Annnnnd we’re back for the fourth and final installment of F*ck Your Diet. This series is for you if you identify as a food addict, a binge eater, someone who feels stress over what you eat, or if you’re constantly trying to lose weight and going from diet to diet. Here is my disclaimer: if you feel happy and content with your relationship to food and weight, you have my full blessing to keep doing whatever you’re doing. I’m not trying to napalm the part of your life that makes you feel good. If you like your diet, simply don’t f*ck your diet. That’s my general rule of thumb: If you’re happy, I’m not trying to get you to do anything. But! If you feel like something is off in the way you relate to food, this is definitely for you.
I spent the first three installments explaining how food deprivation and restriction actually cause and/or perpetuate food fixation and many experiences of food addiction. I also explain how I went from a food-obsessed childhood binge-eater, to teenage chronic yo-yo dieter, to a weight-obsessed faux-intuitive eater. Dieting was my religion and sugar was the devil I was trying to purify myself from. And strangely, it all became a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the more I restricted food and sugar, the more and more out of control and “addicted to it” I felt when I inevitably “slipped up” and drove to CVS at 11pm in my parents’ car to buy sugar-free protein bars that I pretended were candy bars. But still, if you haven’t read the first three installments, I recommend you go ahead and do that, because you may not understand what the hell I’m talking about in this installment if you don’t. Part 1. Part 2. And, Part 3.
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It was almost eight years ago now that I woke up from my decade-long diet hell. Which means I’ve been eating whatever I want for eight years. And even though in the beginning I was very hungry and spent a few months eating a lot and making up for lost time, I didn’t actually end up spinning into years of chaos like we all worry we will if we stop dieting. The chaos is temporary. The extreme hunger is temporary. I didn’t eat the whole world. And today, even though I have zero (ZERO!) rules around food, I do not eat a steady diet of donuts and McDonald’s and Snickers, because… I don’t want to (anymore). In fact, at this point, I probably eat “better” than I ever did on a diet, because I can actually hear what the hell my body is asking for, and the drama around food is gone.
So, what I’d like to do in this last piece in this series, is address some common fears that come up when people consider “F*cking Their Diet” or “Being on The F*ck It Diet” (which is actually what my site, Instagram, and book are named) or are even just flirting with the idea of not dieting.
“Anytime I try to stop dieting, I eat way more than anyone should.”
You are not alone! In fact, this is one of the big reasons that most people are convinced they can’t give up dieting. But, eating a lot of food is actually a really normal response to dieting or restricting food. We think it’s our bodies proving to us they’re broken or food addicted, but really it’s just survival. It’s just the body trying to make up for a famine scare.
We also tend to think that we should be eating way less food than we actually need. Did you know that in the 1940s, there was an experiment where men were put on a semi-starvation diet of 1,600-1,800 calories a day for six months, and it made them extremely emaciated and obsessed with food, and it made lots of them anxious and depressed, and normal amounts of food didn’t help them to recover at all? Instead it took them 5,000-11,000 calories a day for months to rehabilitate their bodies and their minds? Yeah. That happened.
So if that’s any indication, 1,600-1,800 calories is something lots of people think they should be striving for. Also, 1,200-1,400 calories is how much they recommend you feed your 2-year-old, so, you need a lot more, ok? No wonder we all feel so out of control with food. Most of us don’t even realize we are constantly trying to under-eat, and then we beat ourselves up for eating more than our too-low daily calorie amounts, and then we force ourselves to repent the next day by eating even less. What do you think that’s doing to our bodies and relationship with food?! We just need to f*cking eat consistently, and stop putting ourselves on cleanses, ok??!
“I honestly can’t trust my body or cravings, all I want to eat is cake and cookies and pizza. I’m positive that is all I would eat”
Craving only high-calorie dessert and “junk food” is also a really normal response to dieting. (And I promise it is just a phase before your cravings diversify and calm down.) If your body has been getting intermittent access to calories (like going back and forth dieting and binging and dieting again), or you’ve been trying to eat less food than your body wants for a few months (or a few years), you’re going to crave the densest food that you can find, because that will counteract the state you’re in the fastest. That’s why we crave cake and cookies and pizza and candy and grilled cheese and everything we think we shouldn’t have. Your body just wants dense and easy-to-assimilate calories for a while, because that is what will get your body out of a low-metabolic state the fastest, and back to a normal and more easy relationship with food, with more normal cravings.
The other thing is that when we make any food off-limits, that food is going to have wayyyy more allure psychologically than if you were allowed to eat it. (I used to misinterpret this and think: Ok, if I allow brownies then I won’t WANT brownies. And then I’d be mad at myself that I still wanted brownies. But you can’t play that paradox! You have to actually allow yourself to eat the brownies!)
