We are a culture of Yo-Yo Dieters.
So many of us try to stick to diets, only to find ourselves bingeing, then restricting even more, then bingeing again, then restricting more, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo. Our eating is all over the place, our weight is all over the place, our sanity is all over the place, and we feel totally out of control with food.
So why does that happen? Why do so many of us seem to have such terrible will-power when it comes to what we put in our mouths?
It comes down to a very fundamental biological mechanism: Your body does not want you to restrict food. At all. In fact, when you restrict even just a small amount, your body responds with more fixation on food, irritability, higher stress hormones, slower metabolism and digestion, less energy, holding onto more weight… and bingeing.
That binge is your body is purposely forcing you off your diet. But because we still assume that our diet is the best thing for us, we turn around and try to restrict even harder, and then we fail even harder.
That’s the Yo Yo.
Here is the thing people never really realize: chronic yo-yo dieting is disordered.
And since eating disorders are a spectrum, the yo-yo diet is on the that spectrum. No it’s not necessarily anorexia or bulimia. (Though since yo-yos often include bingeing, there are yo-yo dieters who think they have Binge Eating Disorder. But what the bingeing really is, is a biological response to physical restriction).
Instead of letting ourselves eat, re-feed, and heal, we keep dieting harder, and that continued mental fixation on food and weight loss is where we perpetuate the disordered eating.
This means that there are wayyyyyyyy more eating disorders and disordered eaters than we think there are. And they go undiagnosed because we’ve been taught how normal it is to obsess over food and “losing a few”. We think it is normal to live in a chronic binge/repent cycle for the rest of our lives, blaming ourselves endlessly for our lack of willpower, and having the topic dominate our conversations with other women.
“Well I gained weight”, “Oh me too”, “No you look tiny!”, “Oh! Well thanks.” “I would do anything to not be obsessed with crackers.” “Tomorrow I’m gonna be good”. And on and on.
What is important to remember is that this cultural obsession with a tiny body is relatively new, and our cultural relationship to food is also new. Never did we treat food with such judgment and obsession. Never before did we try to abstain from arbitrary foods based on ever changing fads. Never before did we pray to be able to walk away from the table hungry. Never before would this kind of feeding and eating have made any sense.
And even though this way of eating is now extremely common, it is still disordered.
And our bodies are not having it.
We also believe that the only way to have an eating disorder is to be emaciated. NOT SO. You can be thin, middle ground, or very fat, and be suffering from a restrictive eating disorder. The difference here, is that the disorder will be praised.
I really, really hope that in the coming years we can start to have a different dialogue about health and food that is not so black and white. I hope we can move into a place that’s a lot more supportive of different body types, understanding weight science even more, and that a nourishing and intuitive version of eating can replace this restrictive madness.
(If you are suffering from an eating disorder, please seek treatment. The Fuck It Diet is geared towards yo-yo and chronic dieters, not extremely restrictive eating disorders. TFID will never stand in place of treatment, this is simply a supplement and not specifically geared towards anorexia. Check out The Eating Disorder Institute which is more geared towards EDs.)