Like many heart-crushing relationships, this one started out casual. It was my first year of marriage, and I had both a sparkly new last name and a couple extra pounds on my thighs (thanks, birth control). My silver bullet came to me in the form of a popular 30-day elimination diet: Whole30. Armed with wildly unhealthy yet socially acceptable expectations of quick weight loss, I haphazardly began my long-term rendezvous with the fad diet that broke my heart.
I framed my new diet as a positive lifestyle change, as if my goal was to nourish my body and weight loss was a convenient side effect. But what started out as a lighthearted attempt at detoxing quickly turned toxic. One month of kale chips and kombucha passed, and I felt like I was winning. My old jeans fit perfectly, and the puffiness in my face deflated like magic. So I did another round. And then another. Three months of “whole” eating came and went, but there was nothing whole or healthy about me. Every day became about carbs and calories and “compliance” (now that I think of it, that word feels hella dystopian). As my thigh gap grew wider, my mind and my world got smaller.
Cheating, even on special occasions like my one-year anniversary or my birthday, was a distant dream. Grace? Nah, that stuff’s for quitters. I had already made it this far, and if I had a food I perceived as “bad” — like, um, a single piece of low-glycemic, organic fruit — I would lose all my “progress.” But therein was the problem. There was never any “progress” to begin with. I had been living in an illusion.