Dissecting Diets


I admit, my first attempt at weight loss as an overweight teen was a diet. In fact, it was Weight Watchers.  However, back in 1978, WW was significantly different. It really wasn’t a “diet” like we know today, it was an education in healthy eating, a healthy diet. For the first time in years, I abstained from eating fast food, started moving more and ate fruits and vegetables every day. Since that time, weight loss strategies and the ridiculous number of fast-n-easy diets has dramatically changed people’s relationship with food. Instead of discovering how food can work with their body, many people are fighting weight loss and food has become their weapon of choice.

As a senior in high school, I was 50 pounds heavier and on a 5’2″ frame, that’s just not healthy. I knew by how I felt, how I performed each day that something wasn’t right. To be honest, it wasn’t so much how I looked, but more about  how I felt. Today, it’s all about how we look, how thin we are and health has taken a back seat. I look at movie stars, models and even reality stars and thin is the new black. The truth is that not everyone is meant to be skinny, and I mean skinny, not thin, Hollywood, Angelina Jolie thigh skinny. And women (and some men) buy into that look as a goal to shoot for. So, they jump on the latest diet that promises to slim your thighs, harden your abs, whittle your waist and remove cellulite.  And because of the pressure to meet the expectations of an unrealistic culture, we diet, over and over and over again all in an effort to be- skinny.

Over the last few years, I have become more and more interested in nutrition, how what we eat affects our body as well as our environment. I’ve been fascinated to read the evolution of nutrition over the years. Oddly enough, instead of our country creating amazing, healthy foods to make us smarter and leading edge, we’ve excelled in fast-food restaurants and processed food leaving us all unhealthy and overweight. We see high numbers of obesity, schools cutting out physical education and more and more kids being diagnosed with things never heard of 30 years ago. When I was in grade school, no one had allergies. Maybe one or two kids had asthma.  ADD? Autism? ADHD? It was unheard of then.

As my interest in nutrition has grown, so has the way I fuel my body.  And the funny thing is I find myself changing and becoming more and more interested in listening to and trusting what my body needs to perform optimally. The way I eat is not designed to help me become thin, not skinny but healthy.  Diets that I have reviewed over the years have one goal, to cause weight loss and longevity is irrelevant. These programs figure if they get people to lose weight once, they’ll come back. because they believed it worked before. Hmmm.  Over and over and over again, people fall in to the diet trap striving for skinny, to achieve what they perceive to be normal.  If only we could rise above the hold that diets clearly have on the 70 million Americans that diet each year.

I recently wrote an article on Plant Based Nutrition. I am a believer. Not only am I believer, I am gradually changing my lifestyle to accommodate more of a plant based diet, not weight loss, health based. Why? Because it’s more along the lines of how my ancestors ate and given the way our environment is constantly compromised, I want to select my foods based on how kind the food is to my body and to the earth.  When I’m buying organic simply because it’s organic and dismissing the fact that it was sent here from Mexico or Chile, what kind of carbon imprint is that leaving? Further, how does the nutrition diminish during lengthy transportation? Wouldn’t it make better sense to buy locally even if not necessarily organic? We’ve confused organic with earth and health smart, not always the case.

Imagine if more people took up gardening and learned to eat seasonally vs. expecting perfect produce in the off season. Imagine how differently you would view food if you didn’t have to decipher ingredients on the side of a box that looked more like hieroglyphics versus real food.  Eating for health truly is the key to ridding yourself of diets and hanging on to a healthy, strong body.

I believe it’s time to walk away from the world of diets that does nothing to encourage healthy eating options, simply calorie focus. It’s time to realize that if diets were great, obesity and disease would decline, not the case. Getting back to basics with a focus on plant based nutrition, locally grown produce, small farms we can support,  we will not only find a wonderful difference in the health of our body, we will discover a great way to positively impact our environment.






Here’s to your health!


4 Responses

  1. Susan says:

    I agree with you on most of this.
    Food choice is definitely related to obesity in kids. There are kids who don’t eat correctly or healthily.
    Lack of physical activity is also an issue. I can remember going outside in the summers and only coming home for lunch and dinner. We kids ran around the neighborhood with our friends all day. Something kids don’t seem to do anymore.

    The part that I have issue with is the following:
    “more and more kids being diagnosed with things never heard of 30 years ago. When I was in grade school, no one had allergies. Maybe one or two kids had asthma. ADD? Autism? ADHD? It was unheard of then.”

    I knew a few kids with asthma. I think environmental issue are far more prevalent causes at this point. Lets face it, there are far more things mucking up our air nowadays.

    I was also in school 30 years ago (graduated high school in 1981.) Can you honestly say you did not know kids with any of these issues? They have always been around.

    I definitely knew kids who would be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. They were the ones always in trouble with my teachers for not sitting still, talking too much, and not doing their work. They drove my teachers nuts and spent a lot of time out in the hallway or in the corner of the classroom so as not to distract the rest of us. (Rodney and Sonia are the two foremost in my mind.)

    I knew kids with allergies to various substances. Most specifically, I remember a friend, Beth, who couldn’t eat strawberries. I remember this because I loved strawberries and could not imagine going through life not being able to eat them. I felt so sorry for her.

