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Healthy at Every Size

healthyatLinda Bacon has written a great book. It’s one you should read whether you have ever had a weight problem, do now, or never had one. You need to know the truth.

I recently read the better part of The China Study, which I think rather conclusively shows that a diet absent meat and dairy is the healthiest one around. The trouble is, few people can adhere to it. Most people, especially those who are in their 40’s, 50’s, and upwards, have engaged in eating meat and dairy for so long that they cannot bear to give it up, even though they might be healthier for it.

But it makes important points about not trusting the government or a good many so-called health-related groups, for there is so much money in this food industry of ours that it becomes hard to know when a study is legitimate.

The same can be said for Ms. Bacon’s book on diets.

Diets work. They work for most people. And the type of diet doesn’t really matter.

The trouble is, most all diets only work for a bit. You lose weight. You are happy. You buy new clothes. Almost before you can put them on, the weight seems to creep back on. Until you have put it all back, and usually more.

And it’s not the dieter’s fault. It’s the body’s reaction to being starved. Wonderfully evolutionarily designed mechanisms run the body’s need for food, type and amount. It all works pretty darn good until the food industry comes along with additives and chemicals and our bodies no longer respond to set points and satiety controls. Thinks like high fructose corn syrup block the body’s own tools from working. We crave this stuff the more we eat it, and most of it is empty calories, devoid of much food value.

Just knowing that would be sad enough. But the news is not so bleak. For Bacon makes a very good case, with impressive documentation, that being overweight is not the horror you’ve been told.

Remember how we can’t trust the food industry to tell us what we should eat? Well, the diet industry is invested in convincing us that being overweight is unhealthy. In fact there is little to none actual evidence that that is so. Take out the interested groups and their “research” and you find that  overweight persons don’t die earlier, and don’t develop more cases of things like heart disease or diabetes than the average “normal” weight person.

Bacon argues for a sensible approach to food, with the operative phrase being, there is no bad food. Still, we learn that some “fake” food doesn’t help the body’s natural weight control triggers, and we can avoid them. She argues that eating nutritious, real food is the key. It is what the body craves, and what it will be satisfied with.

When you release all the guilt and simply eat when your hungry and what you wish, you can start to reclaim your life. You can learn  again what it feels like to be full, what it feels like to be hungry. You can earn to eat slower, savoring every bite, and allowing your body naturally to tell you when it is full, before you have stuffed yourself.

You can begin to watch your moods and physical responses to foods and their quantity. Do you feel bad an hour after eating? Perhaps you can eat less of that thing next time. Do you feel grumpy and listless  at 10 a.m? Perhaps it is that donut at 7:30 that didn’t provide you with the energy to make it until lunch. That doesn’t mean don’t eat donuts. It just means that you may want to eat one donut, and perhaps some protein along with it.

Exercise must stop being a way to lose weight, and become the way our bodies feel good. Stop thinking of it as torture and a job, and feel and enjoy the movement of your body. Choose things you enjoy, whether it be cycling or swimming or walking. Don’t exhaust yourself. Find new and unique ways to build more movement into your day. As your body responds by becoming stronger and more capable of doing what you want it to do, your emotions will surge upward as well.

Live your life. Stop waiting until that magic moment when your weight is perfect. For almost all of us, that day never comes, or if it does, it is so fleetingly short as to depress us terribly. You may lose some weight, and you may not. That will depend on what your genetically determined body size is. But you will be healthy. You can be healthy you see at any size.

This is a book to read and then to use to build a happy, healthy life. Don’t take my word for it, read it.

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