Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Diet Dilemma

Every form of print media in the world has new research that indicates diet myths, secrets and tricks. The problem is, they all contradict each other at some point and they're a confusing mess of information that doesn't help anyone. As well, the research on which it is based is generally a small, controlled, experiment-based project with no more real implications than a survey of who likes bread.

Who's right? Is it true that it's worse to eat at night than during the day? Is it true that crabs make you fat? Is it true that eggs are safe? What about nuts, the new 'it' snack for women? Do fad diets work? Is detox safe and effective? Are those super skinny models people we should look up to and emulate, or are they really the vitamin-deficient zombies that doctors claim they are?

As a woman, it's beyond frustrating to read article after article claiming that certain diet tricks really work, then find the ones that contradict that advice, then turn to the page in the magazine that has the model who is the same shape as a starving Ethiopian and then turn to the celebrity diet page where Elizabeth Hurley tells you to eat watercress soup for the rest of your natural life.

Let's get one thing straight- do not take advice from the stars. They are stars. They have the kind of money and ressources that normal people can only dream of. Trainers to keep you motivated, cooks to prep your meals and dieticians to make you dedicated meal and training plans are not accessible to the average working woman. Nor is it plausible to consider doing 2 hours at the gym every single day on two pieces of lettuce when you work a 9 to 5, commute, run your own errands and clean your own house. So forget that.

Forget the celebrity cleanses as well. As impressive as the results may be, and as much as Gwyneth Paltrow claims to feel terrific afterwards, they are not safe and not efficient. Some of their side effects include spontaneous rectal bleeding. Others include such strange and exotic items, you would need to import them or special order them online. Doctors also have chimed in, saying that they're dangerously lacking in nutrients. No wonder.

There are so many diet myths and fads out there, I think that the only advice to follow is the truly practical. They are:

1-Do not strive to be any other size than what you naturally are.

This is the most important diet advice I would give to anyone. Everyone is built differently and everyone has their beauty strengths and weaknesses. It should be all about acceptance and attitude. Accentuate your great assets, down play the rest, and remember that there's always Spanx for emergencies. And a woman with curves? That's one hot mama and that's the way women are supposed to look.

2- Exercise

You don't have to have a 'regime' or train for marathons. It doesn't matter when you exercise. The most important thing to do is have some form of it that you enjoy and try to do it as regularly as possible. Exercise has the added benefit of having a positive effect on our moods and revs us up when we have to tackle a lot of projects-like that long to-do list on the weekends. It doesn't have to be strenuous and it doesn't have to be expensive. It can be as simple as a brisk walk or a few lazy stretches during commercial breaks on tv. You can even do jumping jacks and push ups in your living room. But close the blinds, or else your neighbours might think you're crazy.

3- Be reasonable, but don't deprive yourself

Food is a pleasure. It's meant to be enjoyed. It's not just fuel. Don't rack your brain counting calories or portions or measuring your meat portions to look like a deck of cards. Be reasonable about what you eat. Have more fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains.

One of the best rules to follow is the 80-20 rule. Make sure that you're good most of the time (roughly 80%) and give yourself a free pass some of the time (roughly 20%). That way, you can still enjoy a sloppy burger or an ice cream treat- just not every day.

I've given up on diet information produced by the media. I'm sticking to these.

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