Congratulations, You Just Cured Obesity

thinkerAs a dietitian who believes in non-diet, non-weight focused nutrition, I often find myself explaining my position on intentional weight loss to casual acquaintances who always want to talk to me about weight loss. It usually starts out with someone else bringing up the topic after they have discovered I am a dietitian (there is a reason I don’t volunteer this information easily). They say something like, “Well of course diets don’t work. Permanent lifestyle changes are what lead to lasting weight loss,” or, “Eating less doesn’t work, you have to do interval training in order to lose weight and keep it off,” or, “The only way to maintain long lasting weight loss is to do resistance training.” As though fat people have never tried any of these things ever, and if they just would, they’d have their fatness cured, stat.  *Eye roll*

To which I have to answer: “Actually, no one has figured out a way to create long-term weight loss for more than a tiny fraction of people…and neither have you.” (In reality, I try to be nice about this. But for the purposes of this blog, I get to have a Snark-o-rama, ʼkay?) And then I clarify that I’m talking about basically all the weight loss science that exists out there and how it pretty much shows that long-term weight loss is pretty much a unicorn (as in, it doesn’t exist) for all but a few people. And then, of course, perhaps because I’m a dietitian and why trust someone with an actual degree in nutrition*, or perhaps because I’m a chubby woman who’s clearly just given up on herself*, they don’t believe me.

My favorite person (okay, not really) to argue with on this subject insists that the key to weight loss (even long-term!) is interval training weight weights (despite complete lack of evidence) . When I say that I lift weights and I’m still fat, the answer is invariably, “Well, you’re just not doing it enough.” When I ask how much and how often I should lift weights, the answer is, “More than you’re doing now.” Which is asinine, because he doesn’t know jack about what I’m doing now. When I say that I lifted weights very regularly when I was much thinner and dieting and that I couldn’t build any muscle to save my life AND my weight eventually returned even as I adhered to my regimen, he says it was because I was dieting. When I say I stopped dieting, still lifted weights and gained a lot of weight, it is because I’m not lifting enough. Basically, I’m a fatty who can’t win. Oh, and it’s all my fault.

This seems to be the prevailing attitude among people who all profess to have THE answer to the weight loss “problem.” What it really boils down to is, “Do this thing you might not even like to do, do it a lot, focus your entire life on this, forsake all the other things you might be interested in doing because they won’t produce weight loss, and you’ll be CURED of your fat forever!” Except that, oh yeah, there is zero proof that any of this will work LONG TERM for more than a tiny – like 5% tiny – fraction of people, even if you manage to keep at it.

And by the way, guess who’s tried these “foolproof,” “long-term” weight loss “methods”? (imagine me air quoting vigorously here). Only every fat person that’s ever tried to diet ever. Yeah, that’s right. We’ve tried it. It didn’t work and also, it sucked. If it was something most people could sustain long-term AND they enjoyed it, they’d do it. But we’re not talking about enjoying life here, are we? No, the idea seems to be that we do stuff we don’t like just to chase a body that isn’t really ours. Essentially, we are being punished for our fat. You only get one life on earth, so why don’t you do stuff you don’t enjoy to make sure everyone else is okay with the way you look?*

Let’s take weight lifting, for instance (something I actually happen to enjoy). Even if it did work to induce long-term weight loss for most people, what if someone hates lifting weights? Resistance training isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But in order to lose weight and maintain the loss, someone is supposed to sacrifice their interests and pretty much all their spare time just to make sure they have time for adequate amounts of weight-loss inducing resistance training (assuming one doesn’t make a living lifting weights, which most of us don’t)? Pfffft, thanks but no thanks.

There is a reason the weight loss industry is hauling in $60 billion a year – it keeps selling the same shoddy product over and over again to the same people (like, all of us) without ever actually working. If there was a way to produce sustainable weight loss that worked for most people, we’d have all figured it out, done it, and eventually the weight loss industry would cease to exist because we’d have all lost weight and kept it off. But we didn’t. And it keeps existing. And this weight-loss mentality is actually doing more harm than good by contributing to body shame, disordered eating and exercising, weight cycling, and even more weight gain for a lot of people.

