Dieting and the pursuit of weight loss is harmful to women and our society as a whole. If we are so busy trying to shrink ourselves and obsess over “improving” our bodies, then we are less likely to have the brain space to focus on things that truly matter. Like Naomi Wolf so eloquently puts it, “Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history.”
Dieting has been proven to fail in the long term for the vast majority. Not only don’t they work, but they often wreak havoc on our metabolisms, causing people to end up at higher weights than when they started. Along with that comes weight cycling as people “fall off the diet wagon” again and again and weight cycling is associated with hypertension, inflammation, increased risk of diabetes, and more (all the things people associate with fatness). Instead of people blaming diets, they blame themselves. “I just need more self control. I just need to try harder. I just need to try this diet instead. I just need to do low carb this time.” Sound familiar?
This post is for those of you who are interested in exploring the alternative to dieting but still might be struggling with the seductive nature of the trendy diets like F Factor. It is so normal to want to lose weight in the culture we live in; I mean, the diet industry is billions of dollars invested in you believing your body is a problem in need of fixing.
Let’s start with what what makes this F Factor diet so incredibly special and “unique.” It’s all about a high fiber diet that will make you feel fuller so that you can lose weight without feeling hungry. Ummmmm, so I’m pretty sure that fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are high in fiber and most of us know that we want to have a nice variety of these foods on a regular basis. But hey, this is soooo revolutionary!
But besides fruits and vegetables, F Factor is all about the addition of high fiber crackers like GG crackers. I cannot even tell you how many of my clients with eating disorders are obsessed with those cardboard, edible sawdust GG crackers. I mean, sure, you can slather avocado, cheese or a nut butter on it to make them edible but like…. why? We can lie to ourselves and say we don’t feel that we’re missing out on other foods but when we let ourselves eat foods we really want, we are SO much less likely to overeat and graze. I can promise you that. It’s also a much better idea to get fiber from a wide variety of foods as opposed to the same food over and over again.
Also, too much fiber isn’t a great thing either. It can start to hurt your stomach and cause gastrointestinal distress and bloating. Ouch! But the bottom line is that you can only trick your body into believing it’s full for so long. Your body is smart and eventually, once the honeymoon period of this new diet wears off (6 months to a year usually), you will find that you will start thinking about food more and more, your cravings will get more intense, and all of that is your body trying to get enough food in you. Your body is trying to get enough food in you so that it can survive the next famine. It doesn’t know that it’s 2018 and you’re trying to stay slim to meet the beauty ideal.
This diet promises permanent weight loss and I promise you not a single diet exists in this world that can follow through on those claims. Show me the data that 5 and 10 years later the weight is still off for the majority. That’s right, no such study exists. Don’t fall for the lies.
F Factor also discourages cardio but allows strength training. I love strength training but when a diet tells you to avoid cardio so you can focus more on weight loss, I really start to question the people who say they are doing this for “health.” Wanting to lose weight in our crazy culture is totally understandable but let’s not pretend that any of this is in the name of “health.”
Recently I saw a blogger sharing her flat and toned stomach while promoting F Factor. This blogger is very slender and the comments were filled with young women writing “body goals” and “Omg tell me what you eat every day.” GUYS. COME ON. GUYSSSS.
Do I need to scream from the rooftops that you cannot just get someone’s body by following their diet? Come on! Genetics play a MUCH bigger role than diet culture gives credit for. Some people are naturally slender and have flat abs while others spend 4 hours at the gym and engage in very disordered behavior for their flat abs. Some people are 5’9 and I’m 5’2 – there’s nothing I can do to change my height and there’s not much we can do about the shape of our bodies. We can force our bodies to be a size it doesn’t want to be but for the majority, that leads to additonal weight gain and poorer health.
At the end of the day, many people feel soothed when they have a set of guidelines telling them what they can and cannot eat. We turn to diets to feel better about ourselves. To make us feel like we’re fixing something and isn’t it nice and safe when we have a set of clear-cut rules to follow? It often seems easier to do that then work on trusting ourselves and our bodies.
And I get it. I get how hard it is to trust ourselves when we’ve been bombarded with constant diet messages our entire lives but I promise that F Factor is not some revolutionary magic answer that will give you the body of your dreams or offer permanent weight loss. Bodies change throughout our lives; puberty, menopause, life circumstances… and we can spend our lives chasing after this illusion of success and happiness or we can put our energy elsewhere. No shame in whatever choice you make but it’s always nice when we can make educated, informed choices.
Read a list of my go-to podcasts and books for more on intuitive eating and HAES topics here.