NotBlueAtAll

I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

Food: For the Body & Mind

July7

Today is sort of my Monday, but I’m caffeinated and ready to talk!

I wanted to talk about food today. For a kajillion reasons, really, but also as a continuation on the food and food allergy subject mentioned in my last post which was a wonderful interview with my good friend Steph (www.wasabimon.com). I’ve been learning about food pretty much every day for the last three or more years. So, let’s start there.

It happened on accident, sort of. Everyone I worked with at the time was on a diet. The ladies in my office would try to under-eat each other (as in, who ate the least was the “best”). It was disgusting. At one point one of them saw that the other was eating a single piece of fried chicken. The other remarked, loudly as always, “Oh my gawd! You’re eating fried chicken?!” the one with the chicken, “Yeah, it’s just one piece, but it’s good.” The other, “Well, good for you, I guess. I could never do it! Just thinking about it? Oh gawd! But I’ll be over here with my ____.” You can fill in the blank with whatever you like. I’ll fill it in for myself with half serving of pasta or salad because that seems like all she ate. Once they argued over what had less calories raw vegetables or cooked. UGH! I was often tempted to grab a donut and walk past them enjoying it with full dramatic effect. Never did. Oh well.

After awhile I grew tired of being bombarded with this nonsensical information being fed to me through these nut cases and the major media outlets at large. (*giggles* “At large! Love it! ) Okay, ahem, sorry. My fave co-worker and cubical neighbor and I would hit up our local Target for 100 calorie snacks. I hadn’t yet heard of the fat acceptance/size acceptance movement, but mentally I was nearly ready. We would buy the Hostess Cupcakes 100 calorie packs in varying flavors and joke about it, “Oh Freddy, would you like to try the vanilla? One is only 50 calories?”  and then we’d laugh and laugh! Often with evil faces or snarky instant messages. I miss working with him. *sigh* Somehow this seemed like a side-step to dieting, yet now I see that it wasn’t. It was still calorie restriction, but whatever.

After reading an article in my newly fave magazine BUST, I discovered the Chubsters in the U.K. who make no bones about being fat (okay, enough with the puns, me!) and will bust yo chops if you do!  This lead me to a series of other fat-related blogs that eventually (after about a week or more of browsing) lead me directly into the FA movement. WOOT! I couldn’t believe it! Fat gals like me, loud & proud?! But this also made me question all I had been told about food and dieting and nutrition. Vague memories from High School conditioning class and that one day when our P.E. teacher brought in a Mary Kay representative to discuss make-up?! Really?! Even then I knew it was wrong. Even then I knew that aerobics and make-up would not bring happiness to my life. Even then I knew I didn’t look like other girls, but not yet classically fat or plus sized.

The more blogs I read the more hooked I became on FA and it’s various beliefs there in. I was scared to tell anyone about my new found love at first. Then I told my husband and my friend Steph! I was surprised by how supportive they were and specifically the amount of info Steph had on-hand and in-brain! Ha! If you wanna know something about food and the interwebz aren’t getting you there, Steph is the gal with the info, or book on the subject! For real! She has more books on the subject of food/allergies/nutrition/etc than anyone I know. So she also encouraged me to read more about these things. The more I learned the more I realized how much of what we as a society know about food is all lies!

I focused on health. I focused on what felt better & tasted better. I realized that when I ate fried foods I felt like crap. When I ate fresh & whole foods I felt fabulous. I realized that red meat would not work for my digestive system. I gave things up and embraced a new outlook on food. I switched to soy and suddenly realized that cow’s milk was making me ill! Radical, I know, but it felt crazy to come to this conclusion at the time. I became a vegetarian and discussed it with my doctor. She was supportive and encouraged me to try more new things and try not to overdo it on the cheese tip.

Later I ditched the restriction of vegetarianism and just kept trying to eat good things (not morally good, just natural and good like). I made choices instead of the social defaults (burger & fries). While my dad was somehow offended entirely regarding the no red meat thing, I think it made some things clear for me. One, that food is fuel and not some sort of past time. Two, that it’s okay to not eat what everyone else is eating. Three, to stick up for myself and not cave in to peer pressure and dieting nonsense. And at one job I had later on, when the entire company had a “picnic” but only bought KFC for everyone, I politely asked if I could cover the phones while everyone was having their lunch. The HR lady was concerned, but I explained to her privately and she understood completely.

