I’ve got some bad news (and it breaks my heart to have to be the one to tell you this).
You’ve been lied to, deceived and used.
And I know how much this sucks, because so have I.
Hearing this might bring up some emotions in you (I know it did for me) and you might not want to hear this… but you deserve to know the truth. So, here goes.
This is Diana. And Diana is a filthy f***ing liar.
You might not think you know her, but you do… because, you see, Diana is The Diet Industry.
Diana is every headless before/after shot of a woman’s body. She’s every “hey, take these pills and watch the pounds melt away!” sales pitch. She’s every pair of Spanx, every diet shake, every meal replacement bar, every magazine headline that tells you what’s ‘wrong’ with your body.
Diana lies indiscriminately to every woman that she comes across. In fact, she’s a pathological liar.
Why? Because Diana only makes a profit when women feel bad about their bodies.
If she were to tell women the truth, they’d stop buying her shit, stop feeling bad about themselves and stop depending on her.
Diana has nothing of value to offer… but she needs you to be dependent on her.
I was dependent on Diana, too. I thought Diana was there to look out for me, help me “better” myself and create me into the woman that I always thought I ‘should’ be.
But when I discovered Diana’s lies… I had to end it. I had to help other women end it with Diana, too.
The lies you’ve been sold by Diana (the diet industry):
LIE #1. “Dieting is an effective way to lose weight!”
Wrong. In fact, 95% of diets will fail to help participants lose weight at all. And the 5% that do “work”? They’re only proven to work (a.k.a keep the weight off) for a max of 4 years. At that point, most people have regained all of the weight plus more.
LIE #2. “Dieting is easy! Anyone can do it!”
Wrong. Starving yourself, shitting your pants 20x a day on weight loss laxatives… not fun. Yes, anyone is physically capable of restricting themselves, but most bodies are resistant to losing weight. That makes people feel like they’re failing the diet… when in reality, the diet is failing them (and failing to acknowledge their needs).
LIE #3. “Dieting is an effective solution!”
Wrong. Because diets don’t work and instil a sense of failure, deeper insecurity and dependency… most dieters will keep going back to the diets. More money, time, energy and sanity down the drain… time and time again.
LIE #4. “Dieting will make you healthier!”
Wrong. Smaller bodies aren’t inherently healthier bodies. Dieting fails to take into account your unique background of genetics, environment, lifestyle and previous experiences. In fact, in many cases, dieting is one of the worst things that you can do for your health (impacts include increasing your body’s set point weight (a.k.a gaining weight), reducing your capacity for memory, increasing blood pressure, increasing your risk of mental illness, lowering bone density)… and that’s just a start.
LIE #5: “Dieting is a great motivator!”
Wrong. Self-deprivation is a freakin’ terrible idea (and doesn’t even work if your goal is long term, sustained weight loss). The restriction mindset that every diet book under the sun tells us to embrace? Yeah… not so scientifically sound if your goal is long term weight loss or health management or generally feeling good. The restriction mindset does however work in letting you lose weight and then almost immediately gain it all back (plus more)… which isn’t likely your goal but yay for diet companies, it means that they’ve just found a lifetime customer!
When you’re fixed to the idea that repeated restriction will help you meet your goals in a healthy way, you’ll just keep coming back to diet companies for more. And when you give food power over you, you’re ultimately only reinforcing emotional connections with food that really don’t have to be there.
LIE #6. “Diets are perfectly sustainable and good for the body!”
Wrong. Diets don’t cater to the body at all. That extensive family history of IBS, that grandpa with Type 2 diabetes, the mother with an incredibly fast metabolism, your cousin who could never gain weight… diet programs don’t know anything about these parts of your body’s genetic makeup.
Nor do they know about the first time you tried to diet on school camp in Grade 6, the time you made yourself throw up at work because you were so stressed, the emotional damage of your first crush ridiculing your body that still stays with you or every time you binge-eat a whole bag of cookies at 1am while you watch Game of Thrones.
In short, they don’t know you. And sure, they can make sweeping generalisations drawing on some of the similarities that all bodies have (that we require energy to live, that we’re largely made of water, that we’re held together by skin and bones and organs and tissue), but when it comes to your health, you really want to get individual advice.
Just because a high profile nutrition celeb on Instagram eats 1200 calories a day doesn’t mean that the impacts on your body will be identical. And, depending on hormonal activity and exercise levels, your own daily caloric requirements will vary from day to day.
Ever noticed that on some days, you could eat alllll day but on others, you aren’t hungry much at all? Counting calories will lead to you paying attention to the wrong thing – arbitrary numbers – and ignoring the signals that your body is giving you. When you’re able to tap into what your body is telling you, you can tell when you’re hungry/full, why you’re eating and what sort of energy your body needs to consume. When you’re counting calories, you become fixated. You train yourself to go for foods with the lowest calorie count even if their nutrient density also lowers. You teach yourself to actively try and “shortcut” your health and completely discount all the complexities that make your body, yours.
LIE #7. “Diets help you hack your body and retrain your hunger!”
