Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size

My "No Diet" Diet

WebMD Feature from "Marie Claire" Magazine

By Yael Kohen
Marie Claire magazine logo
What would happen if you stopped dieting? If you ate the steak — and the frites — because you wanted them? Yael Kohen discovered that eating what you want isn't as easy as you think.

It was the diet to end all diets. About a year ago — 15 years after my first diet — I decided to break my perpetual need-to-shed-pounds lifestyle to do something radical: eat what I wanted, when I wanted. Call it the "no diet" diet. It's the hardest thing I ever did.

See, the first time I went on a diet, I was 12. I was hardly plump, but there was no hiding my two stomach rolls in the black Betsey Johnson spaghetti-strap dress I bought for my bat mitzvah. And on Manhattan's Upper East Side, where I grew up, dieting is as much a rite of passage as your first period.

Through my teens and into my 20s, I went on and off a variety of diets, from Weight Watchers to Atkins to Cabbage Soup, until finally seeing a nutritionist I couldn't afford who had me eat four meals a day and diligently record each morsel in a journal. I hit the treadmill because it supposedly burned more calories than the bike. All this, and I was never really fat. Two years out of college, I was just 3 pounds shy of fitting into the Citizens of Humanity jeans I deliberately bought one size too small. But those 3 damn pounds wouldn't come off.

Oh, I tried. I ate salads and fruit, skinless chicken and broccoli. I craved the pancakes but ordered egg whites and learned to drink my vodka on the rocks. Except, of course, for all those times I didn't. The problem is, I love food: the smell, the taste, the experience of sitting down to a three-hour dinner with a bottle of cabernet and close friends. I love Italian peasant bread dipped in olive oil and a little sea salt; I love braised lamb shank over roasted fingerling potatoes; and I love, love molten chocolate cake. So when I say I tried, I really did, following all those meals with calorie restriction and exercise, questioning whether the gourmet food had been worth it.

Until one day, several years into this crime-and-punishment back-and-forth, I heard a very skinny friend call herself fat. If she could think she was fat, I wondered when, if ever, I would be satisfied with the way I looked.

That's when I said to hell with it and resolved to live guilt-free and eat what I wanted, when I wanted. I'd seen other people do it, and they were trim. But still, I knew I would need guidelines so I wouldn't revert to my deprivation ways — or gain weight.

Today on WebMD

feet on scale
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Hot cup of coffee
woman shopping fresh produce
butter curl on knife
eating out healthy
Smiling woman, red hair
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens