"Dieting" And "Eating Healthy" Are Not Interchangeable Terms

One piece of red velvet cake is 14 points. See you at dinner, real food!

Jan 4, 2013 at 3:00pm | Leave a comment

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This is what I think of "health."

 

It's a New Year, and people are even more preoccupied than usual with the distribution of fat about their meat suits. Myself included! One of my big New Year's Resolutions is to grow my tits while shrinking my waistline, because I don't think you should limit yourself to the "possible" while setting goals.

(While we're on my complicated bodily desires, when is science going to create a massive breast implant that sags? I want giant novelty tits that hang like they've been giving me back problems since my teens.)

Anyway, with all of us collectively yearning to reshape our fat deposits, a lot of publications have been doing articles about dieting and eating healthy in the New Year. As if those are the same thing. I noticed it this morning in this Daily Mail Headline: Too Busy to Diet? Half of Brits Say Fast-Paced Lifestyles Make It Impossible to Eat Healthily -- but they're not the only one who use ideas like "dieting" and "losing weight" interchangeably with "getting healthy" and "eating better."

As a lifelong dieter, let me tell you from experience: A diet need have nothing to do with "eating healthy."

This is not some overarching statement about how diets are bad for you. It's possible to lose weight by eating more healthily. But losing weight and eating more healthily can also be two totally different goals.

When I lost 100 pounds in college, I definitely adopted a healthier diet in some ways -- I ate more whole foods and vegetables and stopped drinking soda and eating fast food. I cut out most sugar. I also severely restricted my carbohydrate intake. Even worse, I supplemented my diet with lots of synthetic "low-carb" versions of food including low-carb candy full of unpronounceable sugar substitutes known to cause anal leakage. 

Was my diet healthy? I'm inclined to believe my weight loss was -- at least, I felt great, had lots of energy and felt much healthier down from 260 pounds. But there are plenty of nutritionists who will tell you low-carb diets are as unhealthy as they are effective. Either way, it was a side effect of my primary purpose, which was to lose weight.

On Weight Watchers, I'm even worse. Those who love the plan often cite how great it is that you can "eat whatever you want" as long as you stay within your points allotment. That can be awesome, but it can also be an invitation to eat like a total dickhead. I have gone entire days ingesting only, say, a piece of red velvet cake or three Hostess cupcakes, because, having caved to the sweets, I don't have points left to eat anything else. 

Here's an actual screenshot from my Weight Watchers account that demonstrates my unending ability to abuse the program:

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I ate a whole pizza while still technically following my plan.

 

My point is just that a diet's ultimate master is weight loss, and you can lose weight a lot of different ways. By eating more healthfully, yes, but also by starving yourself, by severely restricting your fat or carbohydrate intake, by eating a lot of synthetic "diet foods," by cutting out entire food groups including perfectly healthy foods like avocado and milk, or just by eating less of the junk food you were already eating. 

And the same people who are quick to assume that fat people eat "unhealthily" also assume that thin people (and especially people who have lost or are losing a lot of weight) have adopted a healthier lifestyle, by sheer virtue of their shrinking frames. WELL NOT ME! I'd eat 100-calorie packs of carcinogens and razor blades if they were low in calories and tasted vaguely like Oreos. And isn't it interesting how much less people care about unhealthy eating habits when someone is getting smaller instead of larger?

The point has been made many times, but repetition helps us learn: It's high time we all got off each other's dicks about "health." Not only is the state of someone else's health completely unknowable without a medical evaluation, it's really none of your business.

Because I could front with you guys, but I won't: When I think about how I'd like to change my body in the New Year, I'm not thinking about the inside. And I'm not saying that's right (although in the words of the great philosopher Whitney Houston, it is "OK"), but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one whose healthy New Year's diet sometimes involves eating a whole pizza.

At least I hope I'm not, because I'm feeling pretty vulnerable about admitting I once ate a whole pizza. Anyone?