Nothing Tastes As Good As Skinny Feels

Diet Lie #1: Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels...


The first time I really tried to diet, and I mean really tried - not the dozens of times in high school when I would count calories for exactly three days and then give up and eat Taco Bell - I told myself over and over that nothing could ever taste as good as being thin would feel. I don't know when I first learned that phrase; it just floated in the ether of diet/body-hate wisdom I continuously and subconsciously internalized, but I immediately found it comforting. What better way could there be to talk myself out of eating a cookie? The cookie would only taste good for a few minutes, but once I got thin I would be happy for life! I just had to keep my eye on the prize - the payoff would be worth it.

The trouble is, it wasn't true. After seven months of dieting (which should probably be more accurately referred to as the beginning stages of anorexia), I had lost almost 50 pounds and was well below my original BMI goal. I was 5'4'' and weighed 105 pounds. Others, including my boyfriend, told me I was beginning to look too thin, but I thought I looked great. Actually, to be perfectly honest, I still thought my belly stuck out. I was still not entirely comfortable in a bathing suit, but I sure felt better about my weight than I did before.

And yet, being thin didn't feel good.

I felt cold all the time. I felt weak and dizzy whenever I stood up too quickly. I felt completely disinterested in sex which was an issue since my boyfriend and I lived together. I was still insecure about my body and I was completely obsessed by thoughts of food (should I have a cookie? Better not. Maybe just a bite? Am I eating too much or too little? When should I let myself eat again? In an hour? Maybe two, etc., etc.). So being thin didn't actually feel all that great. But you know what would have tasted amazing? A fucking cookie.

Cookies always taste amazing. And Christmas Eve dinner with my family that year would have probably tasted pretty good too. I wouldn't know, because I all but skipped it. I don't remember much of that night actually, except what I didn't let myself eat. I didn't eat the ham. I didn't eat my cousin's trademark princess cake. I didn't eat the sweet potato casserole. Looking back, I'm pretty sure the half a pound I may have avoided gaining was not worth the night full of food and merriment that I gave up. And I do believe that food and merriment go together. Not every event needs to involve food to make it special, but lots of events can sure be made even better with cake.

I feel like that's a pretty undeniable fact. After all, we are animals. We are biologically programmed to enjoy sex, sleeping and eating above all else. Sure, we evolved to enjoy other things, like poetry and salsa dancing, but that doesn't remove food from the top of the priority list - or the top of the pleasure list.

And the phrase "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" is logically misleading - it suggests that you can compare the pleasure of eating one thing - one cookie or one burger - to the pleasure of being thin all the time. But it doesn't work that way. You can't give up just one cookie and then magically become thin. You have to give up all the cookies all of the time (or at least almost all of the time).

I don't neccessarily believe that giving up cookies is a bad thing. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to lose some weight if you are overweight, or modifying your diet because you want to be healthier. Sometimes, becoming healthy will mean giving up cookies for a little while. But it's silly to pretend that that isn't hard - it is, both physically and psychologically.

And the thing is, even though I do want to be healthy, part of being healthy is being happy. And for me, part of being happy is eating dessert, probably more often than I should.

When I was dieting, I ate healthy all of the time (except that I didn't eat enough, which wasn't healthy, actually), exercised regularly and never ate cookies, so I weighed about 105 pounds.

Now, I eat healthy most of the time, exercise regularly and sometimes eat cookies and I weigh about 115 pounds.

I'm not saying we should all eat cookies all the time. The obesity epidemic in America is real and alarming and a whole other issue (or, probably, a different part of the same issue), and just because cookies are always available these days does not mean it’s a good thing to always eat them. What I am saying is, if it is a choice between not ever eating dessert and weighing ten pounds less versus sometimes eating dessert and weighing ten pounds more, I'd encourage anyone to go ahead and eat the dessert. Despite the promise that being thin feels good, I can assure you, it doesn't feel that good. And a few pounds more or less won't have nearly as large an impact on your quality of life as allowing yourself to eat what you want.

At least, that's how it was for me. And I'll take improved quality of life over a size 0 any day.