When Other People Diet

When I learn that family, friends, or passing acquaintances are trying to lose weight, I know I am about to be educated, again. I involuntarily receive all kinds of information about foods I eat and don’t eat. Information such as calorie counts, amount of fat, and grams of carbohydrates. Fiber and gluten are also brought to my attention. Everything — on my plate, in my refrigerator, at the grocery store — suddenly develops a dietary sub-text. This is very helpful because, being I am rarely on a diet, I forget that the light cream I put in my coffee has four times the fat of 2% reduced-fat milk, and that packaged gravy mixes have practically no calories (because they are made from unpronounceable chemicals). Sometimes, I am treated to a new recipe for a low-cal, low-fat but tasty entree or dessert, often using low-cal, low-fat, tasty ingredients I don’t have in my pantry.

plate of diet foodOther people’s diets also make me wonder about myself, if I am being inattentive or blasé about my own food choices. I eat for pleasure. I like food that looks good, smells good, and tastes good. Colorful food with interesting textures and rich flavor — like silky mangoes and avocados, crisp vegetables, al dente pasta, crusty bread, salted nuts, roasted meats. When I read a package label, I skip the “Nutrition Facts” rap sheet and just look for words I recognize as real food. I am delighted with the peanut butter I recently bought. It has only two ingredients: peanuts and salt. I eat it often although 75% of the calories come from fat.

But, the strangest thing that happens when other people diet is I gain weight! I am not aware of any scientific studies about this phenomenon and I do not know if it is common. I do know it happens to me. If someone says, this bowl of cereal has only 100 calories, it’s like my same bowl of cereal now has 100 more. As they lose 5, 7, 10 pounds, I think I find some of it. My butt looks bigger, my pants feel tighter. It might just be my imagination but, more likely, this hyper-focus on food makes me hungry and I wind up eating more. I recognize this possibility. As I watch my friend unwrap her half-sandwich on skinny bread with a lonely slice of turkey, one tsp. of reduced-fat mayo, and a few lettuce leaves, I think I’ll order the bacon cheeseburger with guacamole. I don’t even feel guilty. Just fat and blasé.

4 thoughts on “When Other People Diet

  1. ramposte March 29, 2014 / 11:37 pm

    Focusing on food isn’t the answer. Even fixating on food as a result of friends informing you–once again–about their latest diet. Try reading Deepak Chopra’s “What Are You Hungry For?: The Chopra Solution to Permanent Weight Loss, Well-Being, and Lightness of Soul.” That’s about the reason you eat too much in the first place. Focusing on food is stressful–which makes you eat!

    • accidental goddess March 31, 2014 / 4:30 pm

      Great suggestion. I respect Deepak Chopra. He is always inspiring…even for those of us who are seeking less fuss about food rather than permanent weight loss.

  2. Kelley Greeson March 31, 2014 / 3:54 am

    Ironically, you are neither fat nor blasé about anything, Goddess. I enjoyed your post, though. Your first paragraph cracked me up. Love your humor.

    I discovered yesterday that Krispy Kreme makes a new caramel mocha doughnut that’s delicious. Instead of skipping this little bit of heaven, I’m trying to pace myself and have just half at a time. It works better for me than skipping foods altogether. I don’t even want to know its nutrition information.

    • accidental goddess March 31, 2014 / 4:37 pm

      Lucky me. Having worked 2 years for a company that made donut mixes for Dunkin, I am immune to the Krispy Kreme temptation. Walking through the test kitchen and seeing the solid white shortening in the fryer every day cured me.

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