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

The Lies We Eat


(Trigger Warning for food issues/demonizing)

I witnessed an exchange yesterday that made me cringe. The son has a severe gluten allergy and my cafe makes gluten-free Belgian waffles. He ate his entire waffle, but his sister barely touched hers. Mom then began to eat the waffle after eating her own panini, but grew too full. She then insisted out loud that it was just too good to waste! And tried to get her son to eat it:

Mom to son: Please, take this last bite of waffle! I didn’t touch it!
Son: No!
Mom: You’re going to make me eat all of these extra calories?!
Son: What? (looks very confused)
Mom: C’mon! Just eat one bite!
Son: No!
Mom to me: He is a germaphobe, very OCD if you know what I mean. Ugh! I can’t believe he won’t eat it! It’s so good! *chews*

Prior to this exchange she was asking me about my paninis and which was “the least fattening?” To which I replied (with a smile), “Are you asking my opinion, because I’m not sure you would want it.” She laughed, so did I, but insisted on which had the least fat and calories and I refused to answer. She went with the vegetarian one (grilled eggplant with sun dried tomato spread, grilled onions and mozzarella) and insisted it was the most delicious thing ever!

My next customer wanted to know similar things, “What kind of bread do you use? Is it thick? I am trying to cut my carb intake…*mutters* and calories (with a sad face).” I reply, “But you need carbs and calories for your brain to function, for your body to move and work and play! Don’t you hate that we’re told that all of this stuff is bad and they make us feel awful for it?” She nods yes and looks slightly surprised by my response. Then I say, “Sorry, I don’t mean to preach, but I read a lot about nutrition and I get so upset that so much of what we’re told about food and nutrition and health are lies. It’s all marketing, you know? It is too bad.” She agrees and orders what she wants and then admits that the restaurants that show the calorie counts on foods really affects her. She says she has a hard time making a decision when faced with these figures. And I agree that it doesn’t really help. Then I explain that our body craves certain foods because it wants those nutrients. Substitutes don’t give those nutrients and often lead to more severe cravings. To this she agrees wholeheartedly and smiles.

I have these exchanges almost everyday. I don’t always get so wordy or mouthy about it, but I am tired of just smiling and nodding and letting these people demonize my food and my fat! Half the time it’s the adults that are the pickiest of eaters, kids just was food! No guilt or emotional attachments…just food/fuel! And food allergies are a serious concern! I cannot stand it when people make light of someone’s allergies or illnesses. Ugh!

I’m sick of people just repeating the exact same lies that are in ad campaigns! I want people to question this shit! To research it and to decide what is right for themselves. But they don’t know TO do that. They just take things on face value. “Oh! Whole grain means healthy!” Um, not exactly. *sigh* It’s an uphill battle. I don’t have $65 Billion to get the truth out there. The diet corporations do. And this is why Fat Liberation seems so daunting to many.

This is where I think we can make an impact though: with our moolah! None of us is rolling in money these days, but there are small things we can do to make small changes in the world and that begins with how you spend your money. Do you buy something that is suddenly advertising in a magazine or on a tv station that is fat hating? Call or email or tweet or facebook them to let them know you cannot support them if they support the fat hate! It works! So few people actually do speak up and contact these companies that when they do get more than say three people calling, they are surprised and want to please their customers (usually). Look into parent companies and see if you can contact them, too! In fact, get to know your congressperson and contact them regularly about discrimination based on height & weight! Many haven’t even heard of this stuff and will be interested and will want to listen to you!

You don’t have to get all shouty or overly political about it (even though it totally is), you can simply tell them that you refuse to support their products and company because where they are advertising (specify) supports the oppression of people based on their looks (weight/height/etc). Yes, you will most likely get a canned response, but you’d be surprised at how few people/complaints it takes before someone takes action! I saw this in the town where my cafe is. People were so annoyed at dealing with the strict 1 hour parking, but few actually complained to the city. I complained, a few of my customers complained, but not enough people did at first. Then I just got angry because they were straight up lying about how many tickets they were giving out (they claimed one a day when I watch them give out a minimum of five!) and started telling anyone who complained to contact the city. It took awhile, but it’s now been changed to two hours. I thought I was dreaming the day I saw the guys changing out the old signs to the new ones! Ha-ha! But they specifically said that enough people complained! Simple as that!

People don’t like to complain to the city/county/state/country. They like to complain to their friends/spouses/neighbors/etc. It’s like a past time for some people. When you suggest they take it up with someone who can actually do something about the issue? “Oh, they won’t listen!” is all I hear. And that is bullshit! If you don’t try how will you or they ever know?! They need to know, dammit! Business need this feedback, they need to hear from their customers or they will ASSUME they are doing the right thing every damned time! I don’t want anyone assuming what I want. I prefer to make my own choices and my own voice heard, thanks.

