If you’re pursuing diet-recovery– I commend you for taking on this work. Though often extremely difficult- it’s also life changing. If someone you love is on the journey of diet-recovery, chances are there are many things they’d like you to know. Please continue reading with an open mind.
1. I already know about nutrition.
Actually I know A LOT about it. You don’t need to tell me what is “healthy” or not. I’m not interested in hearing from you what foods are “good for me.” Just like I already know about the millions of fad diets out there.
In fact, I’ve already tried most of them.
I know about calories, serving sizes, macros, and counting out almonds. I’ve cut more foods out of my diet than I want to admit. I know about Dr. Oz’s latest fads; I’ve watched Oprah shape shift her entire life. And I see the Instagram posts and the gimmicks my friends from elementary school are now trying to sell.
My weight isn’t a result of not having enough nutritional information. In fact, I know way too much about calories, macros, and restricting food.
I didn’t ask you to educate me on nutrition and I don’t need it. My abundance of knowledge has actually led me to pursue diet-recovery.
2. Dieting doesn’t work for me. Diet-Recovery does.
Research on dieting has piled up over the years showing that diets simply do not work.1, 2, 3 In fact, 95-97% of people who lose weight initially end up gaining the weight (and often more) back within 3-5 years.
But more important than the research is: my own personal lived experience. Dieting has never worked long term for me. Regardless of how little I ate or how much I exercised.
Simply put, I cannot continue to diet.
Dieting only causes a cycle of self loathing, shame, and restriction that often leads to binging. I’m ready to get off of the diet binge roller coaster. It isn’t good for my physical or mental health. And I never want to get on it again.
3. My body is my business. Choosing Diet-Recovery is also my business.
What I eat is my business. And what I don’t eat is my business. How much I exercise, what I choose to do with my body, ALSO my business. And NOT yours. I have a right to autonomy and privacy. Period.
As a loved one, I expect you to respect this boundary and my right to make my own decisions.
4. I don’t want to hear about your diet. Ever.
Honestly. I love and care about you. I want to hear about your innermost dreams. Your hopes. And your values. I want to hear about your job, your relationships, your dreams. But…
I don’t want to hear about your diet.
I’m interested in the person you are. What you choose to do with your body is your business. Just like what I choose to do with my body is my business. Your weight and size is not important to me. I love you for the person you are. For the soul that is housed within your body.
Also, when you talk about dieting and label food as “good” or “bad” it’s triggering for me. So again, please don’t tell me about your diet. Surely we can find other topics to connect around.
5. I don’t want to hear you criticize your own body.
When you talk about hating your shape and/or size, it affects those around you. I wonder how much you judge my body. And it implies weight and size are very important to you.
I’m working extremely hard to reject the idea that my worth comes from my weight and size.
I hope one day we live in a world where people love themselves for WHO they are rather than the number on a scale.
6. If you care about my health STOP shaming me for my food choices and/or my body size.
Yes, it’s true: fat shaming and treating others differently based on the size of their body is the last form of discrimination in our society still socially acceptable almost everywhere. Seriously.
Doctors, bosses, even the folks on airplanes see nothing wrong with making judgments about others based solely on their appearance. And treating people differently depending on how large they are.
If a fat person goes to the doctor because of knee pain, they’ll usually be prescribed a diet and exercise. Even if said knee is actually injured. If a thin person goes to a doctor with knee pain, they’ll receive appropriate care to diagnose the actual problem followed by proper treatment. This is discrimination based on size. And it happens all the time.
People treated differently by medical professionals because of their size is sadly the norm. Weight stigma abounds. Research suggests weight sigma is likely more harmful to people in larger bodies than their weight is.4
By shaming me, you’re actually adding weight stigma. Which is more dangerous to me than any food I put in my mouth.
Also- you cannot judge a person’s health simply by their body size. Don’t believe me? Then educate yourself on Health at Every Size.
And while we’re talking about “health” consider this.
Health is about more than just my BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. It’s about more than a few numbers from my blood draw.
Health includes my mental, emotional, and spiritual health just as much as it does a number on a test.
Diet-Recovery does NOT mean I don’t care about health. In fact, it’s the opposite.
Also, pursuing health is not a moral obligation. Let me refer you to number 3 above. My body and what I choose to do with it is my business. And my business only.
I’m not a better person if I’m trying to be “healthy” and I’m not worth less if I am not prioritizing my health.
7. Don’t compliment my weight loss
In Diet-Recovery, I’m working on separating my sense of worth from the number on a scale. When you compliment my weight loss it tells me a few things. First, that you prefer me at a lower size. Second, you’re focused on my body size. And third, if I gain the weight back, you’ll be disappointed in me.
