Hunger Games

Not the movie, but food and health. This starts a (hopefully) regular feature on this blog. Readers and writers have to sit still to do what they love. Let’s combat the inertia without giving up the storytelling.

Are you on a DIET?

Of course you are. A diet is “food and drink regularly provided or consumed” or “habitual nourishment” (thank you Merriam Webster). So if you eat Oreo cookies and drink Cherry Coke for every meal, that’s your diet.

Diet, to most people, is a four-letter word because when they hear the word, they hear (again, thank you, Merriam Webster) “a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight”.

I’ll wait for the winces and shudders to cease.

Ready? Okay, good.

We are, as a country, fat. There, I said it. We’re fat. Overweight. Obese. Obviously not everyone fits this declaration. Ryan Hall is not fat. The man sets new records in marathons, so he’s probably watching his diet to keep the weight on, instead of off like the rest of us.

Ah, but I digress. Diet is a dirty word to many because we have tried, over and over, to lose weight, to be healthy, to do what we begrudgingly admit is good for our bodies and minds. And then failed. Over and over again.

Why, dear Readers, do we continue to fail at these diets? Because we think of it as that last entry – that regimen to reduce one’s weight – instead of the first. Go read the first again: “food and drink regularly provided or consumed”. Let’s take a look at what that means…

Regularly is the key word. It can’t be a quick fix diet. A diet can’t be something we do for six weeks or even six months. It has to be a change to our world that we’re willing to make permanent. We can’t give up Boston Crème donuts for three months and hope to keep the weight off when our time is up and we return to Dunkin Donuts. It sounds like a daunting task. It sounds like we have to give up everything we love to be healthy.

I am standing up here to say, we don’t. We don’t have to be hungry all the time, and we don’t have to eat miserable, boring food to lose the weight. Hunger, when trained, can be a friend. But first we must understand the difference between boredom eating, stress eating, and normal, needing-fuel eating. Hunger cannot be our friend until we train our tongues to enjoy a variety of new tastes, and our minds to understand our stomachs often don’t catch up with “full” signals as quick as we can plow through a meal. Hunger is a child that needs to be taught slowly, over time, to be tame, well-behaved, and helpful, but also like a child, once behaving, hunger will not terrorize us in the grocery store checkout line by demanding we give in to the Buy Two Get One Free deal on chocolate bars.

Come with me, dear Readers, let us embark on the great game of taming hunger together. Let’s take control of our bodies, our minds, and our hunger.

Step one. Write it down. We can’t fix something if we can’t see what’s broken. Write down everything you eat or drink between now and the next Hunger Games post. Be honest with yourself. I won’t ask to see the notes. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be surprised  by this exercise, but don’t let Hunger defeat you with this ambush. Keep going. We’ll make it worth the fight.

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