mercoledì, 2012-05-09; 02:26:27

Fellow humans, we need to talk. Take a moment, and read the following statement.

I’m on a diet because I’m trying to lose weight.

Does this describe you?

If it does, stop it. Shut up. You’re doing it all wrong.

If you’re worried primarily about weight, you have a body image problem, not a weight problem. Your primary concern should be your health, not your weight. Your weight is just an imprecise number, which, at best, only gives you a vague indication of how healthy you are. At worst, it is completely inaccurate.

You are in serious need of a recalibration of your priorities. It’s OK, many people think this way. I think this way sometimes. It’s hard not to, due to advertisements and social norms that profess a singular supposed truth: lighter is better. Thinner is more attractive. Get ripped and you’ll live ‘til you’re 200. But it’s just not true.

Being healthy does not mean being light. Being healthy means a number of different things. It means being happy. It means getting enough sleep. It means eating a balanced diet. It means getting enough food for your body. It means getting a moderate amount of exercise. It means that your blood pressure is normal. It means that your cholesterol levels are low.

It does not mean that your weight matches some magic number.

I’m on a diet recommended by my nutritionist.

No, stop it. Shut up. You’re doing it wrong.

“Nutritionist” is a euphemism for “quack who takes your money”. Your “nutritionist” is lying to you. Unless your personal physician, also known as a doctor, personally recommended you to a dietician, then they are fleecing you and your “diet” is dangerous.

Are you happy? Are you getting enough sleep? Do you have enough energy to get you through the day? If you answered no to any of these questions, your first stop should be your doctor. Not a “nutritionist”. Not a self-help dieting book. Your doctor.

I cannot emphasize this enough. Your doctor is uniquely suited to tell you whether you are healthy and the best steps to become healthy if you aren’t. Again, the word “healthy”. Health, not weight. Your doctor can test your blood pressure, your cholesterol, and can give you recommendations on your diet, as well as diagnose diseases that may prevent you from being healthy. There is no need to throw money at anyone else.

I’m on the Atkins low-carb diet.

No, stop it. Shut up. You’re fucking DOING IT WRONG.

The low-carb diet is dangerous. And dumb. And ineffective. I can refute the entire low-carb diet with two words:

Italy, France.

You know how many fucking carbs Italians eat? They eat PILES of carbs, at EVERY meal. Breakfast for Italians involves tea or coffee and some sort of brioche. That’s bread. Yep, that’s right, carbs! You know what they eat for lunch? Pasta. A literal pile of carbs. Oh, and copious amounts of bread to sop up the rest of the pasta sauce. Yup, more delicious, delicious carbs. And dinner? More pasta, more bread, sometimes potatoes. Yup, carbs at EVERY SINGLE MEAL.

I should know, I’m an Italian.

And then there’s France. Hooooly shit, these guys invented the croissant (yeah, yeah, fucking Austrians, I know that’s not true) and eat them for breakfast. CARBS. And then of course there’s the baguette, again ANOTHER CARB. Oh, and of course fatty, delicious Brie cheese and other delicious, delicious cheeses. Those aren’t carbs, but cheese isn’t something routinely recommended while on a diet.

What do Italy and France get for gorging on carbs?

That’s right, bitches, the French and Italians are some of the healthiest people in the world! In terms of life expectancy, France and Italy are ranked higher by the UN than the United States, the low-carb diet capital.

It is amazing to me how many people with great critical thinking skills fall prey to the low-carb diet. It is possible that for certain people, going on a low-carb diet would be good for them. AFTER consulting their doctor. But the notion that a single diet can be the miracle cure for all your problems is delightfully laughable, a wondrous delusion that afflicts a surprising number of well-informed people.

To be healthy, I need to stop eating foods that I like.

No, stop it, SHUT UP. You’re doing it wrong. Again.

Being healthy doesn’t mean you have to stop eating foods that you like. Being healthy means that you eat healthy. That you eat a balanced diet. Most of the time. A little deviation here and there isn’t going to hurt you much.

Yes, if you go to McDonald’s all the time, then you’re going to need a serious recalibration in the foods that you eat. And if you don’t like fruits or vegetables, you’re going to need to find a way to like them, because they give you an important set of nutrients.

But eating healthy doesn’t mean your whole entire meal consists of olive oil.

Eating healthy isn’t hard. Eating healthy means eating a piece of fruit every day. Strawberries are yummy. So are peaches, bananas, kiwis, pineapples, and apples. You don’t need to gorge on them. Just eat one piece. Every day. Eating healthy means eating a couple vegetables every day, some bread every day, and some protein every day. If you get a little bit of each, you’re doing fine. And if you fail every so often, don’t worry, it’s OK. There’s no need to feel guilty or discouraged.