Rather than complimenting my weight, connect with me in ways that are completely independent of the shape or size of my body.
If you enjoy spending time with me, tell me that. And if you notice my smile is brighter or I’m laughing a lot, compliment that. If you admire my ability to love you authentically, I’d love to hear about it. But please do not ever compliment my weight loss.
And as a side note: please realize when someone loses weight, you have no idea what’s actually going on with their health. They could be struggling with a life threatening disease such as cancer. Or battling depression, an eating disorder, or something else. It’s just never appropriate to comment on other’s weight changes.
8. Don’t comment on my weight gain.
If you notice I’ve gained weight- I can promise you I already know. I don’t need you to tell me something I’m aware of. By pointing it out to me, you’re only reinforcing the belief that my weight is extremely important to you and the thing you care most about me.
I’ll say it again:
It’s just never appropriate to comment on other’s weight changes.
9. Don’t comment on what I’m eating.
My food is my business and only my business. What I choose to eat, when I eat, and how much I eat is 100% my business. And what I eat has no effect on you. I’m on my own journey. I’m confronting a lifetime of diet related trauma. I’m healing old wounds and caring for myself in new ways on my diet-recovery journey.
If you want to support me, show up for me in authentic ways without commenting on my plate.
10. Don’t make assumptions about what I eat or how I exercise based on my body size.
Despite the myths we’re taught in our society, we actually have very little control over our own body size. Factors such as genetics, environment, hormones, and medical conditions impact our weight much more than dieting.
Based on weight set point theory, there’s a weight range every body physiologically works to stay within. And just like people come in diverse skin colors, heights, and appearances, we’re not all meant to be the same weight.
Two people can eat the very same exact amounts of food, and they will never be the same size or shape. The same goes for exercise. For more on this topic, check out this video by the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH).
11. Just because I’m anti-diet and in Diet-Recovery, doesn’t mean I am anti-health.
In fact, it’s BECAUSE I care about my health that I’m stepping out of the diet binge cycle. It’s because of my mental and emotional health that I’m working towards treating myself with kindness and compassion.
As mentioned in number 2, dieting doesn’t work for me. It only reignites the cycle. Which leads to an increase in shame, self loathing, binging, and weight cycling. And by the way- these things are much worse for my health than actual weight.
And speaking about health… just like body size, health is the result of many different factors. In fact, according to professionals, individual behaviors (which include smoking, exercise, sleep, dieting, and other “risky” behaviors only make up 36% of what actually impacts our health. The other 64% is impacted by other influences such as social circumstances (24%), genetics and biology (22%), medical care (11%), and environment (7%). 5
12. I’m working to reclaim *fat* as a neutral word that describes a body shape/size.
If I, or anyone else, reclaims the word fat as part of their identity- don’t argue with them, telling them they’re “not fat.” Don’t assume being fat is a bad thing.
When we learn to truly understand that body diversity is a real thing, and that our bodies were never meant to be manipulated or controlled, we can appreciate beauty in all sizes.
13. Love me for who I am, not for my body size.
We’re only on this planet, in this lifetime, for a very short time. No one knows what will happen tomorrow. Today, in diet-recovery I’m working on being kind, loving, and accepting of the body I was born into. And the body that houses my soul.
If you love me, please do so because of who I am deep down on the inside.
Love me for my heart, sense of humor, and brain. Love me for my thoughts and my mind. NOT for my dress size or weight.
And if you’re not able to do this, then I doubt our relationship is sustainable.
14. Doing Diet-Recovery work is incredibly hard. And sometimes lonely.
It takes a huge amount of bravery to stand up to our society’s brainwashing that we’re supposed to shrink our bodies and fight our natural instinctive hunger signals.
It takes courage to show up in my body, as she is, when I am no longer trying to manipulate her shape and size.
So many women (and increasingly more men) connect by sharing their latest diet, their disdain for their own appearance, or the new exercise they’re using to try to manipulate their body shape or size.
While it’s no longer healthy for me to talk about dieting and engage in body shaming, I do want to maintain our relationship and connect in other ways.
I value our love, our connection, and our relationship. And I appreciate you for reading this.
1. A.J. Stunkard , M. McLaren-Hume (1959) The Results of Treatment for Obesity: A Review of the Literature and Report of a Series, A.M.A. Archives of Internal Medicine 103, Google Scholar
2. D. Crawfod et al. (2000) Can Anyone Successfully Control Their Weight? Findings of a Three Year Community-Based Study of Men and Women, International Journal of Obesity 24, Google Scholar
3. Fildes et al., (2015), Probability of an Obese Person Attaining Normal Body Weight, Google Scholar
5 Determinants of Health, GoInvo Website