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“I have to diet! I’m an emotional eater!”
Dieting and restriction can actually make emotional eating worse. I know, what? First of all, many of us actually use dieting as a way to try and distract from our emotions, too. Not only does it bring the promise of beauty, glowing health, and praise, but it also gives us a high on stress hormones. But at the same time, the more we diet, the more chemically rewarding food and eating becomes, and the more food can give us a “high”. So, not only is dieting its own version of avoiding our emotions, but in a way, it actually makes eating a more effective “drug”. And often, people go back and forth between the two “addictions” in a never-ending yo-yo. In order to make food a less effective drug, we need to stop dieting and restricting. Another paradox, I know.
Having other coping mechanisms and emotional support is definitely an important piece of the emotional eating puzzle. I’m not saying that ice cream should be your therapist. But, just beware that going on a diet to heal emotional eating is like trying to put out a brush fire by blowing on it.
“I have to diet! When I don’t diet, I gain weight!”
Ahhhh, yes. Weight gain and cultural fatphobia. This is no small subject. It’s actually at the heart of this whole thing. It’s a core reason why we are all dieting in the first place. And it’s also a subject that makes the villagers take up arms like they’re in their very own mob led by Gaston, and they storm into the comments to rage about the obesity epidemic. Because people feel very, very strongly about weight gain and health, and want to concern troll allll over the health of people they don’t know.
First of all, gaining weight after dieting is also another normal phenomenon. That’s what the body does. It loses some weight at the beginning of dieting, and then it insists you put it back on. It will literally slow down your metabolism and raise your hunger hormones in order to force you to gain back weight. It’s normal. It’s also survival. And we assume it’s the worst thing that could ever happen to us, but our bodies are doing it on purpose. We evolved this way, and it’s actually protective against withering away. Because, no matter what our culture tells us, becoming a nation of teeny tiny little string bean people isn’t actually what makes our bodies feel safest. Having a super low body fat percentage isn’t good for us and can wreak havoc on our hormones.
But we live in a very thin-obsessed and fatphobic society. We just do. And the thing that makes it so hard to even begin to have a conversation about not dieting is that there is a lot of moralizing over health that helps to justify people’s judgement over weight and the way people eat. People feel very strongly about weight and weight loss. Just go to the comments of these articles, you’ll see. But what that means is that being afraid to gain weight, even a little, even weight that your body definitely needs and wants to gain, is understandable. We constantly see how much better people are treated when they are smaller or fitter or leaner, and how much judgment (and concern) comes along with gaining weight. We are praised nonstop when we lose weight. We assume that weight loss is always healthy and impressive, when, hey, lots of people are losing weight because of eating disorders, illness, anxiety, etc. Weight loss is not always healthy, and on the flip side, weight gain is not always unhealthy. But we live in a society where obsessing over food and weight, and developing disordered eating habits, are praised, and even encouraged, and that makes it really hard to tell if what we are doing is healthy or if it’s going too far.
“So you’re saying that I just have to accept my body as it is?! What are you? A monster trying to destroy the American people from the inside out?? HOW is that healthy?!?!”
One of the things that really shook me and woke me up out of my diet and weight loss obsession was learning that what I believed about weight and health was based on misinformation and cultural bias. Because I cared about health. I still do, actually! Believe it or not!
We think we can fully blame people for their weight, and assume that they just aren’t trying hard enough. But, I mean, you’ve heard, right? Dieting backfires. This has been relatively mainstream public health info since 1992. But… we have a hard time hearing it. There is a cognitive dissonance. I used to hear that “diets don’t work” and think, “No no no noo, those scientists clearly aren’t studying the right diet.” But really, weight loss diets backfire long-term. It’s not because we are lazy, it’s in our biological blueprint. Initial weight loss on a diet happens all the time, but our bodies will eventually adjust to try and get our weight back into a range where it feels safe. And the idea that we just need to keep eating less and less and less to try and keep up with our body fighting back is not healthy. That’s not health! That’s focusing on weight at the expense of health.
Get this: a two-year study was done with two different groups of women categorized with an obese BMI, and the group that didn’t diet or focus on weight loss, but instead made subtle healthy lifestyle changes—joyful movement that they actually liked doing, eating in an intuitive, nourishing way that wasn’t focused on weight loss, stress reduction and shame reduction, and being kinder to themselves and their bodies. And at the end of two years, they ended up with improved overall health (blood pressure, blood lipids, mental health symptoms), even though that group didn’t end up losing weight. And the group of women who focused on standard weight loss protocol (good old fashioned monitored, guided diet and exercise, prescribed by a diet) lost weight initially, but gained it all back and then some, and ended up with worse physical and mental health markers that they started with by the end of two years, even when lots of them were still sticking to the doctor-prescribed diet. So what that means is that joy and self-compassion was good for their health, and earnest and doctor-monitored weight loss backfired big time.
