Gluttons for Diets


"Somewhere between emaciation and obesity lies good health. And somewhere between those extremes there is also a definition of beauty that is inclusive, sound, and honest."-Robin Givhan

My experience as a bride was marked with questioning the wide array of expectations associated with the experience. I was very against going on any kind of crazy diet.  What I didn't anticipate is that when you are super busy and slightly nervous you do happen to eat less and you can't help it. After the wedding I couldn't help but think that there was nothing more relaxing than not planning a wedding. Funny enough, I also found myself much more perceptive of food smells and felt much more excited about all the treats we normally have laying around in the office (pastries! truffles!) that I didn't even have time to notice while thinking about tablescapes and place cards (even as I tried to not be the person who cared much about those types of things). For the couple weeks after the wedding, my interest in foods that were bad for me was stronger than I can remember. Onion rings, chocolate pudding, cinnamon buns, why not?!

The experience of not indulging in fatty foods and then all of a sudden not really having any reason not to eat them (besides fitting into my wardrobe and the fact that onion rings aren't the best thing for your health) made me think about the extremes that are present in our country surrounding ideas about food. It also made me notice a lot of the crazy diets people I know go on. I know people who will go on a "diet", and basically stop eating for a couple months. They will lose about 30 pounds, then start eating again and gain about 40 pounds. We'll go to campus picnics, and they will literally eat 3 desserts and ask me why I didn't try the desserts I didn't have (because I ate a whoopie pie the size of my head). Crash diets never work. And in fact when people stop eating their metabolisms also slow down. The problem is when they don't consider themselves "on a diet" they engaged in habits that are horrible for their health because they are so hungry since they haven't really eaten much of anything in months. They feel starved. The whole process doesn't make any sense. It is a vicious cycle, and they never seem to keep the weight off that they lost. Worse yet, when they are not on a diet they feel super guilty about anything they eat, so there is a never a point in that process where they feel good about or enjoy what they are doing.

This being said, it is difficult to live a balanced lifestyle. Having to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day at all is not healthy. I commute 2 hours a day and work at my desk for 8 hours. Even if an office worker exercises at lunch and eats healthy food, there is only so much a person can do (unless we did something like this, or the person woke up at 4:30 am to go running). That being said I eat this for lunch, go for a long walk, and then try not to worry about it too much. But I can see how for some people health and weight can be a constant battle for them as they age. The extremes of our country's feelings and philosophies about food seems at the base of a lot of our problems. Crash diets don't work, but they are also bad because they cause people to eat more afterward. Impossibly thin models give people standards they can never live up to. When I look at fashion magazines it doesn't even make me feel jealous, it makes me feel like I have no idea how that item of clothing will look on anyone who looks like me, and therefore makes me less likely to ever buy that particular item. It's not inspirational. It is just bad marketing. I say eat your vegetables. Take a walk. And don't worry too much about it. That is the only approach to me that makes any sense in any sustainable kind of way. 

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