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Ashley Solomon, Psy.D is a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, trauma, and serious mental illness.

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Guest Post :: Why I Will Never Diet Again

December 27, 2010 10 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

Nina Profile Picture I went on my first diet in 2000 when I saw a pop star dramatically lose weight using a highly publicized new fad diet. I researched all that I could about it and signed myself up to the new eating regime. I managed to lose a significant amount of weight, coupled with a few other things that I wasn’t sure that I signed up for. One of them was obsession – the inability to focus on anything other than food and my weight loss. My social life, relationships and sanity suffered and I refused to go out to places where there may be food. I spent a lot of time on my own – either too weak to go out or just plain terrified of what food may be “out there.”

I maintained that diet for several months before it escalated to anorexia. Food became my enemy and a good day was when food and I did not cross paths. The next stop was my first eating disorder clinic, as well as job loss and a relationship breakup, all due to the fact that I would not allow anything to come in between me and my eating disorder.

The next stage of my life saw a decreasing ability to follow the strict diets that I loved so much. I was hungry and somewhere inside me there was a desire to live, to be whole and to fight the disease. I started gaining weight, but could not give up the diets.

More diets followed in the coming years. From the cabbage soup diet, celebrity endorsed Zone and South Beach diets, fitness-focused Fit for Life and grueling liquid cleanses like the Master Cleanse. I tried each one with enormous enthusiasm, always believing that “this one” was the answer, “this one” will stick, and “this one” will lead me to the perfect body, mind, and soul. But to my horror, each one failed, leaving me hopeless, frustrated and gaining more weight than I started with.

My binge eating and purging took off. There were periods where I would not leave the house at all for days. I would lock myself in, armed with bags of groceries that I would consume with ferocity, only to throw everything up, pass out and start again. I searched desperately online for another diet, every other morning I made my resolution to start again, and I sought salvation in the new diet, as if my perfect adherence to it would bring me the ultimate peace and self acceptance.

The only thing that the new diets brought me were more binge sessions, more weight gain, another job loss, another failed relationship, no friends and a loss of desire to live. My spirit was drowned, I had no passion, no desire to engage in life and the only thing that would have the ability to gain my attention was another diet or weight loss regime.

During this time I started the road to recovery and although I had not found it yet, I was determined and passionate about recovering. Recovery is a process – not something that appeals to the all-or-nothing thinking that those with eating disorders are afflicted with. I just knew in my heart that for me it came down to this: Recover or die. Without recovery, I had nothing. I had no ability to work, have friendships, be in a loving relationship or have a family.

I threw myself deeper into recovering, but he eating disorder did not go away immediately. I still desperately tried to live by an “eating plan”, which was inevitably followed by a binge, purge or hours of compensating at the gym. The sicker I got, the more I tried to get well.

I started to notice that there was possibly a correlation between my “dieting” and the eating disorder. A period came when I was with some friends for a few days and I ate liberally – things that everyone was eating, without control of portion sizes and calorie content. From that I noticed a subtle change – the obsession to overeat, diet, and purge lessened. I knew I was onto something.

A few months later, I finally gave up. I knew that I would never be able to control my eating and that any attempt to do so would only further aggravate the eating disorder. The decision to stop dieting gradually crept up on me, but the results were extremely fast. Slowly I eliminated all of the other dieting paraphernalia from my life – scales, low fat food, online dieting sites, magazines, friends obsessed with weight loss, laxatives, food scales and eating plans.Within weeks of ending my “diet war,” I noticed a drastic decrease in the obsession. The more I ate what I actually liked, the less I was obsessed with food. And the less I obsessed about food, the more weight I lost, eventually bringing me to my natural weight – which I have now been at for three years.

The result? I have now been diet free and eating disorder free for three years. I only think about food when I feel hungry, I eat exactly what I want, and I stop when I am full. I think my body looks great, I exercise to feel better and the only time I think about eating disorders is when I want to help someone else achieve the kind of freedom that I live with now.

Nina has been recovered from all eating disorders for several years and aims to help people through sharing her story, experience, and recovery on www.helpforeatingdisorder.com.

Have you struggled with the diet war?

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8 Comments

  1. Michele @ Healthy Cultivations
    4 years ago

    This is an important post… at this time of year when people are considering all kinds of detox diets following the Parade of Sugar over the past month and looking forward to spring and whatever that brings… whether it’s sporting events or swimsuit season.

