UNITED STATES—I was recently invited to a potluck where we were asked to bring vegetarian food and specifically instructed to bring “nothing with eggs.”
On the surface, the proposal suited me fine, and my mouth watered in anticipation of quinoa salad and veggie korma. But there was a surprise. Even though most everyone at this get-together shared the pursuit of healthy and fresh eating in their own lives, the too-detailed order left us at a loss. People were torn by wanting to bring something nice and the fear of bringing the wrong thing. In the end, no one knew what to bring, and the vegetarian potluck turned into a non-alcoholic potato chip buffet.
When you include a very specific prohibition—no eggs—it throws a curveball and creates a lasting negative impression. I was also witness to a great deal of mockery it inspired. When you issue this kind of edict, your friends honestly will be shy in the future about giving you something—anything—dogged by doubts, “Is it right? Will they be pleased?” Since giving naturally generates so beautiful a glow in people, the last thing I’d wanna do is spoil that flow of giving.
When you publicize your dietary preferences and restrictions, you’ll get branded a label worse than coward: finicky eater. Our personal diet practices work much better privately. First, when loudly announced, they can cramp people’s joy; secondly, we avoid future suffering for ourselves and can freely change our minds without somebody limiting our choices based on what we may have disliked in the past. My simple advice is stick to your dietary guns, whatever those guns may be, and limit yourself to saying, “No thanks,” even if it means repeating, “No thanks,” till you’re blue in the face.
As it is, the 30-day plan does say "no thanks" to a number of things:
--no dairy and cheese
--no bread and pastry
--no granulated sugar
--no beverages with meals
--and fried anything generally avoided
These foods are not inherently “bad.” I have simply observed in myself and others that the exclusion of these foods propel our aim to lose 30 pounds in 30 days. These are key preferences that enabled me to lose 30 pounds in 30 days.
Nowadays, we have a grandiose talent for creating and clinging to food villains. On the basis of that infallible and vague authority ‘they,’ a number of nearly petrified beliefs have formed. A good example of this discriminatory attitude comes out in relation to oil for frying. Somewhere I had read that vegetable oil was bad. I remember being resentful because vegetable oil appeared in my cupboard. My daughter wanted to make cupcakes in my household where olive oil was king, and the presence of vegetable oil spelled more cupcakes and French fries—culinary pariahs within the 30-day plan. Turns out vegetable oil is not much worse than olive oil at higher temperatures, when both turn into toxic goop, according to the research ‘they’ conducted. At the end of the day, how can one’s head wrap around all the detail about what’s healthy or not, tasty or not, and steer clear of all the food villains on the public enemy list? When did food get to be so complicated?
Well, I still believe raw olive oil is awesome on salads with lemon or mixed with mayo or ketchup. But isn’t this blatant blabbing about my dietary preferences? Maybe so, but I see a newspaper column as a Presbyterian confessional. What we read here we keep here, to quietly and steadily apply in our lives.
Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet,” now on Amazon Kindle. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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