Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eating in the raw and other diet fiascos

Someone recently gave me the book Wheat Belly. The book says that wheat is a malicious food and is behind America becoming obese. Lose the wheat, the front cover claims, and you'll lose the weight.

Wheat Belly may have a grain of truth (pun purely intended). If you cut wheat from your diet you'll be cutting out most processed foods and you'll probably lose weight. Great. But I don't think it's a sustainable diet. Eventually a birthday cake is placed in front of you, and you take a bite. And, another and another. The problem is still there.

The author of Wheat Belly gives these soothing words, "It's not your fault." That's what we all want to hear. Sorry, I'm not buying it. I've been down this road before.

Beach babe in heels
I tried my first diet when I was 11.  I discovered my mom's pocket calorie counter. On the back of the booklet was a picture of this very tan, very thin woman walking away from the camera. She was wearing a black cut-out swimsuit, a floppy hat, and three-inch heels.  Kind of funny she was wearing heels on the beach, but the image left an impression. She looked so cool with her long, thin Coppertone legs.  I wanted to be that woman, sashaying along the boardwalk.

I made an attempt to follow the book's seven-day menu plan. A sample breakfast was a boiled egg, dry toast, and black coffee or tea. Lunch was one apple, 1/2 cup tuna, and carrot sticks. I tried the diet several times that summer, but I never lasted past day two and never lost any weight.  But I did learn how to count calories. I can still tell you how many are in a medium-size orange (80), a hot dog bun (110), or a fist-size broiled 90-percent lean hamburger (230).

Weighing and measuring

So, set the course for future diets. My friend, Joy, and I signed up at a diet clinic after we gained the freshman fifteen in college. We weighed all of our food and ate Melba toast. By living on approximately 800 calories a day, I lost the fifteen pounds and some of my hair as well. Of course, I gained the pounds back quickly when I returned to school that fall. But I kept the little food and weight diary that my $230 sign-up fee bought me and would refer to it every time I tried to lose weight.

Counting points

I discovered Weight Watchers when I gained happy pounds after Dave and I got married. Instead of calories, Weight Watchers had you count points. This made it so simple. Except I'd use up all my points by lunch time. And was left with eating vegetables and drinking diet sodas for the rest of the day, both which were point free.

Counting and planning for every bite you put in your mouth makes you think about food every single minute of the day. And when you quit "working the program," as Weight Watchers calls it, you gain the weight back because you've become so focused on your next two-hour feeding.

Nursing it

With my third pregnancy, I failed the seven-month glucose test, more than likely because of the Christmas fudge I had just eaten. I was sent to a nutritionist and put on a diabetic diet. I didn't gain a single pound for the rest of the pregnancy. But I was craving--no, lusting--for coconut cream pie the entire time.

When Paige--all perfect nine pounds, five ounces of her--came into the world, I cradled her briefly in my arms, then handed her to Dave and asked, "When's lunch?" Lo and behold the hospital's dining menu offered coconut cream pie. I ordered a piece and one of everything else on the menu.  When Dietary came to the door, I heard her say to the nurse, "This one's going to need two trays."

Someone had told me you can eat anything you want when you're nursing and still lose weight. Great! Paige was a voracious eater. So was I. I heeded the advice and stayed the same weight that I was when I was nine months pregnant.

Stop the Insanity! Fat's to blame!

I thought I found the solution to losing weight while still feeding my hunger when I heard about the new book Stop the Insanity. On her infomercial, the author (the bald and somewhat scary Susan Powter) screamed at the top of her lungs, "STOP THE INSANITY!! IT'S FAT THAT MAKES YOU FAT!"  She claimed you can eat as much as you want as long as it wasn't fat.

Oh, boy. This totally appealed to me. I never lost the baby weight, but I learned to scarf down whole loaves of bread without butter and entire pizzas without cheese.

No, it's carbs, you dummy

I really don't know what happened to Susan Powter after Atkins came out. You never heard of her again. Atkins claimed just the opposite. Carbs are the culprit.

This diet didn't even make sense to me, but of course I had to try it. After eating nothing but fried eggs, bacon, and pork rinds for three days, my mouth felt like it was coated with butter and I could have slapped someone silly for an apple.
South Beach was another low carb diet that I tried. Similar to Atkins, it was a bit more relaxed with the amount of carbs allowed. It was impressive that after two weeks of following the plan I had lost 10 pounds. It was even more more impressive that in two days I had gained it all back after someone left a pan of bars at our house.

Eating in the raw--an avocado saved my life
The raw cleanse was quite possibly the stupidest diet I ever tried. A friend who was losing on the cleanse convinced me to do it. The idea was to cleanse your body of all toxins by eating only raw organic vegetables for a week. I was skeptical but desperate.

Day one of the cleanse wasn't too bad. I felt a little jumpy and had the start of a headache, but these were symptoms to be expected as the toxins left my body. I started to get irritable on day two. By day three I was lightheaded, had a hollowed out feeling, and my hands were shaking. By day four, I was weak and seeing little pricks of light. To get through the day at work, I got a Naked Juice at Starbucks. And then went home and cheated by eating an avacado, which I'm pretty sure saved my life. That night I figured I had been cleansed enough and wolfed down three bowls of cereal for dinner.

No end to hunger

I joined a woman's group at church that was following the Weigh Down Diet written by Gwen Shamblin. Gwen came at the weight problem as a spiritual problem. We are trying to use food to fill a void that only God can fill.  I never lost weight by reading her book, but something she said stayed with me: diets are an effort to make food behave instead of making ourselves behave.

Calling it quits

My problem was I ate too much. I knew it. We all know it. But we try to circumvent that fact by controlling the food instead of getting a grip on our appetites.

So, I tried to think of a way I could eat for the rest of my life, without having to count calories and points or computing the total amount of carbs, protein or fat I consumed daily.

It took awhile and it wasn't easy at first, but I finally learned to eat like a normal person who has never had a weight problem (i.e., not like a seasoned dieter). I eat real food, just a lot less of it. I stay away from most processed foods, especially ones with a long list of ingredients you can't pronounce. Even though I eat healthy, I'm not rigid about it. I still eat dessert, just not the whole pan. And, I'll never give up Ripple Potato Chips. I eat a handful of them every single day. I also try to break a sweat at least three days of the week.

I'm done with the dieting thing.

1 comment:

  1. Jacci, you are so funny...always always enjoy reading your thoughts...:) Joy