Tapati's Body Image Workshop: Recovery From Crash Dieting

by Tapati


Years ago as part of my body image work I went on a “recovery from dieting” program. My relationship with food was a mess after years of crash dieting and growing up in a family of crash dieters. Foods were all divided into strict categories of good and bad, and I associated the “good” foods with starvation diets I’d been on, and the punishment and deprivation I’d experienced. I beat myself up mentally for wanting or enjoying the “bad” foods, foods I now can enjoy in moderation.

The rules were simple:

1. Eat only when hungry.

This was mostly a challenge of recognizing when I was hungry and eating right away. I found I was more likely to go past that point and only eat when I was starving, 6-8 hours following the last meal.

2. Eat exactly what you want.

3. Eat until you are full and then stop.

This really did a lot for me. First of all, I learned to get more in tune with my hunger and satiety signals. For someone who had dieted since I was 9 years old, I had long since lost consciousness of my body’s cues. Dieting sets you up for eating disorders precisely by disconnecting from these cues and divorcing eating from hunger alone.

Secondly, I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted. It was the rule! For the first time in my life I wasn’t eating according to some rigid code or else violating that code and hating myself for it. At first yes, I went for the forbidden foods. After a couple of months of this I started to grab a candy bar one day, took a look at it, and decided that no, I didn’t really want that right now.

I began enjoying the “good” foods once again, now that they didn’t mean depriving myself of the forbidden or “bad” foods.

I relaxed around portions of snacks because I wasn’t merely having a binge between harsh diets. I could have this stuff any time I wanted, so I didn’t need to scarf it down like someone was going to snatch it away from me if I didn’t eat every bite.

As my husband could tell you, snack foods generally last awhile around me now and I don’t eat whole bags of them in a sitting.


Tapati McDaniels is a freelance writer who started a forum designed to meet the needs of former Hare Krishna devotees at http://www.gaudiya-repercussions.com.

She is working on a memoir and her personal blog can be found at http://tapati.livejournal.com

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