Tag Archives: food shame

“How Diets Work”, and why they never do

“How diets work” by Jenna Marbles

 Jenna Marbles is pretty hilarious.  Although she’s blonde, pretty and skinny, making her my ultimate nemesis (not really!), her sharp wit more than makes up for it.  Even though her comedy is acerbic and sarcastic, I can’t help feel that really, deep down, the things she says hit some layer of truth.

Take her video, above, on “how diets work”.  She starts out the day feeling good, strong, trying to convince herself how great and filling her salad is.  She’s hungry for a little snack, so grabs a few nuts (healthy!).  Ok, just a few more.  This devolves into a true feeding frenzy ending with her ordering six cheeseburgers from McDonald’s and a “caesar salad to balance it out”.

I identify with this day in the life of a dieter.  Every morning, I start out fairly healthy with a smoothie and a piece of wheat toast or english muffin.  Lunch is usually a home made sandwich, or left overs.  I snack on trail mix, granola bars, apples or yogurt.  Somehow, after work, when I get home, it all goes wrong.  My day of careful planning goes downhill rapidly.  Usually it starts with a small snack to tide me over to dinner.  Which turns into a bigger snack the longer waiting for dinner takes.  If I make dinner, I taste as I go.  If we go grab something, I eat the whole portion.  After dinner, it’s more snacks or dessert.  I mean, I’m not ordering 6 cheeseburgers (usually!) but the shame Marbles expresses in her video–“hold the cheeseburger still so they won’t see it!  I hate myself so much right now!”  is very real.

A pair of In-N-Out cheeseburgers.

A pair of In-N-Out cheeseburgers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As an overeater, I daily go through this cycle of “today’s the day” bright eyed mornings, usually ending with a shameful, disappointing evening.  Going to bed, I always resolve “tomorrow’s going to be better.  I’ll be different tomorrow”.

Slowly I’m coming to the realization that, no, tomorrow is not going to be different.  Not if I do nothing to change my behavior and the cycle that I’m in.  I enjoy food way too much to be able to restrict myself in the true sense of a “diet”.  Diets never work because delicious food now is a more powerful reinforcer than the “bikini body” or “perfect tummy” you could have in like, 12 months of hardcore diet and exercise.  What’s interesting to me is that when I do overeat, I usually feel shameful and sick soon after.  The next morning I feel bloated and yucky until I work out.  Apparently, these punishers are not strong enough for me to not eat those french fries or a huge portion of noodles.

Ok, so I can’t make food less reinforcing.  But I can start to pair not overeating with more reinforcers.  I can tell you guys about it, and my boyfriend, and hope to receive some praise (social positive reinforcement!) I can really listen to how my body feels, and rewarding myself when my body feels good.

Farmers' Market

Farmers’ Market (Photo credit: NatalieMaynor)

I’m so over dieting.  It leads to feeding frenzies and tearful cupcakes being shoved in your mouth (not my mouth, but Jenna’s!)  I’m in it to win it, meaning I need to start valuing food that makes my body feel good. And exercising not because I have to, but because it heals and strengthens my body and soul.  I will need help. It will be hard.  But today, I will stop dieting forever!  Tomorrow won’t be different, but small changes add up to big deals.

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Filed under behavior, Healthy Living