Tag Archives: diets

The problem with “nutritional consultants” –

– or, The futility of giving advice to food addicts as though we were normal people.

I am at this moment looking at an article in today’s Globe and Mail that offers sane advice on how to cut calories.  It includes such sensible tips as: “Limit your salad toppings,” “Watch your protein,” and “Count your cookies.”

I happen to live with a person who would likely read this kind of advice, find it logical and useful, and follow it.

I am not that kind of person.

When I am sticking to a weight-loss program, no matter what it is, I stick to it. I don’t trim off a few calories here and a few there … I follow the plan that I have set out for myself. I measure the protein, omit the salad toppings, and steer clear of cookies completely. But when I am NOT sticking to the program, I am not counting cookies – I am devouring them. When I’m not on a diet, I see salad as a bed for iniquity, and the way I take my protein is as peanuts in M&Ms.

I am not a half-measures person, and I think that is one of the things that sets food addicts apart from normal people (of which there are very few in the world, in my experience. Perhaps there are four or five: the person with whom I live, the person who wrote the article in the Globe and Mail, and three others). Before I quit drinking, I remember once being given a lovely wine-bottle stopper as a gift, and looking at it with gratitude mixed with bemusement. I had very little occasion to save leftover wine since there usually wasn’t any left over, so – as I had anticipated – the bottle stopper got very little use.

At this time of year, there are thousands upon thousands of articles by nutritional experts on how to lose weight. They are everywhere (the nutritionists and the articles). However, for most of us, the problem is not the food we eat or any ignorance on our part about what it is about our food choices that is causing us to gain weight.

The problem is what is going on in our heads.

* * * * * * *

And this kind of self-awareness is, my friends, what my main character, Rita Turner, gradually attains in The Whole Clove Diet. You can read the first 65 pages of the novel for free right here.

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Filed under Addiction, Dieting, Dietinig, Eating Disorders, Habits, News about weight loss, The Whole Clove Diet: A Novel, Weight loss

An Intolerable Domestic Situation

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 11.40.10 AMBased on my experiences not only with diets but with attempts to quit smoking and drinking, I noticed that unless something very deep is driving us to change ourselves, it’s not the big things in life that tend to send us off the deep end and put our resolutions at risk. (Big things probably would knock us off track as well — but at least if it were something big, we’d have a better excuse for falling off the wagon!) It’s the endless tedious little things that wear us down. We begin to think, “What’s the point? Nothing’s ever going to get better anyway,” and “Poor me. I always have to do everything around here,” and “I deserve a treat.” And before we know it, we’ve given up on giving up and we’re back on the cycle of despair, self-recrimination, over-indulgence, and then more resolutions.

In order to set up this kind of situation for my main character, Rita Sax Turner, so that she could experience what I had, and ultimately gain the same insights I had gained, I created a domestic situation that would become intolerable for her as often as possible. I did this by creating family members who were difficult for her to cope with: partly because she is young, partly because she is not the actual parents of the children in the house, and partly because she is going about trying to lose weight in the wrong way (as far as I’m concerned).

What was interesting to me — as it always is when I write fiction — was how I could set up a situation like that, and then find that the characters I had invented so that they would get in the way of Rita’s progress gradually started to take on their own personalities, and become people. To me, Graham, Simon and Ida, Coralea and Elmer, and Rita’s mother are as real as the people I know in the real world. They are not evil — none of them is trying to do anything but be themselves. Their effect on Rita is the result of her attitude toward them — and, more importantly, her attitude toward herself.

Join us!

If you are just tuning in to this blog, welcome. I invite you to join our little group of members of the One-Book-Only Book Club. We are reading The Whole Clove Diet over the month of January, and talking about overeating as addiction. So far we’ve read the first eleven chapters, and this week we’ll read to page 190 (end of Chapter 21). You can read the first seven chapters free right here, and the guidelines for the reading group are here. We welcome your input.

 

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3, 2, 1, begin … (Don’t worry. It’s not a diet.)

It’s a discussion group about what causes people to need to go on diets. And about a book, if you care to read it.

Today (or tomorrow, if you are into procrastination. Which is not always a bad thing. See note three paragraphs down), we will start reading The Whole Clove Diet. Next Friday, January 9, we will launch our discussion of the first 100 pages of the novel (well, let’s say we’ll discuss what happens up to the end of chapter 11 on page 94, since page 100 is in the middle of a chapter).

If you don’t feel like buying the book, but still want to join in, you can read the first 64 pages right here, so you’ll know a bit about Rita and her situation.

I haven’t read the novel since it was published, and it would be embarrassing not to remember some event in my own book. So I’ll read the first eleven chapters this week too, in case anyone wants to comment on anything specific. You’re welcome to write a comment or ask a question before next Friday if you want to: that’s just a deadline of a sort.

In the meantime, you might be interested in a post about resolutions as a procrastination strategy that I wrote today on one of my other blog sites. In Defense of Procrastination is the blog for a book I’m writing about all the positive aspects to procrastination there are, along with the negative ones, and why we should try not to feel so guilty when we procrastinate sometimes. Today’s entry covers one benefit that I hadn’t thought of before, and the idea comes thanks to an interesting guy named Timothy Pychyl, who is a psychology prof at Carleton. He points out that when we make a resolution to do something (or stop doing something) at a certain point in the future, we feel good about ourselves because we are going to do (or stop doing) that thing. So we get a positive feeling even though we haven’t actually done the thing or made the change yet. We get to have our cake and eat it too, as it were.

