Obesity. The last thing you’d expect to find as a major cause of obesity – is dieting itself. It’s like finding out that abstinence causes alcoholism or exercise makes you fat or marriage makes you happy.
But one of the major causes of obesity – both physically and psychologically, is dieting; extreme dieting and that which is commonly known as yo-yo dieting in particular, which involves starving yourself or pretty much starving yourself until your stomach tries do digest itself in order to keep what’s left of you alive and alternately gorging on excess quantities as a reaction to the preceding period of almost starvation.
One of the main differences between those hate-worthy naturally thin people and fat people is the ‘all or nothing’ mentality. Naturally thin, non-food obsessed happy people, who us fatties or serial dieters believe to be able to eat whatever they want, generally eat a healthy combination of foods depending on what they feel like eating at the time. Ergo they listen to their bodies’ signals. They eat when they are hungry and cannot understand why anyone would want to eat when they weren’t. Not something us sugar craving, carb-loading fatties can even begin to imagine. Finishing eating the cookies whilst there are still some in the packet? – ridiculous concept. If there’s one slice of pizza left – shame to waste it. Thinnies don’t binge eat; they eat until they are satisfied and not a bean/biscuit/bite beyond. They don’t mentally try to compensate for periods of severe abstinence from food with excessive intakes. Nor do they prepare for periods of dieting by binge-eating on enough fodder to keep a small village in Argentinan sustained for a fortnight because as of tomorrow/Monday/1st of January etc the diet proper really begins and this time, oh this time, it will be different. I am going to be thin, even if I die trying. Which if I carry on this way and develop an eating disorder, I stand a proper chance of doing. But I’ll be thin and I’d rather be dead and thin than fat and alive. Sadly, people do think like this.
So the day/week/month before the diet commences, I gorge myself on everything I think I will be unable to eat for the rest of forever, and in excessive quantities, for tomorrow/next week/next year – I diet.
Come tomorrow/next week/1st of January, I might start well. One Weetabix (a food type so tasty it is essential to drown it in milk and inter it in sugar or honey or something to disguise its insipid taste and texture of packing materials) without sugar or honey, because they are not only tasty but calorific, so I will eat my lonesome Weetabix with a drop of skimmed milk. And instead of a tasty milky sugary cappuccino, I will have a black coffee with no or little skimmed milk, even though I don’t like unsweetened coffee. Skimmed milk doesn’t taste of anything and will taste of nothing even more so after last night’s final binge on pepperoni pizza, Haagen Daaz, a family pack of Doritos, a quarter ton of sugared popcorn and several other family sized portions of toxic bullshittery and then that KFC bucket at quarter to midnight, as tomorrow and the official diet is still a massive fifteen minutes away. I throw in enough coca cola to drown a football team because the colonel’s secret recipe sends my taste buds into an orgy of chemical delight and dehydrates my mouth so much that I feel like I’ve eaten the deep fried wings of Big Bird – the monstrous yellow abomination from Sesame Street.
[adsense]It’s the next morning and although I feel like I ate a double-decker bus before I went to sleep, I’m already driven wild by the pains in my stomach commonly associated with a shark bite so that the sight of my ‘naturally’ thin work colleague having a pain au chocolat for breakfast and a coffee with real proper milk that hasn’t been de-fatted is enough to drive me to do something sociopathic like rape her handbag whilst she is out of the room, probably buying a fat coke.
By 11am someone stands next to the steaming photocopier for so long that I’m convinced they are beginning to cook – I swear I can smell bacon. How many calories are there in an accounts clerk anyway? And then old skinny bitch tucks into a slab of John’s birthday cake (that she struggles to finish, even though I could swallow it whole like it was a single M&M and then finish off the rest of the cake using my favorite method of eating – face down whilst no one is looking).
By lunchtime I’m already contemplating suicide. I devour my 8 ounces of fat free yoghurt that has been especially processed to not only remove the fat, but also to reduce any flavour it once had: white liquid with a suggestion of yoghurt anyone? I supplement this with a piece of fruit. No bananas though – too fattening. But all the water I can eat without throwing it back up. By 2.30 I’m berating myself for feeling hungry again (well still actually) having spent the entire morning considering buttering my own forearm. There’s not much difference between me and a ham baguette after all. Minus the cardigans and elasticated trousers, we’re all just sandwich filling to a carnivore.
