I originally wrote this letter to myself when I was tempted to break my vow of not dieting and start restricting again.
I know that dieting can be very seductive for recovering yo-yo dieters, so I’d like to share my letter with you.
I heard that you’re thinking about dieting again, and I don’t think you should do it.
Nothing good ever comes of it. At least, not in the long run. I know it’s easy to forget, so I’m here to gently remind you: dieting never works.
I know you mean well, though.
You just want a sense of something going right in your life, but I’m sorry to say that dieting won’t get you there.
The control and instant gratification of restriction often feels like (finally!) something’s going right, but it always ends in something going wrong: binges. Restriction always leads to binges.
Trust me, dear, dieting is only a step backwards, not a step forwards.
Even though things might be falling apart, just hold space for it. Don’t try to control or change anything – especially the size of your body. Just make room for the discomfort and uncertainty, and ride it out.
I know it sucks. I know it doesn’t feel good. But embracing those feelings is the best thing you can do right now.
Those heavy, sticky feelings that you don’t want to feel are exactly what you need to let in.
Once you open yourself to those feelings – once you let them in instead of trying to shove them away – the desire to control and restrict your food will go away too.
Your current situation might suck, and you probably just want out. But I’m sorry to say that the only way out is through.
You can get through this without using a crutch like dieting (or drinking or smoking or shopping or swiping or scrolling or sexing…).
I know that you can get through this because you’ve done it before, and you can do it again.
You have to stop projecting things so far into the future, little lady.
Sure, things might be shaky (okay, REALLY shaky) right now, but they won’t be this way forever. Life is full of ups and downs, and this down will turn around like it always does.
Just ride it out.
Have some compassion for yourself. Stop trying to control and restrict and beat yourself into a “better you” and try to see how enough you already are.
Try to love your body that’s working so hard for you, and listen to what it’s asking for
When you’re hungry, eat. And when you’re full, stop. And when you don’t want to stop, or when you don’t want to eat, get curious about the feelings that are rumbling around inside.
Can you open yourself up just a little more? Can you make space for the yuckies?
I think you can, because (low-key) you’re a badass.
Making space for the discomfort is how you build courage and self-trust and strength. This is how you become a spiritual warrior, walking the path of the brave.
This is how you become normal around food and get over disordered eating. This is how you eventually achieve your natural weight.
There is no instant gratification. There is no quick fix to make it all feel better.
In fact, the best thing you can possibly do is EMBRACE the discomfort of feeling fat and feeling bloated and feeling the gross feelings that you just want to get rid of.
This is what the desire to diet is here to teach you: how to feel uncomfortable and not get carried away by it.
So don’t fall into the trap, my love. Don’t diet.
Instead, just listen to your body and fill your heart with compassion. When you want to eat, eat. When you need to stop, stop.
And for everything else in the middle, just make space for it. Make space for the gross, uncomfortable, embarrassing feelings that you don’t want to feel.
I PROMISE that they will go away. And they will go away faster when you just let yourself feel like crap instead of trying to diet the pain away. It’s not permanent, I promise.
Can you open yourself to the discomfort? Can you let yourself feel awful without going back into fix-it mode (i.e. diet mode)?
Because you’re not broken, and you don’t need fixing. You’re just a human trying to make sense of this one wild and messy life.
So celebrate that.
Celebrate your humannness.
Celebrate to your strength and courage and enoughness by treating yourself with compassion instead of restriction.
You can do this. Honor your body and let yourself feel your pain.
I’ll be right here with you, holding space for your unraveling.