Diet Saboteurs

Can you have your cake and eat it, too?

Can you really live a life of healthy, mindful eating?  Sure you can.  Just be prepared to work for it!  All day!  Every day!

I went to a bridal shower this weekend for one of my cousins.  As far as showers go, this one was mild when it came to the dietary pitfalls that are usually present at a luncheon.  

There were of course creamy potato and macaroni salads, but a nice field greens salad full of veggies was also an option.  The cold cut sandwiches came with dressings on the side.  And the cookies were, mercifully, relegated to one small tray.

I'm not tempted by the creamy salads and passing up a cold-cut sandwich is not exactly a sacrifice, am I right?  So, I loaded up my plate with the field greens salad, sprinkled a few drops of dressing on top and treated myself to one small, decadent chocolate cookie from the tray.

I was feeling pretty smug, knowing that I was strong-willed enough to stay true to my "don't deny yourself anything but watch your portion size" eating style (don't call it a diet!) that has helped me lose fifty pounds (thirty more to go!) since adopting it last October.

Just when I thought I was out of the woods.... BAM!  

In swoops a bridesmaid with a tray full of chocolate cake.  

"Here!  Cake!  Cake for everyone!"

No, thank you.

"No cake?! Come on!  Have a piece of cake!  It's just one piece! Tomorrow is another day!"



You would have thought I said "I hate puppies" or "Kittens just aren't that cute."

I've battled my weight my whole adult life.  

And hearing the words, "You are going to die young if you don't start eating better and losing some weight" from my doctor was all it took to put me on the track to a healthy life.  

Here's what I've learned on this journey: There's just something about a healthy eater that makes people uncomfortable.  It didn't really matter to that woman that I wasn't eating cake.  What she probably perceived was that I was going to judge everyone else for EATING the cake.  

This of course, couldn't be further from the truth.  

Worrying about what I put in my own mouth occupies so much of my thoughts that I truly have no brain cells left to worry about what anyone else is eating.

So, how do you stay true to a diet, weight loss goal or simply a desire to eat a more wholesome foods when you are faced with diet saboteurs?  

As an amateur healthy-eating addict, here are my tips and observations:

  • Don't fall into the "All or Nothing" trap.  If you eat one cookie, that doesn't mean the whole day is shot.  Eating one cookie can save you from the temptation to eat something even bigger and badder than the cookie (like a whole piece of cake.)
  • Just because the person sitting next to you at the restaurant is eating a whole pizza, doesn't mean it's healthy for you to do that.  Enough said.
  • Some friends and family will question your sanity. They'll wonder why you suddenly woke up one day with a steely reserve to be thin that is akin to that of one of Karl Lagerfeld's runway models.  Remind them that it's not that you want your ribs to show through your clothes, it's that you want to be healthy enough to live long enough to see Obama's daughters be elected to Congress.  
  • Your partner will either be all in or be like your friends/family.  All in? Lucky you! (And me... thank you, Jason!) Not all in? Please see point above.
  • Be prepared to talk about your appearance as you start losing weight.  Put simply?  Take the compliment when someone tells you "you look great."  Say thank you and move on.

Remember, it's about being healthy and convincing yourself that skipping the cake is a healthy lifestyle choice, not an "oh, whoa is me, I'm on a diet" act of self-deprivation.  

Also, remember that I am not a doctor or dietician.  I am just a geek with a fetish for eyewear and a sweet, understanding fiancé who puts up with my rule that nothing we eat comes out of a box, package, vacuum sealed bag or carry-out container.

So, consult a professional before you embark on this journey too.

And, in the interest of full disclosure I have to admit something to you, dear readers ...

... I'm still thinking about that delicious piece of cake I passed up.  

Life is, after all, a constant work in progress.


Sally Turkovich (twoday magazine's NEWEST contributor) is a policy analyst by training, an eyewear stylist by trade and an amateur healthy-living advocate by choice. Friend her on facebook and follow her blogs in the "Best of" section at Pittsburgh's CBS Local .

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  • erikdolnack

    Thu, 28.07.11 at 09:06AM

    Great article, Sally, and congrats on staying true to yourself and being mindful of your health.

    I myself am a vegan in the city of Pittsburgh, which is traditionally a “meat & potatoes” town if ever there was one. Being a vegan in Pittsburgh is like being the only person WITHOUT plastic surgery in Beverly Hills, California, or being the only person without any tattoos in a biker bar.

    Yes, many people are uncomfortable with healthy eating. I suppose they see healthy eating as being self-sacrificing in some way, like a starving guru fasting for some higher purpose. They see healthy eating as painful, while on the other hand viewing unhealthy eating as “fun”.

    I always say, “Food shouldn’t be fun”. What I mean by that, is that the food we eat shouldn’t be a party, like creating fattening cupcakes that look like little strawberries. Instead of eating a cupcake that looks like (and tastes like) a strawberry, just eat a bowl of real raw strawberries.

    It isn’t that food should be dull and “un-fun”. But we shouldn’t be seeking to get visual and sensory highs from our food, like little treats for ourselves. There’s better highs, trust me. Food should be a bit more practical, especially on a day-to-day level. It should be sensible.

    But with marketing and advertising of junk food and fast food culture in our society, bombarding us all the time, it’s difficult to not appear as someone who’s fighting the current. It sometimes feels like the healthy eater is being an outcast, a freak, or some kind of eccentric hippie oddball. I am daring to blame corporate markets for this, as they continue to predominate our society and poison our food and water.

    Case in point: many public schools are so underfunded today that they rely upon corporate funding, and in return the corporations place advertisements and vending machines of their “junk food” products in our schools, “recruiting” our children with unhealthy dietary habits at an early age, regardless of their upbringing at home. One fast food corporation goes so far as to purchase every bit of real estate near their restaurants in inner-cities, so that no grocery stores can exist within walking distance of the citizens that live there, making them more dependent upon their junk food.

  • erikdolnack

    Thu, 28.07.11 at 09:09AM

    A good rule of thumb for healthy eating is: try not to eat or drink anything with a corporate logo on it, and you’ll find you’re eating a pretty healthy diet. grin

  • .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Thu, 28.07.11 at 09:12AM

    Well said Erik!

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