Thursday, 2 December 2010

Diets and politics

Last week's blog post in which we commented on the Weight Watchers new Pro Points plan has certainly sparked off an interesting debate. Whilst some of the comments posted support our opinion that the new plan keeps dieters stuck in an overeating rut, one comment exhorted us to stop 'bashing' the dieting giant whilst another came to the defense of the new plan.

We felt it was important to set the record straight. Let's start by stating the obvious: if Weight Watchers, or indeed any other diet plan out there, works for you then this is great. If it ain't broke - don't fix it as they say! We are all our own Gurus here at Beyond Chocolate and, as such, we wouldn't even think of suggesting you stop doing something that you feel is truly helping you towards a healthy relationship with food and your body.

As for the 'bashing' debate well, yes, we do find it challenging to talk about Weight Watchers and other dieting outfits without a certain measure of irony and derision and if this offends anyone - apologies. The aim of these posts however is not simply to have gratuitous 'go' at the dieting industry. Our aim is to raise awareness about the possible pitfalls.

We have had literally thousands of women come on our workshops and do our online courses and more than 95% have attempted to follow a Weight Watchers diet at some point - all have failed in the long term. Some, have gone back several times over, convinced that the fault was in them, not in the diet. We see it over and over again: so many beautiful, intelligent, wonderful women have had their self esteem crushed as a result of these failed attempts at weight-loss. They believe they are weak and lacking in willpower and completely to blame for being unable to stop overeating and lose weight. We know that this is not true and we take immense pride in the fact that the alternative we offer gives them not only another way forward but also gives them back self-confidence and self-trust.  

And yet these women are just a drop in the ocean, a tiny fraction of the desperate women out there who are miserably yo-yoing between 'being good' and 'being naughty' and generally feeling out of control around food.   

Weight Watchers is a multi-billion pound corporation. This makes them powerful and omnipresent. They are everywhere: on every billboard, in every magazine and on every television set. Dieting is the accepted norm because no-one else has  the millions of pounds needed to reach so many people with a different message.

For us, this is a political issue, not a commercial one. We don't 'bash' WW to capture their clients - we know, as Grace puts so well in her comment, that women will come to Beyond Chocolate when they are ready. For us this is about making a statement, taking a stand. Being the voice of reason amidst the onslaught of the dieting industry's massive advertising machine. We are a minority - there are so few people out there talking about the alternatives, offering viable solutions to a problem which is so pervasive and touches nearly every woman we know. Beyond Chocolate is tiny: we have our web site and our blog and our wonderful community of Beyond Chocolaters to help us spread the word - and that's pretty much it. So we use, and will continue to use, all the means at our disposal to open the debate up to a wider audience and speak about another way of doing things.

We'd love your feedback and your ideas. Please do join in and post your comments and let us know what you think. The more we talk about this, the louder we will get...and the more women will hear us.


  1. I'll stop bashing WW and all other big diet plans as soon as they stop shaming women for "failing" at a game where the house always wins. Being cynical about WW is the same as being cynical about the big casinos in my mind- there is going to be one winner and it's unlikely to be the gambler.

  2. Me too, Kirsty.
    I don't see that promoting your own (opposite) point of view counts as 'bashing' and I can't imagine that WW would take any notice anyway. They're raking in the cash and women are still convinced it'll work for them longterm ...
    We'll still be here when the finally realise it doesn't and it won't and it never really did anyway ...

  3. Weight Watchers come over all cuddly and nice on the ads etc but my experience was one where humiliation was as much a part of the process as praise was. It was, ultimately, the reason I left, or rather didn't go back.

    I think it is important for people to stand up and say, I don't think this is right, and to spread the word. If WW works for you great - but I have yet to meet anyone who has used to long term successfully.

  4. Well, as long as there is freedom of expression, I think everyone has the right to say what they think, especially on our own sites!
    I've never joined WW or SW, but I have been under the endless pressure to get skinny at all costs, and it cost me my health for years, so I don't hesitate to tell people what I think about dieting.

    You're doing a good job here!

  5. My mum took me to a few WW meetings when I was twelve and the humiliation of the public weighing still sends shivers down my spine thirty years later. Needless to say I never went back. Needless to say, I still have a weight problem. I wish you were around at the time to offer an alternative! Thank you for doing a great job


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