When I say I don’t want to go on a diet, I don’t mean just that I don’t want to go on a 1200-calorie diet, or I don’t want to live on Slim Fast and salads with fat-free dressing. I don’t just mean that I don’t want to count calories, or carbs, or points. I don’t just mean that I don’t want to weigh and write down every bite I put in my mouth and step on the scale every day.
I don’t want to do any of those things, but that’s not all dieting is. Any change in eating habits with weight loss as its goal is a diet. And when I say I don’t want to diet, I mean I actually don’t want to diet.
I don’t want to stop eating when I’m still a little bit hungry, or look at the clock and question whether I really should be eating a snack a “mere” two hours after a meal, or whether I’ve exercised enough to earn it. I don’t want to take the skin off my chicken, or put salsa on my salad instead of dressing, or eat more broccoli when I really want pizza.
*Why* I don’t want to do these things is probably another post (or six). For the moment, I would just like people to believe that I know what it is they’re suggesting when they tell me I need to lose weight, and that I really have tried this stuff before. Since I was a teenager, in fact.
One of the effects of huge focus on weight loss as the magical answer to all things health-related is that the common definition of “dieting” has narrowed. Diets don’t work, but instead of admit that they don’t work, we change the term. Oh, those fifty million people didn’t lose weight because they weren’t committed enough. Or because they were following a “fad diet.” Or they didn’t exercise enough, or they ate the wrong kind of carbs.
The really convenient thing about defining diets this way is that you get to keep shifting the goal posts. Today’s “lifestyle change” becomes tomorrow’s “fad diet.” The fact that some people are genetically predisposed to be a certain size, not to mention the fact that dieting tends to make people fatter, suddenly becomes their fault for “doing it wrong.” And when today’s “right way” doesn’t work, just move the goalposts again.
So, when I say I don’t want to diet, I mean simply this:
I am not interested in pursuing weight loss as a goal. If it happens as a side-effect of exercising more or eating more homemade meals and less Chinese takeout, fine. But I am not undertaking any system of calorie restriction, no matter how prettily packaged, in the hopes of shrinking my body.
When I say I don’t want to go on a diet, I actually mean that I don’t want to go on a diet. And I’m not going to.