When I look at Candice Bergen in photos and movies as a young woman, she appears naturally slim. That has always been an assumption on my part. It may very well be because she watched what she ate and exercised, in an effort to maintain her svelte figure. But I personally suspect that she was in fact easily able to maintain her figure, that is, until she hit middle age and menopause.
I often find that individuals who are genetically lean, and who can mostly eat what they want within reason, often discover that middle-age weight gain is inevitable and swift, unless they begin to monitor their portions and increase their physical activity. In fact, I think many are daunted by the "sudden" need to moderate their eating habits. But that’s a far cry from what Candice Bergen has recently been suggesting are the only two options when it comes to weight: vomit or "let it go."
It’s no secret that a good number of sports figures (gymnasts, jockeys), models, fitness professionals, dieticians (yes, I include them), engage in very unhealthy methods in order to maintain weight. The incredible pressure to be thin or look really slim can instigate horrific eating patterns or eating disorders. We often associate upper class women like Candice Bergen, with either incredible food discipline (think Anna Wintour of Vogue), or with using extreme dieting and fitness measures, in order to maintain their teeny bodies.
Candice Bergen certainly buys into this theory. She claims that many of her friends choose to eat and vomit so they avoid weight gain. My problem is that it’s awfully simplistic and frankly harmful and detrimental to suggest that the only choices are - avoid weight gain by eating and then vomiting (bulimia), as she has suggests many of her friends do, or eat with abandon and get fat. It’s also really a shame that the simple choice to enjoy food with some limitation is not an option for Ms. Bergen. You certainly can maintain weight on a calorie conscious diet that includes mostly healthy foods, with selective moments allowing treats and desserts.
Jake Steinfeld, a famous celebrity trainer from decades ago, admitted that the way he maintained his weight loss and buff body, was to be really disciplined six days a week, and then allow himself a "day of M & Ms" ( one bag) on the seventh day. Clients of mine often choose a cheat meal or allow themselves some wine a couple of days a week or a portion of dessert a few times a week, when on a maintenance phase of their diet. Candice Bergen seems to just want to eat, whatever and whenever. I don’t know of too many people who can do that after middle age.
And isn’t it the point that we want to not only be healthy vut have a really good quality of life? to do that requires a host of good habits, including a commitment to mindful eating - which should mean moments, not days, of treats. Eating bread soaked in oil is a treat. I’m not sure why Ms. Bergen can’t have a portioned amount of this caloric and high-carb high-fat treat, and just really enjoy and savor the moment. If she’s chosen to overeat often enough to have packed on 30 pounds, I’m not sure why she can’t choose to commit to a more challenging and extended exercise schedule to offset the extra calories.
An extra 30 pounds can easily put her, and any person, at risk of heart disease, diabetes, a stroke, arthritis, cancer - all for the pleasure of "eating what I want, when I want it, because the alternative is to eat and vomit." I, for one, am stymie by the lack of self-control and the disregard of simple health habit principles. There’s more going on here than just the desire for food pleasure. Maybe a loss of beauty validation because she is older, depression because of fewer roles, or possibly boredom.
My diagnosis is emotional eating and a fair amount of denial. She can choose not to diet, while embracing a healthier eating attitude. I hope Ms. Bergen decides to find some middle ground - losing some of the weight, committing to a reasonable exercise program, and finding happiness with hobbies and activities other than social eating.
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Known as The HealthGal, expert contributor Amy Hendel is a popular medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, columnist, and brand ambassador, as well as a health coach. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, you can find her on Twitter @HealthGal1103 and on Facebook at TheHealthGal. Her personal mantra is “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”