I remember being about 7 or 8 years old and watching my mom try and squeeze herself into some jeans. She did wrestle herself into them, did some squats to loosen them up, and was ready to go. She looked in the mirror and said, “my hips are just so wide.” I looked at myself, confused because I didn’t have hips. I didn’t understand. I spent my childhood and now adulthood watching my mom go on and off diets. I remember her stint with the Atkins diet. We ate bowls of ground beef for dinner for what felt like months.
In my early 20’s I saw the same patterns take over. I was constantly trying new diets. Each new diet came with the promise of finally making me thin. Each diet consumed me. I would spend hours planning what I would be eating. What I could and couldn’t eat. When was the next time I could eat? What were others eating? It never stopped.
My body changed after having my daughter. My hips were wider, and the weight just did not want to come off. My body was stuck in a place where it was comfortable. But I was determined to beat it. I went into hyperfocus. How can I lose this weight? It was through this search that I came across intuitive eating. It was through this search that my life changed. This is what happened when I gave up diets once and for all.
I gained weight. I won’t sugarcoat it. I gained weight, but eventually, my body reached a weight that it was comfortable maintaining. The weight gain was hard at first. Everything I have ever known growing up has been based around dieting. It has been based around the idea that I must continue to shrink my body. I still have days where I’m hard on myself about the way my body looks. But for the most part, I have grown to love and accept the body I am in.
The second thing that happened when I gave up dieting was that I became free. I was free from diet culture. I was free from the never-ending thoughts about food. I didn’t realize how much dieting was consuming my thoughts until I gave it up. I spent so much time tracking my meals, reading about new diets, scrolling through websites, and seeing what others were doing to lose weight. I hardly think about food these days. If I’m hungry, I’ll eat. I listen to what my body wants, and I give my body what it asks for. I no longer feel weak and tired from being hungry. I feel free.
What has your experience been with diet culture? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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