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Old 12-17-2004, 05:20 PM   #1
I can do this!
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Lightbulb A Great Read!

I recently finished When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull up a Chair by Geneen Roth. It was fabulous! It contains tons of little essays on our relationship with food, so it would be easy to read even if you're really busy.

I agreed with much of what she wrote, but I was a bit dismayed to find that she's pretty anti-diet. When I found the essay below, though, I felt so much better and I agreed so much with everything she said. I hope that you guys like this essay and that it persuades you to go get her book!

When Diets Do Work
by Geneen Roth
From her book When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull up a Chair

I know I've spent a hundred pages telling you why diets don't work. But since there really is no one right way (see Chapter 21), I would be lying by omission if I didn't tell you when they do.

When I was thirty-five, I was diagnosed with shingles. For the next seven years, I was ill, with constant diarrhea and a series of viruses, from pneumonia to pleurisy to flus. I felt like a string of antique pearls--fragile, brittle, always in danger of shattering. None of the twenty doctors or healers I consulted could tell me what was wrong. During the worst of it, I lost my hair, my skin broke out in bleeding rashes, and my fingernails fell off.

Then I met a doctor who, after a series of blood tests, put me on a diet. Since I'd been sick, other doctors had prescribed diets--yeast-free, high-protein, macrobiotic--and I had tired them all, but they didn't work. I felt the way I always felt on diets: crazed, deprived, and out of control. Every one of those diets would be followed by a knock-your-socks-off binge. (As sick as I was, I never lost my verve for bingeing after a diet.) But this diet was different because it made sense; it was aligned with my soul. By that I mean that if I had been able to push past my shticks about food, I would have already known, and already been doing, what this doctor told me to do.

During our first visit, she said, "Think of your body as the earth. If you want to plant a life-giving garden, you need to make sure the soil is loamy and rich with nutrients. For most of your life, you've stirpped the ground and still expected to grow healthy plants. Now, you need to put some minerals back.

"Eat less sugar and starch. Eat more protein, and more fat. Eat snacks, even at bedtime. Move your body every day. Use nature as a restorative. Rest twice as much as you already do."

After she poke, I felt as if the cells in my body stood up and cheered, "Finally! Someone is talking sense to this girl!" But what came out of my mouth was, "I can't do this. I will get fat." My doctor said, "I don't think you will--your body is starved for this kind of nourishment--but what would you rather have? A ragged, hairless, thin body or a healthy, radiant, bigger body?"

It was, as they say, "a moment."

Matt was sitting beside me, waiting to hear the answer. I'm sure he was astonished that I was actually considering the question, and was wondering if he had married a lunatic. I knew I had no choice, but I also knew that if I started this "diet" I had to be willing to gain weight, possibly ten or twenty pounds. I had to become a beginner again, throw out the no-diet expert image, start over.

Which is exactly what I did. For the first two months, I was tentative, fearful, and wacky. I kept calling the doctor with questions: Why do I need so much protein? What about all these studies that say that needing a lot of protein is a myth, not to mention harmful for the kidneys? What about fat being bad for the heart?

"Some people," she said, "don't need as much protein; some people don't need as much fat. But, given your history and blood test results, you need more of both."

Seventeen years of fasting followed by overeating followed by dieting on Grape-Nuts or cigarettes and Diet Shasta creme soda had taken their toll. At eleven, when I should have been making sure I was getting enough calcium to develop strong bones, I was going on my first diet. At fifteen, when I should have been eating enough protein and fat to sustain the feverish pace of adolescence, I started a four year stint of diet pills. At twenty-five, I was anorexic. At twenty-seven, I gained eighty pounds in two months. And although my body had done a superb job of supporting me despite unremitting negligence--my legs had climbed mountain, my hands had written books, my heart had never stopped beating, opening, loving--it was, as Andy Griffith used to say, "just plum wore out." Because, though it appeared as if I were feeding my body, I'd been feeding my mind, my past wounds, my present stress.

I've been on this "diet" for four years now. I gained five pounds in the first three months and though I panicked at the beginning of the weight gain, I stayed uncharacteristically clear that my priority was being strong and well. "If I have to be fat," I kept saying to myself, "I will be." Six months later, my body adjusted to the new way of eating, and I lost the weight.

Sometimes I eat more sugar than is best, sometimes I don't follow the instructions at all, but I know what my body needs and how to provide it. When I feel exhausted and weak, I know what to do to feel better. I will never have the robust health of someone who didn't gain and lose a thousand pounds, but if I am mindful of what I put into my body, I thrive.

The story has two morals (and neither one of them is to eat what I eat or find out the name of my doctor!). The first is that what we do to our body has consequences. I thought I got away with the month-long water fasts followed by weeks of eating nothing but Krispy Kreme doughnuts. But all those years of emotional eating had their effect: My health is fragile, I have gone through premature, illness-induced menopause, and I've been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

If, when I was eleven, someone had told me that the way I was eating might cripple me at age sixty, I probably would have kept right on eating Oreos for breakfast. And at age twenty, nutritional guidance probably would have stopped me from raw food diets and the ensuing anorexia. Nevertheless, I still wish someone had told me; I wish I could have made an informed choice about the food I ate and the course I was charting for the rest of my life.

So, I'll be the one to say it now: What you eat matters, not only to the size of your body but to its well-being. Depending on the strength of your constitution, your genetic background, your environment, and your inner life, the food you eat will skew your biochemistry in a particular direction, which will then affect the course of your life. This is not a prediction or a fear-based assumption; it is simply cause and effect.