Wrong. Diets aren’t sustainable. Sure, you’ll probably lose weight drinking only lemon water… but what happens when you need to, y’know… consume some energy and eat something?
I’ll tell you what will happen: you’ll be ravenous from so much restriction and you’ll eat much more and much faster than your body actually needs, and you’ll take on this “last meal ever” mentality. And then you’ll gain weight. And then you’ll feel bad. And then you’ll restrict more. And then when that stops working they way you want it too, you’ll try another diet. The vicious cycle continues.
Furthermore, when you try to override your body’s natural eating rhythm by pigeonholing it into 8 small meals a day or 1 large meal, you’re not giving yourself a chance to understand the relationship between your mind and body. Mental hunger and physical hunger work best in harmony with each other.
LIE #8. “A smaller body will make you happier!”
Wrong. And this isn’t to say that thin people are incapable of health or happiness – But, according to every diet ever, you’ll finally be able to start living your life and being healthy when you lose the weight.
Except that life starts now, and that although your decreased mass may result in one metric of increased physical health, you’ve just shot yourself in the foot in terms of mental and emotional health which is now tied up in notions of self-worth being inextricably linked to how much you eat. Uh oh.
There’s a reason why diet plans don’t address the mental components of weight loss:
- Diet writers usually aren’t at all qualified in psychology even a tiny bit; and
- If they did, they’d have to expose the fact that the “tips” they’re giving are incredibly psychologically damaging and doing so would be pretty detrimental to their profit margins (which, by the way, is the entire basis of their business – not your health).
‘The pursuit’ is romanticised around aesthetics.
Have you ever wondered why in diet results commercials, we never hear any actual health metrics about the weight loss participants – like blood pressure or cholesterol or memory or sleep or menstrual cycles?
If they did show those stats… oooh boy, no one would ever diet.
We’re only shown their results, with appearances presented as health – and this appearance is presented as being linked to happiness.
LIE #9. “Diets are easy on the body and help it function!”
Wrong. Let’s talk about your metabolism, which helps regulate how your body uses energy – it’s kind of important to maintaining a healthy weight. Unfortunately the cycle of overeating and restriction that’s synonymous with dieting impacts your metabolism negatively.
The cycle of yo-yo dieting is stressful to your physical, mental, and emotional health. The truth is, dieting is associated with weight gain in the long-term.
Your body, under these cycles, slows down your metabolism as a way to preserve energy. You’re literally putting your body under attack and it’s trying to fend off the attack.
LIE #10. “Diets help you be your best self!”
Wrong. Diets limit your connection to reality. If you’re dieting, it’s damn hard to live in the present – and how can you live in the present when you’re constantly up in your head, counting calories and tracking macros and coming up with excuses to avoid the snack table at the party you’re attending?
This is why it’s so important to cultivate a thriving relationship between mind and body. When you can honour your hunger cues and eat intuitively, you’re able to let go and live in the moment.
But the biggest lie of all:
“Dieting is harmless – individually and culturally!”
Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.
+ 95% of diets will fail to help participants lose weight.
+ Of the 5% of diets that ‘succeed’ in the short term, most of those dieters will go on to regain all the weight plus more within 2-3 years.
+ The average woman will spend 17 years of her life dieting.
+ The average woman will spend $788.91 every year on dieting,diet products and other weight loss “solutions”.
+ Over the ages of 17 (the age which most women start dieting) to 70 years of age, that adds up to over $41,007.22 over a lifetime spent on dieting.
+ 88% of women aged 18-40 report feeling body dissatisfaction every day, ranging from moderate to severe.
+ Almost half of 9-10 year old girls are on a diet right now.
+ 81% of 10 year old girls are more afraid of being fat than they are of dying.
+ The typical adult woman in the western world will make between 4-10 diet attempts every year.
+ The weight loss industry is worth over $64 billion, every single year.
+ There are 108 million people on diets right now in the United States.
+ Celebrities are paid between $500,000 to $3 million per diet that they endorse.
+ 85% of weight loss product consumers are female.
+ 35% of “occasional dieters” progress into pathological dieters.
You see, diet culture is suffocation.
Do you have enough points left? Will it tip you over? How will you compensate?
It’s being blinded to everything outside of size tags, calorie counts and numbers on the scale. Too much. Not enough. Slightly over. Just not enough… but never quite right, ever. No matter what you do. Never good enough.
It’s feeling trapped. You know your captor… but you choose to keep them there. How can something hurt you when it’s meant to make you “better”?
It’s obsession. Fixation. Being buried alive. Every waking moment spent consumed by the weight. Not just the weight of your body (which apparently will always be too much of everything and not enough of nothing) but the crippling emotions that come with it.
B. I. G.
Those three little letters that spell your doom.
Who are you to take up space? With a personality like that, you can’t afford to draw attention to yourself. You’re sick of them staring. You can feel their disgust… or maybe it’s all in your head. You don’t know anymore.
But when you feel their judgement, you hear it in your own voice. When you see someone glance at you, you see it through your own lens of scrutiny.
You’re sure that you can stop at any point. You’re in control, remember? Just a little more to go and then you’ll be done. And you’ll be good enough. And they’ll stop staring and judging and you’ll finally be able to love yourself.
