Hello hellooooooo! I’ve been on a little podcast hiatus since the release of my book The F*ck It Diet. This was the first official hiatus (had unofficial hiatuses before) but the pod will be returning in the fall! Season… 2? Season 5? Seasonless?
But! In the meanwhile, I want to address a common question I get, both from people who’ve read the book, loved it, but are nervous that it doesn’t apply to them because of health. And people who want to read the book, but aren’t sure if the book/ and TFID in general will apply to them because of a health problem that they are (understandably) convinced makes them an exception.
Before I talk more about health problems (specifically PCOS and Diabetes), let’s do a little overview of The F*ck It Diet (TFID) to catch us all up to speed.
Restriction of food amounts, or certain kinds of food (like carbs), lowers our metabolism, makes us hungrier and fixated on food, wires us to binge to make up for the restriction, and can cause a host of other health problems the longer we restrict.
Bingeing is actually happening for a reason, it is corrective and meant to restore our body to metabolic balance, but we rarely let that happen, because we usually put ourselves back on another diet.
Bingeing can even happen when we think we should be going on a diet, almost like the body is either fighting against the diet you’re about to go on, or trying to gorge before the impending starvation.
Bingeing is not actually the problem. Bingeing is happening in response to alllll of the crazy things we are doing in the name of weight loss and “health.”
Fear mongering about weight gain and “the obesity epidemic” is tackling the wrong problem, and adding to our culture’s pervasive weight stigma, which is ironically very bad for our health.
Our focus on weight and weight loss, either thinking it’s necessary for health, or to fit in with the cultural thin ideals, is the thing that keeps us in the cycle of dieting and bingeing, and fearing our hunger, and ultimately ends up being really bad for us. (Not to mention it’s can be dehumanizing, cruel, and dismissive to people in larger bodies.)
Emotional eating is not the same as bingeing, though they often overlap. Emotional eating is really normal and human, a perfectly acceptable way to soothe yourself. Emotional eating isn’t a problem in and of itself, it’s only a problem if it is the only coping mechanism we have. Emotional eating often leads to bingeing because we feel so guilty about emotional eating, that it spins out of control. We need to eat, and we need to feel, but feeling guilty about eating – even emotional eating – is actually the problem (way more about this in my book)
We are all so afraid that food is a drug (it isn’t), but the big paradox is that dieting, restricting, feeling guilty over food, and being in a suppressed metabolic state (constantly dieting and bingeing and weight cycling) does make us fixated on food. And it does make our relationship to food more addictive, and makes food give us more of a “high”, because our body is rewarding us for finally eating. What that means is that restricting and dieting makes you way more likely to “use food” to soothe yourself. The problem isn’t the food, it’s the dieting. It’s the cycle. Food is not the problem.
The F*ck It Diet book explains this wayyyyy more thoroughly and articulately (and it’s funnier). And not only will it explain the problem with dieting better, but it will also teach you what to do about it. It’s my course in book form.
Ok. So, now to the actual point of this post: WHAT ABOUT HEALTH PROBLEMS THAT REQUIRE DIETING?!?!?!?!??!?!??!
Everybody is different. Chronic illness is a huge burden and a huge drag, and I support everyone eating however they need to stay functional. Don’t eat food you’re allergic to. And though a lot of people who diet have some very amorphous and made up “food intolerances” that are worth getting over, food intolerances do exist, and if you feel better on certain foods, please, eat what makes you feel right. You can step out of food restriction, while still avoiding the foods that your body rejects.
In a way, that is more cut and dry. Are you allergic to peanuts? Shellfish? Gluten? Don’t eat them. Does that take extra work? Yes. Is it hard? Yes. But the trick is to make sure you are eating enough food that you can eat, and do the work around other food beliefs, especially weight/health beliefs. If you can heal the unnecessary and unhelpful diet culture beliefs, you will still be way better off than before.
But the two big health problems that people become convinced require dieting are PCOS and Diabetes.
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a complex hormonal and metabolic syndrome that most doctors do not understand and over-diagnose, or misdiagnose, or mistreat. I was diagnosed with PCOS in high school, and told to diet and ‘not gain weight’, and that was honestly the worst thing I could have been told to do. It set me up for a ten year yo-yo diet/disordered eating extravaganza, that made my health, stress, blood sugar and hormones way worse. PCOS is often associated with weight gain and insulin resistance, so instead of understanding and communicating with patients that it is one of the symptoms of the overall syndrome, they focus on weight, food, and weight loss, which will probably make your relationship with food, and overall health, worse.
The other thing that is rarely focused on, is that stress (and under eating/focusing on weight loss) can worsen insulin resistance. The idea is to get out of the diet yo/yo, support your body’s insulin response with supplements and/or drugs and/or lifestyle (sleep, etc!), and focus on ways to support your body to function the best way it can. Dieting and focusing on weight loss is not the best way to do that.
Even though I was diagnosed with PCOS over 15 years ago, I am not an expert on the nuances of everyone’s different experience with PCOS. I highly recommend Julie Duffy Dillon’s PCOS and Food Peace Course (I am an affiliate! But I would be pointing you towards her course even if I wasn’t!). It is calming, it simplifies everything, and teaches you how to support your body, while expressly not dieting.
Diabetes does require paying attention to your blood sugar, and if you have diabetes and are trying to step away from diet culture, I recommend you work with an anti-diet RD to help guide the beginning of the process for you. But it is important to debunk a lot of the myths about diabetes (especially type 2) that keep people feeling guilty, afraid of food, and focused on weight.
Type 2 diabetes is not “caused by sugar” and cutting out all sugar isn’t going to cure it either. Being a higher weight also doesn’t “cause” diabetes. Lots of people in thinner bodies have diabetes, too. It’s not a personal failing, it’s a chronic illness, and genetics play a huge part. And it’s not only possible, but probably beneficial to step out of disordered eating and under-eating when you have diabetes (or “pre-diabetes”). I highly recommend starting with Lauren Newman’s account on instagram, and working with a non-diet dietitian if you are diabetic, for your support, and for your own peace of mind.
When the podcast comes back, one of the things I want to do, is to go deeper into these topics with people who specialize in non-diet approaches for different health issues as well as people in diverse bodies who have stepped out of diet culture. If you have never listened to the podcast, you can find out different ways to listen here. And subscribe so you’ll be notified and easily access the new episodes when the podcast comes back!
For now, if you haven’t read my book… read my book! It explains how we’ve all culturally become so messed up with food, it debunks lots of subconscious myths about food and health that actually keep us feeling fixated on food, and teaches you how to step out of the cycle. It also goes way deeper into how to approach emotional eating and bingeing. And! Lots of Registered Dietitians and Therapists are recommending it to their clients, which is honestly more than I could have ever asked for.
If you have already read my book, download the resource list! There are lots of practitioners and inspiring accounts to follow. Plus I’ll send you a free Q&A workshop replay, and other content I cut from the book!
More soon, byyyyyyyye!