Dr. Gregory Jantz

Defending Unhealthy Diets

March 7, 2014

With a sigh of relief, Debbie stepped inside the house, locking the front door behind her. The first thing off was her shoes. The second was her pantyhose. She could feel herself spreading out, top to bottom, in relaxation. It was so good to be home. Heading into the kitchen, she kissed her husband dutifully and eagerly headed to the pantry. She loved the pantry even more than she did the refrigerator because the pantry held all of her reward foods. Debbie told herself she deserved a reward for being good all week on her diet. Debbie knew all about diets and rewards as she’d been on a diet for most of her adult life. She tried out every one of the latest, greatest diet fads.

They kept changing over the years while two very important things did not; Debbie’s weight did not change nor did her reward foods. That really didn’t concern her much. As long as she was on a diet, she could have her rewards. If she did well, she had them. If she didn’t do so well, she still had them because there was always Monday to look forward to.

Debbie considers herself to be on a perpetual diet. She dabbles in whatever new diet comes down the pike, convincing herself she’s on it while all the while only integrating the parts of that diet she likes or finds least onerous. She doesn’t actually lose any weight and has managed to gain a pound or two or three each year for the past several years. Being on a diet helps Debbie feel special. It also helps her justify any food behavior. If she doesn’t want to eat something, she can say it’s not on her diet. If she does want to eat something she knows she shouldn’t, Debbie figures since she’s on a diet, she’s entitled to “cheat” once in a while. She’s not that upset about not losing weight because that just means she’ll need to stay on a diet a little longer than she thought. And, for Debbie, it’s all about what she thinks instead of what she does. As long as she’s on a diet, she has the expectation that some day she’ll actually lose weight, even if she never quite seems to.

Does Debbie’s story sound familiar to you? Are you perpetually consumed by the thought of food, obsessed with the newest fad diet, and more concerned with how your food makes you feel instead of the nutrients it’s providing your body? Disordered dieting can come in many forms and habits. Freeing yourself from the constant preoccupation of your next diet or “cheat” can alleviate time and energy to become your highest preforming self.

Often, people are unable to conquer unhealthy dieting obsessions on their own, and seeking professional help is the best solution. If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, The Center • A Place Of HOPE can help. Call 1-888-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you soon.