I wrote the following email to the creator of the blog, The Fuck It Diet, which I stumbled upon by accident a couple of years ago and consider one of the bravest and most honest forums on women and food. Like so many of us, Caroline went through years of dieting and body-obsession, sometimes in the name of thinness, sometimes in the name of health. She wound up where we all do – exhausted, bewildered, frustrated, and sick. She started the Fuck It Diet, which is not really a diet at all, but a big fuck you to the whole machine that keeps us focused on food and body and therefore neglecting what really counts: our passion and creativity and capacity to live joyfully and present.
I wrote this email to her a couple months back, charting my progress and giving her some love for inspiring me.
I have written you in the past, and you have always responded with kindness and compassion. I still follow your blog and really appreciate your approach to food recovery. I loved your latest one on how easy it can be to spiral back into restrictive thoughts and how nothing good can come from it. It’s actually such a relief to really believe that restricting certain foods, even in the name of “health,” doesn’t make me better or more worthy or healthier. It’s a joy to not restrict today.
I wanted to check in and just share with you my progress and gratitude. I first started out on a “I’m not going to diet anymore ever” well over a year ago, and though I had good intentions, I still had quite a few reservations in the back of my mind and found myself regularly not eating enough. I was still wary of bread and dairy and pastries and other foods that felt dangerous. Needless to say, things didn’t quite change. But I had the willingness, and I believed they could. Finally, at the beginning of the summer, I think exactly in mid June, I said FUCK IT. I got to a place of absolute done-ness with dieting and restricting of all kinds. I got to a place of, if I have to get fat to heal, so be it. I was so sick and tired of being tired and hungry and hating my body.
The summer was the perfect time to cut loose. I started reading your blog more and books by Matt Stone and others who encourage diet recovery. I knew that the past six to seven years of my life had been insane around food and body: dieting, cleanses, anorexia, bulimia, severe restriction, orthorexia, obsession with a certain size clothing, the incessant belief that I was unworthy and disgusting and ugly if I wasn’t skinny. I felt ready to walk away from all of it. I knew it was a prison. I knew it had damaged my body, my period, my metabolism, my skin. I knew that, man I wish I had just loved and accepted my BEAUTIFUL body at 22 years old. There was nothing about it that needed changing! Alas… I couldn’t change the past, but I could begin to change the present…
I started to eat. Waffles, Nutella, burgers and fries, soda, donuts, cookies, cereal, candy, dairy (I love cheese!!!) I went to Europe by myself for two weeks and let myself enjoy Fanta and crepes and toast and butter and chocolate and greasy sandwiches. I bought some new clothes, reluctantly. It was liberating and terrifying. I felt healthy and unhealthy all at once. I gained weight quickly. My skin broke out. I felt HAPPY, even though I cringed at times when I looked in the mirror. I slept better. My body felt fed. I still kept going for long walks and occasional jogs when it felt good. I didn’t push it. My boobs got huge. I bought new bras. I sometimes sobbed at how scared and out of control and guilty I felt. I wrote in my journal about it constantly. I prayed and meditated and continued my path of spiritual recovery. When I had my biggest fears and doubts and anger and rage, I always came back to, “the only way out is through.” I KNEW in my heart I would never purposefully diet or restrict again. I tried my best to love myself through those gut-wrenching moments of self-hatred. I googled “beautiful healthy women of all sizes,” A LOT. Started following plus-sized models on Instagram. It normalized different body sizes for me. I reminded myself how, even at my thinnest, I was consumed with self-hatred and not good enough-ness. So I kept going. By August my body was bigger, and it was uncomfortable, but I kept going. I already had shifts in what I was craving to eat. My body really liked dairy again (I had restricted most of it for years and years) and it liked certain carbs, but it was getting tired of junk food. I listened to it and ate what I wanted. I was back at work from the summer off, and having a more regular schedule changed the way I ate a bit. I still would find myself reading too much about food and what to eat. I still found myself surrounded by women on certain diets that made me think, “maybe I should go back to juicing and mostly vegan…” and then I would remember, never diet or restrict again. It’s just too exhausting and boring and frankly, a waste of my time, to let what I eat be the central focus of my life.
My creativity soared through this process. I have always been a writer, and I started writing two different novels as well as keeping at it with my poetry. I taught myself to play ukulele! I started to wonder about my future… traveling more or maybe going back to school. My life really opened up in a lot of ways.
And now, here I am, eight months later, beginning to feel a whole lot more comfortable in my skin. I have a long way to go, but the recovery overall has been huge, both externally and internally. I eat breakfast every day. I sometimes eat Snickers and donuts. If I eat a donut, I don’t go searching frantically for more food because I’ve “broken” such a big rule. I drink orange juice always (something I never used to do), I eat cheese everyday, and if I have a craving for a burger or Sour Patch Kids or popcorn I will eat them. I don’t freak out over junk food or bad oils or processed food. I also notice that certain foods don’t make me feel good. So I don’t eat them as much. I truly used to love popcorn, but now it makes me feel a little nauseous. But I don’t worry about it so much. I eat food to satisfy hunger and usually move on. I haven’t had a binge in I don’t know how long. I eat more during PMS because my body is screaming for sugar and carbs. I allow it. It feels good. Sometimes I forget to eat or don’t feel like eating or am lazy or nothing sounds good, and I observe my silly mind try to turn that into a diet. I don’t allow it.
I also accept that I am very imperfect and will have slips. I made myself throw up once in the past few months, and not because I had binged. I felt sick to my stomach from eating a weird dinner, and I used an old coping mechanism. The truth behind that, though, was that I was feeling incredibly stressed out and overwhelmed with some work stuff, and I picked up an oooold tool in order to cope. I called my friend right after and told her, and then I wrote about it and prayed, and the shame was gone.
Sometimes my mind will try to get me on an exercise “regime” but my body always steps in and stops it. It’s actually pretty funny. It just doesn’t want to run everyday or take an exercise class everyday or “3-5 times a week.” But it loves to run sometimes and walk a lot and occasionally do yoga or take an exercise class. But not obsessively. It just doesn’t like it.
I’m dating now. Talk about bringing up feelings in general, especially around body and self-image. But it’s going alright. I look forward to a regular sex life, because my libido is off the charts! When I restricted for years, you couldn’t get me excited no matter what.
It is a process, and it has been a process, and I know it will continue to be one. But I am so grateful to be healthy and relatively sane around food. Thank you so much for being a beacon for so many of us on this path of recovery. You are a Light!