I have met a lot of people and have been privy to a lot of restrictive diets or eating habits. I generally let people do what they want and mind my business, but then I met someone who was at first a customer and then a good friend (and then a complete asshole who burned me, but that’s beside the point) who was a vegetarian who hated vegetables. WHAT?! Yeah, made no sense to me either. But then she said that she loved fish! Okay, so she was a pescetarian. All I know is that all I saw her eat was bread, cheese, sweets and the occasional lettuce & tomato. Ugh!

She blamed her numerous health problems on her fat, but not on her diet. When I mentioned to her that I felt that it was what she was eating (or not eating as the case may be) that was making her sick, she scoffed at the idea and insisted she had never felt more sick since gaining the weight. For the record she was a 5” 22/24 apple-shape. I tried to reason with her just as she had with me over getting my G.E.D., “You deserve to eat better!” Obviously this had no effect and while that’s not the reason we’re no longer friends, it was always bothersome to me.

Then I started watching documentaries about food. You may recall one not very long ago about aspartame called, “Sweet Misery” and that floored me! “How can this be legal? This substance that is directly linked to brain tumors and certain cancers?” I started talking to my regular customers and one even gave up his 12 pack of diet coke a week habit entirely. Now? He drinks naturally flavored mineral water. WOW! I tried not to bum anyone out with my new knowledge, but when you know that something is literally poison? You try to save those you know and love. My pescetarian friend knew of the problems that aspartame creates and still drinks many diet drinks all of the time.

Then I watched “King of Corn” & “Food Inc.” and again I was floored. “How could this be? This industrialized version of food? What the hell are we eating? How did we get to this?” I won’t claim to eat a 100% whole food diet or anything. What I do eat is more in the “intuitive eating” style of diet. I pay attention to what my body tells me. When I eat something that doesn’t make me feel good or worse, makes me sick, I pay attention and not eat it again! But I also try new things, often if I can.

I guess my point is this: know what you are eating and pay attention to how it makes you feel. If I know I have a long-hard day ahead of me, I try to eat a good breakfast. I try to eat things that will give me natural energy and not some sugar-laden “beverage” that claims to provide the energy I need. I now enjoy cooking at home and am surprised by how little time it takes to make dinner. Sometimes less time than a trip to the drive-through!

We all have different eating habits, for better or worse, but we don’t always make conscious decisions when choosing what to eat. It’s a topic my husband and I often argue about. If you’re in the moment, fully present and aware of your options you may make a better choice than just grabbing what’s easiest/cheapest. That brings up another point of concern for me: Access!

Having access to whole foods that are fresh and natural and not molested by factory farming and the like is not a given. I am not proud nor ashamed to say that at this point in my life I am quite poor. I grew up very poor and have worked very hard to never see those days again, but I am and I don’t care who knows it. I can’t afford to shop at “Whole Foods” (or “Whole Paycheck” as it is more commonly known). I can’t buy all organic all of the time. I have to made tough choices when grocery shopping. I have to decide what’s more important and sometimes it means buying non-organic so that I can afford more important staples. Access can also mean not having  this type of food in your neighborhood or town. Many other factors may come into play as well (like you’re not doing the buying/cooking of the foods you eat), but in any case it can be very hard to get what you want or need regardless of the reasons.

There is no such thing a bad (as in morally) food or good food. It is all just food. I don’t know when this type of language entered our social sphere, but it’s useless! I’ll venture a guess and say it arose late 70’s early 80’s during that whole fitness craze. Somehow just exercising wasn’t enough, you had to have the egg white omlet and carrot sticks, too! “No dairy, no sweets, no fried food: these are your enemies!” Fuck that! I like a bit of ice cream and bread from time to time. I love a nice piece of chocolate or the occasional fried zucchini! And none of it is good/bad, it’s just food!  It is the fuel that gives us energy so that we can move and work an dance and play and think and live! Nothing more and nothing less!

