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Throw out your diet rulebook!

Posted Sep 09 2010 12:00am
First of all, let me apologize for my prolonged absence. I took a short break back in July, which ended up turning into a two-month "blogcation." It’s good to be back!

A lot has happened since I last wrote. I finished that novel manuscript I told you about (or a draft of it, anyway). I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m gluten-intolerant (more on that later). And I’ve had time to plot a new direction for Make Friends With Food. Well, not really a new direction. This blog is still about dealing with food. But now it will focus even less on nutrition and more on developing a relationship with food that feels comfortable for you. An approach to eating that’s healthy, natural, and not obsessive.

Face it, there are thousands of web sites, books, and magazine articles telling you what to eat and what not to eat. Why should you take orders from any one of them -- even this one?

In my opinion, you shouldn’t. I’ve said it before: diet plans are like religious cults . We search and search -- sometimes our whole lives -- for the perfect diet (or belief system) that will allow us to drop a few dress sizes (or attain enlightenment). We seek a pre-packaged solution so we don’t have to do any of the work ourselves, and we unquestioningly accept the rules of that system, even if they don’t make much sense.

True, there are a lot of food choices out there, and it’s simpler to be told what to eat. It’s astonishing, if you think about it: at this moment in human history, we can choose any food we want, whenever we want it.

The trouble is, many of the people telling you what to eat have an axe to grind. They’re trying to sell you something -- a book, a diet program, a product, a supplement. Or else some corporate entity is paying them to promote that information. Nutrition studies are often funded by the very industries that stand to benefit from the research results. Your health, sadly, is far from number one on everyone’s priority list.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t pay attention to news about nutrition and health. Read everything you can, but when it comes to deciding what to eat, there’s no substitute for your own personal experience and gut instinct.

If someone tells you to eat three servings of dairy a day, but dairy upsets your stomach, who are you gonna trust, the experts or your body? If another source instructs you to eat a bowl of Special K for breakfast, but when you do, you’re hungry again two hours later, who’s at fault: the breakfast or you?

We’ll be exploring these sorts of questions from now on. If you’re like many people, you’ve been inundated over the years with conflicting nutrition advice, you’re exhausted with trying to follow it, and you’re still struggling with health and weight problems. Welcome to a whole new approach! Your body is the laboratory and you are the scientist. Somewhere inside you is a blueprint for a diet that will vastly improve your health and allow you to arrive at a natural weight without herculean feats of willpower. All you need to do is find it.

Photo by Ernie Kohlsaat
By the way, you may notice another change around here (in addition to the new design scheme). In the past, I’ve borrowed photos from the web to illustrate my blog posts. Everyone else does it, I figured, so why not? Then I found out that other people were “borrowing” my articles, without permission or credit, to post on their websites. Apparently, this practice is commonplace, too. It certainly opened my eyes: welcome to the brave new world of internet publishing! Anyway, to keep my karma clean, from now on I’ll be illustrating this blog with original photos and giving credit where it is due.
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