So then I hear, “Permanent weight loss is hard work and people are just lazy.” First of all, short-term weight loss is no piece of cake either, but most of us who have tried it have lost at least some weight initially. And you know who works hard? Just about everyone. Yep, turns out the world is not full of lazy people. In a world of ever-increasing working hours and people with multiple jobs, we live in a society that is well-acquainted with hard work. Sometimes it’s hard work we don’t even like, but we do it anyway. But somehow we’re just lazy about losing weight permanently even though we’re willing to pay $60 billion a year for it? This is some serious non-logic.

So, no big surprise here, but nope, no one has “cured” fatness yet. Sorrrreeeeee!

The good news is, that doesn’t mean we need to give up on our health. Although they won’t necessarily cause most people to lose weight (yes, they may cause some people to lose weight, just not a statistically significant proportion of people), actual, doable lifestyle changes that support health are much easier to make and sustain compared to what you have to do to induce and sustain weight loss. So why not do the things that are achievable and sustainable, like listening to internal hunger and satiety cues to prevent overeating, adding more fruits or vegetables to our diet to boost our nutrient intake, or finding more ways to move enjoyably?

These things are easy to do in the absence of hunger and deprivation, or misery of doing stuff that you hate that often accompanies weight loss efforts. And while they might not “cure” our fatness (just as nothing has been shown to do), they will make us healthier. And maybe even happier.

*Sarcasm is a sweet, sweet balm.

Your No-Diet Holiday Eating Guide

By Dinner Series (Match Pewter Carving Set auf flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsWith (U.S.) Thanksgiving here and Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Pancha Ganapati/ Dies Natalis Solis Invicti/Saturnalia/Festivus (apologies if I missed yours) right around the corner, we’re about to face a lot of eating events. Start panicking now! Wait, we’re not on diets here. Alright everyone, as you were.

If you are a diet survivor, though, you might still suffer some residual anxiety around holiday season eating. If you’ve been learning to eat intuitively, this will help enormously in taking off the pressure of what can sometimes feel like a two-month-long eat-a-thon. I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, some holiday season dieting reminiscences…

Weight Watchers used to spend a lot of time giving us strategies (for those who bothered to attend during this time; so many dieters recognized the futility of trying to restrict food over the holidays) for dealing with all the delicious food we’d be about to encounter. The underlying message always seemed to be, “Don’t eat the delicious food.” It was all about filling up on “healthy” (aka low cal) food (popcorn, pretzels, apples, carrot sticks) before a party or dinner so you didn’t eat the tantalizing food (as though this could stem the tide of diet-hunger  and food lust that would hit me at parties). Strategies for turning down dessert at Thanksgiving (HUH?!?!), strategies for not taking seconds even if you want them. Strategies like filling your hands with a glass of water and a napkin so you can become a juggler can’t pick up hors d’oeuvres. Basically, strategies to deny yourself what you really want, when you really want it.

All of these seemed silly even to me at the time. Because even on a diet, I knew I would want to eat, would eat, and would want to seem like other people who were eating without restriction or guilt or worry about their weight (because those people still existed at the time)…and on January 2, start all over again with renewed dieting efforts. So yes, I would eat, but not without a gravy boat of weight gain anxiety to carry me through the season.

And inevitably, I would frequently overeat to the point of unpleasantness. Being on a diet made me damn hungry! I was anxious, overate, felt guilty, restrict again, overeat again…you know where I’m going with this. And so I would end up not enjoying these meals half the time anyway. I’ve read enough and talked to enough people now to know this is not uncommon among dieters. Has this happened to you, too?

It’s not like this for me now. This is the time of year I can really hone my intuitive eating skills, listening to those internal body cues that tell me how I need to eat to feel good. Yes, there are more parties, potlucks and big dinners than normal, and yes, occasionally I’ll feel a bit stuffed, but this truly isn’t the mental crisis it used to be.

