When Your Diet Comes Under Fire

Dang it, Cammy. I was going to go be productive but now I have to write a blog post.

The excellent Cammy linked this interesting article. Especially interesting for me as it attacked one of my pet institutions, the much-reviled Cheat Day.

I was gearing up to write a balanced, persuasive response but you know, I decided I'd rather just jump up and down and bitch at the top of my lungs. And right there that's a more interesting post than debating the pros and cons of cheat days, or intermittent fasting, or intuitive eating, Weight Watchers or Medifast or anything else.

(Let me just issue a clarification that it is not the highly tactful and kindly Cammy so much as lifting an eyebrow at my beloved Cheat Day. The dietician blogger characterized Cheat Days as "very dangerous" which I thought was theorizing waaaay ahead of limited evidence, but that's another post).

There are 95,000 diets (or "non-diets") out there. Something works for me, and I immediately want to apply it to my friend down the way. "Don't try to eat moderately of refined carbohydrates and desserts. Limit them to one day a week. That's what works!" That's what worked for me-- maybe they would do better focused on intuitive eating, or increasing exercise drastically, or eating 90/10, or counting calories and watching macros. I might think someone is losing too fast, and destined to gain it back because their metabolism is cooling off too much. They might think I'm wasting time and pussyfooting around and should get to it already. If one approach worked for all, there'd be only one.

The part I'm addressing here is the problem of letting criticism weaken my focus. If I have concerns about what I'm doing, I need to address them, but if I find that I'm letting someone's else's generic disapproval deflect me from my goals, then it becomes a real problem. Have you ever embarked on something (fitness-related or other) only to read ten different conflicting approaches? "This way!" "No, whatever you do, not THAT way!" "X way's dangerous and wrong!" "Y method is SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN." And you end up doing nothing because you can't be sure that any one method is exactly right? There are as many ideas about fitness and fat loss as there are stars in the sky. There are thousands of studies but in the end each of us a study group of one-- what works, or doesn't work, for you. Because in the end you're the one who has to live with the results.

What do you all do when you encounter criticism about your health practices?


  1. Goddess, do not get me started on this issue! http://diminishinglucy.blogspot.com/2010/01/so-how-exactly.html

  2. I do what works for me and I know myself better then you...or you or you. Sweets are easy for me to give up, carbs are easy but meats are impossible so therefore it's a lean pork chop, green beans and a salad for a big meal. I love salads, green beans and there is that necesssary meat that we could substitute pork chop for hamburger steak, etc. I watch portion sizes..and that works for me. Wouldn't work for a lot of people and I'm so happy some of those people found what they can live with and I never say I'm dieting. I'm eating healthier when someone asks.

  3. Thanks for the mention and for actually clicking the link. :)

    I'm so glad you posted this, because I took away something completely different from Rebecca's article on my first reading. I thought the focus was on being too restrictive with the every day diet and then expecting one slice of bread every other Thursday to be "enough." As you know, I don't swing that way. I lost 100 pounds, splurging (I don't use the "cheat" word) all the way.

    I think I glommed onto this part: "don’t diet ever. But if you’re food preferences consist of lots of junky stuff, you might want to explore why that is and add foods that are healthy. They’ll start to replace the less healthy stuff. You won’t feel deprived." That made sense to me because I finally lost my weight by learning to eat in a healthy way *for me*, and no longer following "other people's diets."

    Having just re-read the article, I can see your point completely. (Must learn to slow down when reading!) I'll have to make amends on my blog, so that people don't think I've lost my ever-loving mind! :)

    And no, I am not fretting about your 'cheat days'. My own splurges have kept me sane...and at maintenance level. :)

  4. I've quit telling people my truth when they ask how I've kept off 80 pounds for the last 11 years and between 100 and 120 pounds for the last four and half years. I don't want to hear everyone tell me that I'm doing it wrong. I don't say the A word anymore - Atkins. And when I say that I didn't start exercising AT ALL until the last 5 years, then that's almost being a heretic. Granted, my food choices are no longer the two week induction phase, but I have no patience with hearing about what someone else can or cannot do and why I'm doing it wrong. Hey, it works for me. Everyone's mileage my vary.

  5. If it works for you, who cares? I read an article recently that talked about how WW doesn't work because it allows people to eat too much. My reply (which my friend Susie quotes religiously)?
    "They can kiss my size 4 Weight Watchers ass"

  6. I believe this is when we have to "eat the meat and spit out the bones" of what people/articles say, huh?

    This is something I've struggled with greatly, and, in fact, it's the reason I don't post my food diary online. I really don't want people criticizing the fact that I chose a glass of Pepsi to have with dinner instead of diet or even water. etc. etc.

    Great point, Larkspur!! You are very right in your view of this situation...in my opinion anyway. :)

  7. Great posts, everybody. Cammy, I feel very "tippy toe" about my own efforts and have always found your approach very helpful. And Melissa, what a giggle! Love it!

  8. This is a fabulous post!!! I totally agree that it is SO individual and I love your eloquency: "each of us a study group of one." Wonderful!

  9. When dealing with criticism (or even a differing viewpoint that strikes a chord with me), I've tried to use the "screen door" technique - let in the part that might be useful, but let anything else bounce right off. And if this has been working for you, then I say, let it bounce! If you get to a point where it's not working as well as it has, or you are wanting a change, that might be a good time to revisit the other perspectives and see what they have to offer. But not just because you were confronted with them - do it because you've actively chosen to seek them out. Kind of like, "I'll buy a vacuum when I need one, not just because the salesman showed up at my house."

    RE "cheat day" or "splurge day" - that would drive me nuts personally, because I would feel like I was denying myself the rest of the week and it would make me cranky. I'm still a big fan of treating myself every day with quality over quantity, and loving myself and my life. I eat better and exercise more when I'm happy, so happy comes first. And then it self-perpetuates. But that's just what works for me ;-) Everyone's different, and they eat, gain weight, and lose weight for different reasons. So it only makes sense that what works for one person may not work for another.


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