The Anti-Diet Movement: Eat Now, Pay Later

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Jasmyne Cannick on the anti-diet movement

The growing popularity of social media campaigns like the “anti-diet” movement that aims to push back against “food shaming” and normalize being overweight and obese — is setting people who struggle with their weight up for failure.

And with that, the Court of Public Opinion is now in session (gavel bang).

I’ve noticed over the years this growing — and now seemingly widely accepted — trend among those with a collectivism mindset of rationalizing, justifying, and rebranding certain behavior, proclivities, and habits under the guise of “normalization.” You know — normalize this, normalize that.

We normalized polyamory so that folks didn’t have to be confined to being in a relationship with just one person.

We normalized using drugs so that the users of drugs are now given safe spaces to use them in and are seen as being sick and not sent to jail or punished.

I’m not saying that the whole “normalize movement” is a bad thing. We absolutely should normalize things like being queer, mental health, free period products, housing for all, a livable wage and for the love of God, please bring back the normalization of adults having respectful arguments and tough conversations.

But I digress.

Back to the “anti-diet” movement — which should not be confused with the body positivity or the body neutrality movements.

One is telling you to eat what you want and to hell with the consequences — even if that be death. While body positivity pushes for the acceptance of all bodies, and body neutrality advocates that your value isn’t tied to your body nor does your happiness depend on what you look like.

I’m Something Like An Authority on the Subject

Unhealthy Jasmyne. Cute, but unhealthy.
Unhealthy Jasmyne. Cute, but unhealthy.

I’m not some skinny girl that’s about to complain about food shaming.

I’m a fat girl who has struggled with weight and an unhealthy relationship with food — fast food in particular — my entire adult life. Full disclosure, my happiness, at times, absolutely depends on what I look like. If I feel like I look good, damn right I feel good.

I’ve tried most of the fad diets and thanks to my inherited buxom physique, I have pretty much always fallen into the obese section of my doctor’s outdated and culturally incompetent body mass chart.

Now that we’ve established that I’m an authority on this subject, let me tell it like it is.

There isn’t enough gas to light to make me buy into this philosophy that being overweight or obese is healthy. There I said it.

I get it. It’s 2024, and no one wants to be made to feel bad about the choices they make in life — even when it comes to what they eat.

As a matter of common sense, food shaming people who already are overweight or obese emotional eaters into losing weight is the literal recipe for a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But not everything we’ve been taught about life prior to the year 2020 needs to be walked back and reanalyzed. Some of it was spot on.

GTFOH

Eating a lot of fast food or ultra-processed junk foods high in additives, sugar, and artificial sweeteners will never be good for you. And you can follow the advice of some on social media and start listening to your “mental hunger” over your common sense but you’ll soon find yourself gaining even more weight but like Jaye Rochon shared in a recent Washington Post article, following the advice of YouTube influencers advocating “health at every size” when she stopped avoiding favorite foods such as cupcakes and Nutella, in two months, she regained 50 pounds. As her weight neared 300 pounds, she began to worry about her health. I would worry too.

According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity and overweight together are the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, close behind tobacco use. An estimated 300,000 deaths per year are due to the obesity epidemic.

They say politics make strange bedfellows — I guess that would include the politics of selling food. Because Big Food partnering with dieticians to pedal an “anti-diet” message out to the masses using social media influencers should raise everyone’s eyebrow.

As a woman who is well-endowed and on the curvaceous side, I don’t want to be made to feel bad for my food choices. But I don’t want to be gaslighted into believing that my choice to get that Filet O’ Fish meal with a large fries and a strawberry shake was the right decision for my pre-diabetic self. There’s got to be a happy medium where we aren’t shaming people but we aren’t aiding and abetting them into a life of obesity either.

The only winners in that scenario are Big Food who make money when we buy their food. The social media influencers who cash in with likes, views, and clicks that lead to the sales for Big Food. And then of course, Big Pharma who’s just lurking in the background with a smirk rubbing their hands together and waiting for inevitable thinking, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

What’s next? The campaign to normalize diabetes, high cholesterol, heart attacks, stroke, and kidney failure?

GTFOH.

It’s Dangerous

I have no desire to be skinny. I have naturally what some people spend thousands to leave an operating table with. What I want is to look good in the clothes I want to wear and to feel and be healthy. For this well-proportioned Black woman, I could find happiness and health at a size 12, no matter what the doctor’s obesity meter reads.

Through the years I’ve chosen to be pretty public with my struggle with my weight. From my weight loss blog to my battle with fibroids that led to a hysterectomy. I’ve been up, and I’ve been down. Right now, thanks to Ozempic, I’m going down — and plan to stay there. Two years ago, my A1C was 6.4 — type 2 diabetes starts at 6.5. So yeah, I found relief and help in Ozempic and I’m not looking back. I’d rather Ozempic than insulin and missing limbs.

I starved myself for 9 months to get that small. It didn’t last.
I starved myself for 9 months to get that small. It didn’t last.

“Anti-diet” movements set a dangerous precedent and in the long run are going to do more harm than good to those who choose to engage.

While I know no one wants to be food or body shamed, I don’t believe anyone wants to be overweight or obese either. We can dress it up — and I stay dressing mine up. But underneath all of the clothes, accessories, and makeup will always be the truth.

Buying into a movement that encourages us to lie to ourselves, helps us justify unhealthy decisions, and encourages us to eat what we want is no different than being in an unhealthy relationship with an enabler. In the end, it’s self-destructive behavior.

I’ll tell you what though, accountability can and will happen with or without your participation when it comes to this “anti-diet” movement. You can feed your “mental hunger” all you want — and Lord knows I have — but in the end your body will be held responsible for your need for immediate gratification. Eat now, pay later.

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