The Diet Myth – Part 4 – Food Isn’t The Enemy

February 6, 2015

Around this time, a friend mentioned that she’d been struggling with metabolic and blood sugar issues and had begun seeing a “diabesity” (diabetes and obesity) expert.  She recommend that I try making an appointment and see where it went.

I was skeptical – what could this new doctor possibly tell me that I hadn’t heard before? I’d had my thyroid and blood sugar checked – everything was seemingly-normal. Nonetheless… it couldn’t hurt, right? The math didn’t add up – there was no way the calories I was consuming exceeded the ones I was burning – if ate any less, I’d be starving myself.  So, maybe she could tell me something new.

There are a few moments where I can look back on my life and pinpoint a life-changing choice or event, but, in retrospect, making that first appointment was one of those moments for me. It was first step in a long (and still-ongoing) process of re-education. 

When I went in for my first consultation, to my incredulity one of the first things the nurse I met with told me was that I needed to stop counting calories. Secondly, I needed to stop weighing myself. Lastly, I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted – literally anything

Suddenly, food was no longer the enemy. There was no such thing as “good” or “bad” food – just some things that were more calorically dense than others.

“Follow your body’s signals and cravings,” the nurse told me.  “It will tell you what you need, and your cravings will level out over time. Eventually you’ll focus on – and even want to eat – whole foods. But for now, you need to get all of that deprivation out of your system.”

“…What?” I remember asking dumbly, feeling slightly scandalized by what she was suggesting. “You mean I can eat dessert?  Like, as much as I want?”

She nodded, smiling. “In fact, a while back I met with one of our patients for a consultation and asked her what she missed eating most.  Ends up, she had been craving a chocolate croissant one for nearly two years.  She hadn’t given in to her craving even once, but right after meeting with me, she went out and had one.  When she started to lose weight and people asked what she was doing differently, she joked the trick to her weight loss was eating French pastries every day!”

I was floored. After years of doctors telling me what I wasn’t supposed to eat, I was now being told that anything was fair game. In fact, not restricting my diet was supposedly imperative to my success and recovery. 

I wasn’t the only one shocked or scandalized by this advice.  The next time I saw the woman who took my weekly measurements at the gym, I told her the news. 

“My doctor even said that I can even eat cheesecake!” I exclaimed excitedly, still barely believing that I could finally quit the oppressive process of calorie counting once and for all.

Less than impressed, she tsked and eyed me disapprovingly. “Come on now, Kimberly,” she said. “You can’t eat every piece of cheesecake that just crosses your path.”

I didn’t let it bother me.  My spirits were buoyed with hope that, for the first time in my life, I might just be on the road to figuring out what was going on. 

Photo credit: Pedro Vezini / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

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