I've been managing my eating disorder for decades according to the witticism coined by Joan Rivers (or maybe it was Mae West): "Eat as much as you want and lose 75 kilograms - your partner."
The shelf of books in my library that begin with the sentence "This is not another diet book ..." (the most notable feature in every self-respecting book of that genre) is growing steadily. And amazingly, like many other women, I also have discovered that my body weight increases in direct proportion to the amount of theoretical expertise I have acquired on matters such as the glycemic index, serotonin, glycemic load, empty calories, fibers, insulin, glucagon, keto bodies, etc.
Thus, I was naturally delighted to receive the book "The No Diet Diet," by Prof. Ben Fletcher, Dr. Karen Pine and Dr. Danny Penman (Orion, 2005), which, on the face of it, I'll admit, seems much more captivating than a diet with no food. To my surprise it also turned out that the book does not include any dieting suggestions per se, nor does it discuss the question of what should be eaten and what should be avoided.
The no-diet diet is actually a diet for the soul, whose guiding principle is that the moment we learn to change the way we see ourselves, and our daily habits that are unrelated to food - a change in our eating habits and in our general behavior will come about by itself. This change will cause us to lose weight without even having to think about a diet.
In order to bring all this about, the book recommends a series of "steps," in other words, behavioral changes, one for each day of the 28-day program. In the end, the authors maintain, we will find ourselves about four kilograms lighter; moreover, from that moment on, our weight is supposed to go down on its own, since we have achieved the status of "non-dieters." And people who think and behave like thin people are at the jumping-off place for leading a life of skinniness and happiness.
What could be bad, I asked myself, trying to figure out when to begin with a diet whose first step is refraining from watching television for one day. Because of my obsession, I decided to add to this prohibition another one against surfing the Internet or listening to the radio. Thus it happened that on that very day I managed both to see a film and to read an entire book.
The film I saw together with my friend Yael was "Because I Said So" - one of those entirely superfluous movies that are ostensibly about a controlling mother who tries to run her daughter's love life, but whose real purpose is to disseminate two messages: one is that, in spite of the fact that, according to my calculations, she is about 60, Diane Keaton is a woman whose face may be wrinkled, but she has a slender and solid figure without a trace of cellulite; and the second is that next summer women with a body like hers will be wearing polka-dotted cloche dresses with their waists wrapped in very wide belts - preferably in red or black patent leather - and stiletto heels.
As opposed to my disappointment with the film, the book was a pleasant surprise. Called "Dofek" ("Pulse") by Yaniv Itzkovich, this is a very impressive and well written book (in Hebrew), and its choice of characters is surprising when you remember that the author is only 32 years old. Itzkovich focuses on two characters, describing what goes on in their souls from the viewpoint of an omniscient author: Yonatan is a young accountant whose life and that of his wife are at a crossroads. His aunt Yehudit is a plump, middle-aged woman, who suffers from clinical depression and existential sadness, which stems, among other things, from the fact that at the last moment - with an airplane ticket already in hand - she is convinced by her physician and her lawyer-husband not to join him and Yonatan in their trip to India in order to bring her son Udi back home. The latter has found another life for himself there and has even adopted an Indian family, and refuses to return with his father.
I don't recall reading any Israeli book whose heroine is a middle-aged woman, and a resident of the suburbs at that, who does not have an exotic profession. There are many books written by women, but their heroines are usually women aged 30-40. The reason for that may be the fact that woman writers are looking for heroines with whom they themselves want to identify - and nobody, neither writer nor reader, really dreams of being a depressed middle-aged woman. You need courage to choose such a character, and you need a great deal of talent to be able to describe her so accurately, and with such compassion, empathy and optimism.
I finished the book two hours after the time I usually finish watching TV, had I watched it that evening. The first step in changing my behavior on the way to becoming a person with a thin soul was more successful than expected. Did I lose weight as a result of it? Why does it matter? There are more interesting things to do in middle age.
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