Thursday, December 04, 2008

Fad Diets are Just That

These days, it's exceedingly trendy to eat gluten-free. In the eighties it was macrobiotics, then in the nineties veganism and vegetarianism caught fire, then in the first part of this decade everyone was quick to purchase organic food and avoid carbohydrates, and now people ascribe to the latest incarnation. I predict that in five years time, gluten will be all but forgotten and everyone who at least feigns to be health-conscious will be loudly proclaiming the negative effects of the latest dietary evil. Just think, who counts calories anymore?

Forgive me for being skeptical. Considering I grew up with a militant vegan sister who converted around age fifteen and would routinely chastise the rest of the family for daring to be so uncouth as to consume meat, I've seen this sort of behavior with my very own eyes. This same sister, I might add, has now has reversed course 180 degrees, making me aware of what I suspected all along---she was merely a bandwagon jumper. Don't get me wrong, I do understand from whence this kind of thing stems. Humans and Americans in particular love to believe that alternative (holistic or otherwise off-label) treatments like these counter the perception that modern medicine should not be the answer for every ailment and can even make things worse. Those who rail against a nation of hypochondriacs seeking perfection in the form of a pill believe in diet regulation and a kind of do-it-yourself form of health.

This kind of thinking reminds me of taking stock in alchemy or any other pseudoscience. It might be best not to second-guess the licensed practitioner while still retaining the knowledge that medicine cannot fix every problem and that, moreover, no one's life can ever be perfected. I marvel at how certain people will take the latest highly inconclusive bit of medical evidence and transform it into some cure-all dietary regimen that, if you'd believe the hype, by itself can solve a multitude of health issues. Nothing in life is that simplistic.


Fran said...

Eat moderately, freshly and as locally as possible is what I think works. I struggle with my weight and am actually not one to go on a "diet."

The only time I lose weight is when I am temperate. I think that eating locally is better for the environment and I love that our supermarket has a section for local farm goods, since I do have the benefit of living in a farming area. And of course in the summer - the actual farmers markets can't be beat.

Everyone is looking for the magic bullet. There is no magic bullet.

In all honesty - I once went on South Beach and did lose a ton of weight. Which came right back after I went off it, even though I was still eating in moderation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for not spelling holistic with a W.

Gail said...

Hi Kevin et al

Diets? Nah. I love food, good food. I am fuller figured, shapely though, and rounded. Gosh, I sound like I am in an 'adult chat room trying to score' :-)

Anyway, I have tried diets, I hated them and myself while on one. I maintain well, I enjoy what tastes good to me and the only thing I have really changed is that I don't like red meat much. I also have cut things in half, sandwiches, portions and so forth. I was surprised how easy that is. There are a few things I never down-size, pizza, this battered cod fillet fish thing my husband gets from a wholesaler, and spaghetti. I eat as much as I want. :-)


Anonymous said...

Moderation. I've learned it the hard way.

Utah Savage said...

Diets are bad. I have known so many women whose weight has not only rebounded after every diet, but that they actually gained a bit more than they lost each time.

As to the natural, vegan, macrobiotic, all organic, no gluten, no food color, and on and on. I go with FranIAm. But my closest and oldest female friend started this macrobiotic thing and took it all the way to now. She has brittle bones and some kind of rheumatoid disease. But will only as a very last resort ever consult a physician. No, she goes to a homeopath. Or a naturist, or a friend of hers who's as neurotic as she about western medicine and how it's just pushing poison.