Do diets make you fat?

I’ve recently learnt that diets have a 95% recidivism rate. In plain words, that means that 95% of the people who go on diets will regain all the weight they have lost. I’ve also found out that the diet industry make millions of pounds a year and that ‘low fat’ products are often so loaded with sugar to make them palatable you’ll get so many calories from the sugar you may as well have eaten the fat in the first place!

All this is a bit disheartening I know if you are trying to diet. Far be it from me to put you off taking care of yourself. Apparently 60% of the adult population in Britain is obese and 25% of children so, goodness knows, we have to do something! But if diets don’t work, then what?

Personally I really enjoyed the diet class I belonged to a few years ago. I lost a lot of weight which I have pretty much kept off and I learnt a lot about portion size and food values. I was inspired to cook healthy meals from fresh ingredients and my whole approach to food was changed.

However I have to admit it was hugely performance based exercise: I was rewarded each week by a new stamp in my card, the warm approval of my class leader (‘another 2 pounds lost, well done Sheila’) and the envious glares of the somewhat larger ladies in the weekly queue for the scales. No wonder I enjoyed the experience. But I’m wondering if all this ‘performance’ was good for my soul?

Once I’d lost the weight and all that positive feedback dropped away, I was on a ‘maintenance diet’ ie maintain my target weight but what I seemed to maintain the most was my vigilance and anxiety that all that effort would come to nothing. It did creep back on slowly but it took seven years for me to go up a dress size so am I one of the 5% successes or 95% failures?

That’s probably the biggest problem I have with diets: the notion of success and failure. Those words are so loaded with emotion. The fact that you’ve failed to loose weight doesn’t mean you’ve ‘failed’ as a person. I’ve recently read a book about dieting. I won’t tell you the title because I’m afraid I wouldn’t recommend it. The train of thought was that if you had a weight problem then you had a spiritual problem (low self esteem/lack of self-discipline/sin of gluttony) and so therefore you had to resolve your spiritual issues by journaling, praying, confessing and self-controlling and this would result in weight loss without a diet! Without a diet?!

I really felt annoyed that an overweight person turning to this book for help would have to wade through almost the whole book, mostly telling her that not only did she have a weight problem but she was a obviously a rubbish Christian to boot only to reach the last couple of chapters to be told that if she got all that right she could loose weight without dieting.

Weight is an accumulation of fat cells. It is NOT a moral or spiritual thing. Yes, yes, I know being overweight can be linked to low self-esteem and emotional issues but some of the most gentle, funny, loving, spiritually switched on people I know are … dare I say it….FAT! And I love them and God loves them too and neither God nor I have a problem with their plumptiousness. A lot of overweight people are being made to feel like they are in the middle of a witch-hunt, there’s hardly a week goes by without a story about the ‘evil’ of obesity. Let’s have a bit of compassion here. The evil of obesity has been largely brought about by the ‘evils’ of marketing, advertising and commerce.

A lady wrote to me the other day lamenting about the size of her tummy ‘most other sins can be hidden’, she wrote ‘but I carry around the sin of gluttony so that everyone can see’. Ouch! I don’t know her well enough to know whether she is actually greedy or just has a post pregnancy bulge and why should we be ashamed about the way motherhood or age has rearranged our bodies. My belly carried two beautiful babies – of course it bulges!

So what do you think?

Do diets make you fat?

How do you feel about your size? How much do you think it matters what size we are?

Answers please….

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