With Love and Gratitude

A blessing a day keeps the doc away

From YoYo Diets and Dieters' Bra to Bill Clinton’s Vegan Way

No diet is one size fits all; each of us must find a solution that works.

Our mother loved when physicians would say to her, “You are not really 90 are you?”  She would answer, “Doctor, it’s because I still cook greens and beans. No canned foods. We eat all fresh vegetables.”  Never mind that she was no longer cooking or remembering if she even had lunch, she remembered her way of life, her father's garden. Had we adhered to the foods prepared by our mother, instead of being seduced by our father’s "chocolates for breakfast" philosophy, I may not have spent my life with millions of others on yoyo diets buying exercise equipment which could easily become part of a national museum.

I love food and our mother's father had a pastry shop. Somewhere in my mind I think I believed that heaven was a house full of cannolis. Having tried everything to stay trim, I decided that I looked better slightly plump -- that slippery slope to overweight. It was seeing the dramatic change in the appearance of Bill Clinton that I began to take a plant-based diet more seriously, but not seriously enough.

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The smart bra for weight conscious women

As with so many women, I am an emotional eater. While initially excited to learn about this bra, which sends a signal to one's smart phone saying something such as, "You are not really hungry" it does have a major drawback. Unless it also snaps shut my mouth, it will not help me at all. Microsoft's new smart bra stops you from emotionally overeating.

My daughter-in-law nearly saved me by putting me on Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself  when I was in Vermont visiting. But once I was back home and found a million excuses for falling off the program, the pounds kept slipping back on. Nonetheless, she half-trained me to going back to healthy eating. However, even healthy food has calories, especially when eating too many of them.

Back to the earth despite the fiery controversy

There is something romantic about going back to the earth which is why I have been a vegetarian for years. It started sometime when we were called "the crunchy granolas" although I was never one for making my own shampoos and herbal based-medicinal remedies.

Nonetheless, the concept of plant-based is sensible and responsible. (The bowl of vegetables on my table was from my neighbor's garden.) Sadly it seems that the world of good food and healthy eating has just become embroiled in a trademark controversy. Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar began writing about fire cider in the 1970's as a home recipe to fight colds and flu.

The Huffington Post asked in December 2013: Can Fire Cider Really Cure Our Colds? (PHOTO) noting: "Fire Cider is one of those grandma-style cold and hangover remedies that is designed to be one part soothing, one part refreshing and one part BURNING-IT-OUT-OF-YOU."

By January it seems that a company came along and slapped a trademark onto the name so that fire cider is now officially to be called Fire Cider®. But that is another story best told by an upstate New York herbalist in A Fiery Perspective.

The psychology of food and why we can’t keep the weight off

In Psychology Today, Susan Albers, Psy.D., who specializes in eating issues and weight loss, wrote: Forks Over Knives: Could This Movie Save Your Life? She noted:

I'm officially adding another movie to my list of films that can help you to become a more mindful eater . . .. In a nutshell, Forks Over Knives is about two doctors, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn, who are advocating a plant based diet (similar to vegan). Whether you agree or totally disagree with the message of this movie, it may get you to start thinking critically about what you eat and how it impacts your health.

 

We know all what we should do, but what is the problem?

First off it helps to identify what makes us overeat -- oftentimes stress is the culprit and Dr. Greenberg points to "the  four major reasons stress leads to weight gain and four great research-based coping strategies you can use to fight back" in Why We Gain Weight When We’re Stressed—And How Not To by Melanie A. Greenberg, Ph.D,

Just look at reasons we so often hear as to why we needed just one more bowl of macaroni and cheese:

  • My boss made me angry and I had a terrible day at work.
  • I had a fight with my husband.
  • My children just won't listen. I am so frustrated.
  • It was Saturday night and I was home alone.
  • I just don’t feel good about myself and food comforts me.

Keep on adding to the list. 

What is the solution?


Each of us must find a solution that works. Some of what I am finding helpful includes:

  • Keeping a daily food diary
  • Using a pedometer that measures steps.
  • Avoiding midnight snacks.
  • Walking. Walking. Walking.

Exercise and mindful eating

Basically I am an exercise flunk out.  Yes, I can easily relate to Are You Too Embarrassed to Exercise? by Barbara Markway, Ph.D. on these pages. When I went to my last yoga class with a neighbor we were in Beacon Hill. Of the eight women in the class six were either size zero or size two.  We were each a size 12.  We lasted about two sessions and never again put on anything resembling a leotard or form fitting yoga pants.

But I am not giving up.  This time I am combining my daughter-in-law Ruthy’s recipes with my physician’s suggestion: Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life: Thich Nhat Hanh, Lilian Cheung.

Essentially healthy eating is about a way of life that our mother advocated her entire life.  And she was right. That said, our dad would be pleased to see that chocolate no long gets a bad rap.

Copyright 2014 Rita Watson

Rita Watson, MPH, is an Associate Fellow at Yale's Ezra Stiles College and a columnist for The Providence Journal.

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