The following is a brilliant post by Seaneen on her blog, Pole to Polar: The secret life of a manic depressive . Please take a moment to read it:
"Diet fraud: redefining anorexia
(Edit edit edit: this post is in a new category: Posts that I Have Edited a million times).
I have been following this saga from the beginning; the The Kimkins Diet scandal.
Basically, Kimmers, or Heidi Diaz, made up a completely bullshit diet that consisted of bits of other diets (mainly Atkins) and sold it as the Kimkins diet for about $50 membership. The diet had absolutely no medical headnods to recommend it; it was all based on the success of “Kimmers”.
It advocated starvation, low carb and low fat (potentially deadly as it means your body has zero fuel except muscle mass to live on), laxative abuse and encouraged disordered eating. She also exercised a dictatorial attitude towards criticism, banning members who voiced concerns or criticism, without refunding them, as well as using admins as sockpuppets and bribing them.
This “Kimmer”, upon who all the evidence of success for this diet rested, claimed that these were her “after” photos:
when in fact, she looks like this:
(This is from Kimmers Exposed which makes for fascinating reading.)
The “after” photo was actually from a Russian bride website. So, with “Kimmers” “amazing” weight loss being bullshit, it follows naturally that her “success stories” were probably bullshit too. And lo; they were. All of them.
She is still running her website and selling this diet, but an investigation is underway. She has turned the glare onto her followers, saying that they are the ones who decided to go low calorie and abuse laxatives, and that she never encouraged it. That’s right, blame your disciples when it all goes tits. Google this because it’s breathtaking reading.
I’m skeptical of dieting these days. Especially these kind of fast weight loss diets. Here is why.
I actually used to know Kimmers as we posted on the same Atkins diet messageboard. We never corresponded, but I read her posts. She was a very zealous follower of Atkins. So a bit of background on my Atkins story, and how it relates to this Kimmers scandal.
I used to follow the Atkins diet. My already somewhat plump frame had become a little round circle after taking Olanzapine. I did very well on it, losing about three stone. I was very dedicated to it; a little too dedicated.
It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with bulimia for years. But I don’t really discuss it in my real life. It comes on suddenly, rather like my moods (and often in tune to them) so I’ve never considered myself a “proper bulimic”, since I would stop for months at a time, eat healthily (or “healthily” for most- unhealthy for me due to my body’s dislike of carbohydrates). I’d gain weight, then spiral back into a cycle of bulimia. Lose weight, and repeat.
This has battered my metabolism and worsened my pre-existing PCOS, making it much harder for me to lose weight. This is crap, as the medication I take is a bitch for weight gain. Unsurprisingly, my 9 stone weight from October last year is now 12 stone. I also have BDD, which complicates things somewhat.
I had to stop Atkins as it made my eating disorder a lot worse. Because I lost weight on Atkins, anytime I had “forbidden” food- ranging from a slice of bread, an apple, an accidental regular Coke rather than a diet Coke- I threw up. It completely fucked up my already unhealthy relationship with food. There were foods I demonised, and if something I ate had even the slightest trace of it (such as sugar, for instance) I had to throw it up.
The end of my flirtation with Atkins came when I almost choked to death while throwing up. I passed out and blood erupted from my nose; indicating that really, I could have died.
It was not the end of my eating disorder, though. I actually stayed “clean” for a good few months but recently, in the wake of weight gain, it has flared up again. And I am still in that Atkins mindset that carbohydrates=evil.
People don’t see eating disorders with fat people. They see desperation and lack of self control. They’ve eaten so much they deserve to be that way. They’ve let themselves go. They’re disgusting, it’s their fault.
I am fat. I am overweight. I do not overeat. I am not lazy. I am not gluttonous. I have not let myself go. I do not sit on my ass all day. And I have an eating disorder.
The “height” of my eating disorder has happened many times. I’m aware I have an eating disorder; I am hypocrite because I don’t want to get help for it. I feel as though it would be taking something away from me. That I would have to give it up. I rely on it often to feel in control. Quite honestly at the moment I don’t know what I would do without it. I am gaining so much weight but it’s always there, in the back of my mind, that there is something to resort to. My weight gain has felt out of control. I have to take my medication because if I don’t, I will get really ill.
You could never tell by looking at me that I have an eating disorder. So it is less “serious” than someone who is thin and has an eating disorder. Hell, I could use losing an extra stone or two. So the one time I did try to get help for it, I was applauded for gaining weight because it meant I “wasn’t sick, there’s nothing wrong with you”. I left in tears, and since then, I’ve decided that I am never going to mention it to a doctor again. I cannot take that humiliation. If I end up trusting my new CPN, then I might mention it. At the moment, though, it’s out of the question.
There are times I’ve coughed up blood and thought I was having a heart attack; but in my crazy mind, that’s preferable to seeing the fat lumpen thing I have to be in the mirror. But I am aware of what I am doing to myself.
