“Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.” –Naomi Wolf
Deja Pseu posted that quote in comments the other day, and it seemed like a perfect way to start off this post. Which is simply a round-up of the most outrageous “diet tips” Shapelings have gotten in the past, as told in the last couple of comment threads.
Because I picked on Weight Watchers in particular, most of these refer to things heard at WW meetings, or from people on WW. But there are also some from family members, doctors, nutritionists, and trainers, too. What they all have in common is that they’re so blatantly fucking batshit, you can’t believe anyone said them with a straight face.
Without further ado, I present Shapelings’ Top 15 Helpful Diet Tips for 2008.
1. Eat less than 800 calories a day.
Fatadelic: I was told that I was clearly cheating and lying about what I ate and wasn’t trying hard enough. Yeah right, I’d lost 25kg by not trying hard enough. So, even though I was eating between 800-1000 cals a day already, I was instructed to go reduce what I was eating (or not eating) even further! The inevitable bust and regain occurred.
2. Remember that nothing tastes as good as being thin feels!
Stevie: I was always upset by what our group leader said “nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.” It sounds like nothing is as great as being thin, which I don’t believe.
Jaed (in response to Stevie): It always creeps the hell out of me when I hear weight-loss advocates or dieticians/counselors talking like pro-ana sites. (Not that the pro-ana movement originated that particular piece of thinspiration, so far as I know, but still.)
Phledge: I’m sure not getting taunted by the rest of the world or harassed by your physician feels pretty good too, compared to how a baby-flavored donut tastes.
Sweet Machine: As someone who is currently thin because of a digestive disorder, let me tell you, there are plenty of things that taste BETTER than being thin feels. I would gladly trade all of my lost weight for the ability to eat sweet potato fries again. And I would voluntarily put on 100 pounds by eating baby-flavored donuts if it meant I could have a cup of coffee in the morning without being sick by afternoon. The whole “deprive yourself until you’re thin and then, guess what, you get to keep depriving yourself” philosophy of WW is just demoralizing.
Llamas: Cheesecake Factory banana cream cheesecake tastes way better than thin feels. So does my homemade mac n’ cheese.
3. Obsessing about food is totally healthy as long as you stay on this side of an anorexia diagnosis.
Maewyn: I worked on a teen-level health book that said a lot of similar things: You need to have a healthy “eating plan” (which looks an awful lot like a diet, what with the restricting calories and the good foods/bad foods concept), but you need to avoid “crash diets” that restrict calories and prioritize some foods above others, and you definitely need to watch out for anorexia, which you can recognize in part by an obsession with counting calories.
Yeah, I don’t know how the kids were supposed to keep it straight either.
4. Water “flushes out the calories!”
Ellie: at one meeting, when we were sharing tips, a woman exhorted us all to drink our water. “You have to flush out the calories!” she pressed. “If you don’t drink water, how will the calories get removed from your body?” Everyone, including the instructor, complimented her on her excellent point.
I didn’t go back.
5. 2% milk is the enemy.
Cara: My favorite (non-diet) WW meeting moment of all time was in the 90s, when my Leader went on a bat-shit crazy rant – I mean a foaming, trembling, ‘No more wire hangers’ style crazy rant – about how terrible it was that people would consider drinking 2% instead of skim milk. She was enraged – disgusted, even – by the very notion that someone claiming a wish to be healthy would still guzzle that noxious, instant-obesity-inducing devil’s brew. She ranted on a bit to a stunned audience, got it all out of her system, smoothed her ‘do back down and re-adjusted her fixed ‘you can do it, girls!’ grin, but it was too late. We had all seen the fat-loathing, ignited by of all things, 2% milk. (Imagine if someone had confessed to drinking chocolate milk! It would have taken riot squads with fire hoses to stop her).
6. Resist your own birthday cake, but make sure nobody sees you doing that, so they won’t think you’re out of your goddamned mind.
hthr: a woman came to meeting once who stood up to tell us that she had resisted her own birthday cake that week. She had taken a sliver and just set it down on a counter somewhere in the course of the party and no one was the wiser. Dude, that is a tactic that anorexics use. And it was applauded by our leader.
7. Water in lettuce does not, as it turns out, flush out the calories.
Rebecca: a friend of mine has already named her autobiography “It’s the water in the lettuce”, since that’s what she was told by a doctor when she wasn’t losing weight despite eating around 4-500 calories per day.
8. Have oral surgery.
Wish: I once spent hundreds of dollars on WW, and in the course of a year, the only time I lost any weight was when I had all my wisdom teeth pulled at once and could only eat liquids. Naturally, I was praised quite thoroughly.
