I pretty much stopped dieting, or eating to lose weight when I was seventeen. It was the sixties and I was influenced by Frank Zappa singing: there will come a time when you won't even be ashamed if you are fat and feminism and the general culture of peace and love and rejection of main stream culture. I didn't really internalize the idea of fat as part of my identity until much later. I continued to think that being fat was a pathology and that if I worked on my psychological issues I would naturally lose weight. In my early twenties I titled a journal: Adipose Agony because I was still fat after so much self help work.
My thoughts about food moved toward hippie health food. I ate bowls full of yogurt and wheat germ. I ate brown rice and veggies. I drank Lapsang Souchong. But I also experimented with indulging cravings for things like M&Ms as a way to shift any psychological addiction.
I began to work in restaurants at sixteen but it wasn't until I was in my early twenties and got a job in a French restaurant that I began to think like a foodie. I started as a dishwasher. The chef was Italian, oddly enough, and decided to teach me about food. I remember him literally sticking things in my mouth and asking if it was good. I had no idea. I knew what I liked and I learned to like new things but I had no sense of what made things good, better or best.
I am diabetic by one point. I never remember the numbers that define things but I am literally diabetic by one point. I know that those numbers were redefined at some point but I've always been told I was borderline diabetic. My doctor isn't worried because my numbers don't jump around. Every year I get blood work and every year it's the same. My cholesterol numbers are great.
In my forties I noticed changes in my ability to digest fats, sugars and carbs and in my fifties things changed again. I noticed because I got stomach aches. I've adapted my consumption and manage to keep the stomach aches at bay most of the time. As a result I eat in what would probably be considered a very healthy manner by most standards.
My first concern is getting enough protein. I rely on eggs for breakfast to some extent. And then some other kind of protein like fish, meat, beans, cheese later in the day. I always have fruits and veggies. I eat most of my carbs and fats early in the day so I can digest them before time to sleep. I have something like candy, cookies, cake, ice cream every day but I can usually only have one thing (or suffer a stomach ache) and I usually eat what ever I'm going to have very early in the day. I drink lots of water. Little caffeine. Not much salt.
How I eat is also determined by the seasons. If you read me at all you probably know that I if it's summer I want to be eating a peach every day. Peas start in spring but sometimes I can get them all summer. Berries are in abundance and so good. Tomatoes get better and better as the summer goes on. At some point in the fall I'm eating apples. I eat more warm food in the winter. Cold food in the summer. Because I live in San Francisco it can feel like winter in July and summer in December, which keeps things interesting.
I need variety to feel happy but that's not hard for me. I enjoy the process of figuring out what to eat. I never think about eating to lose weight but I do have a diet of sorts. We all do. A diet is how you eat.
Dieting, or eating to lose weight, is unsustainable for most people. I've met very few people who don't care what they eat on a day to day basis. People like to eat the food that makes them happy. Fast food doesn't make me happy. But I have learned that some people love it. Hard for me to accept but it's true. I don't have much trouble not eating a lot of the candy, cookie, ice cream, cake part of my diet because it doesn't feel good. The only time I every crave anything is when I try to not eat it at all.
I didn't always have to put much thought into what I needed to eat. I didn't get the stomach aches when I was younger, or certainly not as easily. After cooking all day I often didn't feel like cooking for myself and have eaten lots of popcorn and yogurt dinners. I've also had a bag of something ( cookies, pretzels) open next to me on the desk and eaten most of it without paying attention. But those days are gone now. My body complains too loudly and too quickly.
Sometimes I'm not in the mood to think about food and not in the mood to cook. I order a pizza or some Chinese food and sometimes it works out. But most of the time I spend any where from twelve to twenty four hours in misery while my digestive system grumbles and complains.
Also when I was young I smoked and if you gave me a choice between a cigarette and food I'd pick the cig. I was still fat.
I've been on the drugs and alcohol diet. I was still fat.
I've been on the poverty diet. I was still fat.
I am fat by nature. How fat may be about how much I eat and how much I exercise but in my experience the thinnest I've ever been was still fat.
I love and respect food. Food is about comfort. And community. And pleasure. And so many things that I am not willing to give up.