So what are actual useful strategies for eating during the holiday season? These are the ones that help me:

  1. I can’t say this enough: don’t let yourself starve in preparation for a big meal. You want to have an appetite, yes, but arrive starving? No. If you get too hungry, it will be hard to focus on your stopping point, and chances are you’ll eat till you are uncomfortable. And that’s not fun. Snacks between meals, if you need them, are key to avoiding critical hunger level. I used to “save” my “points” for a week before a big deal meal – all us WW folks did, there was just no way to enjoy ourselves otherwise – and then unleash the hunger beast on the day of. Talk about a nasty food hangover…
  2. Eat the foods you really want. If you know you’ve only got so much room and there are more foods to choose from than you could ever possibly eat, just zero in on whatever it is you want to try most. That might be your favorite foods, or some new things you’ve never tried (or some of both). I get full fast, so I skip fillers like bread or boring crudité that I can’t get excited about in favor foods I normally wouldn’t make at home. What helps with determining foods you really want to eat? Not being overly hungry (see #1).
  3. Know that this isn’t your Last Supper. You’ll be able to eat again, whenever you want. The specter of going hungry later, when I was dieting, was a driving force in my overeating. Yes, I might not be able to have this particular meal later, but I’ll try to have something just as good. And if you can take some leftovers home to eat at a later time? Score! (Note, taking leftovers home might only work around people you know well, not so much at office parties. Though I have also been witness to this.)
  4. Remember it isn’t just all about the food. Even I can admit that Weight Watchers got this one right when they told us that the focus of parties and dinners shouldn’t just be all about the food (hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day). The food really is just a medium through which we share experiences with others. We don’t need to use that to trick us out of eating food though – we just need to remember that connections with others and eating comfortably are both ways to nourish ourselves, physically and emotionally.

None of these tips is about how to avoid food you want to eat. And if you do get too full? Hey, that’s okay too. We’re not aiming for eating perfection. Your body, when it has found a comfortable equilibrium, can handle that once in a while. It might not feel good, but it’s also not the end of the world. You’re still gathering eating experiences to inform how you eat at your next meal so it’s all useful information.

Above all, tolerate no eating guilt! Happy Thanksgiving!

Dietitians Unplugged Podcast – Episode 2: The Science of Weight Loss

Cover2Aaron Flores, RDN and I are back with Episode 2 of Dietitians Unplugged Podcast, in which we talk about why dieting and weight loss don’t work long-term, and the science that backs it up, courtesy of the excellent book Secrets From the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again by Traci Mann, PhD.

Like it? Subscribe here.

Download on Libsyn or on iTunes. Don’t forget to give us a rating on iTunes if you liked it!

 

 

Body Confidence and The Wizard of Oz

ruby slippersI love a good pop culture analogy, and so I was pretty happy when this one popped into my head while I was walking down the hall at work recently. In the voice of Glinda the Good Witch no less!

I wasn’t dressed particularly well, I wasn’t having a great hair day or anything, in fact I’m pretty sure I looked a little meh, but I just felt happy to be alive. And because of that, I was walking tall and I was smiling. If I had to guess, I was probably the picture of easy confidence. People smiled back and said “Hello” as I passed by, and I greeted them in kind. It was a good day.

That’s when it hit me – this must be what confidence feels like. And it surprised me, because this was not something I came by easily when I was younger, thinner, probably cuter. Which is ironic, because isn’t that one of the reasons, or so we are told, that we try to lose weight in the first place? For a long time, I was pretty good at faking confidence. Faking it can be useful – you know the old adage, “Fake it till you make it.” But frankly, in those years, I never quite made it. Maybe because this particular brand of confidence was but a thin veneer over a deep layer of insecurity about my looks and my general worthiness. It was based on others’ approval of my appearance, not my own sense of self-worth.

I’ve always been a bit of an oddball (so my significant likes to remind me of OFTEN, but he means it as a compliment) which was fine until about the age of ten, when I became self-conscious about not quite fitting in. Coupled with becoming aware of apparently being in the “wrong body” – a fat body – well, this was not a recipe for confidence building (as it probably is for no one).

As I made my way through high school, college and early adulthood, although I became less self-conscious about my oddball self as I learned to make the most of my sense of humor, I became increasingly more self-conscious about my shape and weight (especially after my doctor told me, at the age of 15, that I was getting too fat). I did everything I could to deflect notice from my real self: big distracting hair, lots of make-up, clothes that shrouded my body. I was hiding some serious insecurities.

So when I went on a diet and lost weight – my personal adventure to the Land of Oz, where everything was new and shiny but also illusory and threatening – and suddenly had a body that I felt more approximated the mainstream ideal of beauty, I did feel like I was owed a little more confidence. Not that I actually was more confident – but that’s all a part of the deception of Diet Oz.