9. If you’re an underweight anorexic, you need to eat more than 1200 calories a day. If you’re a normal-weight anorexic, 800 ought to do it, and you could probably stand to lose a few pounds, tubbo.
zombie z: You want to know what makes me fucking CRAZY?!
As a thin anorexic, I was told over and over again that 500, 800, 1000, sometimes even 1200, calories a day wasn’t enough to even keep someone alive. I was told I should be eating 1800-2500 calories a day.
As a normal-sized anorexic, I was told (by a doctor) that I could “eat 800 calories a day and exercise and still lose some weight.”
10. Carrots make you fat. Also, green peppers.
Sima: Back when I was weight lifting and fat, and working on body composition and fat… Did I mention I was/am fat? Anyway, I was working very hard on championship level lifting. So working hard to lift more and more weights. And my trainer had me on a diet that was mostly vegetables and protein , extremely low fat (about 5% fat in diet) and so on. It was very hard to do, but I did it. After several months I went in for the testing and hadn’t lost any weight. In fact, my weight went up, but my body composition stayed the same. I still had plenty of fat and the trainer was mystified. Until she looked at my eating records and saw that I had eaten a handful of baby carrots a day. I love baby carrots.
‘Oh no, not carrots’ She gave me a serious look. ‘They make you fat.’
spacedcowgirl: Some women in my Weight Watchers meetings, when reporting that they have gained weight, have said that they think the reason is because they are eating too many vegetables or “zero-point” foods. One of them actually said she was eating too many GREEN PEPPERS and that was why she couldn’t lose (never mind that she is already very thin… and in all seriousness, unfortunately I would not be surprised if this particular person has an eating disorder).
11. If you’re thin and sedentary, keep up the good work!
Tangerina: The other day my mom’s best friend, who is a doctor, was staying with us and commented that my sister was looking very trim and healthy and asked if she was working at it much. My sister replied “not really, all I do is hang out and watch TV” and mom’s friend replied “well, you must be doing something right.” After my initial bout of sisterly jealousy my brain went “wait a minute, why did a doctor just tell my sister she must be doing something right by sitting around and watching TV just because she is thinner than my mom and I?”
12. Whatever you do, do not climb a mountain. It will make you fat.
Laine: A few years ago I went to WW and had hit a plateau. The woman at the scale asked to look at my journal and on one of the days she saw the number “35.” She gasped, “you ate 35 points in one day?! No wonder you haven’t lost.”
Me: “Um, no, actually, those were my activity points for that day, I climbed Mount Washington.”
Her: “Oh, you’re only supposed to track up to 10 activity points a day.”
[Note from Kate: If she had eaten 35 points in one day, that would have been about 1,750 calories.)
13. Barfing is good for you.
Lilith Sativa: Only weight loss program I have ever been in where I lost weight was a liquid diet trial I did when fresh out of high school. I ended up losing all told 30 pounds. This was not through the fact the program worked but due to the fact the formula base for the ” liquid diet” had lactose as an ingredient. I am lactose intolerant.
So then there was a meeting to see if I could keep taking something that was making me horribly sick, but at least I was losing the weight. My mom was actually agreeing that puking wasn’t SO bad. I could handle throwing up multiple times a day, it shouldn’t bother me. She told me at one point, “OH but think of the weight you will lose it will all be so worth it. ”
14. Once your body gets “used to” a particular food, it will begin automatically storing it as fat.
Lu: Do you know what made me leave Weight Watchers the last time, about 4 years ago, and never go back? I kept my food diary, did everything right, and didn’t lose an ounce for weeks. I even had the meeting leader read my food diary to check it over; her theory was that I was eating too many of the same foods, and that made my body somehow keep itself at stasis because it was used to what I was putting into it. Really!
15. Good girls don’t swallow.
Faith: I once had a WW leader tell me to chew and spit out my food for the taste but not the calories…good advice for a bulimic!
And don’t forget that if your plateau can’t be explained by your eating more than 800 calories a day, being dumb enough to think there are things that taste better than thin feels, letting yourself stray too far from the criteria for an anorexia diagnosis, not flushing out the calories with enough water, drinking 2% milk, eating a piece of your own birthday cake, eating lettuce, keeping all your teeth, eating carrots, eating green peppers, not being sedentary like your thin sister, climbing more than 10 points’ worth of mountain in a single day, not barfing your guts up, eating the same foods too often, or, you know, actually swallowing your food? THEN IT MUST BE ALL THE COUGH DROPS.
There. That should clear things up for all you fatties who just won’t take the time to educate yourselves about proper nutrition. You’re welcome.