The Diet Crisis

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Tuesday, me and a friend of mine had a long, deep 5 hour conversation about why people are the way they are and the craziness that is the world. One subject that came up was the media’s proclivity for inciting mass panic by reporting the negative. As a once-upon-a-time-wannabe-journalist I understand the nature of the beast, and that if we reported only good events all the time then the public would feel misinformed and unprepared for the bad (which oftentimes would be the case – sometimes reality is a bitch). At the same time, this focus on the negative, this assertion of the “facts,” the issues that exist in our society with little to no context or balance makes the world seem like a scary place. The fear that inevitably develops encourages people to feel helpless, which feeds the fear and perpetuates the bad which is reported on the news which feeds the fear and encourages helplessness….you get the picture.

The big bad that I’m over: the obesity “epidemic.”

The word “epidemic” brings to mind widespread disease, something that is spreading and spreading fast and the best you can do is grit your teeth and hold on, hoping it doesn’t take you next.

Hide yo kids, hide yo wife. Fo real.

And we want a treatment. Bad. Now. Yesterday actually. We need that quick fix, that magic vaccine that will beat the “epidemic” back into submission. If we act now, we will save at least ten years on our life! (plus shipping and handling).

So we search for our cure. That perfect diet that will keep the big bad out of our life. That one thing that will guarantee a 100% survival rate from this raging “epidemic.” Don’t drink coffee. Only eat brown rice. Drink coffee, but only with wheat. White rice is fine, but bread is your enemy. Eat what you want, but only on the fifth Tuesday following the seventeenth Thursday after Labor Day.

This constant, continuous, INCESSANT bombardment of what is good for us and what is not is based on a variety of factors- technology, the manufacturing sector, food production, the food industry, advertisers, the media, the government, Barack Obama, the IRS, really, really, dumb people who don’t know what science is-you name it, there’s probably a way to tie it back to why we are all so freaking fat.

But the one and only thing that no one really focuses on, the BIGGEST reason why the research about what is good or bad for your body is in constant influx that is never addressed is that everyone is different. Not just in that, you-are-special-Barney kind of way, but that our bodies operate differently. Different body chemistry, metabolisms, food preferences. There’s not a one size fits all diet, and its not something that you just do once and then its done. A diet is just an eating regiment, and even when you’re not “dieting” we’re all still on a particular diet. There are certain foods we generally eat, certain times, certain ways we cook and prepare food, certain foods we avoid. Its just that the diet we are on currently does not work for us.

I’ve struggled hard with this. Fought against weight gain since I was about ten and have tried as many diets (or more accurately, “quick fixes”) as the dieting industry can produce, and could not figure out why this particular thing that I was told would work does for others and did not  work for me. I honestly didn’t start losing weight before until I stopped focusing on trying to “fix” my weight, on trying to get the vaccine that would lower risk of infection from the obesity beast. Instead, I simply started to eat what I liked, within reason, did stuff that made me feel good and focused on the life I had outside of the kitchen. Once I stopped behaving as though I had to beat that beast into submission or die trying and just…lived, I was better for it. “Dieting” constrained me, tied me down, caged me in – and some birds just gotta be free.

Everyone is different though. Which means that there is no one “bad food” or “good food” that everyone should avoid or should eat. There is no one diet or workout regiment that garners the same results for everyone. Some people need to take diet pills to jump start their  weight loss which motivates them, and some people need a hobby that keeps them up and active. Some people, like myself, have to just live the life they want and take focus away from food while some need to consistently manage food and make it an integral part of their lifestyle. The truth is, no one has all the answers and we each have to start listening to what our individual body tells us, and not base it on how anyone says its “supposed to be.”

This is how I plan on approaching my weight and most importantly my health from now on – on my terms based on my body.

I refuse be an obesity causality, drowning in an sea of unrealistic expectations.

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