Here’s why: that confidence was built on a house of cards. I secretly felt I only fit in because I now better approximated the cultural standard of beauty. While I was still me on the inside, I thought people’s attitudes changed toward me because I had gotten smaller, more “normal” looking, and if I ever changed back, I’d lose all that approval that was the basis for my confidence.

And in fact, the “worst” – in my mind – did happen: I eventually gained back all my weight after I had decided I could no longer tolerate the miserable life of dieting I had created for myself. The consequence, for me, of becoming a normal eater was weight gain. At first, I was dismayed at the unraveling of my external image, but committed now to a quality life, nothing in the world would make me go back to dieting. I decided to learn to like and accept my body, however it was going to turn out. In for a penny, in for a pound (or 40), and damned it I was going to go back to feeling bad about myself ever again. That’s when I decided I needed to get the hell back to Kansas.

Remember at the end of The Wizard of Oz, when Glinda the Good Witch says to Dorothy, “You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas…” That’s what I realized, this confidence — this feeling good and okay with being me in my fatter body — was in me all along. I only had to decide on it.

In a world that fosters and profits from our self-doubt of our bodies, it has become more necessary than ever that we believe in ourselves and like our bodies and not rely on others for that validation.

So I clicked my ruby red slippers together (and perhaps this explains my life-long obsession with red shoes), decided on being just fine with me, decided that I was the only approval I needed, and after some serious emotional and intellectual work around this (and, I must add, a soupçon of “Screw you, stupid society standards!”), I arrived at some real confidence (the kind that remains even in the face of a bad hair day).

I am by no means saying any of this was easy. It was not. This journey will be different for everyone, and may be harder for some and easier for others. But I do think it’s worth the trip. And hey, if you can skip that totally futile jaunt through Diet Oz in the first place, even better.

Dorothy got back to Kansas and realized that what she had all along was pretty damn good. It took her a long, dangerous trip through Oz but she figured it out in the end. I learned to feed myself and let my body be what it was going to be, and gained a genuine sense of confidence about my whole self. Because, like Dorothy, I had the power in me all along.

Need some help getting started with body love? Here are some suggestions of places to start:

Buy this book: Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living

Check out fat fashion blogs. This really helped me normalize fat bodies. These are some of my favorites:
Gabifresh
Curvy Canadian
GarnerStyle
Le Blog de Big Beauty
Flaws of Couture
The Curvy Fashionista
Curvy Girl Chic
Life and Style of Jessica Kane
Nadia Aboulhosn
Nicolette Mason
Clothes and Shit
A
nd one for the dudes: Chubstr

These are just the ones I check out. There are SO many more!

HAES® & Weight Loss: Signs You’re Not Getting It

HAES graphicHealth at Every Size® seems pretty straightforward to me, but then I forget that it took me at least two months of sitting in a nutrition class taught by Dr. Linda Bacon herself for me to really and truly understand and accept HAES®. So I do try to cut some slack to others who are completely new to the concept, especially when they are coming from a weight loss mentality. But having only so much slack to give, I have witnessed some pretty egregious attempts at weight loss folks trying to co-opt the non-diet message of HAES® for weight loss purposes and I need to say something about it. Because that is NOT okay.

I’ll give you some examples of what I’m talking about in a minute, but first, to review, this is what HAES® is:

  1. Weight Inclusivity: Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.
  2. Health Enhancement: Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.
  3. Respectful Care: Acknowledge our biases, and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequities.
  4. Eating for Well-being: Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.
  5. Life-Enhancing Movement: Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.

What all this boils down to is the pursuit of health without a focus on weight as the outcome. And what that means is, you don’t use HAES® to aid in weight loss. Why? Because this has never been shown to be a reliable, significant outcome of HAES®, and because once you start focusing on weight, you’re going to develop a messed up relationship to food, exercise and other self-care behaviors.

