Why diets are so tempting, despite not working
Oh Christmas feasting - glorious glorious Christmas feasting - what a wonderful thing it is. To eat for pleasure, to eat past the point of fullness just because there are three dessert options and yes, you will try all three thank you. What joy!
Food isn’t just nourishment, whatever wellness bloggers say, it is one of life’s greatest pleasures and for a couple of weeks in December we are allowed to GO for it with full - un-do the top button - pass the cheese please, gusto.
Then around the 29th December, this happens. Oh dear, I can see January coming round the corner. She seems to be accompanied with several C-list celebrities touting weight loss DVDs, every single magazine containing the latest ‘healthy lifestyle’ regime and diet clubs waving giant before and after photos from people who have apparently ‘won at dieting’.
All those comments, wherever you’re getting them, tend to boil down to this message:
‘I used to be fat and miserable till I tried X. I lost weight and now I’m happier than I’ve ever been before - and life is awesome and all my problems are solved.’
I’ve been on this journey to rid myself of diet-mentality and destroy diet culture for a long time now. I’ve been surrounding myself with incredible self-loving babes, telling myself that my thighs (dimples and all) are worthy of love and generally working hard to clear the slime (this is what I call negative self-talk) that has built up over the years about my weight and self-esteem issues.
But this period after Christmas and into the beginning of Jan can still be triggering as fuck for me, as it can for lots of people.
Even if you know that diets don’t work <link>, that you’re actually much better off NOT going on a diet (and in fact you’re likely to be thinner in the long run by staying the hell away) these messages can still get you.
The reason for this is because the shitty reality is that life IS easier if you’re thin.
But that doesn't mean we all should be!
We live in a hugely weight bias world. We have ONE image of beauty and that includes collar bones. Fat phobia is real and you’re even less likely to be diagnosed correctly should you get ill if you’re in a bigger body. So if someone is trying to sell you a magic pill with an great looking after photo, it’s going to be fucking TEMPTING to want to believe that you can also change your body to be whatever ideal it is you have in your mind.
I remember clearly wishing and hoping so hard that whatever plan it was that I was embarking on would be THE solution to all my woes (which meant my bum and thigh size). I would day dream about reaching my goal weight so that I could frolic around in a bikini with a massive smile on my face because all my problems would have disappeared. Oh life would be sorted if only I could reach 9 stone 12! (This was the lowest point on the Weight Watchers scale I could get down to, which now I have my eyes open is FUCKING LOW, I would look ill at this weight).
Our brains LOVE an easy solution. So I understand 100% that it can feel easier to go on the latest diet to try and get your body to conform to society than learn to accept the body you have, the genetics you were born with and the reality that it is incredibly difficult to change your shape and stay that way. I sometimes feel like the destroyer of dreams when I work with my clients, but what it really means is that we need to change society, not our bodies!
This is why giving up dieting is so much more than just loving the skin you’re in. It’s about social inclusion and dismantling the beauty industry to make space for the vast array of shapes and sizes which occur naturally! (More on that another time.)
If that all feels a little overwhelming then it can be more simply put. Happiness has never, ever been found through self-hate.
Diets are the cruelest thing you can do to yourself. They hammer a consistent message that you’re not good enough and that it’s easy to change your body if you just stick to the rules.
You are NOT a body-posi failure if you find yourself looking to diets for a way to love your body.
These ‘new year, new you’ messages arrive when we are at our most sluggish - after all, those Quality Streets weren’t going to eat themselves! Think about it, if they arrived in the same way at the end of summer when we’d all been enjoying sunshine, salad and more than your average amounts of water, they wouldn’t have half the impact. But no, they arrive at the end of our greatest period of feasting. Our bellies are round, our skin perhaps showing the effects of one too many vinos and exercise has mainly consisted of popping from one party to another with an additional gentle stroll if we’re lucky.
The diet industry is clever AF. They know exactly how to get into our heads and into our wallets.
When the beauty industry tells us we ‘should’ look a certain way (which we don’t), it makes us feel shit about ourselves then ‘ta da!’ diets swoop in and tell us that if you only do X,Y and Z than you CAN achieve happiness in your perfect body. It’s a powerful messaging loop.
Hear me though bae, diets do not work. They don't work for loads of reasons but think about it...
Diets have been around for decades. If they worked then we would all be thin and the diet industry would be bust. Instead, the industry is growing and few people ever manage to sustain their weight loss. It is a MYTH that they work. If there was a medicine that failed 90% of the time, it would never be prescribed, yet diets are prescribed again and again. It’s total BS.
There is no 'one size fits all' set of rules that will permanently change your body to look like the girls in the magazines.
Anyone who tells you that they have a quick, easy way to lose weight is selling you lies, pure and simple. Run away. Quickly.
Losing weight won’t fix your thoughts or make you happy.
Yes, society will treat you better (again, fuck you society) but it won’t fix your negative thoughts about your worth.
How many thin people who meet the beauty standard do you know who are still bitching about their invisible body problem areas? LOADS right!
What we need to do is say fuck you to beauty standards, diet plans and false dreams.
Then have on repeat that your worth is not measured by your waist size. The science that says weight is a predeterminer for health as been debunked. There are many ways to feel your shiniest, most well version of yourself and they all have nothing to do with weight.
I know that it’s hard to believe but the only way to love your body is to create healthful practices that suit you and your body. We need to rid ourselves that weight loss will equal happiness. Healthful practices include eating in a way that feels right for you, finding movement which you enjoy and throwing away the scales for other markers of health. When you’ve found what feels right for you, this might mean you lose weight but you might not, and it doesn’t matter!
When all around you people are restricting, weighing. Measuring and waxing lyrical about their latest amazing detox (another con fyi), it is revolutionary to stay in your lane and take the slower, harder, body acceptance approach.
This is why I judge no one who's tempted by dieting propaganda. I just hope you will realise it’s not the way to self love and happiness.
There’s space on my 1:1 coaching programme where I will help you steer through this season with grace and ease. Through learning to eat intuitively, changing your mindset and following what lights you up, it’s entirely possible never to diet again.