The 6 Reasons Why I Gave Dieting the Boot
Back in my twenties, I was a hardcore dieter. It all started when I was 12 and my mum took me to a dietitian, to get rid of my expanding hormonal pudginess.
I thrived on a depriving schedule made of “healthy” meals, and “cheat” meals; I couldn’t believe people chose to eat whenever they felt hungry or when it was the right time when they could rely on an organised plan.
All the excitement faded away pretty soon, and I found myself battling with disordered eating behaviors for years after that. I moved from restriction to binging, while testing and swearing by every new diet I came across. I used to buy tons of magazines, believing in the made-up meal plans of skinny models; a “good” eating day would make me feel elated, whereas a “bad” eating day would send me down in the dump.
It took me a long time to face the fact that I wasn’t failing; dieting was failing me.
I was miserable, hungry and bloated, I was on high alert every time I got invited out for dinner, and I was wasting an imaginable amount of time counting calories, steps, and going over and over what I ate in a day. I had to carry a constant, useless, rotten feeling of not being good enough. I was detaching myself from my body with every diet I believed in, and with every meal I deprived myself of enjoying.
Breaking up with dieting wasn’t easy; we are constantly bombarded with diety messages, and it socially acceptable to spend an entire conversation commenting on someone’s body or putting ourselves down for what we eat. I knew I had to reprogram my brain and create new neuropathways, and it took me lots of convincing before I decided to take the first timid step.
If you are wondering why you should break up from dieting, let me tell you why I did it and how I got out from it:
Tracking devices made me mental
I relied on Myfitnesspal and the Fitbit as if they were a religion; if Myfitnesspal told me I still had 300 calories to eat and I was already tucked in in bed, I would go to sleep peacefully happy, daydreaming about which kind of foods I wanted to try (and never did) the next day. If the Fitbit told me I had 200 steps left to reach my usual 13000 steps a day, I would start pacing around the living room, instead of sitting down and watch a movie as a normal human being. My moods were dictated by devices that didn’t know anything about my sleep, my menstrual cycles, or how stressful my day was. The day I got frustrated with my tracking devices because there wasn’t a “Breastfeeding” option, was the same day I looked at myself in the mirror and asked my new postpartum face “What the fuck are you doing?” And I press DELETE
I had a daughter
Little people’s brains are like sponges and they absorb every message you put out in the world. If you say “Fluffy” they say Fluffy back; if you don’t eat bread, or if you get nervous when they stuff it into your mouth, they stare at you with a quizzical look. I was bombarded with diety messages when I was a little girl, and they did screw me up. For this reason, I will never deprive my body and my daughter’s body from yummy and fun foods, whenever we feel like it. I tend to cook a lot and buy organic ingredients whenever is possible, but muffins, pasta, pizza, and bread are on our table every week, along with veggies, fats, and proteins.
I hope that my daughter won’t grow up knowing the distinction between good and bad foods, as food has no value.
I was preoccupied with things people don’t worry about
When I used to diet, I would spend way too much time overthinking things people normally don’t. To give you an example, whenever at a sushi train, I was allowed to have only 3 plates with rice, also when starving, or in need of more calories. When I had ice cream or a porridge, I would panic, as the caloric contents of these particular foods can vary dramatically on Myfitnesspal. It was such a boring mind trap that I was dying to get out of.
One night I asked my husband if he ever remembers how many foods he ate in one day, and he quickly replied“What for?”; exactly, what for? I was mesmerised to know there was an option and people had the freedom of thinking different thoughts.
I was anxious
I felt very anxious for a long time (years). I didn’t make the connection between starvation (because that’s what restriction is) and lack of quality sleep, a higher level of stress, muscle spasm, and the inability to sit still. I thought anxiety was part of everyone’s life, and I was healthier than most people out there, as I wasn’t indulging in fattening lattes and loaded burgers. I didn’t make a change until I started believing there was a way out.
I looked like a boy
With my menstrual cycle, I was gifted with two wonderful breasts; they slowly disappeared along with my bum, and my body started to look more and more androgenic. To top it off, my period would disappear for months at end, I had no sex drive and I wanted to sleep all the time, also when my wired brain and grumbling stomach didn’t allow me to. It was insanity.
I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but when I stopped dieting I:
1)Saved an incredible amount of time (no meal or exercise logging anymore)
2) Saved an imaginable amount of brain space (no food thoughts until I’m hungry or when I’m planning dinner)
3) My stress level decreased tenfold
4) I started sleeping much better (when my daughter permits)
5) Started having fun dates with my daughter where we share foods, games, and laughter
6) Enjoy impromptu dinners with my husband
I’m also now surrounded by a like-minded community of women that embrace body positivity and self-love, it doesn’t matter the size of our bodies or the gaps between our thighs.