For some reason I’ve avoided saying the name of the diet I’ve been following since May of this year. I’m not sure why.

Maybe I was afraid people would think I was trying to be self-promoting.

Maybe I thought people would expect more of me.

Maybe I was afraid people would criticize my choice.

Maybe I thought people would blame me if I failed.

No matter the reason, it just seems silly to me now. So, I’m ready to disclose.

I’m following the Dukan Diet.

There, I said it.

It’s been in the news a little bit lately. Partly because it was revealed to be the diet The Duchess of Cambridge used to get super skinny for her wedding to Prince William. Also, partly because it’s been bashed a lot by people claiming it doesn’t work or that it’s just a repeat of the Atkins diet.

Everyone is different, physically, psychologically, emotionally and so different things will work for different people. I get that. But I find it hard to believe it when people claim that this way of eating doesn’t work to lose weight.

My husband and I had a conversation recently about what diets have and have not worked for me. After some honest reflection I was able to articulate that every diet I’ve ever been on has “worked” in that when I was following the diet, as proscribed, I always lost weight. What did or didn’t work for me was whether or not the diet was something I could stick to long enough to lose all the weight I wanted and help me not to regain the weight once I stopped trying to lose.

There has never been a diet that helped me do either of those things. So, in that respect, no diet has ever worked for me. No diet has been sustainable.

Until now.

This is not Atkins. I’ve done Atkins. A zero carb diet with lots of high fat foods like bacon, gobs of mayonnaise, and tons of highly processed supplemental foods like bars, drinks, desserts, and candies. Not to mention the fact that I rarely ate a vegetable while on that diet. I remember on Atkins eating eggs and bacon every morning for breakfast. It worked great while I was trying to lose weight, but once I was finished losing weight I kept eating the bacon and eggs and added in a glass of orange juice and a bagel or toast and was suddenly surprised to have regained the weight way faster than I’d lost it.

The Dukan Diet on the other hand is low fat, full of vegetables, eliminates all the processed junk food in disguise, allows for a hearty breakfast cereal (oat bran), and focuses on whole foods.

This works for me.

I had to expunge the processed foods, the high fat foods, the refined carbs; I had to get rid of the sugar, flour, and wheat. This diet did that for me. Best of all, this diet has taught me what my abstinence is because it’s taught me how to enjoy eating this way. I’m not chomping at the bit to get to the goal weight so I can stop eating like this. Yes, I’m excited and eager to get to my goal weight, but so I can be at my goal, not so I can change how I’m eating.

This diet has given me my mind and soul back.

I no longer have food cravings.

I no longer get hungry between meals.

I no longer have sleep disturbances (other than my kids waking me up!).

I no longer have wild mood swings.

I no longer feel anxious.

I no longer feel depressed.

I no longer obsess over what I’m going to eat next.

I no longer feel the food calling to me.

Now, I just live.

I eat to live. I don’t live to eat. I’ve never been able to say that before.

I am free from the food obsession.

So, why did I try this diet?

After years of failing on diets I had actually sworn off dieting all together. I had tried to reconcile myself to my weight being higher than I wanted. I spent 12 years in and out of the rooms at OA meetings. I had weight loss surgery.

The weight loss surgery (an adjustable gastric band) worked wonders and I lost 90 pounds. But then I got pregnant with my son and gained 60 pounds while pregnant and I was never able to get it all off again. The largest benefits of weight loss surgery are within the first two years and even though I’d achieved my goal in those first two years trying to start over again four years into it was nearly impossible. Yes, the band helped. It is probably the reason I was stuck between 15-30 pounds (depending on the month) above my pre-baby weight and not 60 or more pounds above my pre-baby weight. For that I am grateful. But, in the end it doesn’t solve all the problems. It never solved my relationship to food.

So, last spring, despondent, fearing I was facing a lifetime of despair and self-loathing over my weight and inability to control myself around food, wracked with anxiety, and feeling utterly hopeless I felt like I was at the end of the line. Something had to give.

When a friend told me about the Dukan Diet I dismissed it at first. But then, after a couple of weeks I was feeling so out of control that I looked it up online and started reading about it. Then I bought the book and read it and it was something of a revelation for me. Here was a diet that didn’t have just two phases: weight loss and maintenance. It didn’t even have only three phases: a jump start, weight loss, then maintenance. No, this diet has four phases: a jump start (“attack”), weight loss (“cruise”), a reintegration of the foods that were off limits during weight loss (“consolidation”), and maintenance (“permanent stabilization”).

Here was a diet that actually took time to help you slowly reintegrate the foods that you hadn’t been eating while losing weight so that you won’t rebound. To me this was amazing. I’d never been on a diet that did this before. In fact, you have to stay on it for nearly as long (if not longer) than it took you to lose the weight in the first place. This gave me hope. Suddenly, I didn’t feel alone anymore. I wasn’t being left to my own devices to maintain my success.

Every page of this book spoke to me. He describes my experience with food. He understands weight issues as an addiction, which I had come to believe I suffer from 12 years ago when I joined Overeaters Anonymous. He understood that it wasn’t just a lack of willpower that made me fat. His compassion, understanding, and clear explanations made me think this just might work.

I love that he requires oat bran every day. I mix it with skim milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and Splenda. Then I pop it in the microwave and I have a hot and hearty bowl of cereal to eat every morning. I bake it up with egg whites and unsweetened cocoa powder into muffins and quick breads. A chocolate oat bran muffin with a dollop of plain fat-free yogurt on top feels like a decadent cupcake. These 2 tablespoons of oat bran each day kill my carb cravings.

I love eating lean meats, fat free and low fat cheeses, fish, yogurt, fresh vegetables. I’ve learned how to make pizza with a cauliflower crust, chicken and vegetable soup with nearly no fat, tacos without carbs, and myriad other foods that taste great, are satisfying, and make me forget I’m supposedly on a diet because eating is still fun.

What I needed, in part, was not to have to think about it anymore. No counting calories, no feeling deprived, no struggling to figure out what the right choice was. This diet has done all of that for me. I eat the 100 allowed foods and nothing else. Easy-peasy. I can eat in restaurants without difficulty. I can eat with friends without difficulty.

I have my life back.

I have my sanity back.

I have my clothes back.

I’m happy.

I have this diet to thank for all of that. So, it’s time to give it the credit it deserves.

The Dukan Diet.

It works for me.

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