Today is International No Diet Day.
I have been working a lot on coming to terms with my weight and on eating in way that isnt weird and disordered. I am doing this because I believe that dieting has been bad for my mental health and perhaps for my physical health as well although perhaps less so for me than for other people. I actually stopped going on formal diets about five years ago after yet another failure with Weight Watchers. I generally found that I just dont like regimented eating (counting calories, or points, or whatever). But I still had some aspects of disordered eating. I catagorized foods into "good" and "bad" and often felt extreme guilt over eating bad foods.
I also hated my body with a loathing I have never felt for another person on this earth. I often had a hard time looking in the mirror. I am prone to seasonal depression anyways but my hatred of my body and the powerlessness I felt about it seemed to make my seasonal depression much worse. I needed medications just to function.
And then I started reading a lot of writing. Things written by some of the most amazing people in the world. People who write over and over and over that being fat is ok. Being fat isnt a death sentence. Being fat doesnt mean a person is unlovable. Being fat isnt immoral. People who write about how poorly fat people are treated in my culture which allowed me to finally stop internalizing all those messages.
I started to feel a lot better about myself but I didnt do anything to stop my disordered eating. My denying myself of "bad" foods until I was so miserable that I just didnt care anymore so I would overeat those forbidden foods. Finally, I came across a book about eating disorders called The Diet Survivors Handbook. It was just one of those books I picked up in the free book room at work and I almost didnt pick it up because the word "Diet" was in the title and I was pretty clear that I didnt want to go on a diet. What I found in this book though was some pretty practical advice about how to unlearn a lot of bad eating habits. It contains some very practical steps to learn to eat intuitively and to stop overeating.
Have I stopped overeating? Probably not but even in the last few months, I have been kind of amazed at my progress. There have been little milestones. Take today for instance. I decided to take my dogs on a walk to a park which is a little farther than we usually go. I thought I might like to stop at the ice cream store on my way back so I took a couple of bucks and put it in my pocket. My dogs and I walked all over and then on the way home I realized as we were passing the ice cream store that I wasnt hungry and really wasnt in the mood for ice cream. I was able to do this because I know that ice cream store will still be there later on and if I feel like getting some I can always go back. I know that if I do decide to go out later for ice cream, even if I drive the two blocks to the place, I wont feel guilty or bad about having ice cream.
I know that seems like a silly thing to a lot of people. But trust me, in the past, had I given myself permission to have ice cream, I would have gone into that store and had ice cream whether I wanted it or NOT! Because if I had skipped it, I might not have given myself permission later on especially if I had rewarded myself for my self control over avoiding the ice cream. Walking by the ice cream store today was NOT an exercise in self control. I simply chose not to eat something because I didnt want to eat it.
Anyways, like I said, I have a long way to go. I still dont completely love by body. I still have weird food issues sometimes. But I know that I wont be on a diet today or any day.
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