Wednesday, March 23

Dieting Makes You Cranky

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research asserts that dieting makes people irritable and angry. To which I reply, really? You mean feeling deprived and in a constant mental battle to sustain your self-control puts people on edge? Really? Because when my dining companions gluttonously devour mounds of garlic bread and lasagna and the sauce, cheese and butter drips from their chins, and they wash the entire mess down with copious amounts of wine while I sit there placidly eating my delicate chopped salad and sipping on a glass of water with a spritz of lime, I’M NOT ANGRY AT ALL! NO, I’M POSITIVELY DELIGHTED WITH MY CHOICES! REALLY I AM. I’M SO HAPPY WITH MY FOOD THAT I DON’T EVEN CARE IF THEY ORDER DESSERT. NOT EVEN WHEN IT’S CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE FUDGE ICING. REALLY!

Okay, I feel better now. I think I was harboring some rage.

The authors of the study, David Gal from Northwestern University and Wendy Liu of the University of California, noted that prior research has demonstrated that "people on diets tend to be irritable and aggressive. For instance, in one experiment ... participants who were asked to refrain from consuming a tempting doughnut manifested increased aggression in response to a subsequent insult."

(The lesson here: If you're going to insult someone, give them a doughnut first. They'll be less likely to punch you.)

While the link between exerting self-control and aggressive behavior has been established, the authors were curious at how much the anger would seep into a person's life. They discovered that “… after exerting self-control people exhibit increased preference for anger-themed content, greater interest in faces exhibiting anger, greater endorsement of anger-framed appeals, and greater irritation to others’ attempts to control their behavior."

So to summarize: people that have to exert high levels of self-control, i.e., dieters, liked seeing, hearing and spewing anger. Isn’t that special. Kind of makes me want to go to a Weight Watchers meeting and see what happens.

What strikes me about all of this is that this is why diets don’t work. Because diets are synonymous with deprivation. And no one likes that. I didn’t need a research study to tell me deprivation makes me cranky.

I subscribe to the Ellie Krieger philosophy. Krieger is a registered dietician, author and the star of The Food Network show Healthy Appetite. In her cookbook, The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life she writes.

In my food world there is no fear or guilt, only joy and balance. So no ingredient is ever off-limits. Rather, all of the recipes here follow my Usually-Sometimes-Rarely philosophy. Notice there is no Never.

In her world there is no such thing as a Never food. Amen sister.

She uses this philosophy in her cooking making the Usually foods—colorful vegetables and fruit, whole grains, lean meats and fish, beans, nuts, low-fat dairy and healthful oils—the leading actors in her recipes.

Sometimes foods—regular pasta, white flour and sugar, and foods higher in saturated fat, like chicken thighs—claim a supporting role.

And the Rarely foods—butter, full-fat cheese, bacon, cream, etc.—have cameo appearances.

I’m not bright enough to remember the exact number of servings of fruits and veggies I’m supposed to have daily, but I can look at a restaurant menu or scan a recipe and figure out if it's filled with Usually, Sometimes or Rarely foods and adjust accordingly. And knowing that nothing is ever off-limits makes this girl less cranky.

For more information about Ellie Krieger and her recipes, click here.

1 comment:

  1. "The lesson here: If you're going to insult someone, give them a doughnut first. They'll be less likely to punch you"

    LOL. Now that is insightful! Great advice that I'm actually gonna try sometime.