New Year, New Twist

To quote Wikipedia, the definition of revelation is “something revealed or disclosed, as of something not before realized.” This can be a large body of information or a small fact, but to the mind, it is a new discovery, even if embedded in information which is associated with or similar to it.

Having had a recent thought-provoking and inspirational encounter with a revelation, I will convey to you some of the interesting details and concepts that can be gleaned from this, so that many of you too may learn and be inspired to utilize some of this information.

This has to do with a patient who has followed a given diet for years and who was weight-stable and healthy, as well as energetic for all of this time. We all know, as I have stated numerous times in past articles, that if someone can follow (almost) any dietary regimen for weight control and health, then it could still probably be “tweaked” or improved to make it an even better nutrition pathway.

In our repertoire of choices for diets, you can get just about any combination. If you follow the oldest and most basic, the Paleolithic, you can eat what your predecessors ate before the onset of harvested (and processed) grains, which have shaped the course of the history of the world and been responsible for so many varied diseases which are prevalent today. This time included the years between 40,000 and 9,000 BC. According to archaeologists, the people living then were larger, stronger, and healthier than the humans who followed.

If you don’t like that diet, there are many more such as the 5:2 Diet, the Zone Diet, The Atkins Diet, the Dash Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, Weight Watchers, Biggest Losers, and many more. There is literally one for every taste, body type, age, cultural preference, or desire to follow a mainstream diet pathway.

However, we are all by now aware that there is a 90 percent recidivism rate for diets and that there some problems associated with following any of these. The main problems seem to be about what is healthier to eat, how much to eat of each type of food, and how to have the discipline to follow that diet. The last one is really the deal-breaker and is responsible for the 90 percent failure rate of most diets. Sheer will power does not really give you the needed discipline, and it seems that authority in the form of reliable information or a reliable person is the best inspiration for this.

Having said all of this, let’s get back to the patient who has had the discipline to follow a good diet, kept his weight stable, and stayed mostly healthy even into his seventies. Recently, his wife decided to go on the Weight Watchers diet, which prompted the patient to try following the same one so that he could be some support for her. In reviewing his dietary habits, it is clear that he “forgave” certain dietary indiscretions in his food choices because he was still able all this time to maintain that stable weight. However, like many diets, Weight Watchers does not let you “forgive” certain foods. Having realized that, he gave up all bread, baked goods, cakes, cookies, wheat-based snacks, and food sources containing sugar. This was not difficult for him because he followed the authority of the diet.

What followed is the revelation that a good diet can be improved and that good changes can occur because of the revision of diet he experienced. After one week, his knee pain went away, and at three weeks, strictly following the new diet revision of his heretofore successful Zone diet, his leg strength which had been fading for several years completely returned.

As a physician, he first thought that it was a placebo effect, but when it continued, he realized that it was the “tweaking” of an already good diet that made a difference in his body status. The real revelation was that he realized that sometimes the approach of zero tolerance, instead of forgiving yourself for dietary indiscretion, can be really life changing and can give you the strength to exercise the discipline needed to contain it.

If you have not realized it by now, that patient was yours truly, and I have really been enjoying my new level of health and strength, having found the mental mechanism and pathway to nutritional discipline. However, this is not for everybody, and the reasons for this are obvious. If one can utilize this approach, the benefits can become very obvious and they do continue. Enjoy a lot of food, but make good choices because it really does count.

Dr. James Carraway is a plastic surgeon at the Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center of EVMS. Call 757-557-0300.

James H. Carraway, M.D.

Dr. James Carraway is a full-time academic and practicing clinical plastic surgeon.  He is Director of the Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center of EVMS, is board certified in surgery and plastic surgery, and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.  Dr. Carraway has been teaching and practicing for 30+ years and has been director and chairman of residency training programs and fellowship programs in plastic surgery.
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