Your Body is Not a Tabletop RPG Character

So, stop trying to min-max your diet like it’s a character sheet.

I can’t tell you the number of questions I get about random, weird “diet tricks” and nutrition. These things pretty invariably come from people who want to keep eating an unhealthy diet while griping that they can’t lose weight and keep it off.  Truth for those people: you know what you need to do, so stop trying to play the numbers.

Your body is a biological system that works with a whole, not with individual parts. Eating nothing but carrots all day so you can have pizza with your Weight Watcher’s points is not going to accomplish your goal in the long run (assuming your goal is to maintain a healthy weight and be healthier person). Yes, you will be hungry and miserable most of the time if you do this, and while you’ll initially lose weight, you won’t keep it off. That isn’t because Weight Watcher’s doesn’t work–it does. In fact, it’s a great program. It’s because you’re missing the point, whether on accident or purposefully.

-Unless you’re an Olympic athlete or a supermodel, the question of whether or not eating a piece of fruit at breakfast is going to cause you to lose weight more slowly is moot. Eat the fruit. Really, it’s fruit. Unless you’re eating an entire bunch of bananas or 2 lbs of strawberries, you’re fine. Stop worrying about the fruit and worry about the rest of your diet.

-Grapes are great, but they’re just grapes. Yes, they have resveratrol, which can help control fat cells. Yes, they’re a part of a healthy diet. No, you can’t eat enough of them to get rid of the 6-pack of Pepsi and the Big Mac you ate yesterday. Adding calories to calories doesn’t help you.

-Garlic isn’t magic. It’s tasty, it has some great healthful benefits, but it won’t make you thinner.

-Going to the gym does not negate a Snicker’s bar a day.  You need to walk 3 miles briskly to get rid of one Snickers, which is about an hour on a treadmill for the average person. And that’s not counting the issues caused by the sugars. Empty calories are empty calories, and the gym can’t change that.

-Acai or goji berry isn’t a level 16 wizard: it’s not going to magic away fat despite bad eating habits. Do these things have some important nutrients? Sure. Can they help with weight loss or health? Possibly, though hard science is still lacking on either. Maybe they do help. But, they can’t counteract a bad diet.

-Eating a salad with your pizza does not make the pizza have any less calories. I am not saying eating the salad is bad, but it doesn’t make the pizza healthier. Skip the pizza, eat the salad.

-Eating diet food all day so you can guzzle two cans of soda is just going to lead to diabetes. Skinny people get diabetes, too. Get off the soda, and get off the diet food. There is no replacement for whole foods.

-1500 calories is a lot of food when it’s high-quality food like vegetables, grains, and lean proteins. It is not a lot of food when it’s pizza. This fact isn’t going to change, so your eating habits are going to have to if you don’t want to be hungry all the time.

There is no amount of min-maxing that is going to allow most of us to eat 3 cheeseburgers, pizza, fries, and soda regularly and still be a good weight and in good health. That’s just not how it works, and pretty much everyone knows this. The truth is, there is not “secret” to being a good weight.  It’s portion control and cutting out processed foods. Unless you have a medical issue, that’s the end of the story. Spend less time trying to game the system, and more time thinking about what you eat.

“But, you’re skinny! How would you know my struggles!?” Yeah, I get that a lot, too. So, here’s something I don’t talk about often on the blog: I have to keep my weight within 3-5% of my current weight, or some pretty nasty things can happen because I actually do have a medical condition, and my dosage for the condition is, to some degree, weight dependent. Since I weigh about 110lbs and am 5 feet tall, that means my weight can only vary in either direction by 3-5lbs before I start getting some unfortunate side effects. And, the medication and the medical condition have the added challenge that both can cause weight gain. So yes, I live the same struggle daily. I love food, and staying fit and at a good weight isn’t any easier for me than it is for most people. What works aren’t weird little tweaks that are the equivalent of cyclist getting a water bottle that’s 2 oz. lighter, or a gamer giving up a point of strength to get a point of dexterity. Those things only matter to a pro-level cyclist or in a world of fantasy.

This isn’t pro cycling, and this isn’t a fantasy. What works is the overall lifestyle, and there’s no min-maxing that’s going to change that.


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