Monday, March 12, 2018

How I Ditched Diet Culture In 10 Difficult Steps

I have gone through a radical change the last 6 months. Most people in my life knew me as a dieter and someone obsessed with weight loss. All that has changed and people have noticed. This post is in response to the many personal inquiries I've gotten about this that I can't take time to answer in depth. I'm happy to answer legitimate questions about this and help educate you, but any health trolling and diet culture crap will be immediately deleted for the good of the planet.

So, here is how I ditched diet culture and stopped hating myself:

1.You Know I'm No Good: Grow up inundated with messages that being fat is bad and unhealthy, dieting is good, and restricting food is praiseworthy. Learn from culture, friends, media and my family that my worth is dependent on the size of my body and that I have an obligation to be aesthetically pleasing to you.

2. I Don't Like the Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me): Spend childhood and adulthood dieting, taking prescription medications, and otherwise trying to turn a bulldog into a dachshund. In the process, wreck my metabolism and weight set-point for life. Continue to restrict broad categories of food and taking speed and other medications that have since been pulled off the market.

3. Doctor, Doctor, Please: Continue to buy into outdated health norms not backed by actual science, and freak out when a doctor suggests gastric bypass surgery. Join a spirituality-based diet program where I engage in severely disordered behavior, like measuring everything I eat for seven fucking years and seeking permission to substitute broccoli for cauliflower for dinner because the store was out of cauliflower. If I was in a small body and did the aforementioned things, someone would have been referring me to a psychologist. But hey, I’m fat and get thin, so my eating disorder will be praised by doctors and friends alike. Pro tip: If a behavior is disordered for small bodies, it’s disordered for larger ones, too.

4. Not a prisoner: Eventually I realize that I would rather be fat than live like a slave. Ditch the “spiritual” diet program, begin to eat like a normal person, and see my weight stabilize where it was before my restriction, because that's what bodies that have repeatedly dieted do.

5. Sweet Potato Pie: I still believe that being fat is bad and unhealthy, so start a ketogenic diet that completely throws my body and mind off the rails. Prick my finger to test ketones in my blood, calculate macros, and fantasize about eating sweet potatoes, all of which made me very bitchy. This was the beginning of the end.

6. My Darkest Days: Start seriously binge eating and binge drinking and doing other destructive things. Call my therapist from summer vacation and when I get back home, she calmly informs me I am going into a partial hospitalization program for my eating disorder: "They can do more with you in 3 months than I could do in two years." I assume my therapist is referring to overeating. Ha ha.

7. They Tried to Make Me Go To Rehab…. : I am admitted to an eating disorder program for 50 hours a week where I am diagnosed with a restrictive eating disorder. I am pissed and fight with every single expert there about how wrong they are about the diagnosis and everything else concerning my care. Several times a week I curse at them and tell them — in spite of all evidence to the contrary — that they are just after my money. I also accusing them of hating me and I routinely bring up their "thin privilege" (I can't believe they still like me, but they do). My therapists at my treatment center spend many hours educating me about the futility and harm of dieting and become used to my requests for peer-reviewed data. My registered dietitian there prescribes two Oreos at every meal, and since I ate all meals at my treatment center, she definitely kept tabs. This intensive treatment changed my life in more ways than I can detail here. My world was turned upside down. Did I mention I was pissed?

8. Superman's Dead: I unfriended or unfollowed anyone who routinely posts on social media about orthorexia, diet culture and disordered eating or exercise. This includes anyone who is a “health coach” for a multi-level marketing scheme or anyone who has ever shared a “sugar shot," “Transformation Tuesday” or “We don’t GAF what you’re eating Wednesday” picture. In the process, fire my fat-phobic physical therapist and get a new one. As part of this, stop having any conversations about others' diets, "life styles," "changes," "clean eating," etc.

Start Seeing the World Through Diamond Eyes:  Instead, I populated my social media feeds with badass men and women who reject diet mentality. I begin to follow people who look like me. I looked at fat bodies in various states of undress until I was no longer disturbed, and eventually found their softness and curves beautiful. Simultaneously, I started reading the works of body-positive activists. I connected with Health At Any Size health care practitioners and read the research they shared with me.

10. Heart of Fire I eat and enjoy all the foods. I have cookies in the cupboard that I can take or leave, because when one has full permission to eat them, they are no big deal. I appreciate the incredible donut shop two blocks away, but go very infrequently. I am grateful to no longer being the mom who couldn’t accept her daughter’s offered bite of ice cream because "Mommy won't eat that" or the person who brings her own food to friends' houses because I can't eat regular food or don't know what they'll be serving (SMH).  I move my body regularly and feed it nourishing, balanced meals because I love it and want to treat it right.