Here’s an example of how that messed-upness can happen: Say you’ve made some positive changes in your eating habits, like you’re no longer over-eating past the point of fullness by letting your internal hunger and satiety cues guide your eating, and you’ve managed to increase your vegetable servings per day while still enjoying your overall diet. You happen to notice that you lost a few pounds (maybe because you’re still having a hard time giving up the scale). You think, “Wow, I like that!” but after another week of improved eating habits, your weight doesn’t change. You’ve become weight-focused again though, so you think that maybe if you just start eating a little less than what satisfies you, and you double your vegetables (and eat them without butter), you could lose a few more pounds. Except that after a few weeks of this new weight-focused behavior change, you’ve lost sight of your satiety point and are overeating more frequently because the extra vegetables don’t really satisfy you for very long and they weren’t want you wanted to eat. Basically, you’ve put yourself back on a diet, and you are really no longer in charge of your eating, you’re just trying to control it. On top of that, your weight might not even be doing what you want it to, and especially not long-term.

Yeah, Glenys, we got it, you’re saying, HAES® is not about losing weight (although we know that can happen as a side effect; as can weight gain), it’s about good health habits and self-care independent of weight.

I know you, dear readers, are totally getting it. But lately I’ve run into some situations where folks clearly aren’t getting it.

The first time I saw this in action was last year. Some psychologists at my workplace wanted to start a weight loss program for the particular patient population we work with. Our workplace already has a weight loss program (with which I am not involved), so I suggested a weight-neutral HAES® approach instead and explained how that worked and why it might be beneficial. A big meeting was held with the weight loss program folks and the people from my unit, and at one point, a well-meaning person said, “We can combine the principles of HAES® into the weight loss program.”

My ears pricked up. “Uh, no we can’t.” Eloquent under pressure as always, I am!

“Sure we can!” said everyone but me. And that is when I had to explain — because obviously, they weren’t getting it — that weight loss and HAES® did not hang out in the same circles for a reason They might not have gotten it even after my spiel, but at least I stopped HAES® from being corrupted (this time!) and maybe even planted some seeds for later germination (kudos to the psychologists, though, they were all over this. They are all about body positivity).

In another instance of mass HAES® confusion, a friend of mine told me recently how HAES® was being used in the pre- and post- treatment of bariatric surgery patients to help them not focus on the scale and develop a better body image. My head nearly fell off when I heard this. This is a surgery that is done primarily to induce weight loss in people (some health professionals will tell you there are other medical reasons, and there are, but ask the surgical candidate how she’d feel about having the surgery and not losing weight) . Telling them to then not diet and not focus on weight loss is completely counterproductive to the goals of that surgery. Maybe these health professionals don’t really understand that there’s no reliable way (as shown by all the scientific evidence on this) to not diet and also to lose significant weight (and keep it off) at the same time.

And in the end, if weight loss is not achieved or maintained, that surgery is probably considered a failure (oh wait, that’s right, the weight loss intervention is never considered a failure; it’s the person who is the failure); and I’m guessing that the person who had the perfectly healthy organs amputated or rearranged in the name of weight loss will be pretty disappointed, too. For that reason, the use of HAES® as part of bariatric surgery treatment is not only a corruption of its non-diet, non-weight focused principles, it’s also unfair to the surgery recipient. The Association for Size Diversity and Health registered the term HAES® to protect it against corruption and co-opting by the weight loss industry, and now we can see why.

I know HAES® is new and strange and controversial (despite being completely evidence-based) to most people, and those working in weight loss are going to be especially resistant because their livelihood depends on their ability to sell weight loss. Even those who don’t diet start out skeptical because we’re so used to being spoon-fed the usual dreck about how long-term weight loss is possible and how weight=health etc. etc. blah blah blah.

But if you’re only going to get one thing out of learning about HAES®, let it be this: HAES® is not used for weight loss. Weight loss does not figure into the philosophy of HAES. Those twains? Never shall they meet.

Nobody has to accept HAES®. Nobody is obligated to follow any particular health philosophy or plan if they don’t want to. It’s here if you want it, and it’s pretty much free. But just know that if you are looking for weight loss, and you also want to practice Health at Every Size®, you might not be getting it.

To Eat Meat or to Not Eat Meat: You Still Die Anyway

Damn good street meat.
Damn good street meat.

Hey guys! I’m a little late with the blog this week because I was in NYC this weekend, which, among many other awesome things, may be the official home of the street meat! And here I am, eating a hot dog on the steps of The Met. Sooo New Yorky!

But obviously this hot dog is deadly! Why? Because, as we have all heard by now from the soon-to-be-published report by the World Health Organization (WHO), processed meat will give us cancer and kill us, KILL US DEAD! Everyone panic NOW!

