Disordered Eating As Dieting: The Fads that Went Bads

As much as I like to think of myself as well-rounded, modern, intelligent woman, I am also a sucker for anything that has an infomercial on at 2 am (pretty sure that I do need a food dehydrator). And, as many women I know in recovery, I have had issues with food since I got my first training bra.

My impulsiveness + food issues + marketing = Chrissy’s fantastical review of fad diets of tried...

Slim Fast

Not gonna lie, this lasted for about a week before Spring Break my senior year of college. It furthered my commitment that I would rather eat my calories than drink them.

Atkins

I think the kids these days call this “keto” but back in 2003 it was all about Atkins. I was looking to lose the booze weight and thought unlimited protein and fats was the way. Mind you that I was extremely broke and many times lived off of a carton of eggs and peanut butter. Come payday I would take my cash and buy about five Atkins bars from the gas station and go to town. By the end of this experiment, I was begging for a piece of fruit wedged between a pretzel bun.

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Paleo

I love fitness and had a brief Crossfit phase (until the price drove me back to a normal gym). Through this I decided that yes, I do need to eat more like a caveman. I don’t know how long this lasted but pretty sure my love of cheese intervened. If the cavemen knew how delicious it was they would have started milking cows too.

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Vegan

I watched a documentary on Netflix one day and decided that I indeed needed to save the planet by going vegan. This was by far the most expensive of all the diets that I had tried because I just bought pricey packaged food made to resemble the foods I wanted. What can you do with tofu? The question is what can’t you do with tofu. Then I got pregnant and the thought of my soy crumbled “beef” made me want to hurl. I drove to Burger King.

Weight Watchers

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After the free-for-all that was my pregnancy, I needed to get back into the closet of clothes that I owned. Although those maternity pants are amazing. I liked Weight Watchers, but they kept changing how they calculated their points. I think I would need an advanced degree in trigonometry to understand their algorithms. Towards the ends it seems like it was: grilled chicken breast=1 point, look at a piece of bread=17. I see you keto, I see you. But really it was the fact that I had to obnoxiously calculate all the time that finally made me say bye bye to the WW.

The Online Coach

Okay, I have food issues and a sprinkle of body dysmorphia and thought, “Me, room full of strangers, small bikini, lets do this!” I spent a crap ton of money on this online coach to get me stage ready for a fitness competition, and she was very good and was also concerned about me doing this (I reassured her I was fine!) At one point I was in Times Square eating rice and cod cold out of ziplock bag that I packed and traveled with in a cooler as my airplane carry on, I was looking at baked goods like some people look at expensive shoes, my period stopped, but boy was I fit. I got on that stage which actually felt less like fitness and more a beauty pageant meets a wet t-shirt contest. I exited stage left and promptly gained all the weight back, and then some.

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The Nutritionist

I was seeing a therapist about my food issues and she recommended a nutritionist. A nice woman, who was always late and extremely expensive made me a “meal plan.” I think she might have been in cahoots with the Weight Watchers people because it involved some weird xerox copies of a point system that she only seemed to know. Once again I was held to numbers and food scales and I couldn’t take it.

Final Thoughts

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This is just a fraction of what I have tried. What I have learned is the body has strong hormones and chemicals in the brain which are altered every time I see a new book and decide to break the food scale out again. A study that changed how I look at the world of dieting is the Minnesota Starvation Project. Want to learn more about it? Try out an exercise from our program, about the project.

This is a battle I still face and it is scary to think of how long I have been “dieting.” But I keep trying, trying to accept my good choices and my “bad” ones, know that my body is just a vessel of my fabulousness, and understand that I was okay, I am okay, I will be okay.


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As Workit Health's Director of Counseling, Chrissy Taylor is a clinician with over a decade's worth of experience working with various disempowered populations to promote self-efficacy and resource acquirement.