Living In Denial|
We've gotten so many letters from concerned friends and family members that their
"special person" was living in denial and unable to realize what their high carb diet is
doing to them, that I decided to revisit an issue we talked about last year.
It's hard to breath with your head in the sand, and if nothing changes,
It's a tricky thing about denial. Nobody ever knows when they're in it.
It's the same for an individual, a group of people, or a societal
belief. Now there's purposeful denial — when you know you're hiding
something, or concealing a greater truth. But what's on my mind today
is self-denial... lying to ones self to keep things comfortable... to
avoid change or confrontation. Pretend the facts don't exist and maybe
they'll go away. In his classic book, Foundations of Psychopathology, Dr.
John Nemiah defines denial as "...a mechanism of defense in which the facts
or logical implications of external reality are refused recognition, in
favor of internally derived, wish-fulfilling fantasies."
We are surrounded by it every day... it's part of the human condition.
But because denial begets more denial, it's our job to 'shake it up'
a little and challenge the conventional thinking that is borne of those
speaking from denial.
On an almost daily basis, my local news broadcasts include health reports
either directly about obesity, or about other medical issues in which
obesity plays a role. They state the problem; they state the statistics.
And then, invariably, they state the same follow-up comments (often
word-for-word) about the "importance of a healthy diet low in fat".
We've spoken about this mindless mantra so much that it's nearly become
a mantra here. But the continuing stream of misinformation becomes
a shield through which people who should know better hide when denial is
easier than truth.
Case in point: I have a friend (let's call him "Bob") who worked
on his low carb dieting for about 6 months. He met resistance on a
daily basis (which most of us can relate to) in that his coworkers and
some family members collected the very news reports and articles that
make the rounds each day and "warned him" that he was killing himself.
Now I should point out that over this last half year, he'd lost an
appreciable amount of weight and commented he felt much stronger and
healthier ON the diet than he did when eating carbs. So it goes
without saying that he knows this way of life is the right path.
But for him, it wasn't the easy path.
Bob has found that when he listens to his friends and family's good intentions
and goes for that low-fat bowl of pasta for lunch, he is applauded for
his good judgement. He can think about that during those sleepless nights
when his heartburn keeps slumber at a distance. Now Bob did not tell me all
of this directly. I watched this little drama play out at a distance and it's
not the first time. You see, Bob had decided to buy into the lie. He actually
said, "yeah, I was losing weight really well when I low carbed, but it wasn't
worth endangering my health." And (I am NOT making this up), he was popping
a Rolaid as he said it.
Another friend quit low carbing because she'd only lost 10 pounds the first
month and she'd read where others had lost that much in the first week. Her
comment was that it must not be the right diet for her body type. It reminded
me of a saying my mother-in-law used to quote: "To a dieter, instant gratification
isn't fast enough." That was several months ago. I saw this friend the other day
and she'd gained back the 10 pounds plus 4 more. She told me she was looking
into Weight Watchers because with low carb she'd gained all the weight back
after quiting the diet. My mind was screaming, "Well, DUH!"
Our email boxes here are filled with stories of those who live (or lived)
in denial. You know what? I used to be one of them. I'd believe that this would
be the day I got sugar out of my diet. This would be the day I ate healthy.
This would be the day I started the diet and would lose that pesky belly.
Then someone would bring in Krispy Kreme donuts and I'd figure, "Well, today's
shot. I'll start tomorrow." Then one day I got the message: You can start your
day over at any time.