if being a vegetarian works for you, fantastic. (it did for me for years).
if being vegan is your jam, more power to you.
if eating raw or eliminating sugar or avoiding gluten strikes a chord than do it.
and if you've never tried it and don't know how it will sit with you then shut up about it.
the proof is in the pudding.
i do not however, extend this courtesy to diets. atkins, weight watchers, south beach or any other. mostly because i really believe that they do not work. even if the in the short term weight is lost, there are hidden costs (health) in the long term. and i believe the lip service we pay in praise of diets steers most people in the wrong direction--arms them with false and misleading and ultimately damaging information.
i've learned over time to mostly shut up about this in my daily comings and goings. no on in a vulnerable position who is at a loss and attempting to do something good for their life wants to hear that their latest diet will do them more harm than good.
so now i try to keep my mouth closed and walk away. (and talk about here instead).
however, before i figured this out i was out to dinner with a small group of friends and one of the girls said she was going to try weight watchers and i said i thought it was a bad idea--i'd lost weight on it and then lost years to an eating disorder.
and she looked right at me and said, yeah, but i don't have an addictive personality.
it was one of the cruelest things anyone has ever said to me.
i don't know if she ever did weight watchers. but i know the weight wasn't lost.
and that's okay. that's not her fault. i only point it out to say that we (the collective cultural we) are looking for answers in the wrong place. we want immediate results. we want to press the big-red-easy button and reap our rewards. i think collectively we're all straining under a sort of veruca-salt-psychosis: i want it and i want it now.
and this isn't dictating just the manner in which we try to lose weight--it governs what we eat and when. we eat raspberries flown from halfway across the world because they're not in season where we live, but we still want them. we exploit the lives of countless animals and try to expedite the process in which they age so as to have more and have it now (and we do this by pumping them full of antibiotics and hormones which we then ingest second hand). i want and i want it now is now our cultural refrain. and it's stripping the earth of its precious resources at a startling rate.
we are a selfish species.
we buy more and spend more and waste more and we do it in the name of capitalism.
i may not know much about economics but i do know that a system that only measures growth when we live in a world of finite resources is bound to run into a fatal flaw at some very critical moment.
i've gotten myself off on a tangent. i really don't want to talk politics (but i mentioned the above to someone recently and they said, oh, wow, so you're really liberal. and i thought what? how'd you get there? i feel like that's just a rational thought--and one that makes me pretty moderate).
i mention all of this because the way in which we grow and eat food is a tremendous allegory for our current state of affairs.
we need to eat more simply and live more simply. we need to go back to the dinner table. sit around it with our family (and accept that many people now have different working definitions of this word). break bread. take vegetables form the garden. and connect in a way that has nothing to do with facebook and foursquare and any of the other multitudinous applications that serve a purpose i'm no longer sure of.
not eating sugar works for me. it's my thing. and i encourage everyone to try it. to experiment with it.
within a few months of giving it a real and honest college try my occasional (but still present) binges came to an end. i don't think it was just the absence of sugar--i think it was all the work and effort of the years before, but i do think sugar, or rather the lack of it, was a key player.
people have been asking where i stand when it comes to eating fruits. it's important to know that i don't think i've ever craved a piece of fruit in my life. i'm just not a fruit person. i really like vegetables and i'd seek out some good grilled asparagus before i ever picked up an apple. so i very rarely eat fruit (but that's me). the information out there suggests that perhaps we all need to start saying vegetables and fruits (as opposed to fruits and vegetables) and start thinking of them in that order--that even fruit, healthy as it is, should be eaten in moderation.
but when it comes to health and sugars, fruit is not my main concern. it is the hidden sugars. it is all the sugars injected into processed foods. i operate under the assumption that even if i avoid sugar as much as possibly can, i will still probably exceed the recommended daily limit, simply because it is everywhere and in everything.
i don't eat honey. i don't eat agave. i don't differentiate between table sugar or raw sugar or fake sugar or corn syrup. i assume it is all damaging in some way. which sounds tremendously boring, i know...until you give it a go.
and suddenly everything tastes sweeter. (i joke about how i now put shallots in everything--but it is such a sweet a delectable onion!)
that being said if i'm out with friends and everyone is having ice cream, i'm probably going to join in. there is also the occasional ben and jerry's pint that is eaten alone and on a friday night (you win some, you lose some).
a few quick hints: when i first cut out sugar i'd have a big tablespoon of peanut butter at the end of every meal because i associated it with sweet and it sort of tricked my mind into thinking i was getting that finishing-sweet-treat i was so accustomed to. i also put cinnamon in my coffee (a great anti-inflammatory) because i associate cinnamon with sugar and having just one half-of that combo allowed me fill in the other-half by just imagining.
i don't eat stevia or any of the natural sugar replacements because i don't feel the need for them. once i got over the emotional attachment to sweet and the subsequent cravings i just didn't feel the need to seek them out and incorporate them into my life.
i think the hardest part in attempting to cut out sugar is dealing with backlash of everyone around you (and that will be final topic i discuss in part four of this series).