    Food doesn’t have to be the enemy. It really can be our friend if WE engage in a dialogue with our bodies. The diet mentality is never never a step in the right direction.

    Reply

  2. Nancy
    4 years ago

    Amazing. What I’m gaining from this is the need to listen to myself instead of every expert out there. I’ve always done this with regard to medicine and healing from injury and I’m starting to learn I can do this with food and fitness. We are born with wellness, and we need to stop letting books, TV, fitness gurus, even celebrity doctors drown out our instinctual voice of wellness. In your case, it sounds like your voice kept saying, “eat until you’re full, you’ll feel better,” and so it was the case. When you ignored that voice, symptoms of mental unwellness really took over. Thanks for this post.

    Reply

  3. Anna @ ciaotochow
    4 years ago

    Nina (and Ashley) – Thanks for this great post. So many of the lines applied (and some still apply, unfortunately) to my life. I’ve struggled for years to accept my body and love it just the way it is. Eating disorders are no fun at all, and it’s taken me years to get back to a pretty healthy place. I’m never, ever going back to that phase of my life again. I’m so much happier, less anxious, and I think others would agree that I’m more fun to be around, too, but I agree that it’s a process…and I continually have to remind myself of that. I’ll definitely be checking out this site more often! :)
    Anna @ ciaotochow recently posted..My Aunt’s Famous Chocolate Mint Sugar Cookie Drops

    Reply

  4. The Writing Goddess
    4 years ago

    Great post – Nina, thanks for writing it, and Ashley, thanks for sharing. Perfect time of year to begin – not another diet, but another way to think about food, to renegotiate a healthy relationship with it.

    Reply

  5. Jean Sampson
    4 years ago

    Thanks, both of you! I am beginning to see (and experience) that there really IS healing from eating disorders. I never believed that could be true, sort of like an alcoholic, always in recovery, always one drink (or binge) away from falling into the pit again. I am beginning to experience the healing myself—-did not weigh or work out obsessively this Christmas. I am looking forward to a much more peaceful relationship with food this new year.

    Reply

  6. charlotte
    4 years ago

    I love this post!!! Every word you wrote, Nina, could describe my experience too. I was so terrified that if I gave up all the dieting, weighing, counting and obsession that I’d fall apart. Instead, once I finally said good-bye to everything ED, I am more whole than I have ever been! Happy, healthy and the best part is like you said, the obsession with food is nearly gone! Thank you for sharing this!
    charlotte recently posted..Happy Holidays From The Gym Buddies! And Januarys Great Fitness Experiment

    Reply

  7. Margarita @ Weightless
    4 years ago

    This is such an important message. Thanks, Nina, for writing such a profound post!

    Even though I never suffered from an ED, I definitely fell into the diet trap. People don’t realize just how damaging diets can be and how much better and healthier it is to listen to our bodies. I feel such freedom being able to eat what I want. There are no good or bad foods. I love intuitive eating (and mindful eating). And I’m so much healthier now than I ever was following a diet.

    Fantastic post, and congrats on your recovery!!!
    Margarita @ Weightless recently posted..Body Image &amp Self-Image- Finding Yourself in Photos

    Reply

  8. Donna
    2 years ago

    This is a brilliant thought-provoking post…Thanks to both of you for sharing this….I find that I am currently in precisely the same “recover or die” moment of revelation …and, deep-down, need to find a place which allows room for family, relationships and involvement in life, rather than only being terrified of, yet obsessed with food. It has ruined my enjoyment of life. Although I tried to recover by eating “what I felt like” and only to a feeling a fullness…I found I had a new tendency to gain weight SO very quickly that it terrorized me back to anorexia. I figured I had “waited” for a year for my metabolism to normalize…but when it didn’t…I panicked…I am now trying to return to a more normal weight but the fear of quick weight gain (compromised metabolism/age) looms large when I try to reintegrate formerly “forbidden” or “evil” foods! I want to re-feel what normal feels like.

    Reply

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Project Swole. Project Swole said: Guest Post :: Why I Will Never Diet Again: I went on my first diet in 2000 when I saw a pop star dramatically l… http://bit.ly/dR6YLp [...]

  2. [...] not-so-subtle reasons why diets don’t work and come to identify our triggers (case in point, “Why I Will Never Diet Again,” a guest post on Nourishing the Soul). But sometimes, all of the in your face advertising and [...]

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