I'm Taking It Back....Way Back!
I’m taking back the word DIET.
Seriously. I’m kinda over it being a vilified word. OK, not kinda. I’m OVER IT!
I’m over the eye rolls when I say I’m a DIETitian that helps people lose weight.
I’m over the fear and anxiety of telling people I used to work for a weight loss company in the (gasp!) DIET industry. I mean, you wanna talk about judgement. I’m pretty sure, in that moment, their mind paints a vivid picture of me dressed in bright red, surrounded by flames, as I walk through the Gates of Hell to sit next to the Devil himself.
I’m over all the lines drawn in the sand. The Intuitive Eating world says you absolutely CAN’T desire weight loss and eat intuitively. Line drawn. I respect that world and the important work they are doing immensely, but I can’t get down with absolutes.
For the past few months, I felt like I had to choose a side as I navigate starting a business and it was causing me such confusion and anxiety. In fact, it left me stuck. Then I realized, I’m not being true to myself and my beliefs. I fell victim to Imposter Syndrome. And that’s a place no one can serve from and live (including myself).
So, let’s talk about what the ACTUAL definition of the word “diet” means. It originated in the 13th century and is defined as “food and drink regularly provided or consumed” OR “habitual nourishment”. No indication here that it’s a dirty word. Then I think of the Mediterranean Diet, proven to be one of the healthiest diets (habitual nourishment) patterns. No one (that I’m aware of) ever thinks “diet” is a bad word in the context of the Mediterranean Diet.
And let’s get into the popular statement that “95% of diets don’t work”. As a blanket statement, it suggests that long term weight loss success is near impossible and failure is imminent. Even worse, that professionals (ahem, this girl) helping people lose weight are causing more harm than good. But what about the countless individuals outside of research studies who have lost weight and kept it off? Should we have told them “Ehhh don’t even try it”? What about the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) that has over 10,000 members who have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years? I’d call that a success.
What we do know is that weight loss efforts combined with a behavioral component and overall lifestyle change is the most successful for long term weight maintenance.
What we do know, is that it really comes down to the overall level of motivation to put in the hard work and make a lifestyle change. When you think of it, that goes for any type of life or sports coaching.
So, what if the real enemy is those that are promoting super restrictive diets that cause people misery and aren’t realistic? What if it’s those “diets” that are failing people and not the ones that are inclusive of all foods, teach behavior change and conscious eating, and aren’t focused on an unrealistic number on the scale? What if it’s every celebrity (Yo, Gwyneth) or every non-professional (BTW I don’t just mean anyone who isn’t a dietitian) who is selling a quick fix, a cleanse, or a pill that should be to blame?
What if it’s NOT the ENTIRE weight loss industry that is the villain? In fact, being a previous insider, I can tell you that the main goal was not a vanity play, it was to help people get healthier and reclaim their lives. It was about having energy to play with their kids, it was about being healthier, and it was about just feeling more confident. And guess what? It had a behavioral component and coaching. And guess what what? The most successful individuals and countless stories of longer term success came from those that took advantage of those resources.
Ok, so these companies make money, lots of money. But, let’s be honest here, those against the diet industry are also making money, lots of money. They are marketing to individuals who want to lose weight but haven’t yet found success. They too are making promises. But let’s ask the question, are all their customers successful? Ehhh, probably not. If I had to guess, the most successful are those that are motivated to do the hard work and make lifestyle changes for the long term. Sounds kinda familiar.
And listen. I want to be clear, I’m ALL for the body positivity movement.
I’m all for removing the blame and shame of those who don’t want to lose weight or be a certain size that society says they should.
I’m all for people being treated equally, no matter what their body size.
I’m all for people choosing to heal their relationship with food and not restricting for a quick fix.
I’m all for people choosing to adapt a healthier lifestyle regardless of their size.
I’m all for people choosing to lose weight so that they feel healthier and more confident.
I’m all for people having choice over their body.
That’s what body positivity means to me.