posted by meowser
My XH has a rare genetic disease, one that caused him to overstore iron in his body until it damaged his liver and pancreas to the point where he contracted both diabetes and cirrhosis by his early 30s. During the course of his initial treatment, he was also given a diet sheet. Guess what was the number one thing was on the list that they told him was a must to avoid? Leafy green vegetables. Yes, that’s right. He has to stay away from spinach and all forms of lettuce like they’re poison ivy. Poor guy.
Similarly, my adventures in processing medical dictation have told me that it’s very, very common for people older than 70 to be on a drug known as warfarin (trade name Coumadin). This is a powerful blood thinner often prescribed to patients with a history of circulatory disorders (particularly heart attacks and strokes, but also precursors like transient ischemic attacks and angina). They, too, are given a diet sheet along with the drug that instructs them to avoid leafy greens, which thicken the blood.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are pounded day and night, night and day, to cram our gullets full of leafy greens like we’re stuffing a pillowcase with batting, whether we want to or not. I am skeptical. If we’re going to have to run screaming in the opposite direction from greens once we hit our 70s, why not get some practice in now?
I kid, of course. I like spinach and leafy greens here and there. But I’m not going to force myself to eat more of them than I actually want to. What’s the point?
Like I said yesterday, there really is no magic formula for eating HAES-style, there is only what makes YOU feel and function YOUR best, and it can take some trial and error (and in some cases, working with a support group or a good therapist) to find it. I’ve seen people ask things like, “Well, a lot of the time I want three pieces of pie, are you going to tell me that’s actually good for me?”
Well, you know, there’s really no standard answer for that. I’d answer that question with another question: “How do you feel after eating three pieces of pie? I mean, putting aside all the ZOMGLOOKATALLTHESECALORIESCARBSANDFATIAMSUCHAPIG guiltbaggery, how do you feel right afterwards, and how do you feel an hour or two or later the same day? Relaxed and happy? Ready to take on the world? Pleasantly full? Completely comatose and unable to honor your commitments? Sick to your stomach? Like the most brilliant and capable human being who ever lived?” None of those answers are any “better” or “righter” than any others. But one of them (or maybe one I haven’t thought of here) is YOUR truth.
I don’t know about you, but I find that for me, there’s a world of difference between eating a big meal or a big dessert when I’m doing the restrained eating thing and when I’m not. If I’m not, a huge amount of food will make me want to eat less later on, just because I’m really really full and don’t want any (or much) more. If I am in fact dieting, which I haven’t in a very long time, “indulging” will open the floodgates for more and more and more and I’m likely to eat myself sick. My theory is that a lot of what makes people want to binge is the very idea that it’s bad and they’re not supposed to. If you can break that connection and come to consider all eating to be a morally neutral act, that’s a major milestone.
And I’ll go out on a limb here and posit that typically, if a certain food or a certain combination of foods or a certain amount of food makes us feel kinda garbagey, we tend not to indulge in exactly the same way again, at least until our lizard brains manage to commit that association to memory (hey, sometimes it takes a few tries before you realize that eating mushroom and cheddar omelets and washing them down with soy chai will make you fart noxiously all day). I’m not telling you that if you’re diabetic or have celiac disease that you should eat three pieces of pie. You know better than to intentionally do something that’s going to send you to the hospital, right? But if there’s no medical reason to avoid a certain food, or not to eat your fill (and no, simply being fat is not a medical reason), why not look at yourself as a great science experiment and find out (or simply acknowledge) what you really crave, what your Hi-Test fuel really is? The answer might surprise you.