Welcome to 2016, everyone.
As usual a new year begins with many making out their list of things they resolve to do for the upcoming year. And as usual, for many, the top of the list has that nasty four letter word – “diet.”
Well, not me. Not this year. Nope!
Why should I deny myself the joy of bacon, the savory goodness of ice cream on a hot summer day or a juicy grilled hamburger smothered with — wait for it — CHEESE!
OK, in all honesty I could stand to lose a few pounds that have crept back on since I stopped being as active as I was about a year ago. A nagging injury was the perfect excuse to stop exercising yet continue eating way too much.
And by crept back on I mean — BOOM. And by eating way too much I mean — PIG OUT.
But also, in all honesty, research has shown that diets don’t work because most Americans, including me, take things to the extreme.
And by extreme, I mean we reach out for every crazy idea of what a diet should be. Have you seen some of the fad diets out there?
Don’t-eat-anything-but-grapes diet. Don’t-eat-any-food-after-6 p.m. diet. Since-the-bag-of-Oreos-is-fat-free-I-can-eat-the-whole-bag diet. The eating-10-Twinkies-a-day diet, the tapeworm diet and, of course, the ever-popular cotton-ball diet.
No I am not making those last two up, they exist.
Then there are the diets with a bit more science behind them like the high-carb, low-fat diet; low-carb, high-fat diet; Atkins; Pritikin; South Beach; Jenny Craig; Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem; Paleo. The list goes on and on.
The problem is the word “diet.” It immediately conjures up images of having to deny yourself certain foods in order to achieve the ultimate goal of weight loss.
After a while, it becomes difficult to stick to the diet because you end up eating the same foods over and over again and get bored. You also begin to start craving the foods you are denying yourself.
So this year, I resolve to not diet and instead eat a little bit of everything. That way, I will not be denying myself the basic pleasure of experiencing new foods and flavors.
How the heck is that going to help you lose weight, you ask?
My New Year’s resolution list simply has one word I plan to live by, at least when it comes to eating.
Oscar Wilde once said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
And that makes sense.
There is no need to deny yourself that cake, as long as you can do so slice by slice over a period of time and not all at one sitting.
Research has shown that in order to reap the benefits of the bountiful nutrients our bodies require, our food intake (I like this phrase better than the word “diet”) should include a variety of choices.
There are good things to be found in chocolate (duh). Having a hamburger every once in a while is not going to make you fat overnight (thank goodness). Enjoying a slice of pizza is OK, as long as it’s in —come on, say it with me — moderation.
Moderation in food intake — and in everything else — keeps you balanced.
You overdid it with pasta last night? No worries, take note of that and eat better today.
Had to grab something not quite so healthy because of a hectic schedule? No worries. Make a promise to slow down for dinner and choose a better option.
Ordered a steak and baked potato with a side salad and a cup of soup and suddenly realized you don’t want to over indulge? No worries, just ask the waiter for a to-go box up front and immediately put some of the meal away for later.
Moderation gives you the go-ahead to sample it all — a little bit at a time.
If you’ve read my columns, you know I love getting fried chicken, get massive cravings for a Lowcountry boil, have to have a Cuban meal every so often and indulge in guacamole and Mexican food every chance I get.
I don’t eat this way every day. Behind the scenes, I eat balanced meals more than I indulge in eating out. I cook for myself. I cook the foods I love, and by doing so, I control the ingredients, keeping the bad things, like salt, to a minimum.
I serve smaller, more moderate portions and package the leftovers so I can enjoy these comfort foods throughout the week, one serving at a time.
And the best thing about moderation is that it doesn’t require learning a new diet, lets me eat the rainbow spectrum of foods available throughout the different seasons and, better yet, doesn’t taste like I’m eating cardboard. It is real food, eating in a controlled manner and enjoyable.
So go out there and eat food — in moderation — and enjoy.
P.S. Actually, my list for this year has four items:
Moderation in all I do, whether eating, drinking, exercising, stress or enjoyment.
Gratitude — expressing it and giving it.
Happiness — being happy and helping others be happy.
Forgiveness — being able to forgive and being able to accept forgiveness.