Normal Eating versus “Perfect Eating”


plate of browniesHaving spent a lifetime thinking about food and weight and weight loss, I consider myself a connoisseur of these matters.
Although I haven’t been on every diet in the world, and I did avoid the riskier weight loss endeavors like growth hormone shots, fat farms or adult fat camps, I’ve certainly done my share of fasting (Optifast and others) and my personal favorite way to fail, to decide to be “perfect” in my eating.

Thank goodness the light has dawned and I realized that there is no such thing as “perfect eating” or “good” or “bad” food. Cleaning up my thought processes is what helped me to gain some balance and finally stabilize my weight and then take off some pounds.

Before I gave up the ideas about “good” and “bad” food, the whackier I ate, and in the end, the more weight I gained. I also found any kind of diet was too restrictive; it just didn’t take MY needs into consideration, and I dieted my way to my highest weight. Weight loss spas , weight loss retreats or only served to reinforced inappropriate behaviors and attitudes…all directed towards the ‘quick fix.’

I talk to women every day that are convinced they have a food or sugar “addiction,” when it seems apparent that they are suffering from too much dieting, too much restriction, too much trying to do it according to someone else’s idea of a “perfect” way to eat. They’ve bought the whole ball of wax… the diet mentality.

It’s hard to convince them that a little moderation and return to normalcy with food and thoughts about food is possible, and that the first step is to get off the diet. Why is it so hard for so many to understands that diets don’t work.
Therefore I found much vindication in an article I read in the New York Times by former food critic William Grimes. Mr. Grimes took the new USDA Dietary Guidelines and tried to follow them. He wrote an article called, “Eating My Spinach: Four Days on the Uncle Sam Diet.”  Here are some of the paragraphs that stood out to me.

The guidelines were beginning to feel like wartime rationing. I walked around with a nagging feeling of being just slightly deprived. After two days, it began to haunt me.

I also began to chafe at the relentless assault on pleasure that the guidelines seemed to represent. At every turn, Americans were being urged to consume foods in their least tasty forms. There they were, the dreaded chicken breast with the skin removed, the unadorned steamed fish and the unspeakable processed cheeses.

In the world of the guidelines, food is a kind of medicine that, taken in the right doses, can promote good health. In the real world, of course, people regard food and its flavors as a source of pleasure. And therein lies just one of the problems with the guidelines, which my wife took one look at before saying with a shake of her head, “No one is ever going to eat like this.”

So here it is for all to see, a man with no weight problems and no food “issues” goes on a diet and is driven so crazy by trying to schedule his life and eating around what someone else thinks is a good idea, that he soon gets all the “symptoms” of “food addiction” and “lack of willpower” that women ascribe to themselves. The only difference in this man’s life is the diet that he started. Things that make you go “hmmmmm.”
I’d like to suggest we all take a moment to look at Marsha Hudnall’s articles on Perfectionism and Weight Loss and Redefining Healthy Eating as a way to clear our minds before looking further at what Mr. Grimes experienced during his diet encounter.

Sounds like he’s just learned what most women live with on a daily basis – dieting makes you crazy, fixated on food, and if you keep it up, heavier and heavier. I’m afraid that a lot of weight loss spas do the same, offering well-intended but unproven strategies for real weight loss success.

Stop and think before you diet again, especially if you’ve already struggled with dieting in the past! Take a second and third look at the articles I mentioned above, especially Redefining Healthy Eating.

One response to “Normal Eating versus “Perfect Eating””

  1. Don’t know if you’d be interested. Wendy from ABC’s tv show Fat March will be leading a 3-5 mile walk (March) every Saturday at 8:00 am and a “90 day March Off The Fat” weight-loss campaign. Wendy is a resident of La Canada and after losing 30 pounds on the show, is determined to get the rest off and inspire others to join in!

    Women from across the country are participating and we would love to have you and your friends! For every pound each person loses they will donate $1 to Feed the Children or another organization that feed poor children. While we are getting thinner, we’ll fatten up those precious babies!

    Hope to see you there!


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