I know! I know! Nobody wants to hear this! But in the very least, it’s important information if we want to understand what the HELL is going on when we put ourselves on a diet. And it also matters if what we really care about is our overall health.
So, back to the question: am I trying to ruin the health of our nation? No, I’m just trying to explain that obsessing over our weight and food and exercise isn’t good for our health. A hyper-focus on weight and weight loss and perfect eating actually ends up being a distraction from truly taking care of ourselves. The truth is, when people stop dieting, some people eventually lose weight, but some people need to gain weight, and some people stay the same. Either way, forcing it tends to backfire in more than one way.
I definitely understand why it scares people. It sounds extremely irresponsible, because people still assume that not dieting means eating donuts for breakfast and lunch and then eating mac n’ cheese and Burger King for dinner every night. And then eating an entire cake in bed. Which is actually the kind of thing I was more likely to do when I was constantly forcing myself to diet.
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This is the (actual) book dedication for The F*ck It Diet. I considered dedicating it to my little sister, but her response to me was, “aw that’s sweet but like, don’t, y’know?” So I said, “fine. Cheese it is.” 🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀 (Have you read #thefuckitdiet ????- my sister hasn’t but that’s ok because I bug her enough in real life. You can read the first chapter for free by visiting my site slash link in bio etc etc etc)
These days, food isn’t the drama that it used to be. I eat a varied diet and I eat until I am full. I crave healthy foods, I crave dense foods, I crave vegetables and fruit. I crave pizza. I’ll eat one (or, y’know, sometimes even two!) pieces of cake instead of finishing off the cake at 1am while standing in front of the refrigerator. I eat dessert. I eat pancakes. I eat the bread on the table at restaurants. I eat grains and meat and eggs and lots and lots of cheese. Sometimes people ask me what I like to eat, and I usually can’t even remember because that is how little I think about food now. It’s food. I like it! I like it a lot! I want to feel good, I want to feel fed, I want to feel alive, and I want to go live my life and pet my dog and go get happy hour.
In conclusion: I think sweet potatoes and green juice are healthy, and I like them, and I eat/drink them! But being afraid of nachos was ultimately very bad for me. Maybe that applies to you, too?
It’s been so great to get to share my story and experience with Betches readers. I know some of you hate me now, but that’s just the name of the game when you talk about diets. People get cagey. People are very devoted to their diets, and in some ways, diets are the new religion of the 21st century. If you read this series and you’re like, “this is… interesting to me, but I’m not convinced,” my book The F*ck It Diet goes wayyyy more in depth. You can also start researching weight stigma and Health at Every Size, and start reading all of the things that helped open up my eyes to the dark side of dieting. You can also follow me on Instagram at @thefuckitdiet. (I post a lot of instagram stories of my bernedoodle if you’re into that sort of thing.)
And remember, if you’re having a great time dieting, or doing whatever you’re doing, I really don’t care if you diet or not. I promise. Everybody should do what works for them. Don’t F*ck Your Diet on my account. BUT, if you’re stressed out over food and weight and have been in a dysfunctional cycle with dieting, I invite you to come join us over here on the other side of diet culture. There are snacks! There are cheese boards with dried fruit and sourdough bread! You can take naps! You’re allowed to buy clothes that actually fit you! Nobody will ever force you to wake up at 4:30am to go to the gym! And there are no diets.
Images: @dietstartstomorrow/Instagram; @thefuckitdiet/Instagram
It’s not a secret that many women, and many Betches readers and Diet Starts Tomorrow listeners, struggle with the cycle of dieting. That’s why we tapped Caroline Dooner, author of The F*ck It Diet and a recovering “food addict”, to share her journey with Betches. From yo-yo dieting to intuitive eating, from self-loathing to acceptance, she will be chronicling her decades-long struggle with food and how she overcame it over the course of this four-part series. New installments of F*ck Your Diet will drop on Mondays, so follow along, and follow Caroline at @thefuckitdiet.
Read part 1 of the F*ck Your Diet series here!
Welcome back to F*ck Your Diet, where I am uncovering the dark side of dieting and restriction and giving you permission to F*ck Your Diet, too. This is the second part of my series about my experience with food addiction, dieting, bingeing, and how I got out of the cycle (part one is here, where I talk about my childhood food fixation and bingeing on Easy Bake Oven powder packets that led me to believe I was a food addict… because I acted like one). I’m going to break down the nuances of food addiction, food fixation, and using food to soothe in the next and third installment, so stay tuned for that one too!
