Monday, July 19, 2010

My Diet is a Delight, not Deprivation: On Lightening Up and Living a Little

As most of my vast legion of 10 blog followers already know, yet I have not blogged about, I joyously follow a certain diet, called The GenoType Diet, by Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo. It, and it’s predecessor, The Blood Type Diet, have helped me tremendously and I’ve been meaning to blog about my diet journey, but haven’t had the requisite combination of internet access and time. I plan to do it at some point, but meanwhile I now want to talk about something specific regarding my diet, so I hope readers who are unfamiliar with the diet and/or with me and my personal diet journey will be able to understand what I’m talking about anyway. You don’t have to be on one of Dr. D’Adamo’s diets to get what I’m going to talk about; it really applies to any healthy, joyous diet that one chooses to adhere to. Here goes:

There is something that many folks, who aren’t on one of Dr. D’Adamo’s highly individualized diets, don’t get. Well-meaning people are forever gently encouraging me to have a piece of birthday cake, or “go off my diet” in some other way. I’m talking about all the poor folk in this world who have not experienced the wonder of what the Dr. D’Adamo diets (The Blood Type Diet, The GenoType Diet, or SWAMI) do for a body. They associate “diet” and “dieting” with deprivation and rigidity. In fact, there is an active discussion thread on Dr. D’Adamo’s message board (see link to his site under my “Mint-Worthy Links”) right now on “orthorexia”, and perhaps, along that sort of vein, some folks mistakenly think anyone who consistently sticks to any certain diet (such as I do) is being too rigid and thus not enjoying life. I mean, what other explanation could there be for turning down birthday cake at office party after office party? Obviously I am in serious need of living a little! But they don’t get it! I don’t want to go off my diet! And it isn’t due to rigidity, it is due to loving being strong, deeply nourished, satisfied, in balance, steady and healthy. What they don’t get is: this diet is abundance. It is going off it that is deprivation to me!

This is the reverse of most diets. Most diets are associated with giving up things you love. But on the GenoType Diet, I love all the foods I’m encouraged to eat. I naturally gravitate to them, which makes sense in light of the diet’s theory that I was designed to thrive on these foods. When you are eating as nature intended for you to eat, you are satisfied, nourished and in balance. Therefore, you don’t crave junk food “quick fixes” for your blood sugar, serotonin level, etc., as you might (and I do) when you are out of balance, deprived in some way(s) and hungry for something(s). Why on earth would I want to throw myself out of this precious place of balance that I’ve worked so hard to reach? It took me years and much trial and error to figure out how to get here, and I LOVE being here, so why would I want to jettison myself out of this long-elusive Brigadoon? I wouldn’t, I don’t! So thanks but no thanks, I honestly don’t want that piece of birthday cake, with the inflammatory wheat and the blood-sugar-spiking-then-crashing corn syrup. I don’t want the hydrogenated transfats and the artificial flavorings and colorings. It is not a “treat” for me in any way. My treat is every naturally colorful, life-filled, gorgeous, delicious, satisfying bite of healthy food that I eat in my diet every day! And no, the fact that I’m highly compliant on my diet does not mean that I, by definition, have “orthorexia."  I’m not rigidly compliant on the diet. I’m joyously compliant on the diet. The foods that are recommended for me are a joy to eat, and I also joyously and with much gusto eat some things that are not recommended for me, such as some dairy products, some organic mayo (without mayo, what is the point of life, pray tell?), etc. But the “biggies”, the avoids that I’ve learned through experience are truly dangerous to me being in balance, steady, strong and not ruled by carbohydrate cravings, those I am very, very strict about avoiding. Is this due to “orthorexia”, i.e., being overly rigid on a diet? Hell no, it is due to having worked my butt off (literally) to jettison the cravings and feel steady and in balance, and, oh, by the way, to lose 76 pounds, and to wanting to continue being good to myself, to continue empowering myself and powering myself towards better and better health. Choosing health is a healthy impulse! And it’s a joyous, delicious, satisfying impulse. Again, here’s what a lot of people don’t understand, as they associate consistent compliance on any “diet” as equaling “deprivation”: this diet, and any diet that is truly healthy for the particular individual following it, is not deprivation, it is abundance, it is joy, it is strength, it is balance, it is healthy.  If your diet makes you feel deprived, it is not the right diet for you.  The right diet will feel right, you will be satisfied and glad and every meal will be a celebration of life.

My family arrives this week from out of state, as they do every summer, for a visit which this year will be of one week’s duration. While it is a sacred, wonderful blessing to have and to see family, it is also stressful for me on several levels, one major one being that we eat out virtually every meal while they're here and I end up in all manner of wheat and corn syrup dispensaries that I never normally frequent. Even though I’m actually not strict with dietary compliance in many ways, the two things that I am extremely compliant on are wheat and corn. And, unfortunately, those are the exact two items that our society is hell bent on sneaking into every food possible, especially in restaurants, so one almost HAS to be rigid, or “orthorexic”, to use that inherently pejorative term, in order to avoid what I, for one, consider to be toxic substances for me. Yet is it some sort of diagnosable disease to choose not to poison oneself? Is it some sort of rigid obsessiveness to avoid known toxins that set in motion a chain of biochemical events in some of our bodies that are akin to what happens if an alcoholic takes that first drink? No one in this day and age would think of urging an alcoholic to “lighten up” and “just have one drink, one drink won’t kill you!” Well, no, one drink won’t kill an alcoholic and one piece of cake, or bag of chips, or whatever the “trigger” food may be won’t kill a food addict, either...but it could and often DOES set in motion a chain of biochemical events that ultimately will kill us, not to be too dramatic about it. It’s just the truth: one drink can and predictably often DOES trigger an alcoholic to drink more and throw them out of sobriety into active alcoholism. Serious stuff. Well it is the exact same thing for a “food addict”, or someone with sensitivities to certain foods, a “carb addict”, or whatever you want to call people like me. So is it “orthorexic”, namely, pathological, to make the healthy choice to avoid something that is poisonous to you, that threatens your "food sobriety"? I submit to you that, by definition, choosing health is NOT a pathology!

I’m a child of an alcoholic family, I know what alcoholism is, up close and personal. I know what addiction is. And I know what my response to certain foods is and what my patterns are, as I’ve now had many years of observing, experiencing and dismaying over my own particular patterns, and I can tell you that a “food addict” is no different from an alcoholic or drug addict, at least, many of us aren’t. Many of us are hard-wired to be biochemically sensitive to certain foods and those certain foods (like wheat and corn syrup) will throw us out of balance and into a whole world of being controlled by carb cravings. And those trigger foods are ubiquitous in our food supply, so is it “obsessive”, if after having learned through many years of hard-won experience, what works and what can threaten that for you, to strictly avoid those threatening trigger foods if you know the serious problems they will cause you, or is it a healthy thing? Answer Key: it is a very, very healthy thing, and don’t let anyone ever tell you anything different!

Why would I EVER willingly choose to threaten my “food sobriety”—the aforementioned place of balance and health—any more than an alcoholic or drug addict would choose to “lighten up” and have just one drink, or just one nostalgic fling with their drug of choice? It’s not worth it!!! The old gray mare (a.k.a., a bag of potato chips and some sour cream dip), she ain’t what she used to be. The thrill is gone! I choose health. Choosing health is the way I “lighten up”. Choosing health is the way I live a little.