    I knew kids who today would be diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. They were kind of the loners of the class – very smart, yet socially awkward.
    (Aspergers was not widely recognized as a specific diagnosis until 1981.) In this case, I am thinking about Dave and Steve. Both brilliant in many ways, yet unorganized, and socially inept. I always tried to be nice to those boys since they did not seem to have friends.

    And I babysat for a boy from my church who was a year younger then I was. He was autistic. When we were growing up, the kids who were diagnosed with autism were not in the regular schools. They were in special schools or often institutionalized, so no they did not sit in class with us like they do today. The boy I babysat was a student at Hope Wall in Aurora.

    There have been major advancements and changes in how these things have been diagnosed and identified. Yes there is an increase in diagnoses of these things, but there is a dispute in educational and medical circles as to whether the incidence has actually increased, or whether they are just better diagnosed.

    Having two nephews with Aspergers, I do believe the ability to diagnose is part of the reason for the increase. I knew kids just like them growing up who never had the diagnosis. And in my nephews’ cases, my sister would not have bothered with the diagnosis had it not been for the education system that started to fail them when they reached high school. At that point, they could ace every test put in front of them, could tell you everything about what they had learned, but their grades did not reflect this knowledge due to silly things like whether their binder was organized correctly…

    • Nicki says:


      You’re MUCH younger than I. 🙂 I graduated in 1979. I actually am a poster child for ADD, but to your point, diagnoses were different then. So yes, there were kids that went undiagnosed with these conditions, but again I had never heard the term, ADD, or ADHD.

      Do I blame the seeming surge or awareness of these conditions on food? Environment? I am convinced there is a strong connection. After sending my 4 kids through the school system, I have seen incredible growth in these diagnosis and some I’m not so sure about. “Oh, your child is misbehaving in school? Here’s some…..” (whatever stimulant is prescribed) and that’s that. I saw that a lot during my kids school careers. I’m not so sure all of them had ADD or ADHD. Also, when my kids were little, they LIVED on “bubble gum medicine” which was an antibiotic that was frequently prescribed because in the 80’s antibiotics were given out like aspirin. Both of my adult children suffer from auto immune diseases and I can’t help but think there is a strong correlation (I’ve read studies eluding to the connection) between the overuse of antibiotics and the food they were served before I started educating myself on nutrition and environmental red flags.

      If there’s one thing I believe you and I agree with, is the growth in Type II diabetes and childhood and adult obesity. That’s the scariest of all because from obesity stems a myriad of risk factors. But that’s another blog. 🙂

      As always, thanks for your thoughtful input.


  2. Susan says:

    I should state that I do think way too many kids are medicated for things that should be left alone. Honestly, I rarely took my kids to the doctor when they were growing up. I had friends who took their kids for every cold, flu, etc. I let those things run their course with my kids. They saw their doctor for their annual checkup, and then if they ran an unusually high temperature, vomited for more than a day, had ear pain, or a had sore throat last longer than a week. I think each of them was put on an antibiotic about 3 times max growing up. By the time they got to high school, they never got sick anymore. My son works with kids at Rush Copley’s Healthplex now. He has still managed to avoid getting sick from the things the kids carry. Both are far healthier than any of the kids of my friends who went to the doc for everything.

    There are kids diagnosed with ADD or ADHD now and put on meds way too early that probably shouldn’t be on them. Part of the problem with this is the expectations of what they should be accomplishing at younger and younger ages. In the 20 years that I taught, (I stayed home when my kids were in high school – opposite of every other mom in the world – and of course at this point no district wants to hire me – I am too expensive) I watched as things got pushed down to lower and lower grades. When we grew up, we were not expected to read in kindergarten. We learned about our ABCs and numbers. We sang songs. We learned how to play nicely with each other. In my kindergarten class, we even had a nap time for about 15 minutes halfway through the morning. Kindergarten now is more like 2nd grade was for us. And some kids just aren’t ready. If they were allowed to be kids just a bit longer, more would be ready for the things that are thrown at them. If you think about our generation, there was never that concern that we were behind other nations in education, and we really weren’t. We were allowed a chance to be kids and were developmentally ready for the things presented to us and picked things up better as a result. Since the education has started to throw things at kids at younger ages, we have started to fall behind.
    So yes the solution to kids not being developmentally ready to learn to read has sometimes been dealt with by throwing a med at them. I do think that the diagnoses for ADD and ADHD have gone up as a result of this change in education. And a poor diet is probably related in some cases too. And parents have an issue in this too – there are so many who want their kids to be the best. What ever happened to normal being ok?

    I think we also have to think about the major changes in prenatal and postnatal medicine too. There are far more kids born today and in our education system that would not have survived 40 years ago.

    I just wanted to basically say there is far more than just diet related to all of these things. It’s all very complex and sometimes interrelated.

    • Nicki says:

      Agreed, far more complex than we realize. But I still feel that the quality of mother’s during pregnancy, and what is fed to her children post=pregnancy is a substantial piece of the puzzle. The quality of the foods we are eating today is significantly different than the quality of the foods my grandparents ate. Not to mention the increase in sugar, processed foods and chemically altered foods. So much to research, so much to learn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.