At first blush, sacrificing one’s favorites appears like it would blast away those extra pounds, and it does — but only temporarily. Long-term, it’s unnatural and ineffective.
Oh, sure, we can sacrifice our pet foods for brief periods. However, let’s face it, as the joke goes, seven days of bland makes one weak. Without variety, we get bored. Take away our special beloved “fun foods” and we give up, sometimes in horrifying ways.
As example, I decide to implement a new “healthy me lifestyle change,” a complete makeover of my insalubrious habits. My wife, ever the obliging supportive spouse; agrees to assist, so we commence a routine evening stroll. The weather is agreeable, walking burns calories, and the time allows us to re-connect after hectic workdays.
Along the route lies a small pizzeria. I am wise in the ways of weight loss and I know from unfortunate past experience, that the blend of salt, several varieties of cheese, as well as toasted doughy goodness, makes it problematic for me to lose weight. Therefore, I have sworn an oath of “pizza abstinence” until the scale reflects 15 fewer pounds. I am proud to announce that so far, all is going well. I’ve been “pizza-free” for well over three hours.
Fate however can be a cruel mistress and the gentle breeze this evening brings upon it a warm cheesy waft of mozzarella and garlic. As Ulysses being lured by the Sirens, my wife grabs tighter my hand, the rope attempting to bind me to the mast. Unhappily, she is not composed of wood and twine and I tear loose, hotfooting frenziedly into the eatery, no longer able to manage my impulse.
That’s when things got fuzzy.
Although I do not recall the incident after that moment, I am informed by my lawyer that the SWAT team pulled me from atop the front, shaking a terrified 19-year-old clerk by the lapels, flop-sweat streaming from my brow, spaghetti sauce dripping from my lips, while shrieking “Extra cheese, more pepperoni, and three pounds of garlic sticks — and no one gets hurt!”
Okay, I exaggerated (my demand was only two pounds of garlic sticks) but many a well-intentioned dieter has been kicked to the curb by an unexpected overwhelming urge for verboten foodstuffs.
The reality is that over-eating is an addiction; it might be “small-A addiction,” but in many cases, it can be as debilitating as drugs or alcohol (and the societal cost is far greater). The difference is that with other addictions, one can go cold turkey. It might not be easy and one might need the support of others. Yet, a line in the sand can be drawn and never again crossed.
Food is obviously different. We need to learn to control our intake and to get away from the black/white, good/bad, on/off diet mentality. Thin people eat pizza. They eat chocolate too. Pay attention and you’ll even observe folks with a healthy waistline engaging in a bag of tortilla chips or a large scoop of ice cream. The reason they’re thin — and some of us are not — is that they don’t freak out about what they eat. Should they overindulge, they adjust by eating less or exercising more. For them, it’s habit. For the rest of us, it takes some thought, but anything of value usually does.