Susan's Blog

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Good Taste

So here’s the thing: I suddenly realized that overeating is not about actual physical diet. I had come to believe that it was, because I was an Atkins Acolyte and then very recently, a South Beach Believer. But both diets have ultimately failed me. I cannot lose weight on either one of them anymore. If I follow them religiously, they only barely work. I lost three pounds in a little less than two weeks on South Beach, and you are “supposed” to lose 8 -13.

Because of this frustrating phenomenon, I found myself thinking about the underlying science/belief of those two diets: that eating carbohydrates raises the glucose level; that raising the glucose level in your blood is bad because that feeling leads to craving which leads, inexorably, to overindulgence. And, that protein is the best food form because it does not really raise the glucose. Fat, also, does not. Plus, protein and fat will fill you up, so theoretically you won’t even miss the carbs.

It made so much sense to me. For nearly 5 years I have followed this basic attitude, denying myself many forms of carb and instead going for protein and fat. I had lately changed my proteins to lean, healthy proteins and the fats to non- or low-.

But I cannot lose weight. And you must know that I exercise quite a bit (almost every day, a hard three mile combo of treadmill and stairmaster, dance class and practice every other day, too). So this morning, I went back to eating low- rather than no-carb — I had, for the first time in two weeks, some multigrain pita bread — and I had a kind of epiphany. The bread made me feel happy. And I thought: this is the other side to raising glucose. You feel really good eating those foods. And then: you want more.

The low-carbivores believe that it is that wanting that is an undesirable, because of the wanting-more. They believe you can control that with eating other foods, ad nauseum. I am now challenging that assumption.

There are other parts in my life where I want more, too; not just in eating. But I can’t have that. We learn as we grow up that we have to resist things; we have to look away, we have to do something else and try to be satisfied with what we have. Channel. Sublimate.

Atkins and South Beach are trying to get you to believe that if you do it just right you won’t have to sublimate. You won’t crave. Because you will always be full.

But that belief is the crux of the problem. We still crave, even when we are full. Even when my life is in accord, and I am happy and full, I long for other things which I should not have. No amount of turkey breast and nonfat ricotta & Splenda is going to flatten that desire. Irrational desire, glucose-raising desire, are part of the human condition.

Furthermore, maybe we even have those desires for a reason. Maybe we are supposed to feel really good eating some kinds of food. Maybe, evolutionarily speaking, we enjoy eating so that we eat enough and survive things like long, dreary winters or boring times. Maybe we crave even more so that we never stop wondering, and never stop growing. Food pleasure is an animal pleasure, and it is a part of us.

I am learning from my cravings. I am learning things about myself, and what is important to me. I find that I hate ending things — even a meal! I hate good things to be over! Even on the dessert level! I also have learned that I love to feel as if I have options, more and more options, that my life is ever-expanding.

Those feelings are a part of me. The challenge I face in my life is how to pull back in time, how to be finished, how to move on. From chocolate, from bad relationships, from overindulgence. I want to embrace those feelings. I don’t want simplistically to hate and shut down craving. I want to learn how to say, “Okay, Oh God, that was tasty; but now I’m done.”

7 comments

Susan,

This site is absolutely 100% on track. It tells the truth about the only way to lose weight. I kid you not.

http://www.acaloriecounter.com/weight-loss.php

— added by Mom on Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 9:37 am

I love this post. Yes.

P.S. Not to devalue your efforts and everything, but do you need to lose weight? Could it be because you are where your body needs to be? All of that exercise – maybe you are just fit???

— added by Drama Mama on Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 10:51 am

I’ve always done Weight Watchers (and been very successful at it) because I couldn’t bear to cut anything out of my diet completely. I’d rather say, “I can have tortilla chips at the restaurant, but only one handful” instead of “I forbid myself tortilla chips” I know myself well enough that I don’t like the whole forbidden food thing – and I am able to draw out one handful of chips until the meal arrives. (I know that’s a very individual thing, though)

That said, I’ve cut most of the sugars and refined carbs out of my diet, not because I think they are “bad”, but because a long stint of food journaling helped me realize that they make me sleepy and fuzzy-headed after I eat them. So I enjoy whole grains and complex carbs, etc, etc and to me that is the best of both worlds – I get bread and pasta which I enjoy, but they don’t make me feel foggy.

In the end, I think the most useful thing to me has been food journaling. Writing down what I eat, and then along with it, why I wanted to eat it, what i was craving, and then how I felt after wards physically, emotionally and digestively. It taught me a lot about my own cravings, plus what foods don’t love me as much as I love them. And who kneeds disfunctional relationships with their food? 😉

— added by Natalia on Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 12:15 pm

you are a sexy belly dancing mama who looks great-
eat what you want-be happy-you have plenty on your plate without having to worry about dieting.
you are an inspiration to many

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Cravings and overindulgance are part of life, and succumbing to
the temptations is part of what makes us human. One should never beat one’s self up for letting go once in awhile.
It’s good to let loose, provided you set boundaries and stay within them. It makes things easier to swallow. And you can still have your cake and eat it to, so to speak.

— added by Anonymous on Monday, February 4, 2008 at 1:30 am

I read a non-diet diet book that changed my life although it tooks years to sink in.

We don’t need to diet. Our bodies tell us what we need to eat. At certain times, we need more fats, more carbs, more protein – salads, meats, etc. Our bodies tell us when we’re hungry. If we just trust our bodies to be in charge intsead of our brains, we’ll be healthy. That does mean ignoring non-body generated cravings, such as a craving created by watching a pizza hut commercial. The book argues if you let yourself eat whatever ou wanted, you’d get very tired very quickly of eating unhealthy things and you would get over it, and start craving healthy foods. Something like that. awesome book. I wish I could remember the name of it. But that was the gist of it – trust yourself, trust your body to give you cravings for the vitamins and minerals and stuff that you need.

By the way, you look great.

— added by Shannon Brooke Davis on Monday, February 4, 2008 at 11:28 am

Everything in moderation. I think you have a fabulous figure and don’t need to lose any weight. I’m sure Ned probably agrees. 😉

— added by ASDmomNC on Wednesday, February 6, 2008 at 10:09 pm

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