Eating less, "enduring deprivation" are not the same

If it seems like I’m piling on with this, my second response to Al Lewis’s HuffPo column on wellness and overweight, that’s OK. I know Al can handle it. I’m making it a second post because the first one was 2,500-words plus, way longer than I (and many readers) prefer. But, I didn’t want to let this go unanswered:

Office weight-loss competitions (whose use I don’t encourage), are “well and good if you feel like depriving yourself of food for 8 weeks (the typical length of these programs).”

He’s on his way to some other point, but “depriving yourself of food for 8 weeks” is not the only way to lose weight. I was over 300 pounds for well more than half the time between ages 15 and 33, and in the 25 years since, I have definitely eaten less per day than I did then. (What I eat is a mere sidelight in the context of the wholistic change I’ve experienced, but it’s the subject here.)

Even though I’m eating less, I. Do. Not! Feel. Deprived! I eat well. I enjoy my food. Eating six times per day, as my nutritionist has directed, I rarely feel hungry. People who don’t have enough to eat, whose kids go hungry at night, are food-deprived. But equating merely eating less than usual, or less than preferred, to deprivation is an insult to those who actually *are* deprived.

I was probably eating 3,500 or 4,000 calories a day when I entered eating-disorder rehab in 1991, and bang, between breakfast and lunch, I was following a 1,500-calorie plan. Shockingly, I never experienced the impact of that change — probably because when you’re in rehab, so much shit is going down that such dislocations are typical, and shared by all. I don’t claim that I’ve held the same conviction about my food plan for all the years since, but I’ve been pretty solid on that point for at least 15 years.

I am much happier, eating the way I do now. It doesn’t mean that I no longer think that pizza tastes good, or that I no longer like onion rings. But the way I was living that included those things does not compare to the way I’m living now. Not even close.

If people want to eat whatever they want, that’s their right. But a) people can choose to eat differently and profit by it, and b) beyond the level of survival, it’s only deprivation if you choose to look at it that way.

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