'I thought working in the diet industry would make me healthier. It made me hate myself.'

Content warning: This story discusses eating disorders and could be triggering for some readers.

The year was 2015, and I had just graduated from uni. I quickly landed my dream job and I was ecstatic. I had studied nutrition and psychology because, as an overweight teen, I wanted to better understand how I got there.

Knowledge is power, right? I never wanted to feel disgusting or unwanted again. More importantly, I wanted to understand how to never go back.

My dream job involved supporting others to lose weight and feel their best selves. I proudly displayed my 'before and after' photos to members, and exclaimed, "You are worth the effort!" 

Because losing weight for me meant going to bed hungry, constantly juggling numbers, binges, juice cleanses and over-exercising. I managed to lose 40kg and I was damn proud. And I’d be damned if I was going to put it back on.

Image: Supplied.


The thing that strikes me now is the fear. I never felt 'thin', I always felt like a recovering fat person. I was afraid that one meal, one week, one month would see all the weight pile back on. This is why the new job was a godsend. 

As a poster girl and role model for the diet-brand-that-shall-not-be-named I would need to hold myself to a higher standard. I had no choice but to halt the emotional eating, binges, unhealthy family gatherings and temptations; I would certainly remain my 'goal weight' forever. Or so I thought.

I loved my job, or at least, I loved being on the frontline with the people. Having learned about strength-based practice and Socratic questioning at uni, I put that into effect with my members. I freaking loved it, and my members did too.

I turned the focus onto each person’s unique personality, lifestyle and achievements. They were the expert in their own lives and they held the key to being successful. While the numbers dropped their smiles grew brighter and brighter. But something gnawed at me.


The stress and self-loathing of diet culture hit me hard. On one hand, we spruiked the benefits of mindfulness, body acceptance and overall wellness, but underneath the gloss we were the same as every other diet - it all boiled down to weight.

On multiple occasions, I would be chatting online with members while scoffing down chocolate. I couldn’t handle the dichotomy of it all. When I brought it up with my boss she said, "No one else has trouble with it." And so, it was a 'me' problem, and I was alone. 

Image: Supplied.


During my time at the company we were told to be a healthy BMI, to use their eating system, send in our weekly food diaries, and report our weight each week. If we fell outside of our healthy BMI we would need counselling.

I see now the insane breach of privacy, all under the guise of health, but at the time I wanted to remain thin so desperately that I would do anything.

I remember once mentioning to a co-worker that I visited my favourite bakery, and she cut me off, "Oh no! How many calories is in that?" she cried, as if it was terrible news. 

This company was supposed to be a support network for improving health, but I was being shamed for eating. Can we not enjoy a pastry now and then? The focus was always on numbers, instead of enjoying life. 

What’s sad is that people with disordered eating are drawn to structure, and that arbitrary structure worsens the symptoms of disordered eating. It is quite the vicious cycle. 

So here I am, 30kg heavier. 

Image: Supplied.


I urge you to reframe how you think about your body. Can you bake a mean apple pie? Have you birthed a child? Can you sing along with your fave song?

Physical health is one thing, but your emotional health is just as important. If not, more so. It's better to be happy than to be constantly chasing physical perfection. I urge you to join me.

Yvette Jones is a nutritionist who champions Intuitive Eating and body acceptance. She loves cooking, hiking, pretty clothes and wasting time on YouTube. You can follow her on Instagram here.

Feature Image: Supplied.