A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Dao of Diet

A person’s diet (and by diet I simply mean what food they chose to eat, not the word as it refers to weight loss) is a bit like their religion.

It’s personal, it means a lot to us.  Some of us want to prosthelytize our diet to others and for some of us it’s an intensely personal thing we want to keep to ourselves.  Some of us obsess over ours weekly, daily, hourly or by the minute and some people don’t really give it much thought.

My husband for example, wants to be healthy and enjoys a wide variety of foods.  When he gets hungry, he eats.  Sometimes that’s sushi, sometimes vegetables and chicken, sometimes it’s a cheese steak, sometimes a plate of cheesy nachos at 11PM before bed.  Some days he goes into a feeding frenzy and noms down quantities of food that boggle my mind, and some days he forgets to eat for half the day.  Generally speaking, he gets hungry and if he notices it, he eats – for him it’s a simple thing.  He does not stress about it or spare a moment’s thought to whether this bite of food will wind up on his ass for eternity because he does not have to.  His body efficiently uses and processes what he eats and according to doctors his weight has been within the perfect range for his height for his entire life.

Obviously this is not the experience for most people, though I believe the condition in which he lives is slightly more common in men than women – probably something to do with the metabolic activity of muscle mass and women having a biological need to store fat where men do not.

Regardless of what your personal diet may be, whether it’s the simple hunger = food style of my husband or an agonized analysis of every bite like mine – if you choose to share your diet with others, there is going to be somebody criticizing you.  The moment you find a food product you are thrilled about and attempt to tell somebody about it, they will probably respond by telling you it has too much and/or too little salt/sugar/fat/fructose/lycopene/enzymes/calcium/fiber/lack-of-fiber/potassium/meat/no-meat/etc. etc. etc. on and on ad infinitum.

Whatever you are eating, if you share it with people, you can and will find someone telling you it’s a bad idea.  I once had someone tell me I was fat because I frequently eat instant oatmeal for breakfast.  I once had someone tell me they gained weight because they ate six grapes that week.  I am not making this stuff up.

I have been told that nuts, olive oil and avocadoes can all be eaten in as vast quantities as I like because although they are packed with fat, its vegetable fat and thus I won’t gain weight from it.  I have been told that I should never eat more than a few grams of ANY kind of fat per day if I ever want to be slender.  I have been told that I should never let a single bite of white cane sugar or white flour pass my lips – ever.  It is poison.  If I eat any of it ever I am consigning myself to a life of obesity, diabetes and sugar/wheat addiction deliberately induced in me by the FDA who just wants to sell product at the expense of my health.  I have been told that I eat too much fruit and I should stop, because the natural sugar (fructose) that it contains is very bad for me.  I have been told to eat more protein because it will make me feel full longer, I have been told that any and all animal protein is the devil’s ambrosia which is clogging my arteries and strangling my heart.  I have been told that the human animal is NOT in fact an omnivore and we were never meant to eat the flesh of other beasts.  I have been told that fish oil is the cure for all ills, I have been told that the mercury in fish is going to put me in an early grave.  I have met people who literally live on iceberg lettuce with no dressing and nonfat yogurt every day for lunch, I have been told that eating iceberg lettuce is a waste of time because it contains no nutrition.  I have met skinny people who are skinny because they eat two fast food chicken nuggets at lunch time and are full.  I have to live with society in general still thinking that those people are healthier than me – because what you look like is all that counts.  I have been told that no matter what else I eat, I’m never ever going to lose any weight if I don’t STOP EATING ALL SALT!  THIS INSTANT!

I willingly open myself up to this.  I’m a health blogger and I’m obsessed with learning about nutrition.  I bring up the topic with people because I am curious about what they do.  Sometimes I just get excited about something and want to share.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, will take the wind out of your sails faster than sharing an aspect of nutrition you’re excited about and having someone slap it down as flat out wrong.  So before you get excited and share, use some caution.

Personally I have decided that only one thing is absolutely true: the right thing for you will be unique to you.  If it works for you, don’t let anyone tell you it’s wrong.  You have to experiment and try new things to find it.  I can’t say as I’ve absolutely found mine because I’m still fat.  Maybe I’m simply meant to discover that my size and my health are not interlinked and that my body already looks the way it should when I’m healthy, I don’t know.  Because I do not like the way fat looks on me, that idea is a very difficult and bitter pill for me to swallow.

I’m just imploring people to tread lightly.  And on the flipside, if someone is happy about something and sharing it with you, try not to dismiss it – they may be offering you one of the puzzle pieces that you actually do need to find the dietary living style that’s right for you, and for your completely unique body.

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