My dieting started at 14 when I gained weight for the first time. In a matter of months, I went from totally flat-chested to a size F bra. Not only did I not fit in Limited Too’s pastel-colored bra options, but I didn’t even fit in Victoria’s Secret bras. I was 14 and only fit into old lady bras from a department store. HELP.
At the same time, I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and told flippantly by my doctor not to gain weight and make sure I exercised and watched what I ate. Which, to me, implied that food and weight gain caused my hormonal problem, and that therefore dieting and losing weight could cure it. Challenge accepted. (This is not actually true, because thin people have PCOS too, but somehow I ignored that fact.)
And at the very same time in high school, I was deciding whether or not to try to become a professional musical theater actor. I know that sounds stupid, it seems like every teenage girl acts and sings and thinks they are extremely talented, but I was being cast in professional musicals in Philadelphia while I was still in high school. I had my picture in a skimpy little white dress blown up on the cover of my local newspaper for a feature on me. This is not to brag, only to illustrate the extra pressure on how I looked.
Beyond health, and beyond just the normal discomfort of getting used to an adult body, I was on stage, playing characters named “Philia, the beautiful young virgin” who sang songs about how lovely I was. If performing was my destiny, and I kept being expected to play these tiny pretty little ingenues in musicals, and I really was good enough to be working professionally as a 17-year-old, and everyone in my high school kept saying “DOONER YOU ARE GOING TO BE ON BROADWAY,” then I told myself I really have to start doing a better job on my f*cking diet. I cannot let my food addiction get the best of me. I MUST accept the challenge of my destiny and become skinny. It was all a huge burden, actually. The joy of singing and acting was completely outweighed by the hyper-focus on my looks and weight. It was the nail in the coffin: I was extremely obsessed with food, and dieting, and what I weighed. It felt necessary for my health and hormones, and it felt necessary for my CAREER.
But the more I dieted, the more and more out of control with food I became. I took it extremely seriously. The stakes felt VERY HIGH. And so I would be absolutely perfect on the diet for a few months, and then, inevitably, I would lose it. I would shovel food into my mouth in secret for a few weeks, completely miserable and horrified with myself that I was letting what was clearly a food addiction take control of me. I’d gain all of the weight back that I’d lost in a week flat, and then I’d put myself on another diet.
This cycle started in high school, but it continued through college and into my early twenties. And the more I dieted, the more intense my binges became, and the more obsessed with food I felt. I thought about food nonstop. If I wasn’t diligent about the rules of my diet, I would eat way more than was “acceptable”. I was constantly starving, and I gained weight really easily while I was dieting. It seemed like I could gain almost all the weight I’d lost back in just a few days. I could eat an entire jar of peanut butter in one afternoon when I was on a low-carb diet. I could eat 6 boxes of cookies in one sitting. I could eat 10,000 calories in two hours, and I often did. And then, I was back on another diet, trying to overcorrect for the damage I’d done.
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hi! I’m on vacation but I can’t keep away! If you’re new here, this account (and my book) is all about getting out of the diet cult we all grew up on (or joined later in life). It’s a little like de-programming. I was a chronic dieter for over ten years, and believed I was TRULY a food addict (because I acted like one). Now I write about everything I learned that helped me get out of the cycle- why *diets* were actually the thing making me extremely out of control with food. I also write about how you can get out of that cycle too. Go over to my site and download the beginning of my book for free! thefuckitdiet.com/free (link to links in profile!) #thefuckitdiet #intuitiveeating #diet
I would try doing your basic calorie counting, I would also go on “sensible plans,” I would try to just eat “moderate” amounts of “whole foods,” but I would also dabble in more extreme plans for total health and healing. I become raw vegan for 9 months, and I also became paleo (which is the complete opposite of raw veganism) and I ate like the caveman I was always meant to be. Nothing worked long term, and nothing cured my food addiction and cravings like they promised they would. Sure, for a few weeks (or months) I was on a high, sure that I’d found the perfect plan for me. And it’s easy to stick to too! I love it! I will eat this way forever!!!!!! But soon enough, I was bingeing.
I was always trying to eat less food and less carbs, no matter what plan I was on. This was my lifelong—well, decade long, but what felt like my lifelong—burden: curtailing my food addiction and my weight. It was scary. It was miserable. It was desperate. And honestly, my intentions were pure. I believed this was important, and responsible, and the only way to save me from myself and a horrible fate of health problems. I thought that skinny was healthy, responsible, beautiful and important. And that was mirrored back to me everywhere. Everyone around me, every diet, every magazine, every conversation I overheard: dieting was important and responsible, and I was failing over and over and over.
