I used to be an extremely devoted dieter (when I wasn’t bingeing), and those diet book introductions were always so exciting to me. I will DO this. I will do this right. And I will finally make my life AMAZING.
And I would do it. Until I eventually failed and started the binge/repent yo-yo, or until I went on a bender, or replaced it all with another, better diet.
My dieting started at fourteen when I realized my shorts were really tight and my face was becoming oilier and puffier by the day, and I had to go to Nordstrom’s to buy bras in a size E in the brand that Oprah recommended because Victoria’s Secret bras were too small.
I have to fix this. . . . I guess my days of eating are behind me. So for the next ten years, I was either “on a diet”—obsessed with following the rules perfectly—or “off a diet,” because I was bingeing and feeling out of control and horrible about myself.
I tried the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet, the insulin resistance diet, the pH diet, the blood type diet, the Rosedale diet, the raw vegan diet, many versions of the Pray to God to Be Skinny diet, The Secret™ (not a diet but you can make anything into a diet, especially new age self-help), the “I’m Going to Listen to My Body SOOOO WELLLL” diet (also known as the obsessive version of intuitive or mindful eating), the French Women Don’t Get Fat diet (which is a hybrid of the intuitive eating diet and the coffee and wine diet), the paleo diet, the GAPS diet, and . . .
Boom. Epiphany. It hit me, on my twenty-fourth birthday, after I ate nine squash “pancakes” and twelve sugarless almond flour “cupcakes” that I made for myself and that nobody else would eat. I had a legit spiritual epiphany, with my stomach distended and my heart palpitating. I stared at myself in the mirror of my crumbly little bathroom on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and as if I was in some sort of not-that-funny romantic comedy, I spoke to myself out loud. “What are you doing? Are you going to do this for the rest of your life?”
I’d spent the past ten years truly hating my body, constantly disgusted with myself, and wanting to be skinny more than anything else. I spent years obsessing over diet rules, planning what and when I could eat next, and counting up calories and carbs. I spent all of my energy trying to control my weight and salvage my health, but still, no matter how hard I tried, or how important dieting was to me, I was bingeing. I felt completely out of control for years on end.