Okay, so I’m ranty this week, but that’s okay! It’s what I do. I’m tired of just complaining to like-minded individuals (and wonderful as y’all are), I feel compelled to start actually speaking up to these corporations and letting them know what I think. I may be naive in some of my thinking, do let me know, but it’s just too frustrating to be silent.

What products are advertising in fat hating media? I’d love to put together a list and post it. Thanks for reading! Happy Friday (for those who have weekends)! I hope you are all well and in good spirits! <3

10 Comments to

“The Lies We Eat”

  1. On July 29th, 2011 at 6:48 am Patsy Nevins Says:

    I hate all this food fear/hatred/guilt. I hate the beliefs that some foods are ‘super’ foods, while others are ‘bad’, I really hate all the nannying, all the guilting being done to all of us, the bullshit like twisting the arms of the corporate moguls at McDonald’s to put apple slices in all kids meals & cut the already small portion of french fries in half to supposedly end ‘childhood obesity’. I hate all the negative body messages, all the preaching about the ‘right’ way to live, the apparent belief that our bodies are public property & we have the right to tell others how to eat, how much to exercise, or anything else. I eat what I like, I enjoy it, I know when I am hungry, when I am full, & I eat a lot of different foods. I move my body regularly. I do not drink or smoke, I use sunscreen, I floss my teeth, &, most of all, I OWN my body. I do not need a damn nanny.

    And you are right, we do need to speak up & complain. If we just assume no one will listen or wait for ‘someone else’ to do it, nothing ever gets accomplished. Women would not have the vote & there would still be slavery if everyone lived that way. Though I would like to be able to go to Washington right now & kick some butt. I think all of them should go unpaid until they reach an agreement, but THERE is something that will never happen.

  2. On July 29th, 2011 at 7:22 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Patsy Nevins: Oh you don’t even wanna know what I think our government representatives should have to do! Ha! I think the office of President should be an unpaid position, too! I have a whole list! But I called my congressperson yesterday and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. I called to ask/demand that they support “The People’s Budget” and as the phone was ringing I was looking it up and turns out he co-authored it! So I just said, “Thank you!” and explained my original reason for calling. Got a good laugh out of that one!

    Yes, the nannying needs to stop! We do need to speak up and we don’t have to offer anything in the ways of proof/excuses/reasons/etc to those who would degrade and marginalize the fat all in the name of “health.” You’re absolutely right about women’s suffrage and the emancipation. Harriet Tubman is a childhood hero of mine (still is, honestly) and though I forget sometimes, I try to keep her story with me as a reminder of just what one person is capable of, but also of what a small community of people can do: Change the world! <3

  3. On July 29th, 2011 at 11:01 am Meaghan B Says:

    You know me. You know how I feel about this.

    That said, I think as a cafe owner/operator that you have a certain obligation to provide people the information they want about the food they want to eat. Preach all day long about it but in the end, it’s that lady’s choice to cut fat/carbs/calories and letting her make an informed decision instead of blindsiding her with shame about her choices is important, too. If you honestly don’t know, I think it’s fine to say “I don’t know” but I think refusing to provide the information, if you have it, isn’t helpful. Something like “You know your brain needs fat to run?! What sandwich were you wanting to know about?” “Oh, that one is great – it’s full of great veggies and really tasty. It has XX grams of fat, I think. I’m not sure of the saturated/unsaturated breakdown, though, you know dietary fats are important!” You can make your disapproval known without blocking access to information.

    There may be a slew of reasons she’s cutting carbs or fat – I have Hashimoto’s and one of the suggested “helpful” dietary things is to cut carbs, to an extent – not for calories, weight management or “diabetes risk” but because the medication doesn’t handle absorption a carb-heavy diet well. Many people with Hashimioto’s are vit-D deficient and supplements available for that also don’t handle carb-heavy diets well. My ex-husband is diabetic, he needs to know how many carbs/fats are in something so he can take the right amount of insulin and keep his diet balanced for his condition. He’s often tried to “connect” with food service folks by mentioning his “diet” – it’s not a weight-loss diet, it’s a medical diet. My son has a soy allergy – do you know how many times I’ve heard “But soy is _healthy!_” “You don’t want him to have chocolate?!” “Ice cream every once in a while is okay for him, you know!”? Sure, those things are great, but if you can’t tell me what’s in it, it probably has the industry-standard soy lecithin or soy oil (even organic chocolates have soy lecithin. The ones that don’t are: Theo chocolate, Enjoy Life Chocolate. Green and Blacks, Ghirardelli, Peet’s Chocolate Syrup – all have soy lecithin.)

