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The Problem With Angry Dieters | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

The Problem With Angry Dieters

As I recover from my heart attack and work to keep my lifestyle changes, I’ve found that “diet” can be a four-letter word.

It isn’t just because it’s hard to continue for a lifetime.

It is also because of the angry dieters.  Angry dieters can have great ideas on how to improve the western diet. But they become so enamored of their personal best plan that they grow angry when someone eats a “forbidden food” and talks about it.  In the process of venting their anger, they can demoralize and discourage regular people who are trying to make better food choices.

It goes like this:

I can post a menu item of something I made and get the following feedback:

  • I shouldn’t have used whole wheat flour to make a pizza because wheat has gluten and that’s the basis of all health ills in the civilized world. I shouldn’t use whole wheat but other whole grains instead. If I didn’t eat wheat, I would lose weight faster than the 24 pounds I’ve lost in the 15 weeks since my heart attack. The fact that I have a tabletop wheat grinder and grind my own wheat is irrelevant.
  • I shouldn’t have chosen corn tortillas for a Mexican dish because they were probably made of GMO corn. I should ignore the fact that I’m on a 1,500 milligram limit of salt per day and that corn tortillas have not only more fiber but only 20 mg of sodium, compared to the 200 mg of a single flour tortilla. A better choice would have been to skip the tortilla entirely and only eat the filling. Never mind that I’m cooking not just for me but for my husband and teen-aged son who miss their more traditional diet of last year.
  • It didn’t matter if I baked the brown rice because I shouldn’t have eaten rice to begin with. It’s not paleo. The fact that I’m not following a paleo diet is irrelevant.
  • I shouldn’t have used fat-free cheese as a topping on that pizza because automatically everything that is fat free puts in so many different chemicals that it will kill me. Ignore the fact that I’m severely limited on the amount of saturated fats and cholesterol I can eat each day, cheese was one of my favorite ingredients, and I miss it. And a little fat free cheese can help me miss it less so I stay on the low fat low sodium whole food wagon better.
  • God help me if I eat an egg. That can lead to a 3 day discussion on whether or not eating a single egg is good or bad for heart disease. And if I am busy and eat an egg beater instead of just doing the white myself, that can double the discussion length as we analyze the additives in the low-fat egg substitute I just ate.
  • I can’t discuss the store where I buy most of my produce because it’s not all organic. Ignore the budgetary differences between organic and non-organic produce. I’m buying real food, primarily grown in the United States, and I work to properly clean produce before we eat it. I know all-organic would be better. But if I did that, and added that much more money to our food budget which has already increased from our healthier options, it might stress me out and increase my blood pressure.
  • I should have substituted bacon grease for olive oil because olive oil is processed and bacon grease is a simple, real food. Ignore that I am fighting clogged arteries.
  • When I made a fish meal from flash frozen fish on sale, I should have instead spent more money and bought fresh fish. Never mind that I worked to get the fresh water varieties, have a busy schedule and bought fish when I had time to grocery shop.
  • If I cut all the dairy and meat from my diet, I wouldn’t have had a heart attack in the first place. And then someone else will argue that dairy is a hidden, unknown resource in battling weight loss.
The anger and criticism inspires those of us who are trying to make better lifestyle choices to hunker down, shut our mouths, and share our new lifestyle adventures with no one. It’s hard enough to recovery from surgery and major illness without having to justify every single menu choice every day.

And the whole time all those hair-splitting arguments are taking place about my food choices, another student in my cardiac rehab class is sharing his information on his lifestyle changes:

  • He’s eating healthier now because he buys his bologna from the deli instead of the package.
  • He eats white bread for his sandwiches because there’s no real difference in its nutrition content from the whole grain selections.
He has heard so many discussions like what’s described above that he no longer listens to any of them.

When all we do is argue and criticize other people’s food choices, we alienate them. Our anger can cause them to filter and ignore everything we say, much of which is beneficial.

Our bad behavior will not inspire other people to make better food choices.

A more pro-active approach is to talk about what we like with our food choices. What’s fun to eat? What’s affordable to buy? How can I incorporate better whole food choices into my menu family for my family, on busy days?

My first choice in this lifestyle change is to follow the suggestions given to me by my doctors and cardiac rehab team. First and foremost, it involves as many whole foods and as few processed foods as possible. Fats and salt are limited as much as possible, but when I do have fats, I try to substitute them for healthier choices. If we eat beef, it’s generally limited to 2 times per week. We work to eat 2 fish meals per week, as well as 2 bean-based meals per week. If I eat real eggs, they are limited to 2 eggs per week. I do eat eat grains and work to make sure they are whole grain.

And now a nugget that’s bound to anger somebody: I was a salt fiend. I loved to salt my food and no longer do. When I absolutely crave it, I now use a potassium-based salt substitute. It helps me resist the urge to salt my food when a sprinkle of Mrs. Dash doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t taste the same, but it adds enough zing for me to keep my salt down. As my taste buds have changed, I’ve used it less. But I also have low potassium, and I figure those dashes of salt substitute might just help.

The real diet war  I’m fighting isn’t with other people. It’s a war to prolong my life. I take it seriously and work to keep my focus on the long term view and not just today’s battle.

And I hope that as I talk about the changes I’ve made it inspires others to do the same.


2 Responses to “The Problem With Angry Dieters”

  1. Nancy Griffin March 25, 2013 at 1:23 pm #


    Your body will tell you what’s right, through your sensations and your blood tests. Keeping you in homeostasis, that is what matters. You have to start somewhere.

    If, however, you observe otherwise – isn’t it good to know that there are alternatives out there that you can research, question your doctor about and get feedback on through scientific verification with future blood tests?

    Some people like to argue, especially when they have found something that has truly helped them out and some just want to share, so you can feel better, too, should YOU decide it is wise to attempt at some point.

    I have no malicious intention for you or anyone that I converse with in your area of cyberspace. We are basically in the same, middle-aged, boat here – I hope that through discussion we will be able to glean new and better ways to live our lives. I like to at least have some basis for comparison while listening to my doctor tell me what he believes to be true.

    Peace and good health to you,


    • River March 9, 2017 at 1:41 am #

      It’s spooky how clever some ppl are. Thnksa!

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