Monday, July 10, 2006

Diet Reflects Attitude - 'All Or Nothing'

Just like everything else in life these days, people are turning their daily diets into an “all or nothing” proposition just like their career and politics. Just look at the latest “diet craze” which declares all carbohydrates as bad and of course it encourages everyone to remove these bad things from their diet. The problem with most Americans these days is not their diet, but the way they view their lives through a narrow-minded spectrum of good versus bad. I write here often about folks with extremist political attitudes, because I have noticed recently that some people are carrying their extremist opinions to other areas of their life.

Most foods are not bad for you, if consumed in moderation. However, for millions of people, if they can’t eat all they want of a certain type of food they consider that food bad and avoid it all together. This is the same type of thinking present in alcoholic’s who can just have a couple of beers with the boys, instead they have to drink until they pass out and then feel terrible the next day. I am a big believer in the power of moderation, but unfortunately I am becoming a minority opinion more and more everyday. Most Americans I meet are very impatient and self-centered in their views of this world. When they can not succeed at something within a short period of time, most just give up and move on to something else.

Now in addition to their political and business lives, some Americans are taking this same self-destructive attitude and applying it to the way they eat food. Whether their food extreme be carbohydrates, meat or sugar; there are million of people who have decided to remove certain types of food from their diets forever, just because they lack self control. Anyone can learn self-control, but I’m not saying it is easy. We all use self-control each day when we decide not to speed when we are late for work or decide not to hit a coworker who is rude to us. However, these days food is more of an emotional experience for some rather than something, which is necessary for life.

Maybe there needs to be a 12-step program for healthy eating. This program would help average people learn how to control portion size of their meals rather than looking for some magic bullet like cutting out all sugar, meat or carbohydrates from their diet. One thing all of these extreme diets have in common is that they all fail eventually. Almost any reasonable diet works for a short period of time because in one way or another the person on the diet is reducing the number of calories they are putting into their bodies or they are exercising more and burning more of those same calories.

I for one think this “all or nothing attitude” when it comes to eating food is what is at the root of the obesity problem in the United States right now. Millions of people have been on dozens of diets over the years to the point their whole metabolism is screwed up. In school most of us were taught very little about how to eat in a moderate way. When I was in school they had a silly little pyramid which no one really understood and no one followed because our parents didn’t think it was important either. Now restaurants are following the attitude of their customers who want to eat huge portions of food when visiting their establishments.

Some of the so called “food police” now want to require restaurants to reduce portion sizes because they believe this will help people lose weight. Of course, this idea won’t work because it is not dealing with the core issue which is what is inside a persons brain that causes them to want such huge portion sizes when visiting a restaurant or eating at home. My wife and I love these big portions at restaurants because we are now able to order one meal and share it between the two of us. This really saves us money and it would help others as well if they would just share a meal rather than both people ordering and eating two large portions.

Rather than looking for foods which can be completely cut out of your diet, why not place the thought of moderation into you brain and not deprive yourself of anything? I remember seeing Dolly Parton once on a television program talking about how she lost a bunch of weight and kept it off for many years. She said her plan was simple, she just decided to eat ½ of the food on her plate at each meal. Now this is an idea, which should catch on because even the busiest of us can do this simple act of reducing calories. The hardest thing to overcome with this type of diet is that little voice in the back of our heads, placed there by our mothers, to always clean our plates.

Related: Right Food Choices, Omega 3 Walnuts, Friday Night Food, Healthy Meal Choices

Diet Reflects Attitude