If you haven’t guessed, I’m being a little facetious. The WHO report, while definitely interesting, is also an example of science reporting gone a little bad. The WHO has now categorized processed meats (anything salted, cured, or smoked) as “carcinogenic to humans.” While this is the same category that contains asbestos and smoking, the WHO was careful to point out that this did not mean processed meats are equally as dangerous as those other things. You know, just to make it really confusing.

So let’s break it down to see what kind of danger we’re looking at. First, the WHO estimates that deaths from diets high in processed meats contribute to 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide, out of 8.2 million total cancer deaths worldwide (2012 data). That’s 0.4% of cancer deaths attributed to diets high in processed meats (which obviously is different than diets that occasionally include processed meats). That’s less than 1 percent!

Secondly, the WHO estimates a diet high in processed meats (50 g of processed meat daily) can increase your risk of colon cancer by 18%. Yikes! But wait, the article said that our initial risk of that type of cancer is already pretty low. It didn’t say how low, so I looked it up on the CDC website and found some numbers. So, for example, if you are 50 years old, your 10 year risk of getting colon cancer is 0.68% (note, this goes up as age increases). An 18% increased risk would then give you a 0.8% risk — mind you, this is if you have a diet that is high in processed meats. Meaning at least two servings a day of processed meats (the article’s example was two slices of ham weighing 50 g or ~2 oz daily). So no matter what, your overall risk factor is pretty low (if you have a family history, I’m guessing your risk factor will increase).

I’m not saying all this to convince you that a diet high in processed meats is good for you and to start pounding SPAM on a daily basis. We’ve all known for years that large quantities of processed meats are probably not good for us – now we just have some useful data. What I’m saying is that there really doesn’t seem to be a need to panic and forego all your favorite “fun” foods forevermore.  I do think this is important information, but I have seen firsthand how some (many) people react to this kind of advice: by immediately restricting or eliminating foods, sometimes to the point where there is nothing left for them to enjoy. While we can always use good nutritional guidance, we really don’t need more food fear.

So while processed meats are not exactly “health foods” by any definition, like so many other past demonized foods (sugar, salt, read meat, white carbs, coffee, fat, fruit, everything), if you like it, eating it now and again within a balanced diet probably isn’t going to shorten your life significantly. Is eating a diet heavy in processed meats every day good for you? No, of course not, but that is not a diet in balance. If you find yourself eating a monotonous diet of the same foods every single day, you’re going to miss out on some important stuff (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals we probably don’t even know the names of yet). Variety and balance are key. Joanne Arena MS, RD offers some wonderful advice here on how to balance your diet while still including your favorite processed meats.

Working in a hospital, I’ve met all sorts of eaters. Some have been very strict, “healthy” eaters. Others ate a lifetime diet high in overly refined foods and not enough fruits and vegetables (the things you learn about people as a dietitian!). Both types of eaters had something in common: they were sick with something in the hospital. Poor health can still happen to anyone regardless of how vigilant we are. Of course we want to reduce our risk of getting sick as much as we can, and that includes trying to eat a healthy balanced diet, but there is really no way to ensure complete elimination of disease risk. And we still need to enjoy our diets.

One of my patients early in my career had been a lovely lady who said she normally ate a diet of only whole, organic foods. I apologized that she was not going to get an organic diet during her hospital stay. It didn’t matter, she said, as she couldn’t hold any food down anyway. It turned out her small bowel obstruction was from a tumor in her colon that had metastasized and was, at this point, incurable. She had spent her life eating fresh, whole foods, but she got sick and was going to die anyway. I always hoped that she had enjoyed that diet while she was on it and had not only done it for disease prevention.

I’m not trying to dissuade you from eating as healthfully as you can, because we do have good data that a balanced diet high in a variety of fresh foods  and lots of fruits and vegetables can help us reduce our risk of many diseases (and tastes yummy!). What I am telling you is that we are not 100% in control of our health, that poor health can happen to anyone, none of us escapes death, and that if a hot dog or pepperoni on your pizza makes you happy, you shouldn’t be terrified to enjoy it once in a while. The key is balance and variety, not elimination!

Check it out: Dietitians Unplugged Podcast!

Haven’t heard our first episode yet? Check it out on Libsyn or iTunes!

Episode 2 coming soon!