I can guarantee you, no matter how picky an eater you are, you can learn to like vegetables. Maybe not all of them, but I’d wager that there’s some sort of healthy vegetable dish that you’d like. (Soups are one of my favorite ways to eat vegetables.) Keep looking, keep asking, keep exploring until you find a vegetable dish you like. And then find another one.

Enjoying vegetables is almost a delusion. But a delicious, delicious delusion. As a fake vegetarian (I eat fish and seafood), vegetables are more satisfying to me than any other kind of food. Once you learn to like some sort of vegetable, and everyone can, it gets easier to start craving them rather than recoiling in horror at the thought of them.

But it takes time. Keep at it.

Eating healthy takes too much effort.

Stop it, you’re doing it wrong.

There are two simple and easy steps that will go a long way to eating healthy.

First, cook. Make the meals that you eat. When you cook, you’re more aware of what goes into the food you eat, you’re in control of what goes into the food you eat, and you’ll be more informed about how balanced your diet is. You’ll know just how much butter and sugar goes into those cookies you love. And you’ll know exactly how much salt is put on your food. And how many fruits and vegetables are in each dish.

Cooking doesn’t have to be hard, or take much time. Salads are quick, easy, and healthy. I love salad with tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. It takes five minutes to make. Soups are pretty easy, too. They take longer to make, but usually involve a long period of time simmering on the stove, during which you can do other things. Pasta is easy and quick, too, and many yummy pasta sauces can be made in about 10 minutes. I love broiled or grilled vegetables: get some asparagus, potatoes, brussel sprouts, and throw them in a casserole dish with a little olive oil and garlic, and broil them in the oven or grill them for about 20 minutes until they start getting a little black. Mmmmm, so yummy.

Second, write down what you eat. There’s no need to look up the calorie count. Just write down what you eat, and approximately how much. Keep a diary with you, and take the thirty seconds to record your meals, at every meal.

The very act of recording your diet will be an incredible eye-opener, and will easily reveal what you eat too much of, and what you don’t eat enough.

I don’t have enough time or money to exercise to be healthy.

No, you’re still doing it wrong.

Everyone has time to exercise. Everyone. Being healthy means getting a moderate amount of exercise every day. It doesn’t mean that you have to bike 50 miles, or do 100 pushups, or run a marathon every day. It means around thirty minutes of doing something other than sitting.

Go out for a walk. Just for thirty minutes. You don’t need to walk fast, or uphill, or far. Just take a stroll for 30 minutes. Or hop on a bike for a bit. Or do some gardening, if you like doing that. Or stand. Or swim. You can do pushups or sit-ups if that’s your sort of thing, but it’s not required. Just 30 minutes.

There’s no need to spend money, either. Exercising at the gym is one of the most boring and unhealthy ways to exercise. People pay money, to congregate in the same location, to share exercise equipment and showers, to sweat and get germs all over them. Ew, it’s so fucking gross. And dumb. Get out! Enjoy the sun! Enjoy a walk in the park, or by a lake if there’s one near you. Find someone to walk with, and gossip for 30 minutes while you walk. But for fuck’s sake, don’t exercise inside a building.

Walking is easy, effective, and costs nothing. Everyone can walk. Pushups don’t require spending any money either. You can do them at the park! Biking requires a bike, but most people have a bike. If not, you can usually get a cheap, used one off Craigslist!

I’m not ripped, therefore I must not be healthy.

Ugh, you’re really doing it wrong.

Being healthy does not necessarily mean you have great abs. And having great abs does not mean you are healthy, either. Great abs are neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for good health.

This guy is unhealthy. (Lololol, and he’s a total douche.) This guy is unhealthy, too. And his suggested meals make me gag.

I know the porn you watch shows people with great abs and all the great sex they get because of it. And a lot of advertising subtly suggests the same message, without quite as many explicit visuals.

Almost everyone thinks this way. I think this way. I’d probably be more attracted to someone who has great abs over someone who doesn’t, all other things being equal. But it doesn’t mean I only go for people with great abs. And neither does anyone else. Anyone who only dates people with great abs will never be in a healthy relationship. Don’t worry, you can get great sex without having great abs.

But you need to be comfortable with your own body. That is part of being healthy: a healthy body image. Depending on your genetics, it may even be hard for you to lose fat or get great abs. But that doesn’t mean you’re not healthy.

Your health should be the #1 thing you’re concerned about. Not your weight, or your abs. Everything in moderation, as the pithy and usually inaccurate saying goes. But when it comes to health, it’s spot on. Eat a little bit of everything, get a little bit of exercise, and worry only a little bit about the foods you eat.

Do that, and you’re doing it right.

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