Diet Dispatches

Moments of clarity in dieting

February 21, 2012 

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With a grain of salt

Food writer Andrea Weigl shares her efforts to shed her pregnancy weight: I recently renewed my subscription to Shape magazine. But I have to confess that I despise most women's magazines. I think they offer unrealistic images of women's beauty that can make us feel bad about ourselves. I also believe they encourage unnecessary consumption: Buy this product to look younger, better, more beautiful.

With the women's health magazines, I'm torn. I believe the women on the cover foster those same unrealistic standards of female beauty. I bet most of those women have had work done and haven't achieved or maintained their physiques from diet and exercise alone. I also despise the health claims in those magazines. There's a difference between scientific studies that show correlation and causation. These magazines never make the distinction but instead tout that women who ate blueberries reduced their risk for breast cancer or those who drank five cups of coffee a day were at lower risk for dementia. I believe that kind of health reporting encourages the approach that Americans often have toward their health: that there is a pill, a food, a supplement that can stand in for plain old healthy eating and exercise.

At the same time, I'm one of those obsessive people. So when I'm trying to lose weight and exercise more, I need encouragement and motivation. Reading a health magazine keeps those goals in the forefront of my mind and helps me to stay committed. I can get the same inspiration from reading books like "The Penguin Chronicles" by John Bingham.

So what do you think? Do women's health magazines help or hinder you? And what's on your healthy reading list?

Craving the wrong thing

Sharon Powell of the Eastern Wake News and Clayton News-Star writes: I had my moment of clarity recently that helped me understand why I eat the wrong foods.

Several months ago, a pizza joint opened directly across the street from the Eastern Wake News. I can see the place from my desk. The owner special-orders his pizza flour and makes the dough himself in the shop. Having an occasional slice of pizza is not a problem for me, but this pizza joint also serves chili dogs. The last time I ran in there for one slice of pizza, I watched another patron as he devoured a chili dog.

For the rest of that afternoon, all I thought about was chili dogs. Chili dogs contain lots of sodium. Sure, one chili dog would not be a problem, but would I be able to stop once I had the first one? I'm not sure. And what would that do to my blood pressure?

I had to ponder this dilemma for some time before I had my moment of clarity. Most of us often eat the foods that trigger memories of special events, people or places - even me, the "string bean" who forgets to eat.

When I was a child, there was a drugstore in Rocky Mount that sold chili dogs. My brothers and I often had to tag along with our mother when she went to a beauty shop nearby. Sometimes she would give each of us money to buy a chili dog and one for her. I can still taste the dogs and see my mother as she sat in the beautician's chair eating her hot dog. Watching that customer in the pizza joint who clearly enjoyed his chili dog took me right back to Rocky Mount, the drugstore on Douglas Corner and memories of a special moment with my late mother. That's why I wanted a hot dog!

Weight-conscious staffers share stories and tips at blogs.newsobserver.com/turningthescales.

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