Saturday, March 24, 2007

Dieting indefinitely

Getting patients to diet is an uphill battle. They may be sitting there unable to breath from sleep apnea, unable to move without pain from osteoarthritis, unable to take care of themselves because they plain can’t reach the necessary parts of their body, but some will munch their donuts as they shake their chubby fists and threaten to leave the hospital against medical advice if you restrict their calories.

The more compliant bunch will go ahead and accept the restrictions. At first. But after a few weeks… or a few months… or a few years… they typically go back to the habits that brought them to their state of obesity/cardiac disease/high cholesterol/etc. in the first place.

It takes an unusual amount of resolve and determination to continue denying yourself for a lifetime what you crave but know will not be for your good. Bodies are hard wired to reinforce eating high calorie foods, and it’s a relatively recent evolutionary paradox that there’s enough food around for people to kill themselves with it. Knowing that polishing off a dozen fresh baked cookies is really not going to be good for you—despite that the warm gooey chocolate chips perpetually argue otherwise—doesn’t assure doing the right thing. It’s a bit daunting to imagine that graph that shows people dropping out of their diet compliance—giving in—one by one over the months and years until only a fraction remain.

What does it take to be someone who can persist in choosing mind over body for a lifetime?

12 comments:

Beck said...

I assume you're being rhetorical here, and that the similar analogy to dieting indefinitely when it comes to gay sex is implied.

I've been "undeniably wired" as some define it, to desire and have gay sex. It is "the way my body is made". And yet I don't. I'm always on a diet - indefinitely, because ultimately it is "good for me". Just as that plate full of soft and hot fresh chocolate chip cookies are delectable and delicious, but ultimately bad for me, so, then, is gay sex, even as delectable and delicious it may be and is...

Can such an argument be implied?

-L- said...

:-)

But you never answered the question...

Beck said...

The answer is: It takes a certifiably crazy, duplicitously conflicted, non-authenticated, self-depreciating, compulsively dedicated, dangerously disciplined and value-driven, naively innocent, yet middle-aged man in absolute denial of what some call his "wired destiny" to diet indefinitely with mind over what his body desires.

Thanks for pulling it out of me, L. :-)

iwonder said...

I have no idea - I am trying to discover that selfsame answer myself. Do you know?

Beck said...

And yes, by the way, it can be done...

Some may argue, at what price? Or with what consequence? I guess that depends on whether one considers such denial as "healthy" or not.

Marmoreal said...

what does it take? - focus - remembering what you want most instead of allowing yourself to be consumed by what you want now (that's paraphrased from somewhere). However, if you haven't REALLY decided that good health is what you want most than forget about ever being able to stick to a "diet".

playasinmar said...

Blast! I missed the analogy completely. I am easily distracted, it would seem.

It's probably to late to join this conversation so I'll just go find something to eat. I am so hungry, right now.

Foxx said...

It takes someone who can distinguish between the greater, overarching goals and the day-to-day cravings and desires, and then decide whether they are congruent, and, if they're not, make the necessary adjustments to set up a goal-oriented plan to achieve their meta-goal.

Even if someone's habits are life-threatening, they will not change by simply knowing it, for most people do not fear death unless it is imminent. They have to discover for themselves that what they are doing is not actually getting them what they want in the long run.

Mormon Enigma said...

Now I'm really depressed. I won't allow myself to have gay sex, so I eat instead. But, eating is going to cause me to die a horrible death. Maybe I should take up smoking - no, that won't work. Alcohol? Drugs? Dang, everything is bad for me. I think I need to go find some chocolate to eat.

Esquire said...

I guess the choice I make on a daily basis to not engage in gay, sex is based on, other than the love I have for my wife and family, the "cost" of indulging in gay sex. I would lose my dear family. And even if I didn't lose my family over it, I would lose clout with my wife, kids, extended family, etc., that I am a man of intergrity. That I can be the man I promised to be. I promised to love my wife and no other. Straight men have made the same committment to monogamy despite how they are "wired" and have the same choice to be men of inegrity or not.

I guess I'm simply saying that I choose not to have sex with other men, though I really would like to, because I promised not to.
-And that's that.

I can lose my family, my job, my home, my testimony, my faith, and even my health. But without my integrity, the power to keep my word, I may as well be dead.

That's why I resist.

TK said...

Though I'm a social worker by profession, my undergrad degree is in nutrition (as a FACTOR in mental emotional health) and I have more 'theories' about this than you're likely to want to hear (at least not here). :)

Briefly, I'd say that the subjects of 'cleansing' and 'candidiasis', are two major keys to the answers. Though 'will power' is certainly a 'factor', I think there are physiological reasons for cravings. One, a build-up of mucoid plaque in the gut that prevents efficient digestion causes the body to constantly 'crave' more food because in spite of the intake, it's not getting the needed nutrients; two, candida out of control, I believe, can cause cravings for simple carbohydrates (to feed the candida).

TK said...

Since I’ve ventured where I probably don’t belong, anyway, I may as well add enough to make it useful:

Both ‘cleansing’ and treating ‘candidiasis’ require extremely restrictive diets. But they are temporary – maybe 1 to 3 months. Once things are ‘under control’ the cravings are brought under control – unless one ventures out again into the danger zones that created the problems in the first place.

Personally, I prefer the strategy of strengthening the immune system to that of worrying about disease. It doesn’t matter what kind of ‘germs’ are out there if your immune system’s strong. On the other hand, vaccinations can be risky. Needlessly exposing yourself may not always be wise.

This is where Marmoreal’s excellent advice comes in! The only way to get where we want to go is to FOCUS on it! AND on the things that STRENGTHEN us against going where we don’t want to go. Regardless of the purpose for the diet, spending time thinking about what I DON'T want to do is like repeating over and over to myself, “I won’t eat chocolate cake!” until I finally do!

Having it ‘last for a lifetime’ requires following those principles for a lifetime! And constantly trying to perfect our ability to trust in the Lord who said, “Sufficient unto the day . . . .”