The Diet Hangover: How To Break the Diet Cyle

In Health, Inspiration by Ashley MuchaLeave a Comment


How do you know if you are experiencing DietHangover™? Here is a list of common ailments that frequent dieters might identify with:

The Symptoms:

o You are eating less, but not losing weight with each diet you try.

o When planning to go on another diet, before starting, there is an immediate urge to binge on decadent treats like donuts, cupcakes, ice cream, and pastries.

o When you end a diet, it’s like encountering an explosion: BINGE!

o Each diet you plan is more and more absurd and strict; and consequently you last less time on each one.

o THOU SHALT NOT TRUST THYSELF: If someone left a cake on the counter in the kitchen, that entire cake would be in your stomach by the end of the afternoon. It’s the concept of starvation & restriction that fail you; you aren’t a failure (but you can’t separate the two…and THAT lack of distinction is destroying your relationship with food).

o SELF-PUNISHMENT EATING: Your mentality is frequently this: “I’m _______lbs overweight, I don’t deserve to eat lunch/dinner today.” This is a very bad idea. This will actually get you fatter.

o LAST HURRAH EATING: Before your next “Juice Cleanse” or “Detox” or whatever crazy ass diet you are about to try begins, you typically are stuffing yourself silly.

o LONELY GIRL: You become Lonely Girl while you are dieting, because who wants to have to go out and about and be around food while they are dieting?! Ordering in front of peeps while you are on a diet can be embarrassing, “no butter, no cheese, no bread, dressing on the side, PLEASE” How humiliating. So it’s easier to just stay home. So you stay home…and eat 4 sleeves of Oreos instead. Great. Just. Great.

o CALORIE CLIPPING: Diet Girl starves herself all day (before going to an evening party) and then gorges herself on finger foods while her date turns his back. She is officially out of control because she is crazy starving. She eats way too much and hates herself for it later.

o D.O.A. METABOLISM: If you’ve been dieting since you were 12 (like I had been), you’ve probably severely damaged your metabolism (and probably your thyroid). As a result your body is probably hanging on to every calorie you give it, and every fat cell hanging around, as well.

o CAFFEINE ALTER EGO: Coffee, tea, energy drinks. They all are used to make people feel energetic and keep us underfed. When the energy and appetite suppressing effects wear off, that’s when binge eating happens (because you are able to finally feel the hunger signals that were masked before by the caffeine).

Everyone’s obsession with being skinny minnies has created a culture of people that throws guilt on one another if you consume something that is high fat or of non-nutritional value. As a society, we’ve come to reward those who diet successfully as those who are “good”- all the more reinforcing the trend of deprivation.

One in three adults is over weight, our kids are getting fatter, eating disorders are on the rise, there are more processed diet foods on the market than ever before, and liposuction is the most popular elective medical procedure in the world.

The truth i you can’t outsmart biochemistry. When you are hungry, you are hungry. You don’t have a lack of willpower. You don’t have a defect of character. When you feel starving, it only means one thing: you need to be nourished.

Curing Diet Hangover

We all have been at the table at least once with the person who puts in an order with a restaurant waiter that sounds something like this: “I’ll have the _____________- but with no oil or butter, dressing on the side, no cheese, no pumpkin seeds, no tortilla strips, no sour cream, and guacamole on the side. K? Ummm, thanks.”

“So basically you just want the chicken and lettuce?” the server asks.


Oh, I can’t even tell you how many times I had been THAT girl.

Do you steer clear of certain foods like the plague? Do you feel a Catholic priest on a date with a Victorias Secret model IF you were to sit down in front of a new pint of ice cream- at every given moment one move away from being ravenously out of control and one step away from violating one of your carefully cultivated ‘DietHead University’ principles? (“I will only eat breakfast AFTER I do 45 minutes of cardio in the morning…” “I will not eat any more than 15 grams of sugar a day or I have to do double cardio…” “No carbs after 5pm…”)

You know you have DietHangover when you find yourself in a pool of rules; but just to be clear, eating for health is beneficial (I’m all about it)- but eating to diet is not.

So here’s the plain jane deal, friends: as long as you are living in DietLand- there’s not a chance in haides you’ll be free from food obsession and body image worries.

Here is the true test of knowing whether you are experiencing DietHangover: DietWhiplash. Do you eat extremely sparsely or on a regimen/plan, then “screw up”, then try to correct the mess with another diet or more stringent eating or exercise?

