Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fuck Dieting. Seriously.

Some fantastic leaflets were handed out at the Calgary Anarchist Book Fair this weekend. One of them was an excerpt from (one of the greatest publications EVER! R.I.P.) Sassy Magazine, circa 1994. The excerpt is from an article entitled, "Thirteen Reasons Not To Diet". It reads,

Starving yourself is complete and total lunacy. Stop it this instant.

I felt it would be nice to post a few of my favorite reasons not to diet from the article. Affirmation that dieting is usually pointless and somewhat degrading is always a great way to empower ones' self against the industry-perpetuated illusion that every one of us should have flawless bodies which, if it were possible, would be terribly unexciting.

Here are my favorites:

Dieting slows down your metabolism. Your body has a weight it inherently wants to be, and your metabolism - the speed and efficiency with which it burns calories for fuel - constantly adjusts to keep you weighing just that much. Eat more, your metabolism speeds up and burns extra calories to compensate; eat less, it slows down. When you buck biology to try to get below your natural weight, your system fights to keep every pound. Your metabolism becomes so sluggish that it's hell to lose an ounce. Basically, your body is reacting to being starved. It wants you to live, dammit! It is on your side!

It makes you boring. As anyone who has had a conversation with a fan club president knows, when you talk endlessly about the object of your obsession, it is tiresome to the listener. Calories, fatgrams and grapefruit are not innately interesting subjects. Get away from me.

You'll gain it back. Ninety percent of all dieters who lose 25 pounds or more on a diet revert to their old weight in two years. Which again indicates that the fault is with dieting, not you.

You're always hungry. It's a myth that fat people eat more than thin people. Nineteen out of 20 studies indicate that obese folks eat the same number of calories as their thin counterparts. To lose weight, you'd have to eat tons less than thin people. To keep it off, you'd have to do this forever. And then you'd be cranky. Having a constant gnawing in your gut and hallucinations about pork rinds is not a merry thing.

You feed the evil diet industry.
Which is practically unregulated. Diet programs have no legal obligation to provide evidence that they work - convenient, since they usually don't. These companies rely on return customers who believe regaining the weight is their own damn fault. But why, I ask you, do we blame ourselves, never the diet? When you buy sneakers from a catalog and they're shoddy and have glue globs on the rubber, you don't berate yourself. You get pissed off at the company! Besides, not only are diet foods ineffective (how will tasty shakes for breakfast and lunch teach you to eat normally?), but most ooze sodium and are chemically processed to within an inch of their lives.

I found the article pretty entertaining, but in reading it, I also felt strong and reminded of how important it is to stay educated about what goes into my body. Since we women - and often men, too - are so preyed upon by the diet industry at large, it's good to come across little reminders like this one that we are fully capable of fighting the norm and loving ourselves, no matter how much we eat.

Why feed the industry instead of feeding yourself? How does it deserve any more attention than your body deserves from you? It's not easy for many of us to convince ourselves that we do deserve to be fed but, truthfully, it's a matter of common sense. Many nutritional experts will tell you that a healthy body equates with a healthy mind, so if you want to exercise your mind and be able to put it to good use, you're going to have to give it some fuel.

Thanks to the folks at (the now defunct) Sassy magazine for the article and to the Food Not Bombs Calgary cats for having this leaflet on hand at the book fair.

I hope several of you were able to make it to at least one of the book fair events this weekend. If not, be sure to keep your ears and eyes open for next year.

1 comment:

  1. Ahh, yes... the struggle between women and diets. I really appreciate the emphasis on slowing down your metabolism. It's funny how people are so consumed with the idea that eating less equals weight-loss. When you think about it, it's so much more complicated than that but in a good way, of course. You're body knows what it wants to do!

    Eating healthy and giving your body all the nutrients it needs to burn off the excess is likely to produce greater results, weight-wise. No diet industry marketeers should ever be able to tell us anything different.