Many people say that the Kimmers diet has caused eating disorders in the people who follow it. It’s not right to say; “Well, why do they follow it, then?” Kimmers encouraged people to stay below 500 calories a day. An anorexic might eat more than that. And fast weight loss- as you will get on a very low calories, low fat, low carb diet- is seductive to people who need to lose weight. Hell, I have starved myself plenty of times to lose weight, before succumbing to the ill effects of it and simply not being able to carry on.
And the Kimkins diet followers did get the ill effects. Even though they were overweight, many of them started to experience the effects of anorexia; losing hair, bone density, insomnia, nausea, loss of periods. As well as that, there is also eating disordered patterns of being obsessive about what you eat and “punishing” yourself for deviations.
Kimkins, however, continued to encourage them. In fact, there is a slogan on her forums: SNATT- Somewhat Nauseous All The Time. There were even Kimkins t-shirts made with this slogan on. SNATT was seen as a positive thing; a sign that her diet was working.
These kind of diets are dangerous. But I see people all over the web laughing at the fatties who go on them. A lot of people who follow these diets are people who have had eating disorders in the past. In fact, compulsive eating is an eating disorder so so much for these “fatties”. People are desperate and will do anything to lose weight. I’ve found myself passed, shaking, covered in vomit on a bathroom floor to lose weight. I’ve done it again and again and again. The secrecy; the shame. The walk to your desk from the work toilet thinking that everyone can smell vomit on you. Telling your boyfriend, who you share your body and mind with, that you “got sick” because of something you ate.
But being sick is good, isn’t it? People on this diet are told that feeling sick means it’s working. Which is basically the strapline for anorexia and bulimia too. Feel exhausted, feel like total shit? It’s working.
This is eating disordered behaviour. When I was 15, I wrote a poem called “500″. At that time, I was keeping below 500 calories a day, but also in the throes of bulimia, so I threw up what I ate, even though it was a normal/below normal amount of food. I wrote this:
into the toilet bowlwhere you purge your sinyou retch and feel this hell
must mean you’re getting thin
I feel that the last two lines are in line with the general consensus of eating disorders: the worse you feel, the better you will look.
So the Kimkins diet has been exposed as a fraud. It’s not much of a victory, except for the people who paid to be on that diet.
Honestly, if I had my way, ALL literature, websites and magazine articles about weight would be destroyed. Except when it pertains to health, and in a clinical fashion, I think it’s incredibly dangerous. It infects the minds of people, young and old. It’s almost unavoidable. Adverts for cosmetic surgery are plastered on the tube, financing body parts as if they are cars. Magazines run articles about too skinny celebrities, then run a different article about the same celebrity “piling on the pounds”. Then there is this abomination of a website:
http://theskinnywebsite.com/site/, which is popular.
Check out their celebrity weight gain. Here are some photos of the celebrities who have “piled on a few”.
[Note: see Seaneen's blog for photo]
Mandy Moore. Normal weight, or even slightly below.
[Note: see Seaneen's blog for photo]
Nicole Kidman; skinny.
[Note: see Seaneen's blog for photo]
Hilary Duff: thin.
So you look at these images and think, if that’s fat, then what the hell am I?
Then there’s this “teen” list on AOL: http://teens.aol.com/style/20-ugliest-celebrities?photo=15 20 Ugliest Celebrities!
I ask you. It may as well be called, “Compare yourself to these people then skip lunch”. It all promotes the idea that beautiful, slim, is worthy. The idea of “good” and “bad” eating, of “good” and “bad” appearance. Making value judgements on who a person is based on what they look like.
My point is, Kimkins may eventually be stopped, but there will always be someone to take advantage of people who are desperate to lose weight. Diets aren’t neccessarily a good thing, even if you are very overweight and need to lose weight for medical reasons.
I think they encourage eating disorders and cycles of self hatred. Take it from someone who is still cycling.
And that you should not need to have a BMI of 17.5 or under to be anorexic. Likewise, you don’t need to have anorexia to be below a BMI of 17. 5, people are just naturally thin and can be very heathily so.
It should be wiped out of the DSM-IV. I can understand why that criteria is there: below that BMI, and losing further, weight as well as nutrients, there’s a risk of death. Although suicide is a personal choice, not a moral one, if someone is in front of you that you can maybe stop going down that road, you should do it. It’s very simplistic of me to say that, though. I know how underfunded mental health services are, it is a constant source of fury to me. I know that some people (Hello!) don’t want help and that’s fine. But I don’t think eating disorders are entirely by choice; in fact, I think it’s the opposite. It can become compulsion and an obsession and as “by choice” as it is to be schizophrenic or manic depression. I am aware of how hypocritical I am being, too (although I don’t think my own problems are severe enough…more hypocritical stuff from me!) Even so, I am angry at the societal pressure to be thin. I honestly blame the media for the existence of eating disorders.
Anorexia should not be solely portrayed as extreme thinness. It is more than that. It is a pattern of thinking and behaviour. It is not just a desire to be thin. There are as many reasons as there are sufferers. I think its image of waiflike thinness is actually seductive and glamourous to people with eating disorders."
Please check out Seaneen's wonderful blog, Pole to Polar: The secret life of a manic depressive . She is a gifted young writer and you will be amazed.