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Why is food such a big deal? For a person who struggles with weight, food can be an all-consuming proposition. Either you want it, you are upset that you ate too much of it (again) or you are making a plan to stay away from it.
Basically, the diet industry runs and thrives on this conundrum. It is banking on the fact you will eventually come to steps two and three. Then, they can swoop in to offer you the “solution” that will keep you from overeating. Often these solutions involve staying completely away from all those “bad” foods that are the source of all your frustrations and pain.
What these diet solutions do not seem to address is how to extricate food from your memory, emotional framework and cultural experience. Food is a vital part of the human experience. I eluded to this briefly in my article about clean eating, but I thought it was important enough to explore a little further in a dedicated post.
Food Deprivation Does Not Work
Each year, Americans shell out around $40 billion dollars on weight loss plans and products. However, even after all the shakes are consumed and the calories are counted, The New England Journal Of Medicine estimates that most people regain one-third of their weight back within the first year and return to their baseline within 3 to 5 years. This is not ground-breaking news. We all know how hard it is to maintain weight loss after a diet. In fact, I bet a lot of you, like me, have experienced this first hand.
The $40 billion Americans spend on diet plans each year is a weighty amount, for sure. But those billions represent aspirations rather than effort. Dieters who want to fit into thinner jeans for more than a few months or years need to find a diet plan that will fit into their lifestyle for just as long. If we’re wasting billions of dollars on fruitless diets, it’s likely the fault lies not with Jenny but with ourselves.
Food Is An Integral Part Of Our Memories and Cultural Identity
Food and our cultural formation are two tightly bound concepts. Think back to some of your fondest childhood memories. Likely, you picture holidays or vacations that you took with your family. Does food enter the equation? Of course it does. Returning home on a college visit to see your mom’s legendary chocolate cake awaiting you on the table; chatting on the back patio as steaks sizzled on the grill or joining hands around a Thanksgiving table filled with your favorite foods.
I can’t even number the times my family has sat around the table reminiscing about our favorite family vacation only for the conversation to turn to some food that we all enjoyed. Food is linked with virtually all celebrations and milestones. Food is a vital part of our life experiences. We love nothing better than to sit around the table with those we love.
So why do we think that we can just cut certain foods out of our lives, presumably for good, and then continue on as if they never existed? The statistics and research say we can’t, so it’s time to figure out a new way of thinking about food that actually includes eating all forms of it in a thoughtful, considered way. Moderation is the only way to actually have your cake and eat it too! I’ll talk more about that on my next post.