At a women’s networking event that I co-hosted last night (it rocked, natch), I spent some time speaking with Elizabeth and Susan who both reminded me of some important points:
- It’s not about weight loss, it’s about making healthful food choices, and
- We are all different; so, what works for one may not work for another.
We have talked about food as building materials and as fuel, but that idea bears repeating. Elizabeth said it this way last night, “I wouldn’t put diesel or flex-fuel in my car. My car takes regular gasoline.” I really liked that analogy. I can eat at the drive-thru every day, all day long and I’m not going to get the fuel that my body needs. With RARE exceptions, the stuff coming out of that window is nutritionally bankrupt – some things are not as bad as others. Some members of the Manson family are nicer than others, too – it’s critical to keep sight of the big picture.
And, listen, I’m not going to lie, when I first started my project my goal was weight loss, pure and simple. However, as I’ve gotten further into it, I’ve realized how my body reacts to different foods. Some of the reactions – like the ones to wheat and dairy – are so subtle that I never noticed them when those items were such a huge part of my diet. Now that I’m eating clean most of the time, I know that dairy causes lung congestion and that wheat makes my sinuses swell. Bread and ice cream were significant parts of my diet, and removing them resulted in weight loss. Now, from this vantage point, I can see that a happy side effect was better health!
Over the last couple of years, I’ve read more about nutrition that I did over the whole rest of my life combined. Some of the stuff I read made sense, some of it was straight-up Tin Hat League garbage where correlation was confused with causality. So, as you go through your journey, be aware that there is an awful lot of advice and information that falls into the “Um, what?” category.
One book I read whose ideas intrigued me was Your Body Knows by Ann Louis Gittleman. Her idea is that our bodies perform best when we feed them with the foods our ancestors ate and she’s not talking about our caveman ancestors. My people are from northern Europe…really northern. A diet of cold water fish and oats is going to be better for me than a diet of olives and pasta (remember that Mediterranean Diet fad?). I’m not completely convinced on all of her ideas since we are a long way from our roots in the US; however, I can certainly agree with her point that we are all different and that our bodies need different things. My friend Michele had a wildly successful experience with the Adkins Diet. I lost 11 pounds and not one ounce more. I was cranky, unable to think clearly and had the breath of a dragon. That’s a big No Go.
Dieting is bad and it doesn’t work. What works is a lifestyle change and that change has to give the right fuel for you as an individual, highly complex, mobile chemistry lab.