Wednesday, April 11, 2007

To Diet or Not to Diet?

Just in case you were wondering, the answer is pretty clear: Diets don't work. But then we all know this already, don't we?

Part of my daughter's recovery from anorexia has been to reconnect with her own feelings of hunger and fullness. For a long while she never felt hungry--or at least, she never felt a physical sensation she could identify as hunger. I think she was very hungry underneath the anorexic mind that temporarily took over hers. The most emotional moment of her recovery was the day she called me at work to say, "Mom, I'm hungry!"

I've never been anorexic. But I, too, had to learn to feel hunger again after years of training myself not to. I had to experience the scary feeling of being hungry and reassure myself that I would eat, that I would feed myself--and that I would stop eating when I wasn't hungry anymore.

I grew up dieting and binging. That's what we Jersey girls did in the 1960s and 70s, especially if our mothers lectured here. And while I never unearthed a treasure like this one, I did effectively divorce myself from every feeling having to do with food.

Too bad I couldn't divorce myself from the self-loathing that dieting--and falling off the diet--regularly imposed.

Whichever end of the spectrum you approach it from, dieting looks pretty lame. It's a multi-billion-dollar industry, and that's why it still has street cred, despite the crummy statistics around its efficacy--only 2% of dieters keep their weight off, according to the UCLA researchers.

I feel the same about dieting as I do about using illegal drugs: I sure wish I hadn't done that when I was young and naive and ill-informed.

So those of you who might be on the fence about it: Just say no.


Carrie Arnold said...


I swear I didn't read your post before writing mine. I swear! But it's always nice to have some agreement on this matter.

Harriet said...

You said it, Carrie!

Fiona Marcella said...

One difference is that this useless and harmful drug is pedalled by most of the health agencies in the western world. Now wouldn't it be something if they had to include a black-box warning on every can of diet soda.

Harriet said...

I LOVE this idea, Marcella.

And I'm sure it will happen here, right after we get a national health insurance system. ;-)