The benefits of following diet rules, having a restrictive mentality toward food and in the support of wild claimsTess invited me to write more on the subject I left the comment about.
I am absolutely not qualified to speak about medical science and to give a health advice, but I think I can voice my point of view derived from personal observations. I developed my opinions by observing others and dealing with my own health issues and helping my family members, so my experience is very limited and my opinion is nothing more than thoughts of a private person. The main idea of my today post is the describing positive aspects of following diet rules most of the time, a behavior which could be called practicing a restrictive food attitude. There were some harsh words said about it, and I guess, I may in turn to argue in the defense of such practice because it is useful for many. Few things are totally wrong or right, after all, and there are benefits in following strict diet rules as well. The question is - if something in your regiment is unnecessary or if you are crossing your t-s twice, does it mean you are an idiot? Is it so important to eat the same food as everybody else? If you are not starving yourself or lacking vital nutrients, could you totally skip on bread, grains, sugar, even fruits without being harmed in some ways? Since hardly anyone finds "golden middle" in anything, which extreme is better - being too relaxed around food choices, or being too restrictive? Of course, there are always people who may choose diet rules which are not adequate to their situation, my post is about the people who found what works for them. When people are in the search of the most suitable regiment for their particular case, rules obedience is not a good idea, there is only one thing to do - to try how diet recommendations work in your case without being emotionally attached to ideas of any diet camp. Every diet recommendation could be supported by scientifically sounding explanations and referrals to several authorities, but only self-experimentation should be trusted.
As a newcomer to US, I find Americans way more rules obedient than people from my native country, unless it is about not eating something, it is opposite for Russians who are very bad in following directions and behaving safely and good in rules bending, but follow doctor's orders about a diet more readily. People in US put protective helmets on while riding bicycles around absolutely safe routes and use inflated jackets kayaking in shallow streams without second thoughts about doing overkill, or a possibility of not enjoying life and activity 100% while wearing a protective devise in a perfectly safe situation, but just don't try to pry some foods from people's cold dead hands! They practice moderation, and everything in moderation is good for you! They may cite researchers who discovered that serotonin is naturally produced only after consumption of carbohydrates in the form of sweets and starches. They even may develop an anxiety from the idea that food and health are connected. Dr. Dean mentioned her colleague who felt sorry and guilty afterwards for telling his patient about the diet beneficial for asthmatics. The patient developed an anxiety after learning that certain foods could provoke asthma attacks instead of being glad that a valuable tool was added to her asthma fighting options.
I also follow some advice without thinking, for example l do what my dermatologist told me to do - to put a sunscreen on my face regardless of the weather because I have a Rosacea (it turned out to be a super good practice when I went to Colorado for skiing in April, we forgot about the power of a sun at a high altitude, and my husband had really extensive sunburn, much worse than the one which could be achieved in Florida). We all mindlessly brush teeth twice a day while there is a data one time a day is good enough. Some people even take medications with known side-effects as a prevention against a possibility of a cardiovascular disease in a future. It looks like that our beliefs influence which side we trust - many people who are very opposed to food restrictions are totally satisfied with the practice to take more medication to treat symptoms and even use statins despite imperfect data which supports their use.
When you start analyzing rules, it is almost always easy to find something to laugh about - rules are rigid constructions by nature, and it is usually easy to imagine the situation when following some particular rule is ridiculous. All famous (mostly named after a doctor who actually treated his patients with a particular diet, not a blogger with a mania grandiose) LC diets have differences when it comes to details. Is it the evidence that there was something wrong with each diet? I don't think so. It is the nature of rules not to be reasonable 100% of the time, but generally working for the intended purpose. Does it mean every set of rules was unnecessary strict at least in something? Yes. Does it mean rules could be too generous? Absolutely. Dr. Alfred Pennington advised to fat DuPont executives to consume at each meal 2-3 oz of fat, 6-9 oz of meat, 80 calories of carbohydrates (in few cases that small amount of carbs prevented weight loss). It looks like following diet rules is a starting point/a ready-to-use template for the people who want to follow a diet. Many may develop own set of rules later which would save them from hesitations in a day-to-day life, others, who are less prepared for self-experimentation, could be using what is already put together and see how it works.
