What My Newborn Taught Me About Dieting


I have hated fad diets since high school when my best friend and I decided we would look like hot magazine models if we ate Nutrigrain bars and yogurt every day–the only things we deemed “healthy” from the school cafeteria. Needless to say, that didn’t work, probably because we didn’t need to lose weight anyway and just ended up starving by 7th period.

One time my husband and I decided to go Paleo. We spent an exorbitant amount at a special grocery and came home with almond flour and ghee and whatever else Pinterest told us we were going to eat now. By day 9, we both had the flu, ate a significant amount of full carb chicken soup and toast, and deemed our attempt “faileo” from then on.

It’s strange to think that my first successful “diet” was the result of my third son being born a few weeks ago, and his need to eliminate dairy for breastfeeding.

My family loves cheese in all its forms: Lasagna. Pizza. Eggs and cheese. Macaroni and cheese. Etc. Apparently, everything I was eating had cheese in it. Greek families eat cheese with everything, like a side dish, how some people eat rolls. Basically, I was convinced I’d never be able to do this and my son would have to switch to formula because my own personal weakness and inability to stick to a diet.

Family photo courtesy of In Lovely Light Photography.

Strangely, it’s been three weeks and 1 day (yes, I’m proudly counting) and not a single bite of dairy has been consumed by this anti-dieter. So it struck me, hard and a little sadly, that I’m not willing to make any lifestyle changes when they only affect me, but when they were for my son, it was a no-brainer. Every time I wanted to eat pizza I pictured him crying and struggling to digest a few hours later, and that was obviously enough. But why isn’t it motivation enough when I wanted to diet other times, just for myself?

I realized it’s because deep down I know fad diets and food group elimination diets are not sustainable for me. I also realized that food is a deeply ingrained tradition for me that goes beyond fueling the body. Friday Pizza Night represents a celebration of the end of a long hard week with not having to cook or do dishes. Cheese as a side dish reminds me of my greek grandparents and eating lunch at their house. Macaroni and cheese is a childhood staple. Chicken soup is essential to flu recovery. Food carries memories, associations, and emotions in a way that I don’t see as unhealthy.

And aside from this nondairy breastfeeding stint that I will survive through, I plan on continuing to eat well, enjoy eating, and raise a glass to my paleo and vegan and keto and 21 day fix and carbless skinny friends — more power to you but no thank you.


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