January 15, 2022 - 9:00 pm
An anti-diet movement is afoot? Where can I sign up!
According to The Wall Street Journal, more people are taking a more reasonable approach to dieting that lets them be healthy while staying at their non-skinny weight. The article features people who tried a variety of different diets over the years only to put back any weight they lost once the diet was ended.
Rather than diets that focus primarily on weight loss and the pursuit of skinniness, a growing number of nutritionists are helping people live healthier lives at heavier weights — weights that may be more natural to them.
More nutritionists are focusing on “intuitive eating,” which allows people to, within reason, eat the foods they enjoy and stop obsessing over body size — so long as other health indicators are good.
For most of us the primary ways to stay thin are good genetics or a rigorous focus on diet and exercise. That’s fairly easy to do when you’re young. But as we know, our metabolism changes as we age, and by our 40s, many of us take on rounder proportions.
It doesn’t help us in the fight against fat that the American diet is saturated with processed foods that correlate directly to America’s obesity epidemic — an epidemic made worse as COVID-19 kept us indoors and way too close to goodies in the refrigerator.
This endless weight-loss struggle is a subject I know well. It’s a war I’ve not been winning since my thyroid, a key regulator of metabolism, had to be removed 20-plus years ago. Prior to that I had always been a trim 178-pounder who exercised and ran a half dozen 10K races every year.
In my quest to return to a slightly larger vestige of my younger, thinner self, I have just begun, yet again, a low-carb diet that has been successful for me in the past. It features a lot of super healthy foods, including mounds of vegetables, endless salads and low-fat meats.
I weigh in every Saturday morning and consult the diet’s practitioner. It is hard to get this diet going, but when I do, Saturday mornings are glorious. I am generally able to shed 4 or 5 pounds per week for several weeks.
The first time I followed this diet, I lost nearly 40 pounds. I felt great. While not as super sleek as I had been in my 20s, I looked better than I had in years. Soon I began lifting weights and going for long brisk walks. I slept well. I felt great. It was glorious.
And then I had a slice of cherry pie and vanilla ice cream that had been denied me for several weeks. Good God! It was the single most memorable — and pleasurable — gastronomic experience I ever had.
Still, I managed to keep fairly trim for the next year, but in time the pounds slowly slipped back on and, faster than you can say “yo-yo diet,” I was back to where I had started.
I did the low-carb diet all over again and initially lost weight, but a year later it had returned, and that’s where I am yet again at the beginning of 2022.
Like many adult Americans, I suffer from a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dieting syndrome. I am either really fit and healthy or larger and really eating poorly. But this new anti-diet movement is a kinder, gentler and smarter one I’ll happily sign up for.
Tom Purcell is an author and humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Contact him at Tom@TomPurcell.com.