It’s not all bad though. At 4pm, dieting me is allowed 8 almonds, and a slice of lean ham, followed by a humiliating half a peach. I think about sneaking an extra almond but realise I will only be cheating myself.
By the end of the first day, I climb into bed, still hungry, depressed and start to wonder if the self loathing I’m so full of is fattening.
I join a gym again that I will soon stop attending because I don’t like going to the gym. I never have done. It’s a futile exercise. And much as I like performing repetitions of repetitions of really dull exercises, I don’t enjoy being surrounded by twats with deeper suntans than a mahogany armoire.
A week of this and hoorah, I’ve lost some weight, quite a bit in fact (because I’m starving my body); but I spend the entire day and every night thinking about food, I can hear a packet of Doritos being opened in another part of the building, even with headphones on. I’m jealous of the people around me who seem to be able to eat what they want and remain thin; and I’m depressed. This is the start of an eating disorder. Welcome bulimia. Come in, take a seat and make yourself comfortable.
Only the superhuman, or subhuman can persevere on this regime. And yet for dieters everywhere this is our modus operandi. We starve ourselves but we need to eat and we need to enjoy what we eat. We need freedom of choice. Even nature’s dustbin, the dog, will turn its little wet nose up at food it doesn’t like, unless it is truly starving.
We might stick at our extreme unsatisfying, bulimia producing diet for a while, but eventually, unless we are super/subhuman or unless we die, we will fall off that wagon straight into a bowl of full-fat cheesecake, deep fried and wrapped in bacon. And once we fall, we fall hard. All of a fat sudden we ‘allow’ ourselves all the things we feel we have gone without. The weight we lost returns, plus some more and probably some more because once we start eating badly, we somehow lose the will to do the gym exercises we didn’t enjoy doing anyway. Strange that.
Our embarrassingly slim friend doesn’t binge eat. She has normal eating patterns and will eat what her body tells her to, when she is hungry and stops as soon as she is satisfied. Imagine that fatties!
These so-called friends can leave a half opened chocolate bar on their desks for weeks because they don’t ‘feel like’ chocolate. If I tried to leave an M&M on my desk, it would appear to be doing semaphore and wearing a beacon on its head in my peripheral vision, until I finally succumbed.
The reason I got fat was from dieting. From deprivation. From eating the wrong foods. From eating the wrong quantities. At the wrong times.
I first suffered with eating disorders caused by excessive dieting in the 80s. Back when there was no advice available. It was the dieting dark ages. To lower your weight you under ate or did something even more ridiculous like the Cambridge Diet where you ‘exist’ barely on vitamin-enriched shakes, that were unsatisfying, unfilling and tasted mildly of someone else’s sick. Or you ate slimmers’ meals; half the fat, half the calories, half the size and not half as satisfying as food. I didn’t know how to prepare a healthy meal or even what one was. At school we learned how to make cakes and biscuits. If it didn’t contain animal fat and sugar it wasn’t on the curriculum.
Dieting generally makes us miserable. Extreme diets don’t satisfy us or nourish us. They make us lose weight. Often too quickly. Often very temporarily. Then we stop the diet, because starving makes you hungry, we return to our old ways, but worse and we pile on the lard.
But dieting ‘experts’ tell us to eat low fat, count our calories, chew our food and spit it out, avoid carbs after 5pm, eat protein only, or if we are hungry chew a piece of gum or go for a walk instead. That would be hilarious if I hadn’t tried it. My favourite piece of dieting advice ever is to moisten a baked potato with water rather than using calorie heavy butter or olive oil. Fuck off.
The only way to lose weight properly is to eat properly, allow yourself some freedom and so-called unhealthy foods if that’s what you need to make yourself happy and because you are human and make a promise to yourself to never ‘diet’ again or binge eat. The more healthy food you eat the better, but don’t berate yourself if you eat a deep fried suitcase full of chocolate spread. If you eat two croissants for breakfast, don’t chuck in the towel and have pizza for lunch and takeouts for dinner. And don’t starve yourself for the rest of the day either. Most importantly – eat when you are hungry. You need food to eat and you need to eat to live.
The best diet you can eat is high in vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds and low in McDonalds, animal protein and coca cola.
Never go on a silly diet again and avoid at all costs, the all or nothing mentality.
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