14 February 2008

Thin Myths, Part 1

There must be a secret to staying thin. If it were just common sense, everyone would "get it" and everyone would be thin. Everyone isn't thin, so that means there's a secret. Tell me the secret so I can be thin!

This is the logic that sells diet books. The book I discovered yesterday is especially appealing to the "normal" person because it not only covers one secret per chapter, it's very title is one of the secrets: Thin People Don't Clean Their Plates by Jill Fleming. Some of the chapter headings are included in the book's description, and nearly every one made me roll my eyes.

Today we'll tackle the title secret: thin people don't clean their plates.

If I didn't clean my plate, I'd have to sit at the table until my mother decided it was time for me to either do chores or go to bed. It's tough to shake seventeen years of that kind of training... so I haven't tried. I clean my plate. I may clean some of it into a doggie bag when I eat out, but for the most part I will eat everything on my plate.

The trouble with telling "normal" people that thin people always leave food on their plates is that... we don't. So when someone hears that we do, and then sees me licking everything but the pattern off the china, they get upset. She wants a body like mine, so she does what someone told her I do, believing it will give her what she wants. I prove the secret wrong, her belief is shattered, and she gets upset.

I think what Ms. Fleming is getting at is the idea of portion control, which is, from what I can see, the biggest problem people have when it comes to eating in this country. So call it portion control. If you see me at a buffet, look at what I put on my plate. Macaroni and cheese, bread pudding, seafood salad, lasagna, and maybe a little salad with hard-boiled eggs and cheese. I take very small amounts of all of these. Everything fits on one 10-inch buffet plate with no stacking, and I don't go back for seconds. (I do, however, go back for dessert: a serving-spoonful of apple cobbler with a little vanilla ice cream.)

Do you see a trend in what I put on my plate? Lots of carbs, and as much protein as I can stand without gnawing on a cow. (I like meat, but don't eat much of it, so I find my protein in things like eggs and dairy.) Carbohydrates give you energy. If you have energy, you can be more active, and if you're active, you burn more calories and speed up your metabolism, which makes it easier for you to lose weight and be healthy. Protein feeds your brain, so not only are you more active, you're more focused, too.

These are not secrets. These are the results of a few Google searches, logic, and experience.

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