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Monday, April 25, 2011

Media Diet Survival and Why Diets Don’t Work

It’s already that time of year when I begin to think of the beach.  Will I suit up or will I be relegated to Morticia Adams status avoiding the sun as if it was an allergy? The dreaded diet dilemma creeps into my psyche as I envision the warm season deprived of pistachio ice cream. I begin to reflect on a friend’s commentary on his drinking.  “I’ve never craved a cocktail as much as when I saw Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend. That movie made me want to drink even more. I literally ran out of that movie theater in a desperate search for a bar”, he said.
Our current TV fare consists of shows (except for the brilliant CBS comedy, Mike and Molly) that represent the plus size as shame-filled weak sisters.  On OWN’s (Oprah Winfrey Network’s) Addicted to Food we witness patients performing an exercise where they look at their reflection wearing nothing but a paper bag with cut out eyeholes and their birthday suits.  They tear up when confronted with the reality of their bodies. And, the recent season of big brother watching has arrived in the form of the diet police on The Biggest Loser where we observe an Olympian’s fall from grace as he disappoints the melodramatic Jillian Michaels with a cheat captured on video.

Shame and guilt has never been a motivator for us!  But why  does the media embrace only repentant overweight people?   Aren’t we the ones watching Top Chef and Food Network shows? You can’t stay abstinent from food so we’ll always have to deal with temptation.  Since food triggers are ubiquitous, why can’t we advocate eating smaller portions of everything instead of denying our love of food?  Why must we beat ourselves up because we can’t reach the perfect single digit size or because we ate too much bread?  Doesn’t all this obsessiveness lead to failure because we can’t meet impossibly high standards?

The only thing that’s ever worked for me is a lifestyle change.  I’ve been to a residential diet program.  The only plan that works is a realistic one. It means setting an attainable, maintainable weight goal and a doable exercise routine.  Dieters tend to see extremes-all or nothing and these programs, excluding the very reasonable Weight Watchers will turn us all into crazed characters from Reefer Madness.

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