Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Kindness Chronicles - Diet is a Four Letter Word

Photo Credit: girlsgetstrong.com

Diet. A word that should be relegated to the rankings of all other four letters words that shall remain unmentioned.

Every person I know has either been on a one, wants to go one one, or is on one right now. Some people have been on a diet their entire lives. In the dictionary diet is defined as a kind of food someone eats regularly. Funny how the definition doesn't really mean what we think it does. We think of it as a time when we avoid things on purpose that we would normally consume. As a time when we go to great lengths to lose a few pounds.

We don't set out to gain weight. None of us do. We fall into habits of convenience. We make food be our main entertainment when spending time with friends and family. We eat when we're sad, mad, happy, angry, alone, or bored. We eat when the books tell us to rather than when our bodies do. We eat when we crave something mentally and emotionally and one day we wake up, look in the mirror, and realize something has gone terribly wrong.

Most people fail at diets because they're too restrictive. The mind and body react to starvation. The moment you decide to cut something out is the moment your brain latches on to it. You suddenly want it more than you ever have before. When you start cutting calories too low your body reacts by storing fat. It's preparing itself for starvation and therefore building reserves. This is not what you want, obviously, if you're trying to lose weight.

There are hundreds of books, magazines, and TV shows dedicated to weight loss. If there was just one right way we would know by now. Everyone else would be out of business.  The truth of the matter is, however,  that no two people are the same. Therefore no two people should rank themselves against each other trying to determine if they can be the same, look the same, or diet the same way.

I was recently reading Portia de Rossi's Unbearable Lightness. I found it to be incredibly accurate and telling of what an eating disorder does to a person. The way it makes you think, the way it controls every function of your life, until you have no choice but to literally quit or die trying. The things she does just to remain thin are, actually, unbearable. She cuts back to 300 calories a day, calculates how to lose exactly seven pounds in one week, and then binge eats until she is in so much pain she can only lie there and be miserable.

At the end of her story, when she has recovered fully from her eating disorder, she writes,"I finally understood that by being on a perpetual diet, I had practiced a 'disordered' form of eating my whole life...And Dieting, I discovered, was another form of disordered eating, just as anorexia an bulimia similarly disrupt the natural order of eating."

It's all about one step at a time. Maybe today you ordered a veggie with your meal instead of your usual side of fried-in-terrible-oil fries. You should be proud. Even if you had dessert later, you changed a habit. You did something different. Don't discount the small changes. They will become a pattern and eventually turn into larger changes which then turn into a lifestyle, rather than a diet, which is something everyone can maintain. A lifestyle becomes something you do every day without effort, like breathing or driving. A diet - just the opposite.

Strive for the lifestyle that frees you from the diet. You will find a happy, healthy balance in your body and mind.

How do you feel about diets?

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The Kindness Chronicles: The Truth That LIES Before Your Eyes
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1 comment:

Marika-xoxo said...

I so agree!