A letter from non-diet mentality Kylie to diet-mentality Kylie.
One of my favorite songs is The Ballad of Love and Hate by the Avett Brothers and it inspired me to write this post.
Just a quick reminder, before we get into the post, on how to recognize if you’re in a diet mentality…
Dear diet mentality Kylie,
Of all the relationships I’ve been in throughout my life…you were the biggest waste of time. I stayed with you longer than I should have. You were like an abusive boyfriend I kept going back to. Someone who made me feel terrible about my self, but regardless I kept going back to you. It took me 10 years to break-up with you.
When I hear you in other people, it makes my skin crawl. When I hear people talking about their Whole30 diet, paleo diet, cleanses, happiness over weight loss, sadness over weight gain, low carb diet, “summer slim-down/shape-up” plan, inability to eat dessert on a weekday…I see you in those people.
I want to share everything I’ve learned since leaving you, but I know it’s their own journey and even if I see someone drowning I can’t save them by bombarding them with information. I have to throw a life saver their way and hopefully they choose to swim to shore and get out of the sea of diet mentality. I can’t get them out of diet mentality without them wanting to get out of a diet mentality. There have been relationships I’ve ended because some are drowning in diet mentality and when I reach out a hand to save them I end up getting pulled into the water. Boundaries in relationships are huge for helping me stay away from you. Anytime someone mentions food being food or bad, their exercise routine or a body size in a negative way…I always visualize paint drying because I think watching paint dry and inhaling paint fumes would be more entertaining and less harmful than hearing someone talk about micromanaging their body size.
It sucks because you are so normalized in our society. Skipping meals, not eating snacks, distracting yourself from hunger, eating clean during the week and relaxed on the weekends, restricting yourself from foods you enjoy…those are all diet-mentality, disordered eating behaviors and they are encouraged in the world we live in. People go to eating disorder treatment for all those behaviors listed, but in the weird world we live in, people walk around talking about them like the behaviors you encourage are healthy, when they are actually dangerous.
You taught me to try every diet. Non-diet “me” gets to be so connected to her body and I’ve learned I can trust my body. I’ve learned that trusting my body and what it is craving is caring for my body. Why did you teach me that caring for my body meant food restriction and overexercise? Now, going on a diet or overexercising would feel similar to only allowing myself to pee or breath a certain number of times a day. It would be stupid to do because it’s something I know my body has got under control.
I think the thing I’m most mad at you for is making me think I was more valuable if I took up less space in this world. Geez. That one messed me up from age 14 to my early 20s. You lowered my self-esteem and taught me my worth should come from my body size, my exercise routine, and my ability to eat “clean” foods. You taught me to be obsessed with and think about food 90% of the day. Now I get shit done in this world and that 90% of previously wasted brain space has been put towards building a business, investing in relationships with friends/myself/my husband, and becoming the person I was meant to be.
You made me think that health meant restricting and depriving myself from things I enjoyed. You brainwashed me to think carbs are bad and that if I avoided/limited them I would achieve something. You disconnected me from my body by making me eat based on the calories and carb amount in food. Now I eat based on cravings and every meal has carbs at it (EVERY MEAL) and I realize how important carbs are to have regularly.
You taught me I should feel guilty if I found pleasure and enjoyment in food. Now I find so much pleasure in food.
You taught me that I would be most happy in a smaller body. You taught me that thin was healthy. Why did you lie? Why didn’t you tell me that there was a weight I would end up where I don’t have to feel crazy about food and movement and that, THAT weight is the healthiest for me?
I’m glad I’ve worked to develop the me I am now, the non-diet me. You always filled me with dread and loneliness. Everything with you seemed difficult. Wearing a bathing suit, eating out with friends, having to buy a bigger pants size…you made everything seem so difficult when none of those things are things to get worked up over. You made me panicked. You made me anxious. You made me feel like I didn’t know how to feed myself. You kept me small and insecure. I spent years being a pushover and would do whatever you asked, but I’m not a pushover anymore. I flow now. The world is more vibrant. I get to experience joy more than ever before.
Being you taught me who I don’t want to be. But I’m grateful you taught me what it feels like to live with you, so I can help others break-up with you too.
Happy to be done with you,
Non-diet mentality Kylie
Would love to hear anything you have to say to your disordered eating or eating disorder, whether your disordered behaviors are past or present.