It took me 43 years to Hit Diet Bottom and finally realize that there had never been anything wrong with my body. I have wished many times that it didn’t take me that long. Through social media, I follow many women and men in their 20s and 30s who found out a lot earlier than I did and I envy the time they have given themselves to live fully in their power. When I see teenagers embracing their bodies and saying “Fuck You” to Diet Culture, I feel hopeful and excited for their futures.
The older a person is when they Hit Diet Bottom, the harder it might be to leave Diet Culture and Dieting behind. The older we are, the longer we have been living in Diet Culture’s lies as if they are the truth. Leaving Diet Culture is very much like leaving a cult – EXCEPT the cult lives all the way around you so you never actually escape. You have to learn to live physically inside the cult while refusing to believe their lies anymore. But if we’ve already bought into that cult’s bullshit for 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70+ years, the more difficult it will be to see it for what it is. Many older people will NEVER be free of Diet Culture for this reason. They have been too inundated for too long.
On the other hand, the older a person is the more likely it is that they have experienced weight cycling and the lie of weight loss first hand maybe many times. They have gone on restrictive diet after restrictive diet, lost the weight only to regain it back again and again and again – oftentimes, with more and more interest. The first several times, they believed the lie that THEY had failed but the more the pattern repeated itself, the more they had to admit that perhaps this was a failure of the system itself and NOT them. So, with this experience and the willingness to learn something new, an older person might have even more motivation to seek Body Liberation and to stop Dieting.
Similarly, a young person might not have been living with Diet Culture’s bullshit long enough to be fed up with it. They might be young enough to still be susceptible to the peer pressure of Diet Culture and the hope that when they just get that perfect body, all their dreams will come true and all of their problems will go away. That is the promise that Diet Culture gives young people. It’s a promise that is easier to see for the lie that it is the older and more experienced you are.
Whatever your age, it is never too early or too late to seek Body Liberation. Everyone deserves freedom from the prison of Diet Culture. The sooner you get that freedom, the more life you have left to enjoy it!
You’ve probably heard of “hitting rock bottom.” This is a common phrase used in 12-step programs to signify the crisis-moment when someone is finally ready to admit and deal with their addiction. In the Body Liberation community, we refer to “hitting Diet bottom” in a similar way. Hitting Diet Bottom is when you finally get to the point where you can’t force yourself to go on one more Diet, when you realize it is pointless and actually harmful for you to engage in the bullshit of Diet Culture anymore but you have no idea where else to turn.
Registered dieticians and the author’s of Intuitive Eating – and really, the creators of the entire concept of Intuitive Eating – Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch dedicate the first chapter of their groundbreaking book to this concept: “Hitting Diet Bottom.” This is the first chapter in the book because until you’ve reached this place, you won’t quite be ready to truly engage in learning how to eat intuitively or to move joyfully; you won’t yet be ready to accept that Diet Culture has failed you and harmed you.
So, how do you know if you’ve hit Diet Bottom? Here are some questions, written from the information provided in Tribole & Resch’s “Hitting Diet Bottom” chapter, that might help you figure it out?
Do you distrust yourself around food?
Do you feel out of control around food?
Do you feel panicky or hungry at the mere consideration of going on another restrictive diet?
Do you feel you don’t deserve to eat or feel guilty about eating?
Do you stay away from social situations because of complicated feelings regarding food and/or your body?
Do you seem to have a harder time losing weight with each new diet that you try?
Do you seem to be able to stick to diets for shorter and shorter periods?
Do you feel guilty about binging after being on a restrictive diet?
Do you suffer from an eating disorder or disordered eating?
Do you use exercise as punishment?
Do you exercise solely for weight loss?
Do you find yourself preoccupied with thoughts about food, weight loss, and your body?
If you answered yes to some of these questions, you MIGHT be at Diet Bottom.
Usually, when someone has hit Diet Bottom, they are tormented with constant thoughts about food, weight loss and how problematic their body is. They feel there is no hope for their body. They feel they will never lose weight again and they feel DESPERATE to lose weight. But simultaneously they also feel fed up with Dieting. They have lost and regained the same number of pounds over and over throughout their lives and they know Dieting is, ultimately a losing battle. They can’t Diet again. But they are terrified of what will happen to their body if they stop Dieting.
Hitting Diet Bottom – just like Hitting Rock Bottom – is a blessing in the disguise of misery. Here’s why: Once you’ve hit Diet Bottom, you have the chance to free yourself forever from Dieting and Diet Culture. You FINALLY have a chance to take the blinders off and see that your body was actually NEVER the problem. You FINALLY have the chance to be FREE from restriction and deprivation and punishing exercise and the completely ridiculous expectations Diet Culture has forced upon you.
Have you ever wondered what was on the other side of Dieting? Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you didn’t spend all of those minutes, hours, days counting calories or macros or grams of carbs? If you didn’t spend all weekend food prepping? If you didn’t waste all that time fat-talking with your friends and family? If you put your mind and body to some other use than obsessing about physical appearance? If you didn’t waste all of that time hating yourself and hating the precious body you were born into? Once you’ve hit Diet Bottom, you might as well spend some time figuring it out.
Because, on the other side of Diet Bottom is life. On the other side of Diet Bottom is the chance to FINALLY learn to accept your body for exactly what it is and what it has always been: YOURS. On the other side of Diet Bottom is the freedom to learn to care for yourself from your own internal cues. On the other side of Diet Bottom, no one else gets to be in charge of what you eat or how you move or what you think about your body ever again. On the other side of Diet Bottom, you can learn to use your time to live the life you always wanted to live – instead of waiting for the day when you would finally be thin enough to live it.
If you’ve hit Diet Bottom, welcome, and feel free to give me a call.
is an NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer; an ACE-Certified Group Fitness Instructor; a certified Yoga Teacher; a Certified Intuitive Eating Professional; and a degree-holding Health, Fitness Specialist. She lives in Frankfort, Michigan and owns Every. Body. Fitness and Yoga Studio.