Diets Diminish Us Instead of Our Bodies

Diets may be intended to trim our bodies but they actually diminish us as people.

Harsh restrictions give the body the message that it is something to be “whipped” into shape, changed, altered, melted — instead of teaching us to listen to our bodies for the wealth of information inside them.


Diets instill the idea of control. The message is:

If you can control what you eat, control food, you can be thin.

This may or may not be true for you. Some bodies adjust with relative ease to how many calories you give them, ramping up the metabolism when you overeat and lowering the metabolism when excess isn’t present. These bodies tend to stay the same size, or at least in a general range of size, despite how many calories are taken in.

What are you going to do, hold that against yourself?

We aren’t cows being sold in the marketplace.

I never force my clients to weigh themselves in their underwear or in front of other people. In my groups, they don’t report their weight. It humiliates the soul to be compared in such a way. (They privately weigh and measure only every three months.)

Ultimately the number on the scale doesn’t mean much anyway.

A client of mine was measuring dance students for costumes last week. One girl, taller and much larger (3 sizes larger), weighed a mere 4 pounds more than another dancer.

What’s up with that?

Well, one girl had a body composition of relatively heavy muscle and bone while the larger girl (probably an experienced dieter, even in high school) was primarily composed of fat, which takes up a lot more space.

What are you going to do, punish yourself because your heredity gave you unseen and immeasurably heavy connective tissue?

• Have you ever felt less than, because of what you most recently ate?

• Do you let your calorie count for the day influence your sense of your worth?

• Does the number on the scale determine whether you deride or praise yourself all day?

Threatening the body with the latest diet fad isn’t helpful or loving: “If you don’t get your act together, you’re going to have to eat celery and carrots for weeks!”

It’s time to move beyond this. This morning’s breakfast, last night’s dinner, weight, size… none of these things is cause for self-punishment or for saying evil things about ourselves.

Or comparing ourselves to other people.

In fact, nothing is a valid reason for being unkind to ourselves.

Shhhhhh! Listen! Are you saying loving, kind things to yourself?

7 Responses to Diets Diminish Us Instead of Our Bodies

  1. I totally agree that living and managing your emotions on what the scale says is a fool’s game, but I’ve found that it can be a good indicator of the direction your weight-loss journey is going. I take a perverse pleasure in bending the scale to my will. After all, I know what makes it go and down.

    Nobody needs to beat themselves up over a setback or bad meal, but I do think it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize.

    Very thought-provoking post, Pat. But then, I expect nothing less from you.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Wonderful post! I agree that diets have become an industry. Companies make billions on feeding us horrible food, then making us feel that we have to follow unrealistic and humiliating regimens to lose the weight. It’s all about understanding what foods and lifestyles support you, and following them. Being kind to yourself, as you said.

  3. Yum Yucky says:

    Ahhh, yes. Weight loss has become an industry with cash hungry product pushers that really don’t give a hoot about you.

  4. Pat Barone says:

    Thanks for your comments! Jack, can you give us some ideas for staying on track without becoming a taskmaster/slavedriver? How do you remind yourself of the big prize?

  5. this post is very usefull thx!

  6. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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