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November 29, 2010 / Katie

Calorie-counting makes for a depressing Thanksgiving

While the leftovers are still in our fridge from an absolutely delicious Thanksgiving dinner that my spouse and I cooked and enjoyed together, I noticed the following postcard from this week’s PostSecret:


painting of traditional family at Thanksgiving, with text glued on top of it

Text reads:

I lied on Thanksgiving…

4ox. 489 Cal (on the Turkey)

200 Cal (on the gravy) 375 Cal (on veggies?)

I wasn’t sick, but skipping the family dinner was the only way I could get out of eating all those calories.


I find this card incredibly depressing. How very sad, that on the one day a year that we set aside a time for gratitude, community, and enjoying good food, this person chose dishonesty, vanity, body-hatred, and isolation.

I have written before about how dieting leads to death, not life.  Choosing isolation over community* is choosing death over life.  Choosing body-hatred over gratitude is choosing death over life.  Choosing to distrust our body and trying to control it in ways that are ultimately impossible is choosing a path that leads to physical, mental, and social ill-being; it is the path of death.  Choosing gratitude, being in communtiy, trusting our body, eating the amount that feels right and good for us and truly enjoying it; this is the path to life.

Today my Facebook feed has been abuzz with talk of Weight Watchers’ new point system**.  My initial comment to one of the communities I follow which posted it was: “I think ANY point system for food leads to an unhealthy distrust of the body and an impossible ideal of controlling our beautiful, precious, un-controllable bodies. In short: disordered eating.”

While my initial reaction was to fight against the fatphobic mentality of dieting/restriction in any form, the longer I thought about it the more deeply I began to feel gratitude and peace.  I felt gratitude for my body, for its beauty and preciousness and all the amazing things it lets me do every day, welling up in me.  I felt peace about the progress I am making in moving beyond the disordered mentality I have had for so long about my body.  And I posted the following as my status message:

[Katie] is so grateful for her amazing body. It tells me what it needs when it needs it, it heals itself and helps me to heal from emotional injuries, and it provides me with a way to interact with the world around me. I am also immensely grateful that I am learning not to try to control what I cannot control about it.

There is no gratitude in calorie-counting.  There is no peace in a point system.  The only hope for making peace with our bodies is learning to love and trust them.  That is the way to abundant and healthful life.


* note that here I am not talking about healthy solitude that we all need from time to time for things like reflection and rejuvination, but isolation as a byproduct of the dieting behavior.

** no I’m not going to link it.  Feel free to Google!


Leave a Comment
  1. Susan / Nov 29 2010 5:06 pm

    Well said, Katie.

  2. Twistie / Nov 29 2010 5:15 pm

    Even when I did diet, I never once hid from Thanksgiving or Christmas or birthday parties. I find it amazingly sad that this person has found that to be their apparently only recourse.

    This year I not only ate precisely what I wanted how I wanted it for Thanksgiving, I did it while proudly wearing my new scarlet ‘fat’ necklace. My body is a beautiful thing with a wisdom all its own. I am deeply grateful for that.

    As it turns out, there were a plethora of dogs this weekend who also found my body warm and comfy to snuggle with.

  3. ThePowerofMyth / Nov 29 2010 9:49 pm

    Love this post! Very well written! I too saw that postsecret and felt very sad for the person who had such hatred for their body that they would skip on Thanksgiving meal.

  4. jenna / Nov 30 2010 7:48 am

    I saw both that post secret submission and the new WW “fad” and was thinking along the same lines. I remember when I did WW and they would give you tricks about how to avoid all those evil calories at Thanksgiving and Xmas and I would try so hard to be a good girl you know counting each olive and tallying up the points which were always, always never enough… it completely robbed me of enjoyment of food, of friends and replaced it was obsessive worry, guilt self recriminations… as more people praised me, the “healthier” I looked on the outside, the sicker I got on the inside. Like the post secret post in my deep WW hey days I too would avoid social outings because I knew I could not look that nacho in the face and resist it. What a sick and troubling world we live in. This is just one symptom of a mass disease of humans living out of synch with our planet.

  5. cindy / Nov 30 2010 1:40 pm

    I saw that postcard on Sunday and thought the writer was anorexic. That’s a lot of pain around food. Who knows, though.

  6. Giniliz / Nov 30 2010 4:15 pm

    Yeah, I saw what Cindy saw. Read it as a sad fear-of-food reaction that I actually remember experiencing before, even in moments of non-vanity-related weight obsession (such as when I was acutely aware of my mother watching everything I ate and how I looked when I was home for Thanksgiving). :(

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