Sunday, April 01, 2012

Don't listen to a hypocrite (me)

In the initial flush of my discovery of Gary Taubes' Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It (which I strongly recommend), I've gone whole hog low-carb. As I've posted in the past, I go on the candida diet every several years for health reasons and get great results from cutting out sugar, wheat, grains and dairy products. My chronic health problems always get better when I eat that way, and they come back when I go back to the wheat products and sweet stuff.

But this time I really developed the fanatic's gleam in the eye. I've been stuffing my head full of information on nutrition, human history and research on vegetarian diets as well as starvation diets and high animal food diets. I became convinced that my pro-meat way is the only way and everyone who thinks humans should avoid eating animals, or who thinks grains are actually good for us, doesn't know much about nutrition and doesn't know what true health feels like.

It's fun to say and write things like that, but I hereby officially, publicly take it back. A website called Beyond Vegetarianism contains various articles about the zealous and unhealthy attitudes of vegans and vegetarians who demonize those who eat meat and I recognize myself in the descriptions. Tom Billings' Functional and Dysfunctional Lunch Attitudes describes:
  • Lunch mindfulness: you eat healthy foods in a healthy way, but don't think too much about it.
  • Lunch obsession: you stick to strict rules about an ideal diet because you are actively afraid of what will happen if you don't (fears of becoming ill or spiritually impure, for instance).
  • Lunch identification: how you eat is part of who you are. if someone criticizes the way you eat, you take it personally and become emotional.
  • Lunch righteousness: because of your diet you feel superior to all others. Everyone who doesn't eat exactly as you do is destructively evil or an idiot or both. When you keep doing this even though your diet is making you ill or is having a negative social impact on you, it can be called orthorexia nervosa.
So! To stop being the nutrition @#$-hole, I am making a commitment to take the religious edge off my nutritional posts and conversations. I will keep in mind that there are very few hard conclusions about health and diet and the best way to go is to simply listen to your own body. Decide for yourself what foods work best and don't listen to jerks like me.

That said, I won't stop talking about nutrition and health, but I will no longer expect anyone to listen.

And now because I'm just as big a hypocrite as the next person (so here I go with my advice), here is my list of the few things that anti-meat and pro-meat (to pick an arbitrary distinction) nutritionists seem to agree on. These are probably safe to accept as true:

  • Diet strongly affects health.
  • Avoid refined sugar and refined flour. There is nothing good in them.
  • If you eat the foods that are truly right for your body, weight and general health will self-correct without effort or calorie counting.
Did you get that last one? When it comes to wholistic living and losing weight in a true and lasting way, calorie counting isn't part of it.

My final evidence for being a hypocrite is the foods that I've eaten in the past three weeks that are not on my candida diet:
  • rice cakes
  • raisins
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • 85% dark chocolate
  • bacon
  • beef wieners
  • potato chips
  • coffee w/ half & half and table sugar
  • And of course the anniversary celebration of 3/25 when I ate every kind of sweet treat I could think of.
And yet, I've still managed to drop 10 pounds in that three week period. This shows me that:
  1. I'm a big, not-quite-so-fat hypocrite.
  2. It's possible to go off a diet periodically and still do well if I stick to it most of the time.
There are nine weeks left to the weight loss challenge we have going at my workplace. Again, I think focusing on weight is not a good way to think about health, but since I'm dropping the weight anyway for health reasons, I want to win this thing! It turns out that I don't have a competitive bone in my body for games or contests, but I do for health and weight loss.

This hypocrite is signing off for now. Time for some eggs and bacon.


The Eager Vegan said...

Regina,I am glad to see this post, and I hope that you do back off the obsession with low carb eating you've had the past few weeks. It's been rough being your vegan friend lately. I feel like we've been "feuding" just because I don't eat the way you do and that I've had to defend my plant-based lifestyle. You've tried to convince me that your way is the best. Yet I've not admonished meat eaters, preferring to let each person choose for themselves how they want to eat. In the three months I've been a vegan, I've lost 30 pounds and feel great. If a low-carb diet is truly sustainable, why do people have to keep going "on" and "off" it?

I also think it's fair to point out, since you've criticized the weight loss challenge (I am the manager of our company's wellness program), that it was made clear that this is only the first of many challenges to come, and that the challenge includes a free 12-week membership to the YMCA. Many employees have gotten hooked on lunchtime exercise and the feel-good endorphins that come with it. The challenge is completely voluntary and employees created their own teams (the wellness program did not create the teams).

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

Elisa, I'm sorry I've been a jerk and made you uncomfortable. Next time, please say something so I get it. I can be thick-headed. If I'm lucky, I eventually realize that I owe someone an apology, but sometimes you have to tell me first.