Until I heard someone on a paleo message board say that going low carb messed with their hormones and fertility, and that they had to eat more carbs, rest, and gain weight to get their hormones working properly again. …I’m sorry… what? Are you telling me that eating low carb is maybe ruining my hormones? That is the opposite of what I’d been trying to do. Then I heard some low carb paleo guru say on his podcast that eating low carb can make you more insulin resistant but “it’s ok, because you aren’t eating carbs anyway.” (Yes, I listened to paleo podcasts 8 years ago. As I said: I was dedicated.) And also: I’m sorry, WHAT?! I’ve been eating low carb for 10 f*cking years because I’m trying to improve my hormones and my insulin sensitivity, and cure myself from the inside out by purifying my body with pure food so I can heal on a cellular level. And you’re telling me I’m making things worse?! And honestly, I was making things worse. My health was not better. I could barely sleep. I barely got my period, but I blamed that on my PCOS, and not on me being on and off a diet for a decade.
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I felt like the spell had been broken. I didn’t know what to do about it and I didn’t have the full picture yet, but I didn’t feel enchanted by diets anymore. Honestly: I felt duped. I’d been doing the same thing over and over again for 10 years, and it had only made me more obsessed with food. Even my occasional attempts to “eat intuitively” were still just attempts to eat less and weigh less. I finally felt, deep in my bones, that all my attempts at curtailing food and carbs were not the answer anymore. In fact, I felt like the way out of this cycle might be … eating food and …gaining weight.
This wasn’t a small, gentle “aha” moment. This was a breakdown and breakthrough born of true misery. This was like leaving a religion. I had worshipped at the altar of thinness and food control and “healthy eating” for so long. I had relied on it to save me. I had hated myself for how out of control I would get with food. I was so disappointed in myself for not being able to get my “addiction” under control, no matter how important it was to me. I had been disordered and obsessed with food and dieting and weight for so many of the formative years of my life. And I had really and truly tried it all, and nothing had worked. I was just as miserable, food obsessed, and as unhealthy as I’d ever been.
So, I started researching. I needed to understand more about the harm that dieting and restricting and controlling your weight can do to your physical health. It was clear enough to me at this point that dieting had been bad for my mental health, but if I could learn more about the harm I was doing to my physical health, that would really help me get out of the cycle.
I probably Googled something like, “are diets harmful?” Then I probably Googled “are you f*cking kidding me with this, why didn’t anyone TELL ME that diets are bad for me and are only going to make me more obsessed with food?!?!?!” and somehow I stumbled across the book Health at Every Size. I don’t know if a blog recommended it, or if it was a comment on a blog, or if it was a search in Amazon for a book about weight and health science, but this book was exactly what I needed to read. It’s written by a scientist and weight researcher, Linda Bacon PhD, who initially went into her field to learn how to effectively lose weight and keep it off, healthily and permanently. And what she learned over her years of studying the human metabolism, was that with intentional weight loss, there is always a metabolic backlash. Your body insists you put weight back on so it feels safe. Your body either slows down metabolically in order to put weight back on, sometimes even when you’re still sticking to the diet. Or it fixates you on food, so food tastes better, you’re hungrier, and has your brain thinking more about food than it otherwise would. Your body is literally pushing you off your diet. On purpose.
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Not only that, but the health improvements from weight loss are also temporary. Intentional weight loss starts off with health improvements, but over an extended period of time, health markers tend to end up worse than where they started. Ugh. Of course. Thanks a lot, Dr. Atkins.
The other fascinating thing I learned was that we all have diverse weight set ranges, the range where our own body feels safest. This is influenced by our genetics, and sometimes even our past attempts to diet. We think that dieting is going to help lower our natural weight set-range, but it can actually make our safe weight higher, because our bodies are like, “f*ck you for starving me, I refuse to die this way!” And so we put on weight, to save our lives.
We think the weight gain is the problem, but it’s actually protective. Our body works really, really hard to keep us in our set range. It will literally adjust our metabolism and our appetite in order to make us gain weight again if we are trying to go below it. Pushing your weight below our natural range is not only hard, and often impossible to stay there, but it’s bad for us, too. And weight cycling (going up and down every time we go on and off a diet) is bad for us too, way worse for us than just staying at one weight and tweaking our health habits.
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Also we can replace “woman” with “person” and it applies fully. No matter what the reason: everyone can fuck right off with faux health concerns and concern trolling. (This image is by @katiemcrenshaw and I found it through @with_this_body ) (also some people’s asshole comments on this post are easily helping me figure out who to block !! “Much love xo xo block! “ )
This isn’t saying that weight loss is always unhealthy—it’s not. But intentional weight loss and restriction often end up doing more harm to us, long-term, than food. We think we are being healthy and responsible, but we are actually putting our bodies, metabolism, and hormones into a cycle that ends up being really bad for us, and really bad for our relationship with food.
