In this week’s All Fired Up! podcast I spoke with Katie Rowell, who shared her harrowing story of being sucked into dieting in a big way – firstly through a supposedly “#norestrictions” online lifestyle program (which turned out to be the most restrictive starvation diet she’d ever been on), and then, into the dark world of Juice Plus and multi-level marketing. Before she knew it, Katie’s eating disorder was back in a big way, and far from trying to support her in recovery, the #Fitspo Juice Plus crowd just told her that the eating disorder was a ‘bullsh*t story” she was telling herself. And then tried to pressure her into selling more of their crappy products.
Katie knew something was ‘off’ about the whole thing, but the seduction and pressure from this group of people really got in the way of her ability to hear her inner wisdom. Luckily, she stumbled across some anti-diet podcasts (including our very own All Fired Up!). Listening to these enabled her to realise that she was stuck in a trap, and once she could see that, she found the courage to push back against the Juice Plus cult. Pretty soon after that, she was able to stop her restrictive dieting and to recover from her eating disorder relapse.
Katie’s story got me thinking about how people find the courage and strength to stop pursuing dieting. We’re all so pressured to live in diet culture and conditioned to obey its rules, no matter the cost. So how do people find the will to get out? How do people find the courage to get out of the diet trap – especially if they don’t realise they’re even IN a trap in the first place?
I asked some of our UNTRAPPED Masterclass members to tell me how they made the decision to stop dieting and embrace the non-diet way of life. One of the main stand-outs was this: everyone had their own unique path. There is no ‘straight-line’ out of diet culture. But in general, a theme was that a lot of people just felt tired of the yo-yo of dieting; the constant merry go round of weight loss, regain, and then some. People felt like they had hit ‘diet rock bottom’, and simply couldn’t go on another one.
But feeling ‘done’ with diets wasn’t the only factor. People also had to see the harm that had been done to them. Some people talked about how their dieting had led them to eating disorders. One woman said that it wasn’t until she went out to dinner with friends and burst into tears at the table because there wasn’t anything on the menu that she ‘could eat’, that she realised that her diet had spiraled into a full-blown obsession.
Other women spoke about the impact of having children. Many mums said that they realised that their own body battles were not something they wanted to pass onto their daughters, that they didn’t want their destructive relationships with food being mirrored by their kids.
There are some interesting stories in this article where people are talking about why they stopped dieting. Seeing that dieting is actually doing you HARM is incredibly important. In diet culture, hardly anyone talks about how damaging dieting and weight loss pursuit can be, and so it’s very easy to gloss over it. But let’s stop glossing, let’s stop pretending that the next diet will ‘work.’ Let’s focus instead on the damage that dieting and diet mindset has done to you. And let’s agree to stop the harm!
Think about it: what kind of harm has been done to you because of dieting? What has been the cost of dieting for you?
If you were in a relationship with someone who was doing you harm, you would hopefully find the courage to end this relationship. It is my hope for the world that we end this destructive and toxic relationship with weight loss dieting, and to collectively say:
“Dear dieting, it’s not me, it’s you. I think we should break up!”
This can be a very scary thing to say, but it can also be immensely liberating and powerful. Once we locate the problem in the dieting – rather than within ourselves – we start to take our own side, to support ourselves, rather than being in a constant war with our bodies.
Some relationships are just toxic and hold us back from living a full and happy life. It’s ok to walk away from dieting. Like Katie did, you can go after the kind of relationship with food, movement, and your body that you’ve always dreamed of: accepting, nourishing, and fulfilled.