It was awesome to be home.
A week to rest and relax and eat meals that aren’t take-out and do my laundry without shoving $10 worth of quarters into a slot. Yes, I thought as I made a nice lunch, this is going to be a great break.
Grabbing a few of my favorite Sunday magazines and a plate that consisted of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, grapes, and some delish Cape Cod chips, I walked onto my porch and prepared to eat outside while the quiet New England breeze serenaded me (a nice change of pace from the pee smell and whining dog that usually accompanies my lunches at home in New York).
As I ate, I began to sift through my magazines. Coincidently, both had cover stories about dieting. Both claimed to know The Best Diets! and What Foods To Avoid! while coaching me on How To Leave The Bad Carbs Alone! I don’t know if it was the plethora of exclamation points or the disgusting sounding alternatives the pages kept trying to force on me (“instead of ice cream, plain yogurt with bran flakes!”), but my appetite began to die and my stomach started to feel huge. By the time I was finished with the articles, it hardly mattered that a strong gust of wind had blown away the rest of my chips and grapes into the woods (where my obese Labrador promptly chased them down and ate them). I didn’t feel like I had the right to eat ever again. Especially something as carb filled as chips or as sugar saturated as grapes.
This Diet-induced panic attack happens to me every once in a while. I’m not a big girl (a size 6 or 4, depending on the store and how much I feel like squishing my stomach into a pair of jeans), but I’m not thin by any means, and can’t eat donuts and hamburgers all day. I force myself to work out a few times a week and drink as much water as I can. Short explanation: I’m normal. But this doesn’t stop me from thinking I could lose (a healthy) 5 or (unhealthy) 20 pounds on a weekly basis. The amount of weight I want to shave off at any given time directly relates to the amount of pressure to diet that’s in front of my eyes. Anything from those sickening articles (that don’t tell you anything NEW) in magazines to VH1’s Tightest Celebrity Bodies to America’s Next Top Model to websites that constantly do their best to point out every flaw on a famous person’s body.
I don’t like dieting. I don’t think I need to diet. I could give up a few deserts here and there and eat more salads and work out for 45 minutes instead of 30, but nobody can diet as a lifestyle and remain healthy and un-obsessed. I don’t want to think about food every other second. I don’t want to constantly stare at myself in the mirror, pushing and prodding at flab that could potentially turn into muscle…if I had all the time in world. I don’t want that kind of life. And I don’t want to think that kind of life will find me a man or make me happy.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have freak-out moments where I think all those things.
We’re too obsessed with being thin around here. Too preoccupied with the newest diet craze or the newest food to avoid. You want my opinion? Don’t diet. Don’t count calories. Don’t turn that bag of cookies over and read the nutrition facts. Just be smart. Make smart choices. Eating 7 cookies is probably not as smart as eating 2 and then drinking a big glass of milk. Yes, that giant bowl of fettuccini is full of calories, and if you eat if you might consider not eating something else…but don’t whip out a calculator and do food algebra.
What’s the point of eating if it’s going to depress us? What’s the point of chewing handfuls of unsatisfying bran flakes instead of a cup of ice cream? How is that going to help us in the long run? It doesn’t matter how many handfuls you stuff into your mouth, you’ll never find them satisfying in the same way as that one cookie.
I’m not saying go hog wild (good pun, huh?). I’m just saying be smart when it comes to food, and eat to enjoy. Eat to enjoy and to keep yourself healthy and looking good. Don’t become obsessed with something that’s supposed to be pleasurable and don’t bitch and moan if your habits land you in fat land. Humans invented the space ship and gum with flavored gel inside. I have complete faith that we can also keep our bodies healthy.
…Now, off to watch the Food Network.