As a cafe owner though, I hear this talk all of the time. Rarely from men, but also rarely from other fats. It’s mostly fairly well-off women. Women who would easily pass for years younger than they are who spend far too much time worrying about the opinions of others and some seriously go the extra mile to let me know how hard it is for them to carry so much weight (I’m talking easily ladies who weigh 110-140 lbs. for reals). To me?! A 300+/- lbs. gal who has nothing to relate to them. I think some are seeking sympathy while others simply wouldn’t know what else to talk about. They ask about sugar-free syrups and such and I simply inform them that I don’t allow the brain tumor causing chemicals in those syrups in my shop, ever! Most are shocked by this, some are grateful and others are interested in learning more!

When another customer turned friend informed me that she had once again signed up with Weight Watchers i had simply had enough. I said, “Look, I don’t want to get all Fat Acceptance on you, but you’re amazing and gorgeous and who gives a flying shit about a few extra vanity pounds?!” She laughed with me! What a revelation! The moral of this post (if there needs to be one) is that we all deserve real food to fuel our bodies and brains and to live. We all deserve to feel good about ourselves and our bodies. We all deserve to feel that we deserve these things. So why is the diet industry so dead-set on making us feel like crap? Because then we’ll buy their products and dream of the day we are thin/accepted/beautiful/worthy. FUCK THAT! How you look does not equate your worth.

You can do anything you want. Nothing is stopping you. You can feel good about yourself right now. You can be confidant and care-free! You can do it. I know you can because I’ve done just that. At 300+ lbs. I feel great and have never felt better! I don’t expect others to do just as I have done, accepting yourself is a very personal journey, but it’s one that I hope people of all sizes will take. It’s so enlightening and life affirming! I spent years hating myself and the world around me…and for what?! Ugh! Depression is a difficult monkey to remove from your back, but it can be done. I won’t get into the dynamics of depression, but I have been there and still fight it. YOU deserve to feel good about yourself! That’s that!

I was reading this blog familyfeedingdynamics.blogspot.com this morning and was surprised to read about adult picky eaters and this brought a lot of things to mind. Please go to her blog and well, read often as it applies to so many of us even without children! But she mentions this article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704699604575343130457388718.html
For one thing, it made me think of my niece and her mom and what they eat every day. Nothing green! Yikes! In my book that’s awful and they’re missing out on so many gorgeously yummy things, not to mention nutrients! I won’t get too into it, but this has been a problem when our niece visits us each summer and is suddenly exposed to actual foods and not just spaghetti and pancakes (which is all she wants). Because her mom doesn’t eat these things, she doesn’t and I believe this is a big part of her health problem.

Talking to one of my customers just now, I asked him, “Why do guys see healthy eating as less macho?” His answer, “Ignorance.” I love it! It’s true! Guys are fed lines about how eating more meat makes you more manly and what not. Ugh! Gross! Stupid marketing, too about giant drippy burgers come to mind. Outdoor BBQ parties with guys singing about sausage and beer. Whatever! It’s all bullshit and I have no problem saying it! It’s not just ladies who suffer from the diet industry and it’s partners. I mean, has Subway ever had a female spokesperson? It’s all been sports guys & Jared. You guys, we can all eat healthy and it doesn’t mean you have to do XY&Z, too! It just means you’re eating healthy and that’s it. You don’t have to announce it to anyone or bow your head in shame at the salad bar…just do what feels good. BK be damned!

I hate the fact that people take one cursory glance at me and assume so much about my lifestyle and habits and I bet most are completely untrue. This is life! I fight those stereotypes daily. I try to laugh about it and not take it personally, but it’s tough. I would never claim to have it easy, nor would I ever claim I have it so hard. It just is what it is living in this body of mine. It’s different for everyone. There is no one way to live or be. We are unique individuals with very individual needs. I know that you’ll find what it is that makes you feel good and when you do? That’s all you’ll want to do and feel every day. You’ll smile knowing that you worked hard and it was worth it because you’re so very worth every bit of effort and energy. It’s no religion or cult it’s just living life is a more attuned with yourself sort of way.

That customer I was just talking to, he also said something that his homeopath told him, “The foods with short shelf lives, they give you a longer life. The foods with very long shelf lives? They give you a much shorter life. What do you want?” I love this! It’s true! Think about what’s in those longer shelf life foods? Yuck! I’ll take the the longer life, thanks.

Please leave your comments/questions and I will be sure to address them.

Thank you for reading!

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