Give up the Diets, not your Health

I was talking to a woman the other day who was so frustrated with her body.

“I just can’t lose this weight! I’ve done EVERY diet imaginable, it just won’t move. If anything I keep getting fatter!”, she said.  So I asked her, “Have you considered giving up the diets?” She looked at me with a sad sigh and responded “I’d love to. They don’t work. But what else can I do? My health is too important to me”.

One of the biggest objections to the #bodypositive movement was expressed by this woman. People believe that by giving up dieting and reclaiming their lives that they have to abandon their health.

It’s not true! Let me tell you why.

Body Positivity in the Media

Giving up the food rules is one of the ten principles of Intuitive Eating. Unfortunately, that’s often the only principle that people see on social media or blogs. Body loving coaches come out all ‘rah rah rah – screw the rules, eat the cake!’. And so, it goes.

Now look, the body positive movement is important for many social and political reasons. And I support it fully and completely. It’s what’s bringing attention to the fatphobic world that we live in, how women of size are being portrayed as weak and disgusting, and it’s shining light on the important topic of weight-bias in medicine. It is not a movement about health. It’s a movement about basic human rights. But that doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your health goals to be a part of this historic movement.

What about Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive Eating isn’t just a buzz word. It’s a modeled process with scientific validity. To date there are over 75 studies looking at the merits of Intuitive Eating. Here are the highlighted benefits compared to the diet/restrict models:

  • increased self-esteem and self-acceptance
  • more consistent physical activity
  • decreased binge eating and other disordered eating habits
  • improved blood pressure
  • improved cholesterol levels (LDL, HDL and triglycerides)
  • weight maintenance or weight loss*

*I struggle including weight measures and only included it to calm those who are terrified that giving up dieting means gaining weight

So what can you do to give up dieting without compromising your health?

  1. Start to follow some body positive sites and pages. Read the information about how dieting fails to address the problem and only makes matters worse. By understanding the dangers you will less tempted when you see the ‘before and after’ pictures of the latest greatest program. More of my blogs are available at www.thedietrebellion.com and on Facebook.
  2.  Learn about Intuitive Eating from the ones who created it. www.intuitiveeating.org is a site full of valuable free resources. Buy the book and read through the whole thing.
  3. Find a coach, nutritionist or naturopath who has been trained in Intuitive Eating. Yes, I’m one of them. You can book a Food Sanity Session to find out more.

No matter what, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t ditch the diets without getting fat!

Dr. Kerri Fullerton ND

 2014 May;114(5):734-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2013.12.024. Epub 2014 Mar 14