Kari Dahlgren

Coach | Author | Advocate

feel normal around food again

An Open Letter to Anyone Thinking About Dieting Again

an open letter to anyone thinking about dieting again

On August 8, 2016, I gave up dieting. I was sick and tired of gaining and losing the same 10 pounds at the expense of my mental and physical health. And I was pleasantly surprised at how much better I felt and how stable my weight became.

Even though I was living the benefits of giving up dieting, I am still human, and I would occasionally feel tempted to hop on a diet again; and I always noticed that this desire correlated with a rough patch in my life.

I knew that dieting would get me nowhere, but it was my knee-jerk reaction to turbulence. And it’s a very human tendency. When life gets shaky, it’s normal to reach out and grab onto something (that appears to be) stable.

So, I wrote this letter to myself all the way back in 2018 to keep myself inspired and reminded of what matters on this journey. I hope this letter inspires you to give up dieting or stay committed to not dieting too.

Dear Love,

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…).

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 ick?

I think you can, because you’re a lot stronger than you think. Even though you’ve already proved this to yourself over and over again, in this moment, you simply forgot. So I’m here to remind you.

You are so tough.

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, dear. 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 humanness.

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.


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12 thoughts on "An Open Letter to Anyone Thinking About Dieting Again"

  1. Annie J. Dahlgrensays:

    Such good timing- this letter of yours. And a wildly important foot note. I had a very painful argument with a dear friend. We couldn’t get the feeling back to normal and were about to call it a night – both feeling just awful. At dinner we had been talking about your stop, drop and feel method and decided to try it with what we were experiencing in that moment. We were just silent for a few minutes while we stopped and looked inside at our individual feelings and then we told each other what we felt – right then. And Kari – we healed the breech right then and there. Had we not I’m pretty sure we would have just gone our separate ways and eaten everything in sight. We’re both that way. But that didn’t happen. I just want to thank you for this powerful tool that helps people in ways you probably never even imagined. Just thought you should know…

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      Wooow that’s really awesome! It’s so cool to hear that it’s helping in ways other than compulsive eating! You’re brilliant for applying it to that situation 🙂

  2. Lizsays:

    I can’t tell you how many time I’ve read this letter. I go through phases of feeling fat and phases of feeling not fat. My weight doesn’t really change that much, but how I feel about my body changes. Of course during the “feeling fat” phase I automatically want to go into diet and restrict mode. Your letter helps me avoid dieting (again), and like you say, that phase ALWAYS eventually passes. Thank you again – you are an amazing human being!

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      OMG thank you so much Liz!!! I am so glad that this resonates with you and that it’s helping you stick to not dieting. We’re in this together 🙂

  3. Haydeesays:

    How wonderful your letter was for my inner voice. I am very over weight and the more I try the harder it gets. But my inner voice has been filled with
    this overwhelming feeling of not being good enough not knowing my own self worth. When I read your letter to you, I knew it was speaking to me. Thank you for giving me some insight in speaking to myself, not what is wrong with me but to value who I am , that has nothing to do with my weight.

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      Oh my goodness Haydee what a beautiful comment. Thank you! I am so glad that it resonated. Be gentle with yourself 🙂 You are sooo enough!

  4. Emi Lookersays:

    Beautiful and empowering letter, thanks for sharing Kari <3

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      Likewise 🙂 thanks for the lovely note <3

  5. Irinasays:

    beautiful letter!

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      Thanks Irina! 🙂

  6. Shirleysays:

    I read this letter at just the right moment. It’s hard to face the emotions and easy to heal the uncomfortable from overeating Thank you for inspiration ????

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      Thanks for the comment Shirley <3 I wish you the best of luck with your unraveling. You are so brave!!

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