Don't Let Your Diet Define You

One day we step on the scale and the number we see there shocks us.  It has crossed some threshold we may not even have known we had, and we're galvanized.  "That's it!  I'm going on a diet!"  Our weight becomes our obsession.

In the early stages, we cut out everything: sugar, carbs, processed food, whatever we have to in order to lose weight fast.  We might even cut too much in order to achieve our goal as quickly as possible.  I too have done the starvation liquid diet thing.  I've done the no-more-than-20-carbs-a-day thing.

However, at some point we start to feel deprived (and perhaps we really are).  We start eating all of those things again, and we end up right back where we started in the first place (or maybe we're even heavier).  I've done that too.

vintage scale

We have a problem.

I think that when we try to cut out everything we think will make us fat, we start spending all of our time thinking about food!  What we can have, what we can't have, how soon we can have something, how we'll deal with the food at our cousin's wedding, our husband's birthday, or the holiday that's right around the corner. 

My mother was a serial dieter, and she talked about food all the time.  I've done it too.  It doesn't help that it's been primarily my responsibility to plan meals, do the grocery shopping, and do the cooking.  That's already a big chunk of time and effort to spend thinking about food, without adding any deprivation-fueled thoughts to the mix.

Is this how naturally thin people think about food?  I have a feeling it's not.  Naturally thin people surely have foods that they really enjoy, but they probably don't fixate on them.  When they're hungry, they eat, and when they're sated, they don't wonder how long it is until they can put some more calories into their mouths.

And we may choose to be vegetarian, or vegan, or Paleo, or whatever, but aren't we all fortunate to have those choices?  We aren't required to think about food during every waking minute just so we can be sure to have enough.  We aren't hunter-gatherers, and anyone who's reading this isn't on the edge of poverty.  We have plenty of opportunity to think and talk about something other than food.

One way to deal with cravings.

One thing I've noticed about those of us who eat too much and too often is that we may not discriminate against foods.  I've been guilty of eating a pile of Oreo cookies, which I don't even much like, simply because I wanted a sugar fix.  What I really craved might have been one exceptional chocolate chip coconut cookie like my mom used to make.  But I ate the Oreos, and was still unsatisfied.

It would be good to banish all of the foods that I personally don't care for – Oreos, potato chips, most candy bars.  I should give up all of those things that don't really matter to me, and never settle for them when I crave something else like pizza.

As for the things I miss, like a chai tea latte or cheese enchiladas, perhaps I should joyfully and without guilt bring them back into my life.  Instead of feeling bad because a diet says I should never again have something I like, I should feel free to have it whenever I want, and feel a bit of pride whenever I make the choice to skip that splurge.  That way I haven't made something I enjoy into a "never ever" thing.  

I would have less reason to rebel against my diet if it was less restrictive.  And instead of feeling shame over sharing a piece of fresh blackberry cobbler with my husband, I could be proud that I chose to share it instead of getting a piece all for myself!

We are more than numbers on a scale.

Unfortunately, "overweight" and "proud" don't seem to be words that go together in the minds of most people.  So be sure to remember all of the things you offer to the world, no matter what you weigh:

  • your humor
  • your compassion
  • your intelligence
  • your skills
  • your kindness
  • your honesty
  • your generosity
  • your talents
  • your creativity
  • your energy
  • your optimism
  • your courage
  • your open mind

Your diet may be important for your continued health and well-being, but it's far from the most notable thing about you.  Rather than letting my weight be my obsession, I should strive always to be a multi-dimensional person with much more to think and talk about than food!

Updated April 2023


  1. I eat anything I want including 1 oz of potato chips every day. But, I track those foods in an ap. As long as I stay about 1300 calories most days, I lose weight. (70 pounds so far) This "system" is working for me because if I want something I can have it so I never feel deprived. Even carrot cake is allowed. BTW, calculations show 1300 calories a day is what I will need to eat to maintain my goal weight once I reach it so there will never even be a transitional period. Yay!

    1. Congratulations, Linda! What great progress you've made with a system that works well for you, and lets YOU be in charge of what you eat, not some "diet plan."

  2. Hi Karen, Just to let you know I always look forward to reading your blog, your wisdom and insight is so refreshing and a gift to the world. Regards Crystal from Australia

    1. Oh my, Crystal, thank you so much! It makes my day to know that something I write is useful to someone else.

      All best wishes,


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