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May 4, 2012

Next week, Fierce, Freethinking Fatties will commemorate International No Diet Day by hosting No Diet Week with an explosion of content. We’re planning double posts each day to encourage everyone to step off of the scale and step into a whole new world of self-acceptance and self-compassion. Join us as we discuss the dangers of dieting, and the joy of living a diet-free lifestyle. We kick off the festivities in style with Dr. Deah, the Prophetess of Inner-Peace.  

Trigger warning: This post asks you to stop dieting and to give up all the horrors that go along with it.

On May 6, one week before Mother’s Day, there’s a lesser-known holiday to mark on your calendar. Founded in 1992 by Mary Evans Young, Director of Britain’s Diet Breakers, International No Diet Day (INDD) is an annual tribute to body acceptance and body shape diversity. This day is also dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle and raising awareness of the dangers and futility of repeat dieting (aka weight cycling). People who do not understand what Health at Every Size® (HAES) is all about, and who bow to the idol of the scale, will grumble and cower in fear and disgust.  I can hear it now:

International No Diet Day?? Are you kidding me??? That’s just another excuse for all those fat people to throw their healthy eating habits out the window and binge binge binge in uncontrollable gluttony.

I get a headache just thinking about what a drastic misinterpretation that is. “Healthy eating habits?” What they really mean is restrictive dieting. Perhaps if they saw the goals of INDD they would reconsider?

The goals of INDD:

  • Question the belief that there is only one “right” body shape
  • Raise public awareness of weight discrimination, size bias and fatphobia
  • Declare a day free from restrictive weight loss diets and obsessions with body weight
  • Educate others by providing facts about the diet industry and emphasize the failure of commercial diets
  • Show how diets perpetuate violence against women
  • Honor the victims of eating disorders

Does that help? Everyone on board with this now?

What’s that I see? A tsunami of blue ribbons filling the streets, cities, countries of the world? Millions of people wearing ANAD’s fabulous “Accept Myself/Accept Others” bracelets?

Maybe in Dr. Deah’s Hollywood… but in the real world the chances of that happening are slim, and would require scores of people filled with curiosity and possessing the ability to consider a different point of view.

Hmm, chances are I just described YOU!


And you have already found this website, this blog, probably already knew about INDD, and there aren’t scores of us… yet. So, once again it is our mission to try and spread an unpopular point of view for (as my mom would say while wagging her finger) “their own good!”

Please forgive me. My sarcasm and snark are aimed at the diet industry and media giants that thrive on our malcontent and won’t allow us even ONE stinking DAY. It is not directed toward the folks who are already on the path of acceptance, trying to shift their lives from an obsession with food and weight to, as Deb Lemire wrote so brilliantly, the road less traveled.

But in order to get from Malcontent Road to the Self-Acceptance Avenue, there needs to be a third road that connects the two. Call it what you will, but I call it an on-ramp, and you can’t get there from there to here without taking the on-ramp.

Warning: It’s usually under construction and merging can be a bitch.

  • ONE DAY… I will love my body without apologizing or justifying.

That on-ramp is a bumpy road and I have great compassion for how difficult it can be to celebrate INDD if you are still navigating the treacherous hairpin turns in the middle of the ramp. I know the panic that generates from a pit deep within our guts, radiating out to every extremity at the mere thought of not getting on the scale for just ONE DAY.

  • ONE DAY… I will enjoy what I am eating without beating myself up.

I remember the humiliation I used to experience when I would (HEAVEN FORBID) commit the mortal sin of eating a forbidden food in public. Sometimes I would even (GASP!) take it out of the paper bag and show enjoyment.

  • ONE DAY… I will not put myself down for not putting down my spoon.

Is ONE DAY of respite too much to ask? Think about it. Every other day of the year we are assaulted with pro-diet, anti-obesity propaganda. We are force fed useless anti-fat product pitches EVERYwhere we go. You literally have to unplug all of your devices and hide under the covers alone to have ONE DAY without being told that if you are fat you are a failure, you are diseased, you are about to become diseased, you are really a thin person dying to get out. Who wouldn’t want to hide when you’re living in a world populated by those who openly despise you every day of the year?

  • ONE DAY… I will not loathe myself for not looking like Jennifer Hudson’s after picture.
  • ONE DAY… I will not bargain with my food.

I am not saying this is an easy day for everyone to celebrate. It’s not Christmas or the Fourth of July. It’s more like Yom Kippur, or some equally thoughtful, somber holiday… but without the fasting.

  • ONE DAY… I will love my thighs for all that they are and not apologize for what they are not.
  • ONE DAY… I will move for the sheer pleasure of moving and will not check to see how many calories I burned.
  • ONE DAY… I will not spend precious time away from my friends and family calculating weight/calorie ratios or purging what I just ate.

And still there are those who will say, “No Diet Day??? Are you saying we should just go out and eat ourselves into a mindless stupor?”

I think you already have the mindless part covered.

  • ONE DAY… I will mind less about my size and mind more about my mind.
  • ONE DAY… I will rest my brain from the judgments, comparisons and promises about what my body should look like.

In retrospect I remember how exhausting it was to just carry the weight of my obsession around with me every minute of every day, never believing it was possible to let go of my concerns for just ONE DAY. Not just the food obsession, the thin obsession as well.

Restrictive dieting is designed to be failure oriented, and it shifts our attention away from pleasurable, mindful eating; joyful movement; and acceptance of who we are now. But when you are being served the same messages day in and day out, we forget to ask our server if there are any specials or to order something off the menu. The diet mentality and its associated self-hatred is a difficult habit to break.

Difficult, but not impossible.

So relax… it’s just ONE DAY. Enjoy it!

And maybe the next day you will come back for a second helping.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    May 4, 2012 10:21 am

    I keep thinking of all the things we could accomplish with the time, money, and energy we devote to dieting. The time that I’m not obsessing about food, calories, etc is time I can spend with my husband, my son and his fiancee, and my grandchildren – and it’s quality time, not time that half-way paying attention to them because I’m also thinking about how hungry I am because I’m dieting. Same goes for the energy I don’t spend on dieting anymore. And the money I don’t spend on dieting – oh the uses I have for that money! I’ve bought garden gnomes for DH, a Kindle and ebooks for me (and regular books too), new clothes for both of us, a membership in the MN Historical Society so we can find all the interesting places in MN and go visit them, I can donate to my favorite causes and help other people, and the list goes on and on. I even have time to work on 3 blogs because I’m not obsessing over what I’m eating, how much I’m eating, am I thin enough, and what do people think of how I look. Granted, none of that is world-changing, but it is life-changing for me, and it could be life-changing for a lot of other people if they too could give up the diet mentality for more than a day (but that one day is a start).

  2. May 4, 2012 10:55 am

    Dieting is basically being subservient to others (angry voices in one’s head entitled “Parents,” “lovers,” “friends,” “unknown people in the street.”) My question is: why let others define you and tell you what to do, and lose energy and feel guilty into the bargain? The diet industry profits directly from our guilt. Let’s give them a day when *they* feel guilty about foisting myths on us.

  3. May 7, 2012 1:40 pm

    And to add to what Vesta said, life is just too damn short to waste any of it!!! I spent the weekend in Michigan due to a sudden death in my family. Honestly, there is nothing like an event like this to put things in perspective. Our bodies are so much more than circumference and pounds.

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