I used to be so broken and petrified by body image issues that I couldn’t look in any mirror ANYWHERE, leave the house, much less take any picture. There is a huge span of my life that I actually don’t have any picture from, because of all the warped self-image issues. True story.

Dieting Hangover is very real; its so important to get set free. But first its really important to understand what style of eater you are. Case in point:

For the longest time here was my own pattern: I would wake up in the morning and wait until noon to eat anything. I’d eat a little breakfasty something, then be proud of myself for not eating anything until around a 6pm dinner. I’d eat something light, and think, “Alright, I didn’t do too bad today. I made it ‘til dinner, my last meal of the day, and didn’t blow it with anything too horrible food wise. Amen!” Done deal, right?!


About 8pm like clockwork, I’d suddenly become ravenous. And this would happen every night. Suddenly, I’d become entranced with finding carbs and sugar- basically searching for all those calories that I hadn’t consumed during the course of the day. Pizza, bags of popcorn, cereal, loaves of bread, bags of marshmallows, pancakes, frozen waffles, entire half-gallons of ice cream- you name it, I had eaten it during my night eating phase years ago.

I was entirely way too carbohydrate deprived, and as a result my evenings became a all you can eat food buffet. I just assumed I had an appetite problem and self control problem; a crazy wild sweet tooth gone awry. But what I actually had in reality was deprivation induced DietHead. I had a self-induced biochemical binge situation that I was triggering for myself every night- based on what I was choosing to deprive myself of (fat, good carbs, and food in general) every day during the day. I had given myself a shame halo, but really I was doing a chemistry experiment that needed to be adjusted and evaluated. I was starving myself fat: by not eating fat I was making myself fat.

Here are some closeted ways that some of us are “dieting” and don’t realize it. Take a look and think about whether you are involved in any of these culturally common behaviors or practices:

Sarah Jessica, The Scrutinizer

-Sarah J. appears to just be really nutrition conscious; one of those “perfect” eaters. She is just really health and fitness minded, right?!

-SJ is notorious for grilling waiters on how their food is prepared. Is there anything wrong with this? YES. Why? Because they Sarah Jessica is too INTENSE can’t let go and LIVE.

-Sarah J. spends her waking hours planning out, prepping, and worrying about meals.

-Its fine to care about health, but this type of eater generally is scrutinizing their eating for the sake of body image and vanity.

-Sometimes this person eats “clean” during the week, so they can splurge during the weekend or at a party.

-The problem with this type eater? There’s too much intense thinking for there to be a healthy relationship with food. As a result, the health of the body suffers. Its really just another diet in disguise.

Professional Dieter

Contrary to my own past beliefs (and probably some of your own as well), dieting is neither a profession or a hobby. However, there is an entire subculture that has emerged from diet books and weight loss tricks & tools. Fasts, cleanses. All diets. If you have a Ph.D in dieting you are on the ball about fat grams, grams of carbs, serving sizes, food combining, etc… Never, after next, after next…you just go down the line of diets, hoping to shed the weight that you gained on the last one.

-These eaters consider every bite for the sake of weight loss. Who the *beep cares about health. “My insides can go to *beep.” “You can never be too rich, too tan, or too skinny,” the Texas women I grew up with were known to say in jest. Last Hurrah Eating (see Part 1) goes into full effect as soon as a F#%k It Food is eaten (because this type of eaten honestly believes that they will never be able to eat ___________ ____________ ever again).

Think about it: what do you serve your golden retriever every day? Boring dog pellets. Day after day after day, right? So after 7 years or so of chalky beef pebbles, when a chocolate cake is left on a low table what goes through the mind of a dog alone in the kitchen? “Make a dash for it. Eat. The. Whole. Thing. As. Fast. As. I. Can. This Might. Never. Happen. EVER. Again. I don’t care if it kills me.” So the dog eat the whole dern cake. The dog knows that tomorrow it will be back to its prison “diet:” punished living, beef pebbles, and water.

Then the next time something yummy hits on the floor, the dog eats the entire thing. It’s a cycle of binge and diet. People do the exact same thing. I used to do the exact same thing; I did it for 9 years. I put on about 40 pounds participating in this cycle and it cost me everything: my purpose, my self esteem, my health (I was diagnosed with peri-menopause, temporarily), my career, and my relationships.

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