We all have things that scare the pants off of us: spiders, midterms, vampires, romance novels, long conversations with our odder relatives with extreme views. “Diets” are one of those things for me.
I admit, I am scarred. I recently tried grapefruit again for the first time since I was a kid. It is not going to be my favorite fruit, but I also know that it doesn’t taste like I remembered. I think that is because I remember it in the context of my mom and my grandmother doing a grapefruit diet one summer. Half a grapefruit with artificial sweetener and a cup of black coffee in the morning does not make for the happiest mom in the world. It was best to steer clear until the lunchtime cottage cheese came out. I am sure that both ladies lost plenty of weight over the time they stuck to the program, but I also know they gained it all back.
What we need is to build a healthy relationship with our food. Some of that means meeting our foods for real, not in their boxed-up, salty, sexy marketing versions. This may take some adjustment, but it also may be joyful for those of us who grew up on canned peas and instant mashed potatoes and fish sticks and who survived college on ramen soup and popcorn. Some of us may never have considered what the greens in our salads actually taste like because what we taste is creamy, fatty, processed dressing. I learned a lot when I stopped dressing my salads, and most of it was good. There are lots of greens out there, so I don’t have to eat the ones I don’t like (that means you, radicchio, even though you are purple and not green, and you, frisée, even if you are pretty).
Another big part of our relationship with food that may need adjusting is quantity. We can love our whole grain organic macaroni with cheese made from free-range fair-trade shade-grown cows without eating an entire vat of it. In fact, if it is made with real ingredients and love, a smaller portion might be even more satisfying than a vat, especially since we will still be able to move after dinner.
Also, savoring is important. There are times when we must eat all of the food in the world right now because we just finished carrying a team of sled dogs on our backs over the Iditarod route, but most of the time we can pause to enjoy and taste. We may discover that when we slow down, we don’t need to eat as much.
Short version: let’s eat good food that treats us well and enjoy it rather than making food into an unsustainable, harmful torture, with or without grapefruit.