At 12 years old, I wasn’t a fat kid. As a matter of fact, I was pretty skinny (that’s me on the right in the blue jeans).

But, all the girls at school were on diets, and the women’s magazines were recommending diets, and my mom was on a diet as well.

I remember thinking, “I should really go on a diet.”

My chronic dieting began by eating “diet” food and drinking diet soda. I also ate low-fat and non-fat, yogurt and cheese.

And, an interesting thing happened – I began gaining weight and didn’t understand why.

By the time I was 15 years old I had created a warped idea about food.

I remember going to my best friend’s house every day after school. Omi, her German grandmother, would prepare us the most delicious meal – Braised pork or chicken with gravy, creamy mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. Twenty minutes after we ate, we would lock ourselves in the bathroom and force that homemade food out of our bodies.

I remember Omi knocking on the bathroom door asking, “Are you girls okay?”

We’d say, “yeah we’re fine,” and turn the radio louder so she wouldn’t hear us throwing up.

But, the truth is we were NOT okay. We were damaged. It was the 1980’s and we were brainwashed by the dieting industry to think eating food with fat would make us fat.

At 17 years old I attended Weight Watchers “fat camp” in Pennsylvania. It was sensible dieting. We ate meals that were very low in fat, drank diet soda, used artificial sweeteners instead of sugar, and slathered fake butter on our bread.

I remember one night at camp, I got stoned (hey… I was a teenager), broke into the food shack, and ate an entire jar of peanut butter.

Apparently, my body was craving fat.

After fat camp, I joined weight watchers and bought a food scale. I weighed and counted every fat gram and calorie that went into my mouth. Unfortunately, this made eating a laborious task.

Eventually, I grew tired of weighing, measuring, counting and scrutinizing every morsel that went into my mouth.

So, I joined Jenny Craig. They sold boxed food that was already weighed and measured. Whew! What a relief. It certainly wasn’t delicious, but it did the job and I lost a few pounds.

The interesting thing is with every diet, I initially lost weight but always gained it back…PLUS some!

I was not obese, but I was chunky. And, it seemed the more I dieted, the chunkier I became. At my chubbiest I was 149 pounds, which is not FAT. But, I’m a shorty. At 5’ 3” (and a 1/2), I was 25 pounds heavier than I am now, and I felt bloated and uncomfortable.

An interesting diet entered my radar when I was in my early 20’s. My mom was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. After her chemo and radiation treatments we tried something called Macrobiotics.

It wasn’t about counting fat grams or calories; it was about quality of food and how it affected the body energetically, physically and spiritually. This was an entirely new concept for me.

The diet consisted of whole grains, beans, vegetables, sea vegetables, fish, nuts and seeds, and fruits.  It was very low in fat, so it fit perfectly with my “dieting” mentality. Eating that food made my body feel good and helped me go to the bathroom – which, as a chronic dieter, was a rare occurrence. As a result, I dropped a few pounds… literally, right into the toilet.

After mom died, I kept some of the Macrobiotic principles and my weight leveled off at 139 pounds. But, mostly I went back to my unhealthy “dieting” ways.

Finally, a gift from the gods came. At 28, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and a goiter. After watching mom suffer, and eventually die from chemo and radiation, I decided radioactive iodine was NOT an option for me (Radiate My Thyroid? No Freakin’ Way!).

I stopped the nonsense and I finally STOPPED dieting.

Instead of dieting, I focused on eating the best quality food to help my body heal.

Within the first 4 months I dropped 18 pounds. To date, I’ve never gained back that weight (almost 20 years). I don’t ever think about dieting anymore. I just eat food, real food, with all of its nutrients intact, including the fat.

Below are some steps to help you break free from a dieting mentality and lose weight.

STOP dieting:

  • Dieting deprives us of physical and emotional nutrition
  • Dieting creates dysfunctional behaviors
  • Dieting contributes to weight gain

Eat Real Food: see pictures below. This is what food looks like.

Drink Water: there is no better beverage for your body.

Ditch Chemical Sweeteners: Chemicals disrupt endocrine function, lead to weight gain, contribute to depression, and destroy brain cells. Not only that, artificial sweeteners are so unnaturally sweet they compromise the delicate palate in your mouth. No longer will a fresh berry taste naturally sweet if you eat chemical sweeteners.

Sit Down to Meals: Do NOT walk or stand and eat. Digestion needs relaxation to function properly. If you are stressed out, or walking and eating, stress hormone rises and digestion shuts down.

Move Your Body: A simple 35-40 minute daily walk can help. You don’t need to pump iron, you just need to move your butt EVERY SINGLE DAY.

If you find you are stuck, here are some common dieting mistakes:

  • Eating cold foods and/or too many salads – dampens digestive fire and slows metabolism
  • Forbidding foods – the dieter becomes obsessed with what they cannot have
  • Eliminating fat – creates wild cravings and the dieter is never fully satisfied
  • Emotional eating – what are you really craving? Love? Companionship? Inspiration? Creativity?
  • Impatience – it took time to gain the weight, it’ll take time to take it off. Relax.
  • Lack of self love – if we don’t love ourselves exactly as we are, in the body we have right now, we will continue the self abuse and chronic dieting behaviors.

Stop the nonsense and stop dieting!