Resolutions are a big part of life for those of us who are addicted to food and other things. As Rita realizes, our thoughts are always about what we are going to do next Monday, or the first day of next month, or on New Year’s Day. Or tomorrow.

I remember reading somewhere that we could start a new way of being in the world at ANY moment –  right now, for example. That blew me away. I had always figured you had to start a new way of living first thing in the morning. (In truth, I found it a bit scary to think that I could start a new routine right now. Not sure why.)

Then, after years and years of New Year’s Resolutions during which I broke cigarettes in half and flushed them down the toilet at midnights (or at least before I went to bed) and dumped half bottles of wine down the sink more often than I want to think about, I finally faced my alcohol addiction a third of the way through an October, and quit smoking half way through a June. So much for Mondays and firsts of the month and New Year’s Days!

Admin stuff

I’m posting a new Page (see tab above header) with the guidelines to our book club on it, in case anyone wants to refer to them.

I’m delighted at how many people have visited this blog in the past week or so, and I hope you are a return visitor – or will be one. I’m also happy that a fellow struggler has left a comment on the post that went up yesterday. We are not alone! I invite you to join in…

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Discussion topic: Rita Turner’s (and my) addiction to food

Read the first seven chapters for free!

Reprinted from The Whole Clove Diet website:

On the basis of my so-far successful battles with alcohol and cigarettes (13 years and counting), I began to recognize my ongoing struggle with food as an addiction, too. In my newest solo novel, The Whole Clove Diet, which was commended by one reviewer for its “deftness, light touch, humour and benevolence, but also for its insights into human frailty,” I explore the many compulsions to eat food that have nothing to do with hunger, but are related instead to being angry, tired, lonely, afraid and sad. I don’t believe that any diet will work for anyone until this fact has been addressed.

For most of this novel, Rita is not in charge of her eating habits, even though everyone (including all the people who know her, her readers,  and even Rita herself) thinks she should be. She goes on every diet in the book (literally!), without success. But finally she begins to find a more enduring way out of her misery.

From January 1 to January 31, 2014, right here on my Whole Clove Diet blog, a group of us will be reading this novel together and discussing the very real obstacles to getting a grip on overeating. Please join us.

You can start reading the novel here, for free, and then buy it if you want to find out what happens next….

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Good news from the scale and from book-land

LATEST STATS: To November 27, 2012

Amount lost: 33.5 lbs

How long it’s taken me so far (June 20 to Nov. 20): 5 months

Someone said to me last night, on hearing my total weight loss so far and how long I’ve been sticking to my resolution not to eat sugar, “Now you’ll have to rewrite The Whole Clove Diet.

The whole point is that I DON’T have to rewrite The Whole Clove Diet, because what I am doing is proof of the (sugarless 🙂 ) pudding.

Over the course of the novel, Rita learns about the basic and fundamental adjustments in attitude that she needs to make in order to change her compulsive way of eating, and I (knowing those principles from other kinds of overindulgence I have indulged in in my life — I am the one, after all, who wrote the novel!) got it together enough to put those principles to work in the food-consumption area of my life. That’s all.

My weight loss has slowed in the past couple of months because I have been extraordinarily busy with freelance editing work (several full books, a master’s thesis, a PhD thesis, a monograph, not to mention several shorter pieces of fiction and technical articles) and for that and various other reasons, I have  been eating out more than usual. So I’ve had more refined starches than I had earlier in my sugar-free journey – potatoes, rice, and bread. But I continue to avoid sugar, and I continue to watch portions, and I continue to lose weight.

I keep thinking, “I haven’t weighed myself for a week or ten days. I’ve been eating out and I’ve been eating well. I’ll bet I’ve gained.” But each time I check, I’ve lost.

My favourite weight-loss concept, which I acknowledge with great pleasure having borrowed from one of my favourite books about health and life (Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman. I’ve been reading it over and over, along with their newer book, Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever, for years)  is this: If you choose the number  of calories that you SHOULD be eating if you were the weight you SHOULD be at, and then just eat that number of calories every day, you will get to that weight eventually. It’s inevitable.

I have pretty much been doing that, even though I don’t count calories: I’ve been eating the way I would eat to maintain my weight if I were at my goal weight (which is still another 15 to 20 lbs away). The thing I love about this is that means I am “impersonating myself” at my goal weight: at least in my food intake, if not in my dress size and muscle tone yet. 🙂 Rita gets some pleasure when she discovers this principle too. It’s sort of like training for living at the size I want to be.

NEWS on The Whole Clove Diet front

This week I am honoured to be the Book of the Week on the B.R.A.G. (Book Lovers Appreciation Group) “Indie Brag” site, and although I didn’t win in the Writers Digest Self-Published Books award competition, I did get a fabulous review from them, which I will post here soon. In the meantime, an excerpt:

“These very-real details are wonderfully portrayed [in The Whole Clove Diet] with language which is vivid, humorous and intelligent. And some of the sentences are poetry.”

Okay. Enough crowing and self-indulgence. Back to my editing work!

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Filed under Addiction, Awards and Prizes, Eating Disorders, Habits, Healthy Living, No Sugar, The Whole Clove Diet: A Novel, Weight loss