    If I get into a teeth-pulling exchange to find out what is in my food? I’m not likely to eat somewhere. I don’t want to have to justify why I need to know – I’m not going to discuss if it’s because I’m on a diet or have a medical condition or have an allergy or whatever, because really, it’s no one’s business but mine and my doctor’s. I understand that these folks presented the fact that they are dieting to you but I’d prefer we combat the diet-talk and self-hate, not the informed choices.

  4. On July 29th, 2011 at 11:16 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Meaghan B: I totally see where you’re coming from on this. The lady who asked about “fattening” I told her I didn’t know first, but she pressed about what I thought would be the least fattening, that’s when I said that she sounded like she was asking for my opinion and then I refused to say. The lady with the carbs? I could have checked the bread package for a carb count, but that wouldn’t include all of the other ingredients. I can’t figure out what is in everything, but I do read labels and often offer them up for customers to read as well. I hide nothing and this is why my regular are regular. The language people use in regards to food is what cues me to say something, though. Had she said grams of carbs or grams of sugars or something, I would have looked and completely understood. I have lots of diabetic and allergic customers. This is why I feel transparency is best. And damn, soy lecithin is in everything! I know! It is one reason why I don’t offer all of those hideous blended drinks, full of chemicals! Perhaps I was hasty in my trying to educate her about nutrition. I’ll cop to that. Thank you for sharing your side. Always appreciated! <3

  5. On July 29th, 2011 at 12:08 pm FattiBoombalatti Says:

    ahhh I often feel the same way (and do the same things) I remember after living in China and seeing everyone in china eat a cup of white rice with every meal, 3 cups a rice a day and most Chinese are quite slender, then coming back to the US right in the middle of the Atkins craze… well it drove me nuts! I was like, “Why COME all those Chinese people eat simple carbs like its going out of style… and they are skinny for the most part? Come on, can one billion people be so wrong here?” Mostly I was ignored or had atkins mass media “research” parroted at me. After that hit the 8 glasses a day water craze… when I lved overseas you always knew it was an American because that American would be less than 3 ft from a water bottle at ALL TIMES.

    As time as shown me…. both of these theories based on minimal research and massive media fury… have been debunked and most of these obesity crap will, too.

    I think the media has done a number on people, the way it cobbles together and badly explains research to people who do not have a strong research background into a crazy feeding frenzy of hits on their websites. If it says, “studies show….” people swallow it up without asking whose the researcher? what was the # of participants, is it REPEATABLE? what are the measurements used and why are the researchers doing it and who funded it? Its like scientists are the priests to be unquestioned, accepted without analysis and repeated like sheep.

    Haha you are not the only one who can get ranty, girl!!! 🙂

  6. On July 29th, 2011 at 12:41 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    @FattiBoombalatti: I love it! Please, rant away!

  7. On July 29th, 2011 at 8:56 pm Meowser Says:

    There are people who manage diabetes by managing glycemic load, carb loads, etc. Or who have to avoid anything high in fat or cholesterol because of gallbladder issues, or something like that.

    But if you’re putting out baked-to-order rather than packaged stuff, what are you supposed to do, test everything in a lab? If it were me, I’d prioritize identifying common potential allergens (gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, etc.), because accidental ingestion of those can make people violently ill, and giving them maybe a rough idea of what the fiber, fat, and sugar content might be. Calories? Feh. It’s dicey enough getting accurate calorie counts on individual ingredients, let alone a finished product. I laugh at mandatory calorie-count posting laws, because nothing is stopping anyone from just pulling a number out of their underpants and making that the “official” calorie count. They can’t test everything!

    And I love what you said to that woman who asked about the thickness of the bread! Perfect!

  8. On July 30th, 2011 at 8:40 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Meowser: Yes, you’re absolutely right. And because I specialize in gluten and dairy allergy alternatives, I’m quite used to the questions and issues people can have with food. But it’s another thing all together when they go on about what’s fattening and cutting carbs versus managing carbs for sugars, etc. Thank you so much! Always nice to hear from you. =0)

  9. On July 30th, 2011 at 5:52 am Amanda Says:

    I love food comments, I normally get them as well but I do pretty much what you did.

    Also, I know Meaghan commented about why this could be bad, but the issue with even giving someone your opinion, even with allergy information is that they take it as fact. If someone has a reaction because of something you or I tell them it could end badly. Giving them the package and allowing them to decide I think is the best bet. I mean your not a corporation that hires nutritionists to make labels for every food item you make.

    Aside from that I am normally hyper vigilant with making sure that people with special dietary needs get what they want. Too many times have I seen chefs or cooks roll their eyes at a gluten allergy and ignore what I tell them, and I always send it back if it isn’t perfect.

  10. On July 30th, 2011 at 8:53 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Amanda: Good for you for paying close attention and sending things back when chefs eye-roll a customer request. I agree that the food comments are endless. I only usually speak up when it’s obviously dieting BS. So good to hear from you! =0)

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