Today's Episode

The Jessica Cooke Podcast


Hi and welcome to today's podcast episode where we are going to be chatting about how to stop dieting, the toxicity of diet culture, how awful and horrible it is, how much it keeps us locked in a really vicious cycle and some tips to finally break through free if you feel ready to break free, I'm still a little bit under the weather.

Um, as you can probably tell from my voice.

So you're just still going to have to bear with me.

I am hoofing the lem sips into me and getting a load of water into me.

Oh, I hope I'm going to be better.

I'm making a bit of a family trip in a couple of days over to London.

We have a yearly family reunion.

Um, over there with all the grandkids, the kids, the uncles and aunties.

So I'm really hoping I'll feel better for that.

But if I'm not, that's ok.

Um, how to stop dieting?

What's the problem with dieting?

What's not the problem with dieting?

Dieting is just horrific.

I was a cereal dieter for nearly all of my adult life.

I was always either losing weight or gaining weight.

I was never, ever just being, I was always thinking I was fat and desperately trying to lose weight or I wasn't, which meant I was in freefall all or nothing.

Thinking gaining weight mode dieting kept me locked in a really unhealthy and unhappy loop of being obsessed with food and restricting and overeating.

Nearly every single thing I did was to do in some warped or weird way with dieting and food and you know what, it didn't solve any of my issues.

Like the things that I had going on, like huge amounts of stress, the anxiety that I felt why I was overweight, why I was overeating.

And this is one of the reasons why I hate with a passion, the weight loss industry so much, the slimming worlds, the Weight Watchers, the diet cultures, everything that keeps us locked and stuck in this.

What am I eating today?

It drives me absolutely cracked because it doesn't solve anything.

It, it takes all our power away and it, it made me think that I just hadn't found the right way to eat that.

I was overweight because, well, slimming world didn't work.

So I'll try Weight Watchers.

Weight Watchers didn't work.

So I'll try Keto and you're just bouncing from one diet to the next and you're never really fixing the real problems.

I was overeating if I go to a nutritionist and I say I'm overeating like, ok, let me take that back.

Not a nutritionist, but like the tips that you're given from the weight loss industry is you're overeating.


So pile your plate high with veg and have some chicken and less chicken and potatoes.


So stay off pasta and rice and it's not fixing any of the reasons of why I was overeating.

I was obsessed with my weight.

I was obsessed.

I think I'm going to get the medal.

I mean, if, if, if one of you listening can take the medal.



But I don't know.

I, I thought about my weight 24 7 a day.

I weigh myself every day.

If I looked trimmer, I would eat more and if I felt fat I would eat less.

That that's how I kind of ate.

Oh, clothes get a little bit loose so I can have this blow out.

Oh, clothes are getting tight hatred, self loathing.

Must eat hardly anything and around and around.

I went obsessed every time I used to actively look for myself in reflections in mirrors, in shop windows, in my phone, on a glass table.

I would actively look for myself in reflections to either call myself disgusting and fat and horrific or, oh, you're not doing too bad today.

But nine times out of 10, it was horrific.

You're fat, you're this, you're gross.

You're ugly.

And I would just be so obsessed.

Everything I did was to look smaller from the clothes that I bought to how I felt about myself.

On that day, the food I would eat how much I would exercise.

It would all be driven to lose weight.

I would exercise to lose weight.

The food I ate would be to lose weight or, or the food I ate would be because I'd lost weight.

Then I can eat it.

The clothes I would buy, I would only buy clothes that would, in my opinion make me look smaller.

Would never be because I liked the clothes I wouldn't allow myself to buy lovely chunky knit jumpers.

For example, they would have to just be small, small, small and you know what, you know, what happens when I did that every bit of fun was taken out of being healthy.

I didn't even know being healthy could be fun.

I used to just think of being healthy and health as how much am I eating?

And how much am I exercising?

And if I wasn't exercising or I wasn't eating right.

I was being unhealthy and you know what that did to me, it kept the blinkers on like a horse.

Like I just had like, think of a horse going down a park.

He's got blinkers on and in front of him, he sees fitness and exercise and all to the sides of him.

There is things like connection, stress reduction, fun laughter, self care, loving yourself mindset.

And I was just fitness, nutrition, fitness, nutrition.

Am I working out?

Am I working out enough?

When am I going to get back on track with my workouts?

What am I eating?

When am I eating it?

And it was so depressing rather than nourish myself and get on with my day.

It just became all about food.


Well, I ate five packets of crisps last night.

So that means I have to have the smallest of breakfasts.

