5 Foods Never to Eat, and programs like it, are exactly what’s keeping us stuck
There’s another video going around telling us that abstaining from 5 specific foods will get us thin and keep us thin. In it, we hear the story of Cathy, a woman who, like many of us, has struggled for years to get her weight under control. Like many of us, she’s clearly intelligent, and thoughtful. And like many of us, she’s trapped in the loss/gain cycle.
Enter the spirited nutritionist. In a way peppy voice-over, the nutritionist endears us to Cathy (read: us), and then tells us how she solved Cathy’s weight problem – it was as simple as 1-2-3!, and it boiled down to eliminating 5 specific foods from her diet.
In the video, Cathy takes her advice, loses the weight, and keeps it off.
And if that’s how it went down, Cathy and I have nothing in common. If that’s how it went down, Cathy’s probably a naturally fit person who defaults to healthy behaviors. Because unless her M.O. is to make and then keep commitments that she makes in service to her health, there’s just shy of ZERO chance that the suggestions in this video would ever work, never mind result in permanent weight loss.
“Snowball, meet Hell. Hell, there’s this snowball I think you’ll just love.”
If you lose excess fat – and keep it off – after someone tells you what not to eat, you didn’t have a weight problem, or a problem with food or eating, you had an information problem.
Those of us who have a real problem with weight, compulsive overeating, and/or food addiction have been trapped in the loss/gain cycle for years, despite knowing exactly how to eat well and what the weekly recommendations for exercise are. So why do we still have a weight problem? We still have weight problems because our struggle has nothing to do with a lack of solid nutritional or exercise-related information. The problem is our apparent inability to be consistent with the choices we make in the service of our health. We know what to do. We know what “5 Foods To Never Eat,” we just can’t seem to do it. Period. And it drives many of us crazy.
Of course we get sucked in when the pretty nutritionist 1 tells us that losing the weight is as simple as 1-2-3! Optimistic, we watch her video. We share it with friends. We let ourselves imagine that she really has the solution to this thing that’s haunted us since we began forming memories, something that’s brought us pain, misery, embarrassment, shame, heartbreak, and frustration.
Inside us a small voice asks “If it’s as easy as she says, why can’t I lose weight? What’s wrong with me?” By then end of the video we’re thinking “Well, maybe this time will be different. I’ll start tomorrow. In the meantime, I deserve one last hurrah.” And of course tomorrow comes and goes, and nothing changes but the start date.
That peppy little video – and every message like it – is useless to most of us with serious weight and food issues. If anything, watching them makes us gain more weight. And this’ll keep happening unless and until we recognize and deal with the real problems: Self-sabotage. Loss of motivation. Indifference. Self-consciousness. Shame.
It’s almost never simple as 1-2-3 for people like me. If it was, we’d all have gotten thin long ago (at the latest, shortly after this nutritionist first spelled out her revolutionary “5 Foods” solution), and we’d all have stayed that way. But despite what we want to believe, we know that being told what or how to eat isn’t the solution. Being told what and how to eat does not help us lose weight and keep it off. It just doesn’t work. Period.
Until people like us address the roots of our weight and food issues, all the best nutritional and exercise-related information in the world is, and will always be, essentially useless. Because until we learn to disempower the thing that keeps making us sabotage our efforts to get healthier, nothing, absolutely nothing, is going to work long term – – even if it’s really terrific, scientifically sound advice.
Until people like me learn to address the root cause of our inability to stay committed to the choices we make in service to our health, our efforts to change may make the problem worse. And you can bet that most, if not all, of our efforts to lose weight will leave us heavier in the end.
- Who points out that she lost 30 pounds once and kept it off. I lose 30 pounds shortly after my my first cup of coffee some days, but I digress. ↩