Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Moderation not Deprivation
Over my many years of learning about how to be healthy and what does and doesn't work for me, I have come to realize that moderation is really the key. When I was in high school the diet I was on meant zero fat, zero choice, and eventually zero interest from me to maintain it! I have tried various things over the years for various reasons that involve cutting things out of my diet completely and all that ended up happening is I got angry, resentful, frustrated and eventually caved having a ton of that food out of spite (spite to myself?) and then feeling guilty about it. I don't know about you, but that is no way to live for me!
I am very lucky, I don't have food allergies or even sensitivities that I can tell. I did have my gallbladder out at age 21 so I don't process high fat foods or highly processed foods very well, but even that I am able to have in moderation on occasion and not put my health at great risk like an allergy would. Now I have found that eating generally lower fat, high fiber, natural, clean, organic and low to moderate amounts of animal protein seems to work the best for my body and keeps me running smoothly for the most part.
Now, I steer clear of fad diets because I think they are a lot of hype and often without the best science to back up the author's grandiose claims. I mean, the bigger the claim the more tv time you are going to get, right? So Atkins/South Beach/French Women Don't Get Fat/Skinny Bitch/Eat For Your Blood Type/Blah Blah Blah don't get much space in my bookcase or on my plate. I think that there are some sound ideas from some of these though and the important thing is using your own mind to take what works for you and then leave the hype behind. For instance, South Beach has some good things about eating lots of veggies, fiber, beans, whole grains, and not a bunch of processed food and sugar and I tend to incorporate a lot of that into my food. But really, in my mind that is more about common sense healthy eating than it is about buying a bunch of books and diet plans and doing a 2 week "detox" that just gives you headaches and makes you hungry.
Something else I do think is worthwhile is the so called "French" approach to eating. Ignoring the suggestion from the most famous book on this subject to eat nothing but boiled leeks and leek broth for 3 days (and to plan on sitting around your house reading and not expending much energy during that time because you will be STARVED and CRANKY), but embracing the idea of moderation without guilt. Have 3 healthy, full meals a day with food you love, but maybe eat a half portion of the things that are less healthy and more veggies instead. Have a light afternoon snack in between lunch and dinner, and make it something really tasty and delicious with no guilt or shame! For me that may mean a latte and a chocolate, or some fruit dipped in full fat greek yogurt, but it definitely does NOT mean a powerbar or a handful of trail mix because those aren't things I particularly enjoy (not to say YOU can't, they just aren't high on my list).
The other thing that I have taken from this idea of living more French is to really take care of yourself. I tend to go to bed with my makeup on, go a day or two without moisturizing my face, maybe throw on clothes that are less than flattering because it is easy, and just generally give more time to others than to myself. But when I take the time to do things for myself I FEEL better which in turn makes me want to be HEALTHIER because I am respecting and loving myself. So that means washing my face at night, maybe splurging on some fancy face cream because I have sensitive skin, going through my clothes and donating what just doesn't look good on me to Goodwill, or even throwing on a pretty scarf for a very French look for the day :-)
So that is an idea of what moderation means for me...living my life to the fullest, taking great joy and pleasure in the things that are important to me, getting rid of guilt and shame around these things, and because I am finding this joy every day NOT feeling the need to dive into the chocolate fountain headfirst when I see it!