Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I'm the Gal from S.C.A.N.T.

Thank you, dietsurvivors.

This non-dieting system is beginning to come together for me; as I read more of Linda Moran's book How to Survive Your Diet: And Conquer Your Food Issues Forever, I realize just how much the "should-nots" have dominated my life. I won't say that Linda Moran's book has given me the power to reclaim my eating life--I have had to do that myself--but her words resonate so true and are almost so obvious (and yet not obvious), but I'm ready to hear them. I do recommend the book, which can be ordered at www.betterwaypress.com or at Amazon.

I don't normally hawk products (other than what adsense sends my way, and even then, I have the option of filtering out companies that I find dishonest and immoral like a certain vanity poetry publisher, which shall remain unnamed), but this book is important to people who want to consider non-dieting as a life choice. There are other good self-help books out there, but this one especially resonates for me, at least so far, because Linda does not anoint herself as some all-knowing and almighty diet guru. She simply states what works for her, and asks her readers to trust her enough to read the entire book all the way through and then take what we need from it. That's a fair expectation.

Ironically, from what I can gather, Linda is a thin person; I never thought a thin person could ever give good advice to fat people, but I'm coming to realize that our issues are not all that far apart. She has never indicated that she's a natural thin person, but has admitted to having an exercise addiction. And in my book, an addiction is an addiction.

Also, I have been reading and posting at Linda's Yahoo! support group for non-dieters. It's a lively site with good people posting their greatest triumphs and worst fears. And, in a cyberspace sort of way, we help support one another.

A few days ago, on December 4, I celebrated a four-month anniversary. Actually, I didn't celebrate anything; I forgot about the anniversary and just thought of it now.

On August 4, after returning from Macedonia and Sioux City, Iowa (where I was born and raised), I decided to go on a diet. I was 207 pounds (I'm only 5'3 3/4), so the enterprise was sort undertaken under duress. All the bad gastro problems, night sweats, and heavy snoring dominated my life; also, I could barely get in my "fat" shorts, and I felt uncomfortable in a body that was increasingly feeling awkward and bloated.

I dreaded the whole process, but I gritted my teeth, and started my umteenth diet. If you wish to read about what happened after that, feel free to read my past posts: "A New Life Journey" (11/7), "The Epiphany: The Lottery Ticket" (11/7), "The Epiphany: The Lottery Ticket, Revisited" (11/16).

Suffice to say, I gave up the diet plan. Three weeks after my resolve, I binged and pretty much gave up, period.

Then I dug out a book, criticizing the commercial diet industry as a cartel of money-grubbing con artists who played on the fears and dreams of the overweight, bought over 10 years ago and found a "diet" idea that could actually work: making a list of my 10 favorite foods and incorporating them into my daily diet.

A light bulb moment.

Before then, it had never occurred to me that a "diet" could contain my favorite foods, unless they were nutritious and low cal. Taste didn't matter a whole lot, just that certain foods equaled weight loss.

In one "aha" moment, my whole concept about weight loss shattered. I started weaving in some of my favorite foods, but, in the end, I was still on a diet of sorts.

On November 9, driving home from class, I heard an NPR interview with the authors of Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. Something caught my ear: an Okinawan cultural practice called hara hachi bu--eating until you're 80% full.

That was my W.O.W. (Way Over Wonderful) moment.

Shortly after that, I googled hara hachi bu, and found dietsurvivors.

Now I'm at the point where I need to develop my own life plan, based on my personal needs and preferences, a plan that I can work with for the rest of my life.

I have come up with a working outline for my own non-dieting plan: S.C.A.N.T.

So Iwould like to share my ideas with anyone who might be interested. Keep in mind, though, that this is my plan. It might not work for everyone or anyone (but me, and, from time to time, I might have to revise).

S.C.A.N.T. is an acronym:

S = Sustainability and simplicity. My plan has to work for the long, long haul, and it has to be simple. I'm the family cook who hates to cook, so my plan has to be devoid of complicated and fussy recipes.

C = Culling and cutting. Like most other cultures already do, I'll eat only the amount of food I really need to survive, and consciously develop finicky eating habits, declining food I don't really like and/or want.

A = Activity. (I'm still working on this, but I refuse to allow organized exercise to take over my life--it has in the past. On the other hand, my body does require more activity than it currently gets. Did I say I was perfect? Oops.).

N = Nutrition. Given the limited amount of food in my plan, I have to pay special attention to basic nutrition, especially at my age. In my case, that means vitamins and calcium supplements; that way, I can avoid eating foods and liquids I dislike, such as most milk products.

T = Taste. My diet must be filled with tasty foods I like, and every food in my list of favorites should be legalized, even high fat and low nutrition items. I must recognize that eating does not just involve fulfilling physiological needs but, also, psychological and social needs.

So, for now, that's about it.

Later, I will devote individual posts to each aspect of S.C.A.N.T.

But, for now, I am the gal from S.C.A.N.T.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts!


Jennifer Semple Siegel

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