This information corroborated everything I had been experiencing. Also: f*cking thanks for nothing, diet gurus. Thanks for missing this important piece of information and continually assuring me that yours was the diet that held the answer to my food cravings. I finally had the assurance I needed that eating and getting out of the diet cycle was the way to heal my fixation on food, my erratic appetite, and allow me to just… live my life. It felt daunting. And I knew I was going to have to face some big fears, let go of some control issues I had, and almost certainly: gain some weight. But I knew I needed to do it.
In my next installment, I’m going to talk about what that was actually like for me to stop dieting. What it looked like to stop dieting, let go of the rules, buy new clothes, change my priorities… and how long it took, too. I’m also going to take a more nuanced look at what food addiction actually is. Stay tuned! More Soon! Until then I’ll be writing, eating, and napping.
Caroline is the author of The F*ck It Diet, a book for chronic dieters. She loves TV, her dog, and doing the least amount possible. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.
Images: thefuckitdiet / Instagram
In today’s episode of “Bad News to Our Waistlines”, science has just found that our cellphones could be making us gain weight. To get specific, it’s the type of light being emitted from our cellphone screens that’s at fault and not our dependence on Postmates and GrubHub at 3am—although I suspect that could play a role.
This scientific study from the University of Strasbourg and the University of Amsterdam was presented earlier this month at a conference in the Netherlands. The study was based on the premise that blue light from LED screens found on our phones, laptops, and tablets have an impact on the areas of the brain that regulate appetite. The retinal sensitivity to these kinds of lights causes our bodies to send a message to our brain telling us to consume more sugar.
The study specifically looked at the effects of blue light exposure on diurnal rats (that are awake during the day and asleep at night, like humans—as opposed to regular rats, who are nocturnal). The rats were exposed to the blue light at night for one hour. The day after exposure, the rats were given options to choose between rodent food (standard, nutritionally balanced), water, lard, and sugar water. After the nights with exposure to blue light, the rats consumed more sugar compared to nights with no exposure. The light also seemed to alter their glucose tolerance.
There are a few things to consider. Because the rats were all males, the scientific study does not show if the outcome would be the same on female rats. The rats were also only tested on for one night, so we have a very short time period to work with. If these effects were repeated, then over time, the rats would experience weight gain and develop diabetes with exposure to blue light. Still, even given the limited scope of the results, the authors of the study recommend limiting the time spent in front of screens at night, using night mode on devices, and/or using blue light filtering goggles to lessen the impact of LED lights on our appetite.
Now while this study was conducted on rats, I do think the results send a message of the impact electronic devices have on our human bodies. The recommendation of limiting screen time and using blue light filtering apps and goggles make a lot of sense, not only in terms of appetite control, but also because previous studies have shown blue light impacts quality of sleep. There are more studies on the internet on blue light’s effects on sleep, so I did further research. I was able to discover that the shorter wavelengths in LED light affect our bodies’ ability to produce melatonin, which is the sleepy hormone. To connect the dots further, melatonin also directly effects weight gain/losses, in that it helps your body regulate leptin and adiponectin hormones. These two hormones regulate your appetite. So while the original study suggests that the appetite change is due to blue light affecting the appetite-regulating part of our brain, it could be possible that the blue light is also disrupting our bodies’ ability to create essential hormones.
Our parents and grandparents used to read a book (real, not electronic) before bed, whereas nowadays we’re scrolling through IG until we’re close to passing out. Turns out, they were on to something. Personally, I’m terrible at staying off the phone immediately before bed and immediately upon waking up. I am constantly laying down, reaching for my phone, which evidently is not the healthiest habit. With all this research on the negative impacts blue light has on our health, I will definitely be making a conscious effort to step back from the phone. Will you be lessening screen time with me? Sound off below, I would love to hear your thoughts!
Images: Giphy (2)
As I’m sure many of you can relate to, I did not enter January feeling the best I’ve ever felt about my body. Honestly, forget holiday weight gain—I hadn’t successfully lost weight since a stomach bug last May, and the whole thing was starting to feel hopeless. In 2019, I’d already tried a juice cleanse (painful, results gone within a week), and macro counting (exhausting! very difficult without professional advice on what to eat). So finally, I turned to intermittent fasting. I am in no way a nutritionist, and I cannot tell you whether IF is “good for you,” or give you a scathing review of whether or not the science behind it is legit. What I can tell you is that I had a tough 10 days, and a surprising set of results. If that’s enough for you, read on for my experience with intermittent fasting
What I Expected From Intermittent Fasting
If you’re interested in learning more about the science behind IF (intermittent fasting), or the different ways you can do it, I used these three articles as guides. Like I said, I’m not a nutritionist, and I truly don’t want my advice here to be the last word on whether or not you embark on a major diet change. Please believe me—it is a MAJOR change. I understood the merits of IF in two ways before starting. First, I learned that periods of fasting decrease insulin production and boost growth hormones—both of which mean nothing to me, but they apparently help boost metabolism, burn fat, and gain muscle. Second, by limiting your “eating window” (a term my friends would literally pay me to stop hearing at this point), you’re meant to limit overall calories (e.g. you can’t eat breakfasts anymore; you skip seven breakfasts’ worth of calories per week).
