How appropriate...

I was at the public library today, browsing and obtaining books to prepare for the class I'm going to teach in the fall, when I realized that today was International No Diet Day.

This is the first regret I've had at quitting my job, simply because celebrating not dieting really isn't a whole lot of fun amongst people who...well...don't diet. It's more healthy that way, but not as much fun. Personally, I celebrated by having a huge hunk of Hershey's Dark Chocolate for my afternoon snack. I already feel those antioxidants going to work.

Which brings me to an interesting point: chocolate is deemed a "health food" because of antioxidant content. Pizza because of the yeast in the dough. Coffee. Tea. Aspartame has been cleared of all wrongdoing (not that it ever stopped me from using it). However, BBQ can raise your risk of breast cancer. (To which I say, screw cooking! Let's eat raw meat!) And on and on. The studies are too numerous to count, and besides, there will be a new study published tomorrow that says it's not true.

Restaurants have more nutrition information available to the public, people know more about calories and fat grams and carbs. Yet still people bemoan the size of America's waistline. I don't know cause and effect, but I can identify the cycle. Popular media tell it thusly: here's the information you need to know to keep from becoming fat. Ew. Fat. No one wants that. So we become all hyped-up over carbs, fat, the glycemic index, fiber, water, exercise, take your pick. The problem is that the human mind doesn't like to play by the rules. It's a rebellious little bugger, and the second "their" back is turned, we return to our menage a trois with Ben and Jerry. Repeat the cycle anew.

I'm not going to promote a sort of return to the cycles of the earth goddess mentality because it's not realistic. Fast food is here to stay.

And to be honest: so what? If you want a burger, have a burger. Or fries. Or a milkshake. It's just food. Though I doubt that Marshmallow Peeps have much in the way of nutritional value, one little chick isn't going to ruin your health. And if you eat a bar of chocolate just for the antioxidants, you're losing out. Because chocolate tastes mighty good.

The talk of the town now is "everything in moderation." Which is hilarious considering all of the talk of "good carbs and bad carbs" and "good fats and bad fats" and "good cholesterol and bad cholesterol." It's a marketing technique. Like the Weight Watchers points system: eat what you want, but no more than this. I went on a Baby Ruth diet once. One candy bar every day. And nothing else. Damn straight I lost weight. That's not moderation. Everything in moderation according to my rules is not moderation either. That's just as extreme as extreme dieting.

The point is this: nutritional information can be good. It really can. If you're diabetic, then knowing the sugars in your food is necessary. Or salt if you have high blood pressure. But the more information we seem to acquire, the more we seem to ignore it.

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Willow said...

I was just telling my therapist the other day about the pitfall I seem to have fallen into related to trying to follow my nutritionist's meal plan. I feel very orthorexic currently, in that I am spending so much time planning exactly the right things to eat, recording it online, trying to get x number of protein, fiber etc. I know it's better than focuing on not eating, but in some ways it still feels extremely disordered to me. I long for the day when I can tell when I'm hungry & when I'm full & eat something just because I feel like it.

Summer said...

I know how you feel- I am constantly overwhelmed by new studies, diets, etc- I'm trying to go back to basics- well balanced meals of fruits, veggies, proteins and carbs, etc. Then I apply the moderation theory to a little dessert here and there, or like you said, the occasional cheeseburger, or diet soda. I just don't believe that a little aspartame, or a few french fries in moderation is such a bad thing!

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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