There is nothing wrong with understanding our food and what it does for us, especially in light of the… relationship between diet and health. But somehow… the reasonable goal has been swallowed up in a kind of unfocused and underinformed irrationality. One clear precipitator is a peculiarly American impulse that might be called the all-or-nothing approach.
Such logic demands that if low-fat is good, nonfat must be better… “If you tell people to limit sugar intake, suddenly sugar is the villain. If you recommend increasing fruits and vegetables, the average American will say, “Aha! Wouldn’t it be better if I ate only fruits and vegetables?”
But the belief that such a radical and self-denying change is necessary leads to a curious mixture of guilt, rebellion, fantasy, and desperation — not good feelings to have about one’s food.
Researchers studying eating and dieting habits hypothesize that bingeing almost never occurs without dieting first; that is, the urge to binge — to overeat in an extreme, out-of-control fashion — is not a naturally occurring phenomenon but is a response to earlier self-denial and overcontrol.
That last paragraph is pretty heavy. And what follows a period of out-of-control eating? Restriction and self-denial. And what follows restriction and self-denial?
If dieting were just about the body, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But it’s not. It affects the mind in significant ways. Some even may grow to love the process of self-denial as a path to virtue, physical purity and moral self-control.
In Plato’s allegory of the cave, a group of people lived their lives chained inside a cave, facing the blank wall. All they could see were shadows of the outside world projected against the wall of the cave. And they defined the shadows as reality. But reality is what is happening outside of the cave and away from the chains. But the people who are imprisoned don’t know it.