it down to the biggest reason: I have better things to do than take on a part-time job of monitoring every morsel I eat.

    That and every time I’ve focused on weight as the outcome instead of health, it’s been tremendously discouraging and has messed with my head and thrown my eating habits seriously out of whack.

    • No worries. Our blog is set such that all comments are moderated, and it can sometimes take a few hours (or even a day or so) for them to be approved.

  9. Pingback: Why I Don’t Diet « Fat Heffalump

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