The second moral is that if you need food for emotional reasons right now--and cannot tolerate the thought of monitoring kinds and amounts of proteins, fats, and sugars--it does not mean that you are crazy, wrong, and that you will get cancer in five years. If you start monitoring your food intake before you are ready, you will sabotage yourself again and again by binging. But that doesn't mean giving yourself permission to be unconscious. It doesn't mean eating everything you want whenever you want it.

Your job is to do your best at all times. To be curious, to treat yourself with kindness, and to act on your own behalf. You need to know when to act and when to reflect, when to push and when to let go. Your job is to keep and open and tender heart and to be aware of your limits. The time will come, if it hasn't already, when for you right action--action that is aligned with your soul--will be to be discriminating about the kinds and amounts of foods you put into the soil of your body. This is the time when the kind of diet I am referring to in this chapter works. And you'll know it's right because you won't feel as if all the sweetness in the world has just been ripped out from under your feet. You won't feel as if you are being deprived of the goodies of life. It won't be hard, which isn't to say that it won't take effort; it always takes effor to learn new practices. But it's a different kind of effor from the usual diet, which entails punishing and being at war with yourself on a daily basis.

When does a diet work?
When it doesn't feel like a diet.

When your body sings in response to the discrimintations you make in the food you eat. And when listening to that body sing is a priority. Most of the time.

When you are willing to choose foods that support your highest, clearest, light-giving self. Most of the time.

When saying no to certain foods feels as if you blessing yourself with vitality and energy rather than depriving yourself of fried onion rings. Most of the time.

When you understand that when it's not most of the time, doing your best is eating ice cream for breakfast and the **** with everything else.
As you can tell from the end, she is usually not this serious! Most of the essays are laugh-out-loud funny. But this one hit me in the heart, again and again, and I wanted to share it with you! I hope I'm not disobeying a copyright, and I do hope that you will read the whole book!
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Old 12-17-2004, 05:49 PM   #2
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Thanks Laurie! There is a lot of truth in what she said!

God is big, so we expect him to speak with the voice of thunder or lightning or earthquake or fire. But God often expresses his powerful love in gentle whispers. Listen for God's whispers as well as his shouts.
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Old 12-17-2004, 06:26 PM   #3
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Wow, very well said! Thanks Laurie
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Old 12-18-2004, 02:16 PM   #4
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I printed that off so I can read it later when I have a few minutes. Thanks for taking the time to post it. I have read one of Geneen's books, like the first one or something.

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Old 12-20-2004, 10:27 AM   #5
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Thanks Laurie. That has been a revelation for me with SBD. I have thrived on this WOE because it fits perfectly with the food choices that I make...most of the time. When my dr. suggested that I give up carbs and sugar to lose the extra weight that I had recently gained, I really reflected on the feasibility of that and what it would mean for me. I am probably much more fortunate than most because I don't particularly care for starches, except for pasta. That was the easy part. My sweettooth, however, can get in the way of weight loss for me. I have really tried to curb that with sugar replacements and indulging in sweets on special occasions, only. This has worked for me and I can see eating this way for life...it's almost like acquiring a soulmate.

As I said on Friday, I plan to stay OP 99.9% of the time from now on, with a few planned indiscretions thrown in. BUT for me, that still means that I am OP all the time. I just need to make sure that I exercise control when I eat foods that are not completely OP.
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WW 186/125.75/120 May 2002
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Old 12-20-2004, 03:17 PM   #6
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Great essay! I really identify with her. Thanks for sharing that with us. When I am done with what I am reading now, I think I will get her book.

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Old 02-04-2005, 02:33 PM   #7
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I missed all these replies! Sorry chickies!

Peggy, I agree...that's exactly how I feel! Unlike you, I love starches, but on SBD I can eat them without the terrible headache, bellyache, crabbiness, and overall ill health that I had in the past. That's a joy!

I'm looking forward to reading more of Geneen's books. I would be so happy if I had all the time in the world to read all the books that interest me! :
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Old 02-04-2005, 02:56 PM   #8
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What an awesome essay!

When I started SBD (well, after the initial icky feelings phase one invoked), I knew I had finally found the right way of eating for me. It's true that I don't stick to it all the time. I splurge on special occasions, about once a month. But I don't feel evil for doing it, and I know that I'll be going back to my healthy WOE the very next day. After years of trying about every diet under the sun, I finally found one that doesn't feel like a diet. This is something I can actually do for the rest of my life. It's so exciting to have that "moment."

March Goal:

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Old 02-04-2005, 04:21 PM   #9
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I really liked her book that read -- I think it was called "When Food is Love"
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PERSISTENCE - There is no giant step that does it. It's alot of little steps.
90% of a million small choices make a difference.
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Old 02-04-2005, 04:50 PM   #10
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I'll have to try that one, Shyla!

gish, I'm right with you. Not that I loved Phase 1. But I didn't hate it! It really wasn't that bad (which I can say sitting firmly in Phase 2 ). And this WOE is so comfortable for me, like old jeans, you know?
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Old 02-05-2005, 09:28 AM   #11
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Wow... thanks for sharing that, Laurie!
I am a runner!

"Wouldn't it be wonderful to take all the evil people and put them over there, then we wouldn't have to deal with them. And all of us good people would stay right here. The problem is that the line separating good and evil cuts right through the human heart." Alexander Solzenitzen
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