I ate five packets of crystal last night.

So that means I have to have the smallest of breakfasts and salad with no dressing.


I've done two meals of that.

Then I go back to having a massive dinner and shite after dinner and I got stuck just so tunnel visioned and, and small view.

II, I used to think of weight loss and food.

Like, in terms of what I had that day, am I losing weight because of the breakfast?

I've just eaten that, that sounds cracked.

But that's what I thought.

That's where I was at.

I'm losing weight.

I'm in weight loss mode because I've had the smallest of breakfasts.

I've had a small salad and then I would have crap that night and I would be in weight gain mode.

I wasn't even talking weeks and months.

I'm talking in terms of a day, I would be thinking I was losing weight and gaining weight and I know, you know, the body doesn't work like that.

But I rationally do that.

But I think when it came to dieting and weight loss or rationale can go out the window because it's so deep.

There's so much more to losing weight and trying to lose weight and dieting.

Then we think, you know, it's horrific.

So when I decided to stop dieting and to actively seek out a terrific life for myself, because I always knew, I always knew there was greater things for me, even in the depths of my despair at my lowest ebb when I was drinking too much alcohol, when I would wake up on a Saturday morning and go here I fucking go again.

I can't fucking do this anymore.

That shame and guilt and the sweat and you're just, I was just dying of a hangover and just feeling like I'd wasted another day and I was going to be trapped in this loop forever.

And what the fuck was the point in looking forward to the weekend?

What the fuck was the point in working so hard all week to just fucking grab that rose drink it.

Think I'm having a good time and to wake up the next day having had more food because I was drinking a sneaky little wrap with cheese and crisps on the way up to bed.

Oh, I just felt so desperate.

I just had a knot in my stomach.

My skin was sweaty.

I felt so flushed the whole time.

And I got to a point where I had just had enough and I decided I was going to set myself free.

Now I had to set myself free with a lot of issues that I had going on.

But one of them was dieting and when I gave up dieting, like genuinely gave up dieting.

I went from having one friend literally in my life, one friend to so many people in my life.

Now, this year, this year for 2023 for me has been about being healthy, getting healthy.

And 2022 the first of May, 2022 was when it all started was the day I stopped drinking and I started a healing journey and I started on the journey of learning how to love myself again.

And one way in which that happened was that I broadened what being healthy meant to me.

And I realized I was very unhealthy in my connection.

Part of my health, I had very few connections in my life.

Yeah, I had loads of work.

I had loads of connection.

Like I had loads of people that I work with but no buddies, nobody to call and chat to and just chat and meet up and have fun.

And I had no hobbies.

I felt stressed out.

I felt anxious.

I didn't laugh very much.

I used to love laughing.

Really used to enjoy it.

I used to love having the banter and the crack with buddies.

But along the way, I lost all my friends.

I changed.

I moved away.

I am looking back.

It was an absolute blessing that I, that I'm not in touch with many people that I used to be.

But I found myself very isolated and I know it sounds like you're probably going off on a bit of a tangent here.

But when you're so focused, when I was so focused on dieting as being healthy.

Yeah, I, I had flickers on.

I never really thought about the fact that I had no friends until I actually stopped dieting, figured out what being healthy meant to me and realized that I had not very many connections in my life.

So I went from having no friends to having loads of people in my life, to being happy, calm, grounded and peaceful and to be able to heal, have fun, laugh, read books, have hobbies and have a much better relationship with my family.

All because, well, one of the reasons was I decided to stop dieting when I stopped dieting, it just was in front of my face all the shit that I had to fix in my life.

But dieting can, can be the distraction that a lot of people need, that I needed it.

It, it, it distracted me.

It kept me focused on calories and food.

When you take that away, there's nothing left but the rawness of the shit you've been avoiding rather than think to yourself, what am I going to eat today when that's gone?

You have to face up to the real problems that are going on that are causing you to be stuck in this loop of dieting.

You have to focus on why you are overweight.

Why are you overweight?

That's what I had to ask myself.

It wasn't because I, I wasn't dedicated to dieting.

I dieted for 20 years since, since leaving cert 20 something years.

So here are my tips that I have done that have worked on me that I want to share with you to help you stop dieting.

If you like me are sick and tired of dieting of diet culture and all the bullshit that it comes with.

Number one, the most important tip of all.

Stop valuing weight loss, stop valuing it.

Don't write it down as a goal.

Don't say out loud.

You want to lose weight, don't tell your friends you want to lose weight and learn to stop valuing it as this achievement that it's so valued in modern society.

