What’s the Point?

By Jason Menard

Mar. 13, 2007 — Stop it. You know who you are. You’re the ones sucking the fun out of life with your incessant obsession over food. You want to diet, fine – but don’t ruin my fun just because you’ve decided to swap living for counting.

You’ve seen the people – so obsessed with counting points/carbs/calories that they can’t look at food in any rational way any longer. For them cooking is no longer a culinary art, but rather a branch of mathematics. And the only healthy serving they’re receiving is self-imposed guilt.

While trying to get healthy is an admirable cause, what’s the point of living longer if you have to take the fun out of life?

Now, let me state that I’m not advocating an all-out, hedonistic, eat-what-you-want deep-fried fat fest. But nor is this borderline-obsessive, neurotic zeal for counting the right answer. As it continues to be proven in most aspects of life, balance is the key to long-term and sustainable health and happiness.

You counters aren’t happy and you’re bringing the rest of the world down with you! Sure misery loves company, but you’ve chosen to wrap yourselves in these miserable caloric and fat formulas so why punish me for your folly? Take, for example, the party. Whether at work or in social settings, invariably a relatively unhealthy snack or dessert will be presented. Unfortunately, and also invariably, one of these counters will pipe up and throw a wet blanket on the festivities.

At best, they’ll decline a piece of cake but not without explaining why, “Oh, that’s 10 points and I can’t do it.” At the worst, they’ll eat the thing and then spend the next few hours in a pathetic – and annoying – display of self-flagellation. But instead of suffering in silence, they’ll let everyone know what they’ve done – lamenting about the lost points and the catch-up they’ll have to do!

And it’s constant. The obsession dominates their lives: mornings are spent recounting how many points were wasted the previous evening; evenings are spent discussing the temptations succumbed to during the day; and weekends are spent not enjoying the time off, but obsessively watching out for potential pitfalls.

I admit that I’m not in peak physical condition. I’m an average weight for my height, but could probably stand to lose five to 10 more pounds. I was on one of these point-counting programs in the past for a few months and lost a fair bit of weight – and over the past three years I’ve been able to keep it off, but not through obsessive counting but rather common sense. I’ll indulge here and there and not feel guilty about it, but overall I try to eat right. And if someone’s celebrating a birthday at work, I’ll enjoy a piece of cake and not get too stressed over it.

Ironically, most of the people I’ve met that fall into this counting obsession are unable to lose weight. They deprive themselves so wholeheartedly that they end up feeling the need to cheat. Restricting their pleasure so much causes them to binge on an increasingly frequent basis. Yet, instead of enjoying their food, they end up wracked with guilt – again, what’s the point?

Instead of enjoying their day and all the wonderful experiences that are present to us, they’re blinded to the joys of life by the self-imposed fog of their own self-denial, self-reproach, and fear. And when you’re afraid to live, then you’re not really living at all.

Unfortunately, that dark cloud that’s permanently over their head ends up covering those around them. I’ve avoided starting conversations with people because the topic always comes back to food – or their lack of enjoyment thereof. And there are few things worse than trying to enjoy a meal under their pathetic gaze – with a look like a hungry dog begging at the table, they can’t contain their misery and feel the need to reproach you with nutritional information.

I know what I’m eating, thanks. And I’m a big boy, I’ll make my choice. And if I find myself becoming a bigger boy, then I’ll watch what I’m eating a little more. The thing is I’m keeping my weight management strategies and efforts to myself – so stop sharing yours.

Food is an experience to be shared with others. It is one of the great joys in our lives. Personally, I love nothing more than to savour a perfectly cooked steak. At that moment, I’m thinking only about the exquisite flavour and relishing every aspect of its texture. I couldn’t give a wet slap about fat content, arbitrary points, or anything else but maximizing the experience.

Now, knowing my love of steak, does that mean I eat red meat everyday? No. I try to balance – get the fruit and vegetables I need each day, restrict my sugar intake, and avoid old pitfalls like chips and salty snacks. And you know what? Over the past few years, I’ve been able to curtail my desires for the less-than-healthy foods, but not through exclusion, but sensible inclusion. Every once in a while, I’ll indulge a craving and not feel one little bit guilty about it.

What’s the point of eating if you don’t enjoy it? If that’s the case, why strive for variety – just eat the same thing with the least amount of points and be done with it. The thing is, variety is the spice of life. And food is one of the key things in making life worth living. There’s a place in life for weight management programs, but they have to be a complement to your life – not the defining focus of it.

Being healthy and happy is about balance so what happens when the pendulum swings too far towards obsession? What’s the point of obsessively counting points if you’re only trying to prolong a life that you’re not enjoying? And if you’ve made that choice, stop dragging the rest of us down with you!

2007© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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