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not making myself clear

During my time in Los Angeles the last couple of days (I returned from a short trip yesterday; I leave again Thursday) I talked with my sister Karol. We tend to get along well, enjoy many of the same things on these trips (although I am more inclined to take it easier than she is). At one point we were reading email in our motel room and she mentioned that she belongs to an online group dedicated to counting calories, tracking what they eat. She said it works when she uses it, that lots of people use it successfully, that it's free. Clearly she was offering it as something I might like.

I couldn't help getting defensive. I know she was trying to be helpful but my reaction was to attack. I said that counting calories is the reason so many people get even fatter than they would otherwise be inclined to be. I said that calorie-restricted diets are the path to failure, not to success. She reiterated that it works when you log what you eat and many people are successful at it. I said it is something that never ends if that's the way you choose to do it, that very few people are in fact successful over the long haul, for 20 or 30 years. It becomes hard to hang in.

What I also tried to explain is that people like she is do not have weight problems and they do not have any real idea what it is like. I said it is like being an alcoholic, the type of urges we face. She said she knew this, she does understand, but I know she does not. I know she feels she would gain hugely if she didn't pay attention to what she eats but I know that in some major respect this is simply not true. It's true that if she indulged in nothing but high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar foods that of course she would gain weight and be unhealthy but she is not going to do that in any case.

I mentioned that fat alone is not unhealthy. Bad diets are - the wrong foods - and dieting is.

I tried to explain that what matters is that you eat whole foods and that you exercise. "Of course," she said, "that is what matters". I said yes, but counting calories is not. Portion control is not. Being hungry is not. She didn't get it and I was too defensive to say it better. I feel really frustrated that I was unable to get across the simple concepts that I know as well as I know my own body. But the concepts really aren't that simple when they are contrary to what we have been hearing and what we've come to believe all our lives.

I felt frustrated because I have read so much on this subject and have offered what I have learned to others but they do not want to hear it, do not want to believe me because it isn't what they hear elsewhere.

A similar situation. Karol asked if I wanted to use some germ-killing lotion. I said no. She said she uses it and it must be good because hospitals use it. I said hospitals have good reason to use it but we don't. We weaken our own immune systems by continually trying to kill germs. I should have added that we add to the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, that we make bacteria harder to kill in the future.

There is so much "common knowledge" and "common wisdom" that is anything but. Yet I rail on alone, nearly a voice crying out in the wilderness. I admire those who have done the work to bring so much real information to light, in books, and I know that they are ridiculed even more than I am - for telling the truth. Yet they do reach others, far more than I do. I try to take what they have done and spread it farther and so far I am doing a lousy job.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 17th, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
i read you loud and clear, judith, and can very much relate to this.
Sep. 17th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you for saying so. I feel frustrated that the majority of the public really does not understand how our bodies work and they won't, not in my lifetime, unless something changes drastically. Honestly, I blame the food industries for the genius they bring to the table by oversimplifying and flat-out lying.

Have you seen that ad recently that tells us corn syrup is good for you?? It's a great example of how the sugar world fights back.
Sep. 18th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
oh yes, i saw that ad recently, and thought, WTF???

is it oversimplifying by saying, if i eat healthy i lose weight?

i am struggling and kicking and screaming and i don't wanna go and i know it would help my body and health after gaining 10 lbs this summer while ill. :/

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Judith Lautner
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