I haven’t lost or gained any weight this week, but I feel like I have accomplished my goal of replacing some of my bad habits with good ones. I haven’t had any sodas, nor have I wanted one. We went to a Mexican restaurant for my birthday and I didn’t eat half the basket of chips. In fact, I ate about a third of what I would normally have eaten. Last night Gary and I split a pork chop for dinner, and had steamed carrots, salad, and a small baked potato with it.
This week my goal is to improve my lunch. I usually eat a peanut butter sandwich plus a carton of yogurt. It is easy to eat at my desk and not too messy. (I have a refrigerator in my room.) Not a bad lunch, but it gets boring. I don’t eat with my children because 1. They eat at 10:50. Too early. 2. They are so messy and loud and demanding of my attention that it doesn’t create a pleasant atmosphere. 3. I haven’t eaten school cafeteria food since the day I graduated from college!
So I continue to make little changes while some of my colleagues on pills and liquid diets show off their new bodies. Moderation is a difficult path.
Remember those potato chip commercials? “Betcha can’t eat just one!”
And of course we couldn’t.
We don’t want to eat just one. We don’t want to eat a little. We want “all or nothing”. We actually want to eat anything and everything and then take a pill that makes it all vanish. But sometimes eating nothing is just as appealing because the structure of extreme diets is actually easier to live with, at least for a short time, than moderate changes.
Diets, eating plans, food lifestyles, and such have been around forever. Trends come and go. The more sensible and moderate they are the less likely people are to get excited about them or to follow them. I’ve actually listened to women offer me more ways to “cheat” on WW than tips on how to follow the plan! Americans, women in particular, seem to favor extreme diets. We crave flashy ideas and quick results. My grandmother and I tried a liquid diet for a while. My mother loved the grapefruit diet. My aunt tried some trendy new diet and ended up in the hospital. Everyone I know has been a vegetarian for at least a month. My best friend went on a protein shake diet and ended up having gallbladder surgery. Some friends follow every movie star diet that comes along. Extreme diets are cool! We want to talk about them, even debate them. We want to be noticed and we want other people to know we are really serious about our health.
Ironic that most of the people I know who are on limited diets because of actual life-threatening conditions rarely discuss them unless explaining why they can’t eat something you’ve offered. Diabetics and those who must eat gluten-free or nut-free or seafood-free diets don’t go around trying to convert everyone to their lifestyle. They just eat what they have to eat to survive.
On the other hand, vegans, fruitarians, and promoters of liquid, “clean”, “whole”, and “raw” foods take a more evangelistic approach, often to the extent of putting down those of us who eat more variety. One of the most recently promoted eating lifestyles is the “calorie restriction plan” which is supposed to extend your life expectancy. People on this diet eat far less than the recommended calories for their size and also tend to eat organic or raw foods. They believe that living on the verge of starvation is the key to a long life. However, I’d like to think that a more balanced goal would be to live a better life.
I’ve always been bothered by those who “live to not eat”. They talk about food and cooking and shopping and “not eating” to the extent that their body and their health becomes the entire focus of their life and conversations. Only recently did I discover that this is actually a recognized eating disorder! It’s called Orthorexia Nervosa, a term coined in 1997 by Dr. Steven Bratman. He described the condition as a fixation on “righteous eating”, from the Greek word “ortho” which means “right” or “correct”. People with Orthorexia often become isolated from others and very ritualistic in their eating habits. They equate their self-esteem with the purity of their eating habits.
Dr. Bratman even constructed a self-test to determine if you are suffering from Orthorexia.
“The Orthorexia Self-Test
Bratman offers these 10 signs of Orthorexia from his book, "Health Food Junkies -- Orthorexia Nervosa: Overcoming the Obsession with Healthful Eating." You could have Orthorexia, or be on the way to developing it, if you:
1. Spend more than three hours a day thinking of food.
2. Plan your day's menu more than 24 hours ahead of time.
3. Take more pleasure from the "virtuous" aspect of your food than from actually eating it.
4. Find your quality of life decreasing as the "quality" of your food increases.
5. Are increasingly rigid and self-critical about your eating.
6. Base your self-esteem on eating "healthy" foods, and have a lower opinion of people who do not.
7. Eat "correct" foods to the avoidance of all those that you've always enjoyed.
8. Increasingly limit what you can eat, saying that you dine "correctly" only at home, spending less and less time with friends and family.
9. Feel guilt or self-loathing when you eat "incorrect" foods.
10. Derive a sense of self-control from eating "properly."
If you selected more than four of these signs, you may need to assess whether your behaviors and attitudes toward food are balanced. If all of the signs resonated with you, you are engulfed in this obsessive (and potentially fatal) form of eating. Seek help today!”
I don’t think extreme dieting is the answer for a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Moderation is the key.
It’s a difficult path, but it seems to be the only one that makes sense.
Have a great day! And send me some lunch ideas. Today I’m adding a couple of carrot sticks and grape tomatoes.