A 5 minute Juice with Caroline Dooner from “The F**K it Diet”
Posted on October 19th, 2017
This week shit got real on a 5 minute juice as I interviewed Caroline Dooner creator of The Fuck It Diet, which teaches radical normal eating to chronic dieters.
Caroline is a writer, storyteller and former self confessed food and dieting addict. After years of the diet and binge cycle, Caroline finally said fuck it to the diets and set about healing her relationship with food in what she describes as a pretty unconventional and radical way!
Now free from diet cultures clutches, Caroline aims to share her wisdom with others. Her name and ethos encompasses EVERYTHING I’m about so it’s such a pleasure to feature her on here. Over to Caroline….
Ok Caroline, I always start with this one. If you could invite 4 people to dinner and they could be real, fictional, dead or alive, who gets the call up?
Ooh, fictional too!?!?! Do they have to get along?
Ok, I would invite JK Rowling – and basically try to become her best friend and try and convince her to make a 7 book Maurauder series all about Harry’s Parents time at Hogwarts. I am tempted to make all the other ones fictional Harry Potter characters, but I will refrain.
I’d invite Ali Wong because she is hilarious. And I would invite Caitriona Balfe who stars in Outlander… because I think she is a beautiful magical unicorn, and one of the best actresses I have ever seen, but I would keep my chill so we could also become best friends.
And I would probably invite Jesus and say basically: Dude, i think you’re really nice, but what is the deal, did you exist/are you God, is the bible fiction, and can you clear this up once and for all for everyone who has gone insane over it? And can I have some sourdough loaves to take home and freeze for later? thx.
Firstly, can I just say I think yours is the best instagram name I’ve ever come across! Can you tell our readers a bit more about your past relationship with food growing up?
Thank you! It’s always been the name of my site/business, and it’s always been helpful to find the right readers because it is exactly how they feel: Fuck It!!! It’s the accurate level of exasperation. I grew up as a child-binger – I was obsessed with food, and I attribute that to feeling denied. I wasn’t actually denied. But my mom was a health food junkie so I felt denied. My prime goal in life was basically getting snacks.
Then when I was a teenager I began gaining weight and was diagnosed with PCOS, and started dieting – which felt like very important and noble cause at the time. But it quickly became a complete obsession – and I believed that my core problem was food obsession and bingeing – but I now understand, both for me, and everyone else who experiences this, that the problem is restriction.
On your blog you say you had an “obsession with food and weight”. Did this escalate into a full blow eating disorder or was it vaguely manageable? I sometimes think it’s really frightening how normal an “obsession with food and weight” is, particularly for young girls? How can this affect every day life?
This is a great question. Looking back, it was definitely an eating disorder that disguised itself as health obsession, and also felt kind of doctor-ordered. But because I kept bingeing, I was never able to believe I had a restrictive eating disorder, and I think that’s the same for many, many people. I also think a major problem is people believing they have binge-eating disorder, when the problem is actually restriction, and the biological response to it.
The impossibility of explaining whether it was full-blown or manageable I think is telling. It was both. It was neither. EDs are definitely a spectrum. But I think anything that is fully obsessive is not manageable, though was I killing myself? Not as quickly as full-blown anorexia.
You refer to healing yourself in an “unconventional” way? Can you share a few more details here?
So, this answer is a continuation of what I was just saying. I believe that radically removing restriction (and body shame) is the only way to heal a disordered relationship with food. This goes for the overeaters, the bingers, the food addicts, and the restrictive dieters or restrictive eating disorders.
I don’t work with acute restrictive eating disorders for a few reasons, but it is also true that meal plans can be a necessary bridge for people with restrictive eating disorders, especially when they can’t hear hunger cues.
But true recovery, that I want for everyone, is being able to follow the body’s cues and not being so precious about it all. So I work with people who are chronic dieters, or people who have already “recovered” to meal plans.
I talk a lot about the biological state that we get into when we restrict food, but a lot of my work actually lies on the body image side – and dealing with the mental and emotional blocks that can keep you stuck in this process.
How did your family and friends respond to both your unhealthy relationship with food, as well as your approach to recovery?
Everyone, including me, thought I was a food addict. So every family member who had any knowledge of what I was doing when I was dieting, thought I was trying to get a food addiction under control. So when I had this major epiphany that led to the Fuck It Diet, and told them – “I’ve actually had an eating disorder for ten years”, they said, “But… you weren’t skinny enough?” This honestly just speaks to a cultural blind spot. My family is disordered with food and exercise and weight like most of the rest of the country/world.
They never really understood what I was doing with my recovery, sometimes saying: do you have to be so extreme? Can’t you just be balanced. (No. Attaining balance is sometimes going to extremes) But, they can see now that I am a way happier and saner person… and no longer obsessed with food. As for friends, some of them get what I have been doing, and some of them have no idea what I am ever talking about, and never will.
You mention that you’re not a “medical professional”. What does your work now involve and do you have any qualifications? I think it’s great to also have non “medical professionals” in this space, particularly the people whom have had hands on experience of the issue at hand?
I have considered going back to school to become a nutritionist or a therapist, just for the resume cred, but knowing I would just keep talking about what I’m taking about, which is a more psycho-spiritual, mind-body, sociological part of this equation.
I found that every time I actually shelled out money for more training, it was in the energy, emotional, mind-body, spiritual realm. For instance now I’m training to be a Yoga teacher, not because I think I’m going to end up teaching yoga classes, but because those kind of mind-body methods are the ones that helped me the most, and where I like to live. That’s where my passion and expertise lies. I’m a writer and sort of spiritual humorist teacher.
Back in the day diet culture wasn’t as constant as it is now with social media? What do you think could be done to help people having to deal with this?
Ugh it’s so complex. Human beings have always had beauty ideals, but social media is definitely a different beast in its constant barrage of images. The good thing is you can also use it as a way to inundate yourself with body positive messages and images, which is what I do, and recommend my students do.
AND I report those diet ads as being inappropriate or irrelevant.
Do you think there should further measure beyond education to stop the prevalence of diet culture and idealisation of the “slender” body?
I think it’s slowly happening, a re-examining of what body shame will do to us, but I think it will take a lot because at the end of the day, beauty companies, diet companies, pharmaceutical companies and the entire as medical industrial complex make a lot of money off of our insecurity and desire to lose weight. And they have a lot of power at policy making levels. This is the thing that took me a long time to understand, and I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but follow the money. Look at who is profiting off of our fear of weight.
What is the biggest advice you would give someone about to go on, or on a diet?
Not to use the fear of weight gain against you, because changing our beauty ideals is also key. But the surest way to raise your weight set point, and to exacerbate health problems, is to go on a diet. Restriction causes a series of hormonal changes that primes you to gain back weight for your survival. You’re actually actively going to make your appetite more erratic.
What is the advice you would give to your former self?
I would say…. stop trying to fit in. One day you will be a writer, so stop worrying about wearing high heels to theatre auditions.
Lastly, now we’ve officially said F you to diets, what would be your last meal on earth?
My last meal on earth would be… grass-fed burger, a salad, and carrot cake.