A Frivolous Post About a Girl, Her Thesaurus, and Her Diet

I would like to tell you about something I like and something I don’t. Don’t worry, this is a completely frivolous post. You need not take a position. Or you may! But these will not be earth-shaking.

First, I love my thesaurus. I love it in a serious, lifetime commitment sort of way. It is the giant complete Roget’s 6th Edition, and it could murder a medium-sized terrier with its heft and weight. But it would never do something like that! My thesaurus is all heart.

You see, when I am working, I cannot be trusted with the internet. The internet has shiny things, and Twitter, and blogs, and Cracked, and reddit and says Caaaaaat. You can put off that story another hour. Whooooo wooooould knoooow. I cannot actually resist this at all. So I have to work with all the nets off, and all net-capable devices cleverly in another room or building. And not just nets off, but turned off by my programmer husband in such a way that I do not know how he has done it, nor can I undo it myself.

This makes finding little details, not to mention the quotidian work of looking shit up in a thesaurus, rather irritating.

But my Roget 6th Edition! She comes to the rescue! She can be used in an offline capacity, and is full of good words. But that’s not why I love her. Or not all of it. See, she also has lists. Of every animal. Every plant. Every type of clothing. Every type of cocktail. Every jewel and mineral and chemical and metal. Every type of firework. It goes on and on, these lists. They are amazing, and so helpful, if I need to know what sorts of trees I might like to have growing here, or what sort of food to serve at a feast, or that the dress I want is called a houppelande.

She is not in alphabetical order, either. That’s for noobs. She is in this esoteric Mrs Basil E Frankweiler Victorian order that starts of with BEING, EXISTENCE, and sort of flows through everything in the world via word association. So it’s awesome for seeing something in the next column over that you really need, because the next column is thematically linked, see? SO GOOD.

In short, I could not live with out my giant Terrierbane Thesaurus. The end.

Now, if you don’t like dieting talk, I would skip out on this next one.

Oh my god. So I’m dieting because BLEH but I need to lose weight, I’m not healthy or strong and the tour really showed me that. So I’m dieting. I’ve pretty much tried them all and I hate them all, but just calorie-counting doesn’t work for me, and also triggers my number-obsessions to the point of refusing to eat because of even numbers and that is not ok. So. I’ve been on the Harcombe Diet, because azure suggested it and it looked…ok. It’s a basic paleo kind of thing but with lots of live yogurt. It says you will lose 7-10 pounds in Phase 1! And did I?

Actually, yes. I lost 8.2 pounds. Great! Neato!

Only then we come to phase 2, at which point I start to get cranky. (And gain back two pounds almost immediately) Because phase 2 is one of those Oh, you can have anything you want! Only you have to separate carbs and fats/proteins. So easy! (I question the science of the food separating thing anyway, but whatever.)

Um. What this means is that food is now completely boring. It was cool for awhile, except for the no vinegar so no dressing on dry salad, but now it’s either meat and salad or brown rice and plain steamed vegetables. No fruit except berries, no nuts, no sauces except, basically, pureed tomatoes over whole wheat pasta. Nothing processed, and her definition of processed is pretty draconian. Honey is referred to as a processed food, even unpasteurized honey, and is forbidden. (Yet skim milk, which is processed like whoa, is somehow ok?) That is not anything I want to eat. I fucking hate whole wheat pasta. It’s like eating boiled cardboard. Thrillingly, she suggests puffed sugarless brown rice ceral for breakfast WITH NO MILK. MOAR CARDBOARD. CARDBOARD ALL THE TIME.

So…basically I now don’t care about food. I don’t care what I eat because there isn’t much joy in the available palette. I refuse to eat a tub of plain unflavored Greek yogurt everyday so I eat Activia because I can stand the taste. But that has sugar so technically I’m cheating. But really…the food is horribly uninspiring. And this diet is advertised as a great way to live the rest of your life. On unflavored yogurt, plain tea, puffed rice cereal, and a tiny square of dark chocolate to treat yourself, as long as it’s above 85% cocoa. EAT ON THAT BITTER, BITTER CHOCOLATE AND LIKE IT IT IS YOUR TREAT.

And this diet does the thing I hate most. It claims that this is the way we were “meant” to eat, and that up until a couple of hundred years ago everyone ate this way.

OK, slow down, hoss. Because I know Atkins does this too and so do a lot of other diets. It is a bunch of shit. First off, I’m pretty sure our cave-brethren were not carefully separating carbs and proteins. They were seeking out as much fat and sugar as possible to survive. If they found a potato and a fucking apple to go with it it was called the FEAST OF ALL AUTUMNS YO. The way were “meant” to eat IS the problem–we are still hard wired to want all that delicious survival and hunt it down at all costs. The idea that we weren’t “meant” to eat bread also drives me up a wall. Yes, it is processed and is calorically dense (once considered a good thing, as for most of history everyone not the king or a friend of the king has been operating at a calorie deficit), and Wonder Bread is a piece of crap. But we have been making and eating bread since civilization started–in fact, eating and making bread was, as far back as Homer and the fucking Odyssey, the marker of a civilized person. Only a monster doesn’t eat bread, Cyclops, what the hell is wrong with you, living on sheep and sailors and runny cheese?

“Meant to eat” is meaningless. We weren’t “meant” to be over six feet tall or live much past fifty. Nobody was “meant” to walk around on six-inch high heels all day. Shit changes. As I get older I see how terrifyingly much of all this is determined by genetics. I have friends who eat terrible, processed, fatty food and don’t exercise and stay much thinner than I am. I have friends who eat organic and are active and are bigger than I am. We all do our best and it’s quite hard, in this culture. Especially when diets and people trumpet the way we’re “meant” to eat and it goes against everything our body is actually telling us. There’s no food fate. Unless you’re talking about kosher or halal, I don’t want to hear about what humans were meant to eat, because no one handed us a menu writ in fire.

So yes. I hate diets that claim to be what mankind was “meant” to eat. Because we were “meant” to eat anything and everything we could get our hands on. Look at our teeth. That has little or no bearing on what we should be doing now, because even if you eat like a hunter gatherer you are not hunting or gathering, so kind of ruining the whole system there. We can behave other than how our most primitive selves behaved. We do it all the time. I also hate diets that are incredibly restrictive but claim not to be, and then toot that you should eat like this for the rest of your life. Expecting someone to live without–not just sugar, but any sweetening whatsoever, natural or not, forever, is not realistic. That is an entire taste group. That is willpower on a scale that…well, if I had it, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to this weight to begin with, you know?

So I guess the tactic of this diet is to suck all the joy out of food so you consider it fuel and never look forward to it. (This is not the fault of the cooking in our house, it’s the diet, and how little is allowed to be paired together) Great? I know a certain portion of the population considers this the only right way to look at food, but I am a foodie and a cook and an Italian woman with a super awesome kitchen. Food once held such joy for me, and it’s autumn and I want to make pumpkin pie. Subtracting one giant part of life’s joy and pleasure doesn’t seem like a sustainable “lifestyle change” to me.

I’m still on it, I guess. Unless I practice some carb restriction I really don’t lose anything. We’ve started up hot yoga which is really kicking my ass exercise wise, and this is good. There’s progress. It’s slow. I’ve accepted that this time around I’m going to have to fight for every pound. That’s fine. I’m committed to it and I have to take better care of myself. It’s not a choice anymore.

But apparently commitment tastes like puffed, boiled probiotic carboard.

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