Have some objections to that second point? Yeah, me too—don’t worry, we’ll get there. But just to be clear with my intentions for IF: I wanted to lose weight. Not a drastic amount, especially not in 10 days; I know all too well that that weight just comes right back. But losing maybe 1, 1.5 pounds? If nothing else, just to prove that my body was still capable of weight loss after all the weird diets I’d put it through. So, I decided on a 16:8 routine (16 hour fast, 8 hour eating window), and set off on my 10-day journey.
Actual footage of me putting together diet plans and not shutting the f*ck up about it:
How Fasting Actually Felt
Despite most recommendations for 16:8 suggesting eating 12-8pm (or even earlier), I set mine from 2-10pm. First of all, I struggle way more with snacking at night than I do during the day, and I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. Second of all, I have a standing Bachelor date Monday nights, and no way in hell was I sitting through Colton’s journey for love without a healthy dose of wine and pizza. The first few days were mostly the same: I showed up to work around 10 (usually when I eat breakfast) and had unpleasant but bearable waves of hunger until 2pm. This included stomach cramps (worst when I woke up, or when someone ate a delicious-looking bagel near me), and a few headaches. Water and black coffee helped, but honestly more in terms of keeping me awake than making me feel better.
The first mistake I made that week? On Day 3, I went to a spin class at 8am (a disgusting habit I picked up in LA). Not only did I nearly die from hunger that morning, I forgot the parameters of my eating window and ate until 10:30pm that night. While I worried I’d messed everything up, and was starting to question how healthy it was anyway, I woke up on Day 4 “feeling LIGHT” (per my detailed notes). My stomach felt flatter, my digestion was good, and my hunger cramps were clearing up sooner. Everything seemed good. And then, as must happen to all diets, the weekend came along.
I was spending that particular weekend in Salt Lake City, crashing some friends’ ski trip. (I don’t ski, I just wanted to drink in a cabin for a weekend.) In preparation, I switched my eating window for the weekend to 4pm-12am. After all, if I was going to make IF my long-term eating pattern, it had to be something I could do while maintaining a social life. And my social life right now involves ingesting calories after 10pm. (I say “involves,” but really that’s all my social life is.) I also weighed myself Friday morning, but both of the scales turned out to be broken, and both told me I’d gained 16 pounds in the past two weeks.
So, even though I’d woken up Friday feeling light and lean, I spent most of that day questioning reality and trying not to eat my own hand. By the time I could eat at 4pm, my body went into full animal mode, terrified I would fast for another 18 hours at any moment. Basically, I filled the day with airport snacks, a pasta dinner, and bags of Cheetos and mini Oreos the Airbnb host had left behind. Yes, right up until midnight. Saturday and Sunday, I accompanied the non-skiing group to two massive brunches and fasted through both, for which I would like several medals. (Insta proof below.)
Throughout the weekend, I felt like the bloating and general gross-ness I’d kicked during the week was back—but mostly I blamed the type of food I was eating (processed garbage and desserts, yum), and it was more of an internal “yuck” than an “oh sh*t, these pants are not fun to button.” The final few days I focused on drinking sh*t tons of water, eating more real foods and fewer snacks, and bringing my eating window back to a reasonable range. (AKA Monday I ate 4-11; Tuesday I ate 3-10; Wednesday I could eat at 2 again.) But honestly, I never quite kicked the bloated feeling from the weekend and I was still freaked out by the scale disaster Friday. By the time I went back to regular eating, it didn’t come a minute too soon.
Pros & Cons I Felt On Intermittent Fasting
I would need a licensed professional to confirm or deny this, but I suspect that I messed up by making my eating window so late on the weekend. Like I said, I am a chronic night-snacker—which means I’ve read all the advice on how it’s the worst thing you can do for your body and how you’re meant to give your body 2-4 hours of not eating before bed. I’ve also been a yo-yo dieter for years, and heard rumors of starvation mode (when your body’s metabolic rate slows down bc it thinks you’re dying and need the food) if you deprive your body of calories irresponsibly. Again, IDK for sure what happened, but once I started eating from 4pm-12am it felt like my body panicked, shut down any fat-burning processes, and held onto whatever calories I did consume for dear life.