And when you hear other people talking about it or you read about it in newspapers or coming up to January soon, you just, I don't value that.

I don't value weight loss.

I don't value it and practicing it and believe it and mean it.

Do you value weight loss over everything else?

If the answer is no, then you've got to remind yourself of that on a daily basis because it's easy to get sucked into the trap of what everybody else is doing.

Keeping up with the Joneses.

It's so easy to get stuck in the trap.

We're bombarded.

I think I read, we're bombarded with 60,000 advertisements a day, which is really bananas.

So stop valuing weight loss as a goal.

So stop valuing it.

Number two.

Catch yourself looking at celebrities or critiquing others and say no, no, we don't do that anymore.

Don't tell your friends they look great because they've lost weight.

Don't say to somebody.

Have you lost weight?

Don't privately think it don't look at a celebrity on the Graham Norton show and thinks she looks great as she lost weight.

It's so ingrained in us and we're so conditioned to think like this, that don't be hard on yourself if that is what you do.

And it's not as simple as just saying, you're not going to do it anymore and not doing it.

I catch myself doing it the whole time and then I say no, we don't do that anymore.

And I think of something else.

It happens to me the whole time.

I love the Graham Norton show, the late Ho of Patrick Keilty.

I watch them and somebody comes on and I automatically think I better wait.

And then I think we don't do that anymore.

And I start to think of all the amazing achievements that they've done because five times out of 10, they're on the show, they've just, they're such cool people, they've achieved loads in their life deadly.

And I start to think of all their achievements and I start to think of them as a person and it really works and I feel really good about it.

And it reminds me, it just reminds me that it's not about weight loss, same thing with your family, with your friends.

Get yourself out of the conversation.

Even if you hang around with people that talk about weight loss all day long, you can remove yourself from the situation without having to remove yourself from friends.

Like I have people in my extended family or what Trisha calls them origin family that would always be talking about weight loss or about somebody else's body and weight loss and you can just not speak, you can just not engage in that behavior.

You don't have to be confrontational about it.

I don't say oh, I don't talk just oh right.


All right.

Stop what you think?

Bang done.

End of story.

Don't do things for other people.

Number three become aware of the toxic environments like friends and family and advertisements on Instagram become really aware of the toxicity around you.

What Instagram is trying to make you believe what youtube and advertisements and women's magazines and Netflix are all trying to make you believe that thin is cool, thin is best.

You're successful when you're slim, you're successful.

When you're trim, really start to question it and disagree with it and come up with something more empowering.

For example, whoa I was just about to go down a rabbit hole there.

We don't do that anymore.

I don't agree with that and fix your social media feed.

Don't talk to people about your body unfollow anybody on your social media that is triggering you back into diet culture and have just really cool things on your social media feed.

Number five, learn how to accept your body as it is right now and really learn and understand when you're saying to yourself, I'll be happy when I'm £5 trimmer.

I'll be happy when I'm, when I've lost weight.

That, that's just all bullshit.

And you're just wasting your life and you're wasting your time and you're not going to look back when you're 90 regret not having been trimmer.

You really aren't.

So why don't we accept our bodies as they are and learn how to love ourselves now and strive to be healthy, healthy and look at our healthy habits, not our bodies, not, not look at the body, look at our habits.

Are you eating shit every night?

Are you overdrinking or are you eating healthy?

Are you moving?

Are you nourishing?

Are you resting?

Are you reducing stress?

Are you having fun?

Are you laughing?

Fuck, looking at your body and picking it apart.

Like life is too short to think.

You don't have nice arms.

Life is too short to not like your hips, your hips help you get from here to your house and from here to the car.

Don't hate on your body.

Accept and love your body and then strive to be healthy if that's what you want, but don't strive to be smaller, strive to be healthy because being healthy is really cool because you feel good.

You're striving to feel good in yourself.

I don't know anybody that's really overweight, that's happy, like really overweight, that's happy because most people when they're really overweight, it's because they're eating too much and drinking too much and we're eating or drinking too much for a reason.

Normally it's to fill a void.

So for most of us, when we're overweight, there's a deeper underlying problem that's making us unhappy.

So if you can accept yourself as you are, accept your body as it is and then strive to be healthy, you've freed yourself from diet culture and the toxicity that surrounds that shitty crappy diet.


Number six.

Learn how to love yourself again.

Learn how to create boundaries, set boundaries, spend time on you rediscover who you are, what your likes and dislikes are, who you are away from your partner or loved one or kids or parents or grandparents or grandkids, learn who you are.

