Sunday, February 12, 2012
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” - Reinhold Niebuhr
Losing weight takes courage. It requires change--change to one’s lifestyle and attitude. Most people don’t lose weight because they aren’t prepared to make the critical changes in their lives. I know because I find myself increasingly engaged in conversations about what it takes to be healthy. My wife tells me if I keep it up, no one will invite us to meals anymore. She’s probably right, but the more I learn, and I very much try to keep learning, about why it is so difficult for people to lose weight and eat healthy, the clearer the solution becomes to me.
The problem is the concept of moderation. In virtually every other facet of life, moderation wins the day. It is a golden rule. But I believe the exception is food. Scientists now know that food for many may be an addiction of sorts. However, pundits explain that unlike alcohol and drug addictions, one cannot avoid food. But that misses the point. Food addictions typically do not include spinach, kale, and berries. Addictions revolve around white sugar and flour. Around cakes, ice cream, and milk chocolate. When it comes to these items, they should be completely avoided. At least 8 different hormones, leptin, cholecystokinin, adiponectin among them to name a few, try to stop one from losing weight. With the body always trying to restore a setpoint weight, the concept of moderation doesn’t work. It’s a slippery sliding slope and you just keep sliding. Ask almost anybody. Even if you lose the weight, with “moderation” it almost always comes back.
Let me ask you a question. If I told you that I could give you something that tastes great, but in 30 years was likely to cause blindness, destroy your kidneys and possibly result in your toes being amputated, would you eat it? How about if I told you that sometimes it tasted even better but it was rat poison? Again, would you eat it? I pose that question to my audiences and they unanimously always answer in unison “No.” Yet, that is basically what white sugar does to you. I have trained myself to look at sugar as rat poison and so avoiding it has become relatively easy for me. Try to do the same. Next time you see something made with white sugar, picture the bag it came from with the words “Rat Poison” scrawled across it with the accompanying skull and crossbones.
My wife and I get invited out to many weekend lunches and dinners. Inevitably, some pie, cake, cookies or other tempting dessert is presented. Every time I am confronted by such temptation, I simply do a quick cost-benefit analysis in my head. I ask myself what benefit will I gain from eating it at what cost? I think about the 7 out of 10 Americans that die each year from the chronic diseases caused by these foods and I say no. I think about the ravages of diabetes, the pain and suffering attributable to heart disease and stroke, and the terrifying diagnosis of cancer. I believe in G-d and know that we can’t control everything, but when I think I can, I muster the courage to make a change.
You too can find that courage. I want to help. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.