I wanted to talk through some of the gross diet culture of January, how I avoid it, and what I spend January doing instead! Content Warning, this will talk about things like calorie counting, dieting, EDs, and more along those lines.
I spend a lot of my year using a food tracking app and sticking to a rough calorie goal. I’ve found now that I’m 10 years (ish) into my eating disorder recovery, I don’t find calories triggering anymore, and I have a healthier relationship to food and my relationship with it. I’ve had a lot go on in my life around food that I didn’t understand, I talk through that in more detail in my video on my channel The ED Diaries, and a little in my ADHD Journey blog post if you want to know more about that so I don’t repeat myself too much. I’ve had to deal with a lot of triggers like weight gain from life saving medication and restricting certain ingredients/foods for my Crohn’s disease as well as re-introducing seafood back into my diet after 10 years vegetarian.
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The last year or so, I’ve also worked out I am ADHD and Autistic which both have a large impact on how I eat food. I have high sugar cravings due to my ADHD dopamine seeking as I have been undiagnosed and untreated for most of my life, and my Autism can make it hard to even identify I’m hungry, struggle with food textures, have a very big reliance on ‘safe foods’ and eating the same kinds of foods for long periods of time. Now I can understand that as well, I feel like a large weight has been lifted off my shoulders where diet culture was telling me I am a failure. Actually, all of what I just explained is actually a really natural body response for ADHDers and Autistics. I need enough variation to keep me stimulated due to ADHD but also repetition and routine for my Autism. However, both are super hard to manage with my executive dysfunction problems. I can find it really difficult to remember other meals exist outside of my five repetitions, I need to see all my options or I will forget, and I struggle to actually go through the process of preparing and cooking food everyday. I can’t buy a lot of ready-made meals due to ingredients that set off my Crohn’s (lactose and hot spices) so it can be pretty difficult for me to take care of feeding myself. This leads to me being a chronic snacker or relying heavily on my family to help prepare foods.
How does this relate to my use of calorie/food tracking apps? I saw a nutritionist for a few months in the pandemic because I didn’t have enough of an understanding on how food worked. Sounds wild but I know it isn’t just me. They don’t teach this in schools in the UK so many of us will struggle. I found Cat really helpful to learn what kinds of things I should aim for including my macros (which I didn’t even know what they were until Cat), what calories to aims for, and also an anti-diet culture look at all of this. That was really important to me. So, I’ve adapted using calorie counter and food tracking apps to be able to give myself a good general aim of how much I should be eating and of what, because my hunger cues are unpredictable or non-existant. I can work out if something I have consumed has affected me, because I feel the same if I eat high calorie low nutrition foods as when I eat low calorie high nutrition foods. I literally feel the same, so looking at data can help me remember to incorporate more fruit and vegetables when I’ve been lacking, what foods might be upsetting my stomach, and what might be impacting my generalised fatigue levels.
One example is, I don’t consume a lot of caffeine and sometimes think going decaf is a good idea. I then have a week where I can’t keep myself awake in the day to do anything, and adding one caffeinated coffee back into my food plan helps this so much!
When it comes to diet culture itself, educating yourself on what good resources are is important but even talking to my nutritionist she agreed food science is so polluted and watered down by inaccurate science and isn’t moderated in the public access that it can be really hard to learn anything truly accurate without textbooks or a professional. This is why I made a post to help other people with Crohn’s where to find certain vitamins in foods and debunking some of the rubbish on the internet with a friend of mine who has trained in nutrition. A lot of health science is looked at through a fatphobic gaze where correlation and causation are the same (they are not the same, just because lot’s of fat people are depressed doesn’t mean they are depressed because they are fat. That is correlation, two things commonly occurring together at once. Causation would be to look at all the other common factors in fat people’s live that may cause this depression and it’s normally societal fatphobia and oppression that actually causes fat people to be depressed, not specifically being fat.) I’ve been working on trying to bring my blood pressure down after being on steroids for over a year and a half, most of the tips are to lose 10% of your body weight (normally talked about as if this isn’t a lot but if you are a 200lb person, 10% is 20lbs! That’s roughly a stone and a half!) and get a smaller waist? Even though there is no way to target body parts for fat loss. These kinds of tips are even on NHS and other medical sites, because all of the data is looked at through this fatphobic lens. What they are implying is the exercise habits that do help your BP, but they don’t specifically say that and insinuate it is your weight and size that’s the real impacting factor.
There are studies being done, and have been done that prove weight alone is not the cause or a risk factor for any health conditions. I also follow a few medical doctors, coaches, and nutritionists online whose whole platform is to breakdown the stigma of being fat and provide more information of newer studies etc. that prove weight is not the problem. I’ll list a few of them for you to check out here: Dr Asher Larmie (IG FatDoctorUK) you can also check their website where they keep their references for their videos www.NoWeigh.org, Dr Joshua Wolrich (IG DrJoshuaWolrich), Laura (tiktok Burritos_And_ADHD), also on tiktok @TheJockScientist who calls themself ‘the anti-Jillian Michaels… probably loads more so it is worth checking out my social media profiles and looking through the list of who I follow!
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There are also so many studies done that show people who diet will gain back what they lost, plus some more, (for more links to studies check out this HealthLine article but it’s a pretty fatphobic article in itself so… skim read it) and that dieting through your life leads your body to changing its weight set point to be higher. Most dieting companies and schemes are owned by ‘junk’ food companies like Nestlé. They make money when you diet, and they make money when you quit. If they don’t own ‘junk’ food companies, they own pharmaceuticals, like Weight Watchers’ parent company… which makes dieting more and more likely to become a prescribed care plan for chronic conditions fat people have instead of actual medications as they are cheaper. It’s all about profits, rather than making the customers feel good. Feeling good about yourself and happy in your body would make many industries go bust, from cosmetic surgeries, to diet services, clothing brands, gyms, even these tracking apps…
The above would still exist outside of the guise of making you a ‘better you’ but the way they are set up now is what would disappear.
What have I been doing this January if I haven’t been starting a New Year diet? Ummmm eating. A lot. It’s Veganuary, the only time of the year where I, in my little village surrounded by small towns, can access any food options outside of my home! KFC Vegan Chicken Burger, and Costa’s Vegan cakes, Burger King and the Beyond Burger or Vegan nuggets, Krispy Kreme donuts has a few new flavour options (of which I wouldn’t write home about) even the local Maccie D’s and more… A lot of the local places don’t provide a vegan option all year round and many veggie or fish options have lactose in which makes me really sick. So I have been enjoying the nicer options whilst they are available and trialling a few meal replacement shakes to help me on the days I struggle to make my own food at home.
I do want to say before anyone tries to go out and do their research on the things I have mentioned: most search results of any topics I’ve mentioned will mainly provide you with weight loss advice and a lot of fatphobia. I’ve struggled to find links to studies I know exist because every article that comes up is talking about weight loss, the obesity epidemic, or other gross things which is NOT what I am looking for which makes it really hard to find the right links to provide you. But you can find a lot of these links through the social media accounts I have mentioned who are a safer space to be as a fat person or person dealing with disordered eating. I can’t provide you with all the links I wanted to because everything I was seeing was actually really triggering, and I’m not easily triggered anymore. And I think trying to search for these studies via the social media above would take a really long time. So I hope this can be seen and used as a base to jump off. You know that everything you see and hear out there isn’t what it seems and you can start questioning that and finding better sources of information relating to your diet, weight, and body size.
I hope this has been helpful and eye-opening, I’ll see you in my next post.
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