Whether you are looking to lose weight, or maintain your already svelte figure or keep yourself and your family healthy, everyone has to exercise a certain level of control over what they eat.
Take two of my very closest friends. They have absolutely enviable figures – perfectly proportioned, slender, healthy. Not too skinny, but certainly no inches to pinch (as an aside – these are the two nymphs that for some reason I chose as my bridesmaids. And then chose them beautiful, flattering dresses. No, I’m not sure why either.) They are both what people might refer to as “naturally slim”; they do not diet, they eat cake and drink wine and while they exercise (A enjoys walking while R is a keen hockey player) it is by no means a daily occurrence for them.
But I’ve observed them closely. And while they’ve neither of them counted a point or a calorie in their life both of them are naturally able to regulate their eating. I believe that it is instinctive or, if not, then a lifetime of practice has made it almost so.
I remember having a conversation once with R when she confessed to a “binge” – over the course of an afternoon she’d eaten an entire (largish) bag of yoghurt covered raisins. I nodded, and sympathised, but later reflected that “binge” in my world meant something very different. She probably ate little, if any, tea that night. I don’t think I would have done the same in the circumstances.
It makes me wonder if “naturally slim” does not mean (as I have jealously but deludedly maintained to myself for years) a naturally speedy metabolism, but a natural ability to ingest as many calories as the body needs, and adjust all the peaks and troughs of consumption over a period of time, so as to not end up with a surplus that then settles as a layer of podge.
Of course, we all know exceptions to this rule – but I bet they’re fewer and further between than perennial dieters would like to think. The reality is that in general, the larger you are (assuming you’ve not reached the stage where you are rendered immobile) the higher your metabolism because your body has to work that much harder to transport you around from place to place.
I wonder if the fact that I had already had a taste of calorie counting before I hit my teens has permanently robbed me, and others like me, of the ability to achieve that natural balance? Or whether, like a good sense of smell, or an ear for music, it is simply something one is born with? OR whether it is something that one can learn (or re-learn) with a bit of time and care? I know that I am guilty of not always listening to my body but perhaps, if I'm really, really quiet, I might start to hear a wise little voice telling me exactly what I need to do.