Have you ever thought of going on a diet? Well, I have a confession to make. I don’t believe in diets. In fact, I have never really “dieted” which may fairly reflect why my body got out of control! I convinced myself into believing that my metabolism will stay forever 16. White lies. I’ve told myself many white lies. So, with some self-reflection here are the confessions of a diet-phobic dietitian:
- I am a Starbucks Addict. 16 years ago, I started having a Mocha every day in order to study and mother an infant. It started with a short size indulgence to eventually a venti size overdose. Initially, a once/day drink then I used it like a happy pill. Anytime I wanted a “pick me upper” or wanted to feel “happy”, it was Mocha time. They say, happiness comes from within. Well, my sugar and fat riddled beverage was not only making me “happy” within” but also “fatty within”. A half-sweet, non-fat, light whip Grande Mocha (yes I’m one of those Starbuck fanatics that needs an “all boxes” ticked drink) has a whopping 360 kcal. An extra 100 calories a day is enough to make you 10 lbs heavier each year.
- I have EDD that is, exercise deficient disorder. There is a problem with stationary gym equipment-it is stationary! The idea that I am walking, jogging, cycling 3-6 mph and haven’t moved an inch feels deceptive-like the “Ground Hog Day” movie. You do the same thing again and again but the scenery doesn’t change. I haven’t moved but apparently just completed a 10 k jog! Okay, I have commitment issues here. I can’t seem to consistently commit to this relationship to the gym. However, I do have to admit, exercise does refresh me, gives me a ton of energy, gives me self-worth and what do you know-makes me feel happy too! It would take 1 hour and 15 minutes of riding a bike at a leisure 10 mph to burn 360 kcal coming from my Mocha.
- I can’t sleep. I’m also sleep-phobic. I can’t wait to wake up every morning and wake everyone else up too (my sisters and husband would relate to this and I can see them nodding)! Why sleep? There is so much to do and conquer. I have a mission, every single day and in fact, all the time. I should clarify, I’m not star gazing all night long, but I’m good to go on a 5-6 hours snooze and I’m a light sleeper. There is more evidence suggesting a link between sleep and obesity. People that sleep less are more likely to be overweight and/or even obese.
- I wish I was a sugar bug. What’s for dessert? I love sugar especially when mixed with cocoa, nuts and butter then solidified into a Cadbury Hazelnut chocolate bar. I don’t have a sweet tooth; I have sweet teeth-all 28 of them want sugar. Don’t judge me. I know if you aren’t a sugar bug, you must be a tea lover that has a perfect ritual for making tea with some calculated amount of steeping, adding milk (whole, evaporated etc) and x amount of sugar (no not that kind of spoon, this kind). Who knew making tea was an exact science (in my family, it is!). So we all have cravings of some sort, mine is sugar. 1 tsp of sugar is approximately 4 grams of carbohydrate and 16 calories.
- I was born in a family of carnivores and self proclaimed food critics. My family doesn’t eat to live; they live to eat. Food is the doctrine of love. It’s our love language. No family gathering without it. No religious event without it. No social event without it. No food, no love, period. And if you die eating a leg of lamb, it’s the best way to live and die and you go to heaven. The way to our heart is food. Food is in our heart except, literally, it is. Vegetables are called “horse food” and you can have a party without vegetables but if you have a party without meat, you’re cheap and likely not a good cook. Given this, my attachment to food is understandable. I’ve acquired learned behaviours and perceptions to correlate love, happiness and acceptance to food. Food brings good memories and euphoria from my childhood. It’s comforting. It’s a bond that will not easily be broken as it represents my amazing family. Let’s just say my family is on a “seafood” diet, they see food and eat it.
As I now reflect on my awakenings, even a well-seasoned dietitian like me was overwhelmed when I asked myself, “what diet do I follow?”, “what do I do?”, “where do I start,” “when do I start?” A heart healthy diet such as DASH, or the Mediterranean diet, or do I count calories and concentrate on losing weight? Well, well, well, I choose none of the above. However, I did realize a few important things.
- No diet fits all. There are many diet and health programs out there. Finding one that is suited especially for me is what I needed to do. Trust me, no one diet is perfect. Also, in a world infatuated with fad diets let me tell you something. Short lived “diets” or “cleanses” mean short lived “results”. Do not have a fling with diets. It doesn’t work! Much like relationships, it’s a lifelong commitment with work in progress all the time.
- Know yourself and especially listen to your body. I had to do a lot of self-reflection here. Make a list of your good habits and your bad habits. Know what’s negotiable and what is not. Be compassionate. This process should not be riddled with guilt. Give yourself permission to indulge and then go back on track.
- Do not count calories, please, do not do this to yourself. Calories are not an exact science. Unless you are attached to a machine to do indirect calorimetry, who knows how many calories you actually need or need to burn. Choose more healthy choices.
- Choose small changes and stick to them for a very very long time. You’re not a caterpillar. You can not go into a diet cocoon and expect to be a blooming butterfly 1 month later. Changing your body’s metabolism, functioning and reversing the damage done over years will not happen overnight. Ask yourself, how long did it take you to get at this health stage, at this weight today? It took me 18 years to gain 50 lbs. It didn’t happen overnight. I gained 3 lbs/year over 18 years. Yet, why is it that we want our body, the body that we neglected for years , to forget all that it liked, learned, craved, eaten, not to mention the sofa surfing, tv watching stationary workouts it did to all of a sudden get “in shape” in a 1 month, or 100 days. Get real. Give your body a break.
This week, I’ve discussed my own barriers to being healthy and identified some of my own habits that are sabotaging my health. Next week, I’m going to reveal the changes I’ve committed to and which “diet” or type of eating I will adapt to. Stay tuned!
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