Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lighter is better, in spring

In a minute I'm going to say I think it's ok to diet in spring, but before I do, I'm compelled to say I'm against most diets. Even when people say they're changing the way they eat for health reasons, there is more often than not an underlying hope that they will drop a few pounds at least. This phenomena takes place no matter the size of the dieter. We are obsessed with diminishing ourselves. This obsession is way out of balance. Also, if diets really worked the way we're promised, wouldn't everyone be their ideal size?

Of course there are people who are too big for their own good - lots of them. I see them all the time, struggling to walk a block, red faced and panting. And I see people who are grotesquely huge, who have given up even trying to walk - also people who are grotesquely skinny. There are extremes, of course. Most of the urban people I see every day are normal in size whether they're bigger or smaller than the narrow cultural norm.

The idea that all humans should be the same size is ridiculous. If you look at pictures of humans from around the world, it's easy to see we are diverse in terms of everything - height, hair color, skin color, proportion - and also weight. Some people are naturally skinny, some are hearty in size. We are a very diverse species in terms of structure and appearance.

I swear if we could gather the energy people invest in worrying about their weight, if we could channel that energy into generators, there would be no need for foreign oil.

OK - enough ranting. Here's the part where I say it's OK to diet in spring.

Depending on how harsh winter is where you live, chances are you've been doing a bit more sitting around than during other seasons. Chances are you've eaten rather heavy foods through the winter. Maybe you put on a couple of pounds. This is normal, appropriate winter behavior.

When spring has sprung, it's time to shift gears. Eating lighter foods, introducing cool foods like fresh fruit and salads, and eating less of everything will help your body adjust to the new season. Likewise, in spring it's time to get off the sofa and outside, to begin to move around more.

I'm not suggesting that you focus on losing weight, but rather on an approach that suits the season and furthers your wellbeing. This is not about looking good in a bikini, it's about feeling great.

As always, including throughout winter, please eat real food. In general, if what you're eating comes from a box, that is not real food. Exceptions include rice and dried beans, that sort of thing.

Eat what appeals to you, eat foods you're able to digest. If what you eat is energizing and satisfying, great! If what you eat makes you feel queasy or groggy, you should think about changing your diet. The digestive system is a big part of the immune system. Everything is better when you're able to metabolize what you eat.

Here's a post I wrote last year about diets and choosing foods that are right for you.

Fasts and hard core cleanses (in which you take a boatload of supplements and drink only specific, processed liquids) that last more than 3 days are extremely hard on your liver, kidneys and heart. They put the body in a mild state of shock which I know to be intoxicating. If you must get high at the expense of your liver, well, OK ... but remember what you're doing is no better than going on a bender for a few days.

Be gentle and kind to your body, please? It's doing the best it can.

Happy Spring. Shalom.


Susan Carpenter Sims said...

I just finished a 3-week cleanse that was not of the extreme variety. The first week was mostly vegetables (and some fruit and seeds/nuts) in the form of juices, soups, salads, and some cooked dishes; the second week added back fish and legumes, and the third week added back eggs and gluten-free grains.

I did the cleanse because I had seen it have wonderful benefits for a friend of mine. I had never done any kind of cleanse before, and I'm very glad I did this one. The first week was hard (especially the caffeine withdrawal), but by the middle of week two, I was adjusting to a whole new way of eating. Some of the recipes were actually quite wonderful, and I was opened up to new foods that will now be permanent additions to my weekly menus.

And I did lose weight, although this was not anywhere in my intention when I decided to do the cleanse. It was a pleasant and surprising side effect.

Reya Mellicker said...

I shouldn't have used the word "cleanse." I was referring to juice fasts and fasts with lots of supplements and tea, but no food, that are 5 to 7 days in length.

Eating vegetables, fruits and nuts will make anyone feel better! Bravo!

I think I've written here before about how helpful it is to simplify what you eat so you can tell which foods agree with you and which don't.

Reya Mellicker said...

Here's the link to the post about choosing foods that you can digest.

Susan Carpenter Sims said...

Thanks for the link. Yeah, I've looked at juice fasts before, but something intuitive has always stopped me. I was even tempted to switch to one about three days into the 3-week thing, so that I could finish faster - glad I didn't.

Reya Mellicker said...

Fast is rarely best

Kerry said...

I think this is great advice. There is a seasonal sequence to the foods we eat, and reasons for it.

Sensible eating is really hard for some people. An acquaintance of ours went in for liposuction & is now a poster boy for a group of docs promoting it. We see his smiling face on billboards all over the place. I don't understand these eating disorders too well, and wish people could adopt a healthy rhythm to their eating habits. It would make liposuction unnecessary.