At least just a little, anyway. Little. That’s what you strive to be.
A shrinking illusion, a waif of a woman. Someone who can effortlessly breeze into the changing room of a department store and look wonderful in the smallest sizes straight off the rack. “It’s about health!” you tell them all. And maybe part of it is. And that’s okay.
But somewhere along the way, you’ve crossed your wires. It’s not about what matters anymore. It’s about control. Punishment. Competition. Conformity. Your desire to be loved and admired and respected. And how could you not be finally the worthy recipient of all of those things if you were to inhabit a smaller body?
So you keep trying. Keep pushing on. Keep reducing. And shrinking. And diminishing. And with every new diet book you read… every new food group you eliminate… every moment you feel yourself slipping further into obsession…
You feel yourself slipping too, further away from yourself.
Further away from the you that just wants to be able to eat a meal without thinking about it. The you that wants to be healthy and happy and have goals and dreams that don’t include incrementally reducing numerical rankings of worth. Who are you anymore when you take away the routines, the macro counting, the constant quest for more (or should I say less)?
Who are you; And where were you when you first started believing that you weren’t good enough? Who are you before you weren’t able to breathe… weren’t able to speak… weren’t able to see past the fog…
This is what diet culture feels like.
And this is EXACTLY why diet culture hurts us all. Because a culture that tells women that they’re worth more only when they weigh less has nothing to do with health, and everything to do with obedience.
Isn’t it time you rebelled?
S***… so, what now?
Now that we’re of the insidious, life-overtaking lies of The Diet Industry (a.k.a. Diana)… how do we stop participating in it?
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just flicking off a switch and never dieting again. Especially when we’ve been indoctrinated into a system for most of your life that tells you that women are better, healthier, prettier, sexier, more deserving of love when they’re actively and constantly pursuing being thinner.
I want to stop and ask you something… How would your life change if you could stop dieting?
Take this moment now to stop and think about the above question for a moment… really think.
Because I see you.
I see you pulling and tugging at your skin; turning sideways at every reflective surface to check just how much better you’d look if you could nip, tuck and suck yourself in.
I see the endless diets, the restriction, the feelings of utter, crippling self-loathing.
I see the hopelessness and despair that you feel as you embark on yet another round of Atkins, South Beach, Whole 30 and every other trendy way of labelling utter misery. And then you still don’t feel any better about yourself. And now you’re gaining weight and even further away from where you think you want to be?!
Meanwhile, it feels like everyone else around you has their shit together and you compare yourself to eeeeeveryone.
You’re tired, cranky and so. damn. sick. of it all.
Is this ^ you?
If so, you’re not alone. In fact, 88% of women are with you. Let’s just pause and let that sink in…. Eighty eight freakin’ percent of women are stuck in a perpetual feedback loop of self-loathing, attempted self-modification, misery, a sense of failure… lather, rinse repeat.
That’s no way to thrive. That’s no way to live. Hell, that’s no way to simply exist.
F*** that noise. It’s time for change.
Change can feel messy and complicated and scary, especially if you don’t know where to start. Double-especially if, thanks to dieting, you now have all of these fears and body hangups holding you back from stopping dieting…
- “What if I gain weight? What will that mean for me?”
- “How do I let go of control without feeling out of control?”
- “What will my life be like without the rules that I’ve always believed?”
If you resonate with those fears… that’s okay! That’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Because unlike what diet culture has taught you, I’m here to tell you something:
You are nothing to be ashamed of.
Your body is nothing to be ashamed of.
Your feelings are nothing to be ashamed of.
Your food is nothing to be ashamed of.
Your movement is nothing to be ashamed of.
Your questions and confusions are nothing to be ashamed of.
Shame deserves no place in your self-esteem repertoire.
You (and I, and ALL of us) deserve soooooooooo much better than to spend our lives living under the illusion that we (women) are a commodity to be sold to, ranked on ‘hotness’ and shrunk into self-loathing and submission.
Can you imagine how much better, fuller, richer our lives can be when we stop wasting so much mental energy on counting calories, obsessing over the circumference of our thighs and chasing the ever-lasting mirage of jeans that make us look slimmer?
What if we took that energy and instead used it to pursue our dreams? Love our families harder? Laugh with gusto and not give a flying fuck who sees it? Live our damn lives?
It’s time you ditch the diets, doubt and insecurity (forever)… and instead, dive deep into body peace.
Body peace looks like:
- Feeling totally effortless around eating, moving your body and taking care of yourself
- Knowing how to spot your own bullshit and call yourself out on it
- Confronting your body fears with courage and curiosity, not buckling to them or running from them
And I promise you:
Whoever you are, however long you’ve dieted for, whatever insecurities you may face…
YOU ARE WORTH INVESTING IN.
Invest in yourself, not the $64billion a year diet industry that profits on your misery.
Invest in your happiness and peace, not chasing an illusion of how you “should” be (and who the f*** gets to decide that, anyway?!)
Invest in holistic wellness – mind, body and soul.
You are worth it.