As history remembers it, Lord Byron was the first famous person obsessed with the idea of staying thin. He hated the way his wife ate supper and hardly ate more than a slice of bread with a cup of tea. He struggled with what we now call anorexia nervosa, and he died at 36.
Since Lord Byron’s time in the 1800s, people have come up with plenty of insane ways to lose weight, including taking a pill with a tapeworm. Cysts on your eyes are fine as long as the weight comes off, right? No. This diet is illegal and rightfully so. It can also cause bloating, which completely ruins the whole point anyway.
And then we have lean foods and diet drinks. Here’s a tip: it’s a trap. Although, there may be less sugar or calories in these foods, the ingredients used to make this happen are so harmful, it’s really better to be fat instead of eating them. I’m looking at you Olean and aspartame.
Then there’s always this part of me that thinks the media attention given to certain dangerous things is a marketing ploy, made to push consumers to one product or another, or as a means to inspire us to buy into the next best fad backed by someone claiming their way is the safest and best way. I’m happy that there are true food warriors out there, but a healthy dose of skepticism is always necessary in the age of misinformed consumerism.
On one hand, we have food standards and labels that list nutrition facts, but on the other we have legal loopholes that allow certain words like “all natural” to exist on a package of food that contains preservatives and high fructose corn syrup.
This deception is not uncommon for many phrases on foods. The USDA barely defines terms like this, leaving them open to interpretation.
Anyway, considering the dangers and the vast variety of nutrition plans out there, it’s tempting to think that dieting is complicated. My thought on this is that we’re overthinking it.
Even eating hamburgers and ice cream for every meal is a diet, not a healthy one, but it’s what you’re eating. A diet isn’t cutting out the good stuff, and it isn’t a dirty word. A diet is defined as the things you habitually eat. Saying that you’re “going on a diet” suggests that it will be short term, and that pattern of thinking has destroyed my own weight loss plans many times.
Dieting is not about eating grapefruit with every meal for six months or never having cake again, the real way to diet is to actually change your lifestyle permanently. You actually change what you feel about what you eat, also known as your diet.
Go ahead. Eat cake. Just don’t eat it every day or the whole thing in one sitting.
What really matters is mindset. Good nutrition is what we should really be after. There are different body types, and only about 1 percent of the earth’s population is naturally cut out to look like a Barbie doll. Maybe you’re descended from Vikings and that little bit of extra husk is supposed to be there to keep from dying when winter comes. Either way, you’ll lose weight if you set your nutrition on the right track. That’s why newer eating plans make much more sense than eating tapeworms or borderline anorexia.
I’m not a nutritionist, and I’m not going to suggest some miracle plan to save your life and help you lose weight. My only advice to you is buy produce instead of processed food, get active anyway you can, and just have basic self-control. Put down the sugary beverages, definitely don’t drink diet and take a walk once in a while.
There may be 1,000 ways to diet, but it’s really not that complicated. All it really takes is willpower and common sense.
Sinclaire Sparkman is The Democrat’s news editor. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @wilsoncoreports.