What you like, what you stand for.

What you don't like, learn about your hobbies, learn about what makes you laugh.

Your favorite comedian, the shows that you like the books you like to read?

Do you like Jigsaws?

Do you like to play with Lego?

Like the Lego sets?

The adult Lego sets?

Um Do you like to do exercise?

Do you want to do hockey?

Pick a ball running?

What do you like?

What do you dislike?

Tip number seven is to ditch all things to do with weight loss?

Like everything you throw out the weighing scales.

You don't just keep it in your cupboard, you throw it out, you don't need it and anything to do with counting anything to do with dieting, like apps on your phone, like books on your shelves, anything diety, you get rid of.

That includes clothes that are way too small for you.

You get rid of, we don't body shame anymore.

We don't hate on ourselves.

We don't strive to be smaller.

We get rid of all that stuff.

You just get rid of it.

You have to bin it.

You don't need to know what you weigh.

If you are committed to breaking free from diet culture, you do not need to know what you weigh.

Why do you need to know what you weigh?

It's so pointless.

Number nine, find a community that's free of diet culture and there are plenty.

You know, if you listen to this podcast that I chat to you about how lonely and isolated I felt at the beginning of 2023 and how I felt like I just had no friends.

Well, I have loads of connections in my life now and it's thanks to joining groups and starting hobbies and, well, I don't talk like no one in these groups, talks about losing weight and dieting and it's really cool.

We just have fun.

We meet up, we play a sport, we have great crack, we go for coffee afterwards.

We laugh loads and it's a dream come true.

So definitely find communities free from diet culture that make you feel good.

And if you're in any groups don't have FOMO, if you're in any groups that are always about nutrition or recipes or diet plans or weight loss and you're scared of leaving them because you don't want to miss out like you're not missing out on anything.

You're setting yourself free and you're being a shining example to all around you that you can't break free from diet culture, that you can let go of this idea of changing and fixing our bodies.

Number 10, ask yourself what being healthy means to you.

It's different for everybody.

For example, being healthy means to me.

I love to follow my five step framework that I teach within my Thrive Academy program, P MS and being healthy to me means touching off all those five acronyms P being your physical movement.

A being accountability and support H being hydration, M being mental health and s being self care.

So there's so many action steps I like to do within self care.

There's so many action steps I like to do within mental health.

And once I'm touching off all those lovely little points, I'm healthy.

Am I taking care of my mental health?

Am I making time for fun and laughter?

Do I have boundaries up?

Do I have hobbies?

Am I exercising?

Am I eating well?

Am I drinking water?

Am I resting?

Do I have downtime?

I could go on and on and on?

But once you're working on all of this, you don't, you don't fixate on diet culture.

I have the most amazing members in my community, in the Marri Academy community.

You, you don't see one post about food and we're all striving to be healthy and there is not one post about food.

Some of you listening in might think that's nuts.

How can you have a coaching program, a program or striving to be healthy and everybody's striving to be healthy and there's no posts about food, isn't it?

The most amazing thing?

Isn't that the coolest thing and proof that you can get so healthy without obsessing about food.

You don't need to be in a group that's constantly posting up new recipes and reduced fat this and slipping this and swapping out this for this.

You don't need to be in a group like that to be really healthy.

You can totally break free from that and it's the most cool and liberating thing in the world.

My last tip is to do with food.

We need to ask yourself as you move throughout the day.

Are you eating healthy?

Are you eating breakfast, lunch and dinner?

So if you're eating healthy and you're eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, then look at the real problems and identify that.

Are you eating after dinner?


So maybe you're stressed out.

So you need to work on stress.

Are you not eating lunch?


So you're skipping meals.

So you're not making time for yourself with many, many women that I have met over the years, they may be skipping meals or eating after dinner.

They're keeping the focus on their food.

But you have to ask yourself, why am I eating after dinner and fix that problem?

Why are you skipping meals throughout the day and fix that problem?

But I promise you the problem will never be about food.

So go and crush, stopping dieting.

I know you can, you can break free, you can get rid of the weighing scales and you can completely set yourself free and never have to diet again.

I promise you and get super healthy.

I really, really hope you enjoyed this episode.

Remember that you can email in with your challenges and I will read them out on this podcast.

You can tell me at Jessica at Jessica Cook dot ie and share with me a challenge you may be going through and I will give you advice and recommendations on this podcast.

Please rate this podcast wherever you get your podcasts and share it with a friend if you think they might enjoy it.

Thank you once again for listening and all my love.

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