Let’s start with Jennifer Lawrence, because she’s awesome.
More specifically, let’s start with my favourite J-Law quote. In a recent interview, she responded (to a call for advice on body image), “What are you going to do? Be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That’s just dumb.”
Yes, Jen. But that’s also dieting in a nutshell. And dieting is embedded in our culture. We’re a society that runs on coffee and fast food and next-day delivery and instant messaging; anything in the name of convenience, to ease the strain on our impatient souls and their busy, busy lifestyles. The same applies to weight loss. We don’t want to lose 10 pounds in three months; we want it gone in a fortnight. And we lack the foresight to see that anything that comes this easy ultimately comes at a price.
Now let’s talk about me. A couple of months ago, I weighed myself for the first time in months and I was, quite frankly, appalled. I had never—never, in my entire life—weighed nearly as much as I did then. And it wasn’t just the number that flashed five feet below my eyes that alarmed me: I was in poor health, period. I felt lethargic and bloated all the time due to a diet that consisted mostly of cookies, cake and coffee (fellow baristas of the world, I know you know this feeling). I had bad skin, wanted to sleep all the time, and had stopped working out. Ah yes, I brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “couch potato;” I’m pretty sure my body was functioning entirely on starch and sugar.
So, of course, I decided it was time to Go On A Diet.
I’m pretty good at resolving to Go On A Diet. I’ve done it countless times before. My diets have all shared a similar fate: I wake up on day one, raring to go, eat fewer calories than a small child, feel miserable by the end of the day, binge a little, wake up the next day and repeat the process. Every time it’s “going to be different”, and guess what? Every time, it’s not.
But oh, this time it really had to be different. I was by no means overweight, but I felt like a monster. I was obsessed with my weight, disgusted with it, revolted with myself. After a bit of tinkering around on Google, I found a man with a saccharine smile and almond-shaped eyes who promised to evaluate my “true weight” and get me there. This man’s name is Dr. Dukan. Dukan said I was meant to be 30 lb. lighter and said that a 30-lb. loss was completely viable if I spent £90 on his diet advice and promised to eat little more than eggs, ham and chicken for a few months. I was desperate; I accepted.
I lasted three days. The Dukan diet, like many other fast-result fad diet, cuts out carbs altogether. Just lean meat, eggs, skimmed milk, artificial sweeteners… and not much else. No fruit, no vegetables, and most certainly no carbs.
By the end of that three days I was just about ready to attack people. I needed food. I’d lost a couple of pounds, yes. But I was also losing my marbles. Even thinking about my best friend’s home-made focaccia bread made me feel like I needed to go to confession. And, in a sense, I did—on Dukan’s website, you fill out a “daily report” where you own up to your dietary sins at the end of the day. Towards the end of my first and final week with Dukan the Diet Nazi, the only thing I didn’t feel guilty about eating was lean chicken slices. And trust me: Lean chicken slices get mighty boring when you eat them for a whole week.
Now, I’m no dietician, but I know this diet craze is bad news. How can a diet that denies any variance, balance and richness to your dinner plate be good news? Are you honestly going to tell me that eating an apple is bad for you? Are you going to deny me spinach, or broccoli, or a handful of (gasp) blueberries? ‘Cause Dr. Dukan would.
In hindsight, it’s maddening that I wasted even a few days of my time on this strange, pure-protein diet just to see a few pounds drop off a bit quicker. And it’s maddening to think that other women (and men) are being led right into the jaws of diet fads like these. We’d rather sacrifice the enjoyment of eating, the correct nourishment of our bodies, just to lose weight that tiny bit quicker. We’re so compelled by convenience that it’s taken priority over our own health and wellbeing.
My message? Firstly: Don’t try the Dukan Diet. You’ll never want to eat egg whites or ham ever again. You’ll gain back the weight you lost in a matter of hours. You’ll be tired, constipated and cranky. In fact, the only good thing I can say of Dukan’s high-protein, high-cost method of weight loss is that it made me pounce on the fruit bowl like a vulture.
But what I really learnt from this diet was, in fact, how strange it is that our society prioritizes rapid weight-loss over real fulfillment, and proper transformation. Two months on, I have slowly and steadily lost a total of 10 lb. I haven’t achieved my goals yet, but I’m on my way—and this time, my head is absolutely in the right place. I’m keeping it there by feeding it the right stuff, and plenty of it.
Ultimately, losing your love of food in the name of fad dieting is unsustainable and miserable. Don’t buy into it. Don’t fear carbs. Don’t stop eating berries, and nuts, and oatmeal, and peanut butter—and cake—just because some random “doctor” told you so. J.Law endorses eating, and so does your body. Give it what it needs: a little bit of what you fancy, and a little bit more time.[divider] [/divider]
Have you tried any fad diets recently? Tweet us @litdarling.