First, I’m not interested in having the “fat = unhealthy” argument in the comments. BTDT. If you’re the type of person “worried” about fat people’s health, I know. Keep it to yourself, kthx.
Second, this is apparently the year of reading books that heavily feature “the F-word” and I swear there was a book out there somewhere about that word in particular that I should probably find, buy, and close the year out by reviewing.
(And now, some filler to keep the stuff behind the “more” cut actually off the feed of people reading this in a feed reader. I really hope this is enough.)
In this brave new world, your hunger is your friend, so fucking eat. (Kindle location 1720)
The reason I say the title is a lie is that The Fuck It Diet isn’t a diet book at all in the way folks usually think about “diet” (as in, the restriction of caloric intake as opposed to the stuff we put in our mouths). Dooner goes even farther than Intuitive Eating does, in that respect — the answer is to allow all foods, period. All of them. In whatever quantities your body wants. Because
Your fixation on food is not happening because you are lazy or irresponsible—it’s an inescapable protective measure meant to keep you alive. (loc 367)
Dooner starts with the Minnesota Starvation Experiment and continues on through the biological workings of the body during a famine, pointing out throughout that when we diet we are telling our bodies we are, essentially, in a famine — and so our bodies do what our bodies do to keep us alive. It’s a recurring theme throughout the book, actually, that the soft animal carrying around our consciousnesses has requirements and that dieting (and other forms of restriction) is an utter failure to take care of that soft animal.
Our collective dieting became more and more widespread first, and collective weights have only risen after, likely because of, and in response to, our dieting and fucked-up eating. (loc 505) (Note that every time Dooner makes a statement like this she backs it up with research; I’m not including the footnotes in this review but they definitely exist.)
The Fuck It Diet is divided into three sections. Unlike most self-help books, Dooner actually recommends reading through the whole thing first before one goes on to try the exercises within. And only the first step–feed your body, yes even that totally “junk” food, nothing is forbidden (except in the case, obviously, of allergens that could kill you)–has anything to do with eating.
The first section discusses the physical: The history of weight loss, the effects of a famine on the human system, the results of stress we can control vs. stress we can’t.
I don’t ever care what you eat as long as it’s what your body is telling you it needs and you’re listening. I just want you to be happy and intuitive and to chill out about it. (loc 1137)
Your body is seeking balance even if eating a whole box of cereal in one day isn’t how you imagined balance to look. (loc 1145)
The second section is for the emotional: why do we turn to food for comfort (and you can absolutely turn to food for comfort, to celebrate, to whatever–that’s part of being human), what emotions don’t we want to feel (the argument Dooner makes is that we are trying to numb NOT with food, but rather with diets as the rules of diets are a way to focus on the external rather than what we are feeling [physically and emotionally]), and ways to go about feeling those things we’ve been shutting away regardless of what methods we’ve used to smother them.
When you are committed to feeling emotions, the coping mechanisms you’ve used naturally begin to take a healthier role in your life. (loc 2016)
We are meant to inhabit our bodies, but as humans with tons of unfelt and repressed emotions and a fear that we are too big or too much or too whatever, being in our bodies is really uncomfortable, so we live most of our lives preferring not to feel. (loc 2197)
And the third section is for the mental: winnowing out the old rules that keep us in the stressed famine-and-plenty rut rather than allowing ourselves to get to what Dooner calls the “feed-and-breed” stage of animals living where there is plenty.
You cannot hate yourself into happiness. That’s just not how happiness works. (loc 2377)
What you believe about what you’re eating has more power over your physiological response to food than the actual caloric and nutritional value of the food. (loc 2540)
Overall, this book is well-written and well-researched. Dooner intersperses the discussion of the three major groups of “exercises” with tales from herself, her students, and with a healthy dose of skepticism for any process–including hers.