Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In Which Moon Touches On Restrictive Dieting

We'll periodically be putting up solo posts from one or the other of us, just to keep the format fresh. And you know, for funsies. Today Moon tackles a topic that has great meaning to us both...

Restrictive diets: say no.

Let’s talk a little about nutrition and diet. Most of the “diets” I have experienced have been extremely restrictive. So, in other words, they are not diets, but more like a blacklist for your stomach. I would like to take a different approach. How about we not create a diet based on what to restrict from our bodies, but build a balanced diet that gives our bodies what they need (and want!).

I have a lot of experience with weird eating habits and crazy diets, but let’s start with my most current eating concern. All of my adult life I have been a vegetarian. I am a vegetarian who is also lactose intolerant. But, let’s start with vegetarianism. Most of the time I get this reaction:

What DO you eat? And yes, the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding was correct in the portrayal of family members insisting that the leaner meats are not meat at all (That's okay, that's okay. I make lamb).

I eat everything except meat, of course! And honestly, I really love vegetables. For the past few years I’ve been trying to figure out what is going on with my cholesterol levels. I went for a yearly check-up with my primary physician and a few weeks after the appointment I received a letter that basically read, “You are overweight and should consider a weight management program."

My initial reaction was amusement, but after going through the test results, I discovered that my cholesterol levels were through the roof. This was surprising to me because my diet contained barely any cholesterol (minimal amounts from eggs, but I rarely ate eggs). Now, I understand that cholesterol has strong ties to the genes you have, but I have NO idea about my medical history because I am adopted. However, I never before showed any high levels of cholesterol. Now, I have another condition that might account for the high levels of cholesterol, but I take medication that should balance that out. Here’s the bottom line: I needed to change my diet to try and lower at least the bad levels of cholesterol. To do this, I started to eat fish.

I cried the first time I ate fish. A small number of vegetarians out there are probably empathizing with me right now, but the majority of you are probably thinking, seriously? Vegetarianism became for me a way of life and while I did not start because I was against eating animals, over time I did feel that going back to eating meat would be in some way contaminating or somehow letting myself down.

I shouldn’t have been upset to eat fish. Sometimes I consider stopping, but I honestly have no negative side effects from eating fish (don’t get me wrong; I am absolutely for better treatment of animals. I am for eating organic and I try to stay far away from processed foods. I think our meat industry is in terrible disarray).  However, in retrospect I really believe that I should have been easier on myself for eating something that was good for me. And the fish has been helping. I am stronger and healthier. My protein levels are getting better and I will find out soon to see if my cholesterol is any better.

Here’s the thing with restrictive diets: it does something to my psyche. I go overboard with removing foods from my diet. I’ve found shortcuts to calorie intake. I think it does something to a lot of us, mentally, and I firmly believe that if your mind and body are not in the right place then whatever you are going for won’t have the best outcome.

And finally, to the point of the post: Eat what makes you healthy, strong, and happy. You might be thinking, Yeah, but I want to eat cake topped with cake. I want to play steak with Jenn. Can I deep-fry the cake? I find that my uncontrollable cravings for sugar are usually because I’m stressed. When I’m stressed I try to run to rid myself of the bad energy and usually it works enough to get me to calm down. I think if we recognize why we crave some of the unhealthiest foods all the time, we might be able to balance the real issue.

The good news is: let yourself eat something you like every now and then! There is nothing wrong with enjoying the sweet, sweet, nectar that is all foods found in a bakery. It’s the extreme desire of wanting unhealthy foods all the time that is usually an indicator of another issue. Be positive in your approach to your nutrition! Above all else, keep your body and mind happy and healthy and things will fall into place.

A lot of our diet is controlled by bad moods, stress, and anxiety. Take the negatives out of the equation and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Restrictive dieting has definitely messed with both our psyches in the past. We'll be talking more about this subject in the future. There are still so many destructive habits floating around among women out there - but we think it's great that blogging has opened up a dialogue about it! If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below.

Delicious sandwiches from Backlot Express.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.com. See ya real soon!

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