Honestly, I think using the word ‘diet’ is self-defeating.
I don’t know why it’s been on my mind recently, but it has, and I felt compelled to share my thoughts. Dieting — thinking it, saying it, attempting to do it …. well, I think it’s self-flagellation.
I have never been a big fan — and I am not a small human being. I am not the girl who could eat chicken wings and deep dish pizza and drink with the boys and wake up looking like I spent hours in the gym. I have never looked like I spent hours in the gym, and I have never very seriously dieted. I sort of feel as though life should be enjoyed as much as we can enjoy it — and eating good food and drinking good wine help boost the enjoyment. Water and crunchy raw veggies do not.
Over two years ago I was diagnosed with the not-very-joyful autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis. When you are first diagnosed with something that big the amount of information that seems to constantly steam-roll you (imagine sitting in the ocean and just getting pummeled in the face repeatedly with medium to aggressive-sized waves) never ends. Looking back, I can see fairly clearly the stages of denial and acceptance I went through regarding it. First — I’m not changing anything, I am going to just live a happy life and everything will be okay. Second — I reject everything you are telling me (you with experience and years of trial and error and knowledge -pwaf). Third — I hate everyone and no one can possibly understand how hard this is, how unfair this is. Fourth — I’m tired. I’m so tired, and I just want to give up. I miss my life. Fifth — This medicine … works? Sixth — Modifying my diet…. works? Seventh — I remember life like this … it’s a little different, but it’s familiar. Eighth — What other little tweaks can I make to make life a little easier and a little more normal? Ninth — Oh. That’s what you were talking about. Ah. Gotcha. No, you were right. My bad.
So that’s how I’ve found myself — at the young age of thirty-five — knowing a lot more about nutrition than I ever wanted to know. I mean, yes, I think it’s wildly trendy right now because we, as a society, have crested the top of the hill, and as we collectively gazed downward, realized that many of the wonderful advances we’d marveled at were actually doing untold damage to the environment and our insides and we should probably address that stat.
But nutrition is a minefield, and I say that with a completely straight face. So-and-So over here says one thing, and has reams of evidence supporting it, and we all enthusiastically jump on the train because who could possibly refute all.that.evidence?
Oh, well, since you asked, Mr. Blah Blah over here has stacks and stacks of control groups and study groups and spreadsheets of evidence showing that So-and-So’s premise is a bust.
Everyone, off the train.
It’s exhausting. Seriously. I cannot keep up. And I really really don’t want to. It’s a lot of work, it’s expensive, and I’m not sure I can feel any sort of difference. And when you have MS — you feel everything. Trust me.
So two and a half years into my MS journey (sidenote: that’s a train I wish I could get off — sigh– but that’s another story) I have armed myself with knowledge, some hand-picked opinions, and my amazing husband (there isn’t anyone better).
And I’ve made the proactive choice that I will never attempt to diet ever again. I mean it. I wasn’t very good at it in the first place (and who really wants to pursue things they aren’t amazing at or at least love? Not this little duck, I can tell you).
Here are my thoughts about life, and eating and all that jazz. And it’s not complicated — in fact, I think it’s pretty simple. But I like talking/writing, so that is why you have been subjected to my ramblings pre-point.
Eat whole foods. Listen to your body. Don’t overindulge in anything. Don’t restrict things.
It’s a little harder than it sounds in practice, because we all love a good cookie or milkshake, or that really insane coffee drink (which stopped being coffee after the first step). But I’ve found that even when I want to eat a block of cheese, soft bread and butter and a huge glass of red wine… I remember how it’s made me feel in the past. And then all of a sudden, a little bit of the shine dims.
Think about the things you enjoy, think about the way you want to live. You want to enjoy each day, be present, have energy. Putting value into those things helps to curb the cravings for not-so-great behavior. Everything sounds like a good idea at.the.time. And sometimes, it’s important to follow those urges, ride the bull, do the shot.
But life is about moderation and more importantly, balance. I think sky diving might be super wild one day. I can’t wait to go to Milan in February. But I also like my couch, and a good book or movie. I like keeping the balance of fun and exciting and comfortable. I think that idea, that principal, can be applied to every decision in life.
And food should be no exception. Make choices to eat well every day. Eat until you feel full. Eat slowly so you enjoy each taste, each bite. But don’t diet. Because it takes all the fun out. All of a sudden that’s all you’re thinking about. What you can’t have, what’s banned. I think it’s better to focus on what you enjoy. Focus on the fun of cooking.
Anyway. That’s my rant on dieting. Happy Saturday and Labor Day weekend all!