Below is a journaling activity we complete in Beat the Binge. I challenge you to write your own letter to your diet(s) and see what comes up.
Dear Weight Watchers,
You were my first introduction into the dieting world. At only 12 years old, I was introduced to you SO YOUNG. Perhaps probably most messed up of all, was the fact that I didn’t even join you because I wanted to lose weight, but because I wanted to be “in the club.” I wanted to be part of this adult world and feel included with my mom when she went to meetings. I wanted to “weigh-in” with others and feel like I belonged. However, the fun was over when I began having to take tuna fish sandwiches to school and watch my other friends eating their normal lunches. You set me up for my first experience binge eating when every week we would “celebrate” weigh-in day by going out to eat afterwards. Because I knew I would be faced with another week of tuna fish sandwiches, I would feel compelled to eat as much as possible during these meals. I remember I would leave feeling stuffed, sick and guilty for eating so much. Weight Watchers, you did nothing for my life but make me feel like being on a diet was a mandatory passage into adulthood.
Dear YM Magazine (and others)
This particular issue in this magazine became a “diet bible” for me. It introduced me to over 100 diet tips that became a way of eating for me. In addition, YM Magazine, your publications brainwashed me into believing I would never be loved, never feel like I belong and never find happiness unless my body looked a certain way.
Dear Suzanne Somers,
I found your diet book in a box of yard sale items in a family yard sale. I remember sitting down and reading it from cover to cover. Your weird diet of combining different food pairings had me taking the bread off my sandwiches at school some days and eating only the meat and cheese on others. Dear Ms. Somers, you were my first introduction to “fear foods” many of which I sometimes still feel slight discomfort when eating even today. For nearly 6 years, I avoided white pasta, white bread, potatoes, potato chips, white rice and even carrots, peas and corn.
Dear Food Rules,
I spent the better part of my college years not allowing myself to have an enjoyable meal more than once a week. I usually would “splurge” on breakfast once a week, and the rest of the week I would stick to strictly “healthy” items. In addition, I also only allowed myself to have one dessert a week and three cans of soda a week. My friends marveled at how disciplined I was, but you only provided a false sense of security. For any deviation from you, including going out with friends for pizza, would send my guilt into a downward spiral. I would then feel compelled to run miles and miles afterward. I missed out on so much of the college experience because of you.
Dear Calorie King
I can’t even remember where I found your book, but I remember it was my first introduction into counting calories. After discovering your book I could no longer go out to eat without first methodically looking up each meal and item of food in the book to see if it “fit” into my daily calorie intake. Mr. Calorie King you sucked all the fun out of dining out and taught me an entirely new approach to obsessively controlling my food.
Dear Weird Hot Dog Diet,
My coworkers first introduced me to you and I thought you sounded silly, but then I witnessed them losing weight. It sounded disgusting that I was to subsist on hotdogs, tuna fish, bananas, eggs and other weird items. But I gave you a try anyway. Dear Weird Hot Dog Diet you did nothing but make me hate feeding myself for a total of about 2 weeks. I definitely did not look forward to meal time during this 2 weeks, but maybe that was the point.
Dear MyFitness Pal,
When I first discovered you, I thought you were the greatest thing to have happened in my “health” journey. When I first computed my goals into your system, you told me I needed to eat 1100 calories a day to reach them. I began eating this amount calories and did in fact lose a considerable amount of weight. However, I also lost energy, became hyper focused on food because my body was actually slowly starving. Over time, my body adjusted to this low calorie intake and began to actually start gaining weight, despite the low calorie intake. I became more and more focused on you and more and more depressed and confused that I didn’t understand why you were no longer working. Over time, this low calorie intake caused many other physiological responses in my body, including depression, loss of my cycle and even hair loss. Dear MyFitness Pal, I understand you are useful for some, but for me you’re just another diet that causes me to feel crazy around food.
Dear “Clean Eating”
Once again I was fooled into thinking this was THEY way to be eating and the epitomy of health. Your philosophy of avoiding all foods that were processed and not naturally from the Earth were somehow evil to my body. You convinced me that foods such as chocolate, cheese and even cereal should be avoided. I believe you masquerade as healthy, but you’re actually just another diet. You imply restriction and define the moral code of “good” and “bad” foods.
Dear Intermittent Fasting,
You almost had me again. After reading some “research” that seemed to indicate you might, indeed, be the solution to weight loss I believed that maybe I should give you a try. In order to make you work it meant giving up my favorite meal of the day, breakfast. I would spend the better half of the morning tired and lethargic because I had no energy from not eating anything. After the designated window of eating time opened, I would be so starved that I would sometimes overeat at lunchtime, which would leave me feeling stuffed, sick and leave my stomach upset for the rest of the day.
You came into my life during a time when I was really trying to work on not dieting. However, after witnessing and overhearing my coworkers having success from following your plan, I almost decided to try you, too. I felt more and more confused about your way of eating because how could vegetables ever be considered “bad” for you. But on your plan I was only “allowed” so many ounces of vegetables on meals. On another note, I was to exist on literally no carbohydrates, an important source of energy for any human body to live on. I hated how I was having to focus on every meal and it seemed like I was having to relearn how to eat, when eating should be a natural thing.
Dear MyFitness Pal,
You continued to lurk in the background during my visits with the diets in between. I have spent years having an affair with you from the other diets. When I was engaging in another diet, you were always there in the background, whispering to me and telling me lies like, You know I worked before, I can work again. You know you’ve been eating more than 1200 calories on some days. You know this is the REAL reason you haven’t lost weight. You know if you just would focus on every little item and put it into the plan it would work. MyFitnessPal, I finally decided to get rid of you once and for all and delete you from my phone. You bring me nothing but constant reminders of a time that I have moved away from now because I’m doing something different.
Dear Diets, All of You,
You have been there overshadowing some of the most important moments in my life. No matter how happy of occasion or amazing it should’ve been, you’ve been there to partly ruin it. Dear Diets you suck. And you do nothing but suck the joy out of my life. No. More.
What would you say to your diet(s)?
If this type of post resonates with you, then I invite you to check out my online courses Break the Mold: Building Body Positivity or Beat the Binge. Today is the LAST DAY you can register for the live version for Beat the Binge in 2017. The next live version will not be offered again until next summer.