Does Dieting Keep You From Feasting on Your Life?

A few diet talk scenarios I am wondering about……

I often hear women say that they don't want their children to have the same body issues that they do.  They fully agree that children should not hear diet talk and be made to feel self conscious of their bodies. They want their kids to be confident. And so these mothers don't talk about their diets in front of the kids.

But they continue to diet and they bring the diet talk underground.  I want to hug these mothers and say - you should not be hearing this talk either. Why do you talk to yourself the way you would never talk to your child? You are worthy of loving your body too.  And self confidence doesn't come from being skinny, it's from connecting with your sense of worthiness.  We are all worthy, only some of us have forgotten. 

I often hear women say that they are upset about young women and eating disorders and how does this happen? Again, they want to protect their children.  And yet, these very same women have just finished the latest diet or are about to start one.  How do they think eating disorders start? Somehow eating disorders are troubling but so many people are engaging in the same disordered eating behaviors. They are restricting their food and increasing their movement in order to take weight off their bodies to satisfy an ideal of thinness.  When an anorexic does it, they are in need of intervention, but when we do it we are not? Where do you draw the line?

Psychologist Deb Burgard said it best when she said:

"It’s hypocritical for us to prescribe behavior to fat patients (labeling food good/bad, restricting intake, relying on the number on the scale for feelings of success) which we would diagnose as eating disordered in thin patients."  (Deb Burgard -

I have also heard parents say, "yes diet talk is harmful, and yet we need to talk about healthy eating so our kids know what to do".  I hate to tell you, but this is often the same thing as diet talk - just in disguise.

Ellyn Satter, RD says :

"There is absolutely no evidence to back up the idea that eating the "right" food and avoiding the "wrong" food will prevent child overweight. In fact, evidence shows that children who are restricted in that fashion eat more, not less. Teenagers who strive for weight reduction by eating the “right” food and avoiding the “wrong” food get heavier, not thinner."

(Satter, Ellyn. Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook (p. 73). Kelcy Press. Kindle Edition. )

I bring these diet talk scenarios up to raise awareness.

Why treat yourself the way you would never treat your children?  You deserve as much love and compassion as they do.

Where do you think eating disorders come from when we are all putting pressure on ourselves to be thinner. How does this not affect everyone?

Why talk about healthy eating? How about just talking about eating? What makes a meal satisfying and delicious?  What foods make your body feel good? What are your favorite foods? Would you like to help me cook dinner?

I don't know about you but these are some of the things that keep me up at night.  So what can we do?

We can stop dieting and learn about intuitive eating and body trust. We can stop participating in diet talk. We can develop compassion for ourselves. We can recognize and address our fat bias, towards others or ourselves. We can face our fears around fat and health and let them go. We can study the research that the diet industry doesn't want us to know because it shows that dieting is ineffective and our health is not based on our weight. We can bring joy and pleasure back into eating and back into our lives. We can reconnect with what really makes us feel good. We can heal our own sense of unworthiness. We can let go of the stress of perfectionism. We can let go of the stress of healthism

A "feast" is defined as dwelling with gratification and delight, or gazing with joy, admiration and relish;  it's also a celebration, or a sumptuous meal.  My wish for everyone is that they stop dieting so they can start feasting on their lives as expressed beautifully by this poem: 

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome, 
and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 
the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 

Sit. Feast on your life. 

Derek Walcott

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash