From high carbs to low carbs and paleo to zone, the dieting world is a constantly changing one with a willing audience. It’s all part of our collective obsession with looking our best for as long as possible. Sadly this notion of “best” is defined by unrealistic and at worst fictional images we’re bombarded with via popular culture.
Women are especially susceptible to jumping on the bandwagon. This isn’t surprising given that historically we’ve been judged more rigorously on physical appearance. None of this is new.
While I could sometimes do with a little less flesh and cleavage from younger females accosting me when I hit the shops, I applaud their confidence in wearing what they like, when they like. You go girls!
I went to an all girls’ school during the 1980’s and although it wasn’t talked about, eating disorders/unhealthy eating habits were common. It makes me really sad to think about the time consumed with obsessing about what went into our mouths. I did the bread and water diet for three months at one stage convinced it would rid me of my thunder thighs and cankles. It didn’t of course. In return, I felt grouchy, tired and hungry. When I did have a normal eating day, I’d binge and feel even worse.
By the time you’ve hit your forties and possibly had children, most of us get a bit more comfortable in our skins. I look back at photos of my younger self and wonder what I was worried about. But that’s the thing with eating disorders, victims don’t see themselves as others do. And that’s probably because as a society, we place too much value on outward appearances and not nearly enough on inner qualities and strengths.
Instead of dieting, the focus should be on healthy lifestyles. Reading Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat was an eye opener (along with Naomi Wolfe’s The Beauty Myth) for me. According to Guiliano, there’s nothing wrong with wine, chocolate and cheese. The trick is to enjoy these things regularly in moderation and counter that with an active lifestyle. Guiliano suggests the following:
- Eating high-quality food in small portions.
- Prizing quality over quantity in the foods you choose.
- Savoring each bite you take.
- Walking for exercise and doing weight training.
- Eating three meals a day at regular times.
- Breathing properly.
- Keeping good posture.
The zig zag approach to healthy eating also resonates with me. It suggests alternating between zig meals (with high nutrient foods and no alcohol) and zag meals (where the focus is more on relaxing). Zag meals are part of a healthy and connected lifestyle. This means if you stay for work drinks and nibbles or grab hot chips at the rugby, you don’t need to feel bad. If you’re only doing this once or twice a week, that’s only 2/21 meals you’ve zagged.
Seems like a good recipe for health and happiness to me!