Seeking Skinny

xmas 09 064Bikinis and me are over for good and I’m good with that. However, The End of Dieting by Doctor Joel Fuhrman is so outrageous and eye-opening that I just might be scared slim. Fear isn’t really the right word for how I feel reading this book and taking in its messages. More, I feel hope. For the first time in a long time it’s sinking in about what exactly I must change for optimum health.

I don’t mind getting old, it’s actually pretty fun and interesting, but looking into the not-too-distant future, I do not want to be a sick 60-something.

Fuhrman’s investigation into the myths of the standard American diet shock me. He’s got the data and he is not afraid to point the finger. One of the more outrageous claims he makes (and I paraphrase) is that if you are slim and eating the standard American diet as dictated by our government’s food guidelines, you are either a smoker, a drunk, a drug addict, or have a disease that is quietly killing you.

Whether he actually comes out and says the dairy and meat lobbies in this country have a huge impact on what those government food guidelines say, I’m not sure. But it’s implied and anyone with knowledge of how Washington works can connect the dots. Sounds cynical, but I tend to believe him about the meat and dairy folks colluding with lawmakers, even while Michelle Obama, with best intentions, champions better health.

The last time a book had a significant effect on the way I eat turned me vegetarian seven years ago and this former filet mignon and cheeseburger lover has never looked back. I dropped twenty pounds when I stopped eating meat, but soon, I began replacing my old favorites with more cheese, butter, bread, crackers, pasta and other refined carbs. I also opened the door to dessert, and I’m not talking fruit and an ounce of dark chocolate.

What I learned over time is that vegetarians are not necessarily healthy eaters. Chips are vegetarian. So is dip! And cake! I’ve known forever that I consume too much sugar and don’t exercise enough. Until this book, I was okay with that and with my big middle. Yes, photos can be painful, but I don’t feel fat unless I actually grab my love handles or glance in the mirror just after a bath. As with pictures, that’s when I can see the truth, even if I don’t feel it.

But now I’m learning not just what my problem is but WHY I still have this issue. It’s not about calories, but also about where those calories come from and how they metabolize in the body. As my old Weight Watcher leader used to say “Nobody ever got fat eating vegetables.”

So far, the nutritional science in this book makes sense to me. I don’t really think slim people who eat meat and dairy are secret addicts or have a disease. I know many slim people who eat the standard American diet and are not addicts. Yes, they’re dying, but aren’t we all?

For  me, it comes down to wanting more control over how I live out the later years of my life. And yes, how I die. I want to travel,  feel energetic, keep a sharp mind, be free of disease for as long as possible. Doesn’t everyone?

8 Comments on “Seeking Skinny

  1. Hi Cindy,

    I love that… “and we’re not talking fruit and an ounce of chocolate!” LOL

    We all deal with this. I wouldn’t say I was scared skinny recently but I was scared into yoga. Those joints and muscles require work now.

    One suggestion I have is to focus on trying TO eat things (like the good stuff) and see how many of the super nutritious foods you can eat each day. I have made it a game and I find it a lot more fun than trying NOT to eat things.

    Good luck!

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    • Nia, I love yoga. I do it every day. I love half moon pose and balancing poses best, but I flow with my warriors, triangles, planks and sun salutation sequence, too.

      With food I love that if you just eat healthy, no need to count calories. But eating in restaurants in Detroit area is tricky. Everything is big and breaded and deep fried, even the vegetables.

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  2. Yep, I know where you’re coming from here! I have sort of come to accept that I will never again look great with something tucked into a pair of trousers, but that’s kind of okay – so I wear loose tops. I’ve started to buy clothes that make me look good how I AM, not how I wish I looked! I’ve still got fab legs (runs in the family) but I am too old to wear short skirts, unless with a huge jumper, thick tights and flat boots – goodbye, dresses I can’t get into!

    Re the fat vegetarian thing – some of the chubbiest friends I’ve ever had have been veggies!!! I always thought it was because they were left unsatisfied by not having chicken, fish and meat. I might be wrong, though. With me, I’ve been surprised that I put ON weight when I gave up drinking, because that sweet tooth I didn’t know I had has suddenly emerged. It used to find all its sugar in the several bottles of wine I would drink a week, you see! I am trying to drop a dress size, though; just one, I haven’t given up completely! One thing I think is important is to eat proper food, not processed crap, and not diet versions of sweet things, which are full of aspartame. This is an evil substances which causes weight gain and liver malfunction. Okay…. comment longer than blog syndrome, I’ll shut up now!!!

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    • I think that’s true about aspartame. I read that it kills off the bacteria in the stomach and that’s what causes the weight gain. Diet soda is the worst for this problem. I gave it up 3 years ago. Then I had one diet coke and gained 3 pounds in 5 days. Yes I was overeating but I don’t usually gain that fast. I fixed it by eating yogurt every day for a while.

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      • Nia, I really like yogurt too and it does seem to settle tummy. I think my weight fluctuations through the years have made it very difficult for me to lose weight. Well, that and chips:)

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    • Terry, I am surprised that quitting alcohol made you gain weight. I like wine and cake. Not at the same time. Try to keep it to a couple of glasses on weekend. I know if I could give it up along with sugar I’d be way better off. And I haven’t shopped the middle of a grocery store in years. That’s where they keep all the processed stuff. Got off diet soda several years ago, those low fat or sugar free options do not work.

      Haha, my reply is as long as your comment. As to vegetarians not being satisfied, it’s true. Many don’t get the proper proteins or good fat the body needs. I am trying to eat more beans, legumes, nuts & seeds–also leafy greens and whole grains.

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  3. Cindy, I’ve dabbled with plant -based diets off and on since college, but got serious about a plant-based LIFESTYLE about two years ago, before my son’s wedding. I dropped 20 pounds and never looked back. My bloodworm shows stellar cholesterol levels, etc., but most important of all, I FEEL better. I do eat fish periodically, and have a piece of meat, say, once at year when a relative makes it for a holiday meal and makes me feel like a traitor for not eating it. You have to find what works for you, but I love the way I feel now, and have fewer health problems. Given the stress of caring for an elderly parent with dementia, now in hospice, good health is a gift for me.

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    • Cindy, that’s what I want to do, make it a lifestyle. And I eat a piece of turkey on Thanksgiving. It is not my favorite part of the meal (that would be mashed potatoes and gravy:) I cook more fish than I eat as I worry about mercury. I like wild caught salmon. And it’s good for you. Like you I’m trying to lower cholesterol numbers and lower blood sugar. Doc wanted me to go on meds and I said “give me a year to clean up naturally.” That year is almost over so I will see how successful I’ve been.

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