But why to live the unnatural life of a dieter? We are all adults, we know more or less how to navigate life safely when we drive, work, exercise, do house repairs. Why we just can't rely on a general mindfulness while eating? Probably, what I am about to say will not sound optimistic, but I do believe it is better to remember that in our quest to loose weight and, what is way more difficult, to keep it off, odds are against us, despite what numerous people claim in individual anecdotal n=1s. There are many examples of successful weight-losers on the National weight Registry and on Internet, but the chances it would be your case are statistically small. My doctor keeps telling me that watching almost the same number on a scale during my check-ups keeps him surprised because it is against his experience and the medical literature he reads. What we want to achieve is unnatural and often, but not always, not realistic. Getting an unnatural result may require an unnatural behavior. A general normal mindfulness is often the gateway to the yo-yo dieting because it leads to the sequence of less mindful eating/resulted weight gain during times of holidays or stress and almost starving/weight loss later in order to correct the weight gain ("the snap back in a shape!" as a commercial would say). Finding the working diet regiment is not enough, we also have to change subconscious behavior toward food and eating and to get maximum help from all directions. We have to train our inner voice to support us with what we do, not sabotaging us. People who want to lose weight while living in a sabotaging environment at least part of every day have to be spared from most of possible hesitations. It is hard to exercise mindfulness toward food all the time, so making choices without thinking works better on a long run. Everybody knows that there are foods around which are better to avoid entirely, and we don't need our inner voice to sing "one doughnut will not kill you, because everything is fine in moderation" or "today is a special occasion, we live only once, that cake, stuffing, mashed potato are worth to die for " it is what everybody is saying around us already. Some people even adapt "ridiculous" from other people's perspective motivating rituals like joining others who claim all grains are poisonous, embracing wild claims, watching videos about dangers of gluten like http://vimeo.com/107816775, reading "success stories" which usually tell nothing new, but for them finding a new information may be not the point because the people who try to motivate themselves often don't seek any additional reasoning. Motivational behavior could be even more important when they achieve their goal. Finding working set of rules for your case is important, but figuring how to stick to it is a separate ongoing problem, especially when somebody doesn't get an immediate feed-back from eating not-optimal food like the person with GI troubles or mental problems would. We are social creatures who could be influenced one way or another. Keeping mind open and experimenting farther when a diet is working already resulted for many in gained pounds and inches. There are social retards who feel comfortable doing things differently that others around, it seems to me many of frequenters of Wooo's blog belong to the such category. However, not everybody is blessed (or cursed) with a social retardation, and it is especially true for young people.
I don't belong to a Paleo crowd and I annoyed with some of their claims, but I want to give a huge credit to the Paleo movement for making junk food avoidance being cool. It is normal for youngsters to do reckless things to celebrate their temporary invincibility and youth, and if they pretend being cave people by not eating most of junk because it is a modern food, such reasoning is ok with me, If they go too far by putting in one category all grains together with a white flour, I have no problem with it too, even though I am a big fan of a buckwheat for the people who don't need to restrict carbohydrates. Others feel defensive toward beans, rice, quinoa and what not. Sour rye bread is almost a sacred food for many Eastern and North Europeans, rice eaters bring thinner Asians as the proof that rice is a healthy food. Most probably somebody who has been eating a rice all his/her life while being thin and healthy could continue safely, but a fat or a weight-reduced person may be not so lucky.
Many not so young people joyfully joined the paleo make-believe movement. They kill two birds with one stone - better diet + feeling younger while being the part of a younger crowd (some youngsters and not exactly youngsters were naughty enough to object). We should not dismiss the stimulating effect of the right state of one's spirit. Our inner dialogs are important. Paleo people follow easy to criticize rules imagining themselves being food rebels, and revolutions are exciting. When rules are followed, overkill is unavoidable, like in the case with wearing a helmet, but the underlying message of Paleos is spot-on - the human body has not evolved to consume modern diet. Would it be beneficial to convince Paleos to stop playing their cave-man games while living a modern life style? I doubt it. However, the way how they motivate themselves to avoid most of junk makes them the dream target for the people who find entertainment in making fun of others who follow diet rules instead of counting calories and believing no food should be completely off-limits. Well, it is not against human nature to seek all sorts of joy and entertainment in life, making fun of others is a natural source of a humor, so Paleos shouldn't object. but I doubt it would be beneficial for most of them to take to their heart the critic of their hobby.