Saturday, March 17, 2012

You are what you eat

There was a time when, if something broke, before throwing it away we always attempted repair. For those not mechanically gifted, the broken item: a percolator, toaster, vacuum cleaner, iron or whatever, could be left at a repair shop. That was a long time ago and I only mention it because sometimes I wonder about the impact of the throw-away state of mind on our ideas around healing.

I hear people say, "The South Beach diet didn't work for me, so now I'm doing the Eat For Your Bloodtype diet." (Or whatever. Probably both of those diets have fallen out of favor and have been replaced by the newest, trendiest diet.) My point is, these diets require nothing from those following them except to obey the rules. In a way, they are a lot like throw-away devices we don't know much about. It's unusual to think of tinkering with these diets, trying to fix what won't work for us. In fact the people who design the diets tend to command us to follow their rules explicitly. If we can't follow the hard and fast rules of these diets for one reason or another, we toss them out lock, stock and barrel, turn to the next big thing in dieting. OK. Some people do, not everyone.

Everyone should spend time thinking about what kinds of foods agree with them, and which ones don't. There is no expert who understands your digestion as well as you do. There are foods that are supposed to be good for you, but make your stomach hurt, give you gas or reflux. There are foods that are supposed to be bad for you, but if you love them, it's better for overall health to eat just a little bit. When embarking on a diet, everyone should think carefully about the particulars. Knowing what agrees with you will help you modify the details of the diet to increase your chances of success. Please take this in: there is no diet that works for everyone. Work with the diet you choose, tailor it to fit you like glove.

I've been using the word "should" a lot here. I'm vociferous because diets and dieting are nothing but snake oil. If they worked, wouldn't everyone be the size they wish to be? In a world in which I had the last word, diets would be something people took on in order to improve health and well being, decrease suffering and help create the possibility of living fuller, happier lives. It would never - not EVER - be about a number of pounds to be lost - or gained, for that matter.

Excess weight is currently blamed for just about everything. Only gluten has as bad a reputation as weight. My hope is that the popularity of this theory will peak soon. It's a natural urge we have, to lay blame for the ups and downs of health, but in truth, we're just guessing, as we always have. Two hundred years ago they thought drilling holes in the skull was healing. During the 1980s we believed eating lots of carbs, noodles, and breads was the basis of perfect nutrition. I could go on, but you get the point. I wonder what future historians will make of what we think is healthy and unhealthy in 2012. It boggles the mind.

Spring is a fine time to go on a diet. Please diet gently. The process is very hard on heart muscle especially, but also on the liver and kidneys. Extreme diets kick the survival instinct into gear. Most bodies will try hard to keep the weight on. Gentle diets are kinder all around.

May you be healthy, happy, and wise. Shalom.


Zinnia said...

I like the way you've spoken about diets here and couldn't agree more! Finding out intuitively which foods suit us and which don't is a very sensible way of approaching healthy eating!
If only we all ate to be healthy and not to be fashionably slimmer, we would be the weight we were meant to be!
I love the shot of those beautiful tulips at the top of this page!

Cheryl Cato said...

Great advice... "gentle diets". I so love that you have Whole Foods Market on your list of Healing Resources.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks Zinnia!

Cheryl,you know I worked for Whole Foods for a couple of years, doing catering. It was a great experience. Boy did I learn a lot about the grocery business. It's not a perfect company, but it's a good one. Really good.

Susan Carpenter Sims said...

I totally agree! I've never been a dieting person, and I've gained and lost over 50 lbs. twice in my life. I've found that if I relax about my weight and simply set an intention to lose weight, that's all I really need. I realize, though, that it seems to be harder for a lot of people.

I do have to say, though, that I like the blood type diet. I came across it when I was having some health issues (not weight) a few years ago. A naturopathic practitioner had recommended that I basically go vegan, which I was trying to do and HATING it. I felt like crap. Then I just happened to find the blood type book when I was looking for something else at a thrift store, and when I read that type Os (which I am) need red meat from time to time, I knew it in my bones. It's interesting, because I'm not really a big meat fan, and probably wouldn't have been open to such a suggestion if I wasn't wilting as a vegan.

What I also like about the blood type diet is that it's not rigid - it's about focusing on eating more of this and less of that. He actually says "rigidity is the enemy of joy" :)

I know there are those who say this diet's bogus, but it's worked really well for me. It helped me to do what you talk about here - experiment with and be conscious of how different foods affect me.