Saturday, April 30, 2016

Good Gravy: The Impact of Dieting

A conversation today turned to diets, and it wasn’t long before the word “guilt” came into play.

Food is a never-ending quagmire for diabetics.  We're coached on the proper foods to eat and shown plastic food to demonstrate appropriate portion sizes at the same time we are cautioned with vivid examples of the consequences that follow non-adherence to restrictions.  We think through every meal, consider every bite. 

We compare what we eat to what’s in the diet plans, consider what our specialists would say about the pizza we had for supper, and wish it was as easy as it seems to be for our extreme-health friends and people in the media.  We get referred to the dietitian over an over not because we don’t know what we should be eating, you know, all the time, but because our docs aren’t quite sure how else to change our behavior in response to high A1Cs. 

What we don’t acknowledge often enough is that it is asking a lot.  I wish we were more cognizant of our strengths: that we may not always say no to sweets or yes to exercise, but we’re human and doing the best we can while faced with unending demands.  We are asked to do what everyone should be doing—eating mindfully and focusing on healthy foods—but for the rest of our lives and without fail.  There’s a study that covered the psychological impact of a restrictive diet on otherwise healthy guys that validates that point: it takes a lot to cut back on calories, even more so in today’s food-soaked culture.

So please:

  •  Give yourself more credit. 
  •  Forgive yourself for past mistakes.
  •  Keep trying.

They say diets fail because people cheat and then assume all is lost.  It’s not.  Keep going.

We can't let the guilt narrative repeat in our heads, the one that says you failed; you could've done better.  I’m still trying to shake an addiction to chicken nuggets, but for now I’m appreciating how far I’ve come.