In other words, with a later eating window, my digestion slowed, my usual bloated feeling returned, and it quickly seemed like a terrible idea. And while my 2-10pm eating window had made me feel lighter after a few days, it had also allowed me to stop thinking so carefully about what I was eating. I would try to break my fast with a big, healthy meal, but I was way more relaxed about carb content, afternoon snacking, and eating desserts. As long as I stopped at 10pm, I was still technically on a diet—right?
Yeah, I wasn’t right. People who promote IF assume that you’ll eat fewer calories if given less time, but they’ve clearly never been to a timed buffet. I can’t say for sure whether I was eating more calories while I did IF, but I really doubt I was eating fewer (and definitely not on the weekend). And overeating with 16-hour breaks isn’t a diet: it’s just eating the same amount and giving you a better shot at digesting it properly. By the time I found a less f*cked up scale that Friday, I found I was two pounds heavier from the whole experiment.
BUT—and again I have no way of proving this—I felt like it was possible that part of that weight gain was muscle. I’m the kind of person who can (and has) temporarily gained two pounds from a large meal, and I’m very familiar with what that feels like. This weight gain, however, felt different.
To sum up my very scientific impression of how my body changed during this process, I felt like I was roughly the same size but less jiggly—like my pants were maybe a little tighter in the legs, but looser in the waist. It wasn’t my goal, and I still have five pounds I’d like to lose, but I’ve experienced worse results on more painful regimes.
Overall, would I recommend intermittent fasting, or ever do it again? Kind of! I would recommend trying a few different eating windows and seeing what works best for you, for sure. I might try incorporating a 24-hour fast once a week, since I’d had good short-term results with a few days of fasting. Ultimately, I think incorporating a couple fasting periods helped me shed some bloat and regulate digestion—but extending the fasts and confusing my body on when to expect food backfired. As much as I hate to say it, I have to accept that this wasn’t a “weight loss hack” by any means. If I actually want to see a lower number on the scale, I will have to consume fewer calories. Until then, I’ll be accepting tips on how the f*ck I’m supposed to enjoy an evening at home without eating until the second I fall asleep.
Images: louisabhaus, dietstartstomorrow (2), betches / Instagram
Bridezilla stories literally never get old. Don’t believe me? Read up on this one. A bride named Penny recently told Australian website, Whimn, that she tore a page out of Cady Heron’s playbook and “secretly fattened up” her bridesmaids with weight gain protein powder before her wedding. Coach Carr would be so proud.
While planning her wedding, Penny lived with her fiancé and two sisters, Maggie and Charlie. TBH, that sounds like a recipe for total disaster. If you have sisters, or have even watched a single episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, you can probably imagine what a terrible f*cking environment that had the potential to be. Except, unlike Kris Jenner’s golden child, Kimmy K., Penny clearly suffers from tragic middle child syndrome.
“I always felt like Jan Brady in the middle,” Penny told Whimn. “I wasn’t as hot and popular as my older sister and I wasn’t as cute and fun as my younger sister. I was just Penny in the middle.”
Penny then went on to explain that having always felt like the plain, lame sis, she couldn’t stop thinking about the horror of having to stare at her wedding photos for the rest of her life if her sisters looked better than her in them. I mean, can you really blame her? One semester in college, two of my roommates got spray tan packages and taking photos with them every thirsty Thursday was literally soul-crushing, so I sort of get it. Except clearly Penny took this way too f*cking far.
Anyway, since Maggie and Charlie are blondes with fair skin, Penny made them wear f*cking yellow bridesmaid dresses, which would have been enough of a crime tbh, but get this. Then she set out on a plan to fatten them up. Yes. Really. Each morning, she’d whip up some “weight loss shakes” for them. Only she literally emptied a tub of weight loss supplement and filled it with bulking protein powder (or like phentermine or something), and then gave them three times the suggested serving size, just to be safe. Then, she’d sit and sip her own shake, which was made just of fresh fruit and coconut water, and watch them gain weight before her very eyes.
First of all, this is certifiably insane. Also I feel like it should be illegal? Tbh, I’m just going off my American Vandal viewing experience and extrapolating. But if feeding people laxatives without their knowledge is illegal, is feeding people weight-gaining stuff without telling them also against the law? Feels like it should be.
Whether her scheme was illegal, just plain evil, or both, it seems to have worked? “By the time my wedding rolled around, each of my sisters had to have their dress altered to accommodate their thickening waistlines,” said Penny. “The day went off without a hitch and everyone had a great time. I never thought for a moment on my wedding day that I wasn’t the center of attention, or the most important person in the room.”
Yeah, this is all kinds of f*cked. I mean, first of all, I’d imagine that when these bridesmaids read this story and put two and two together, Penny is going to have some serious problems. But I guess that doesn’t matter to her, because she says she still gets happy when she sees the photos, but doesn’t feel bad because they’ve both slimmed down since. Damn, this woman needs therapy.
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