Why Do I Need To Eat Every Day?

Yes, I know it’s because I’m human and we operate best if we eat with a certain amount of “eat multiple times a day” and “eat a variety of foods”. But it’s frustrating me at the moment, and I’m venting, so deal.

I know my pandemic experience has been a really good one. We have a house in the suburbs. We can go outside without immediately running into other people. The programmer has an office to work in – actually we all have an office. Plus other spaces! And a huge kitchen! Plus my husband likes to cook!

It’s the “not going to restaurants” thing that gets me down. Meal planning and cooking more started as a novelty, but now the “what do we eat today?” question is just … I’m over 50, y’all, and I get tired of trying to figure this out. Left to my own devices I would probably subsist on hummus (in single-serving packs), crackers (to scoop hummus with), bananas, and cheese. Or frozen food. And cookies. It’s a rut that served me fairly well after my pulmonary embolism. But it’s not really enough to thrive on.

I actually feel better when I eat more plants and otherwise have more variety. This week I got some baby spinach with the idea of making at least 2 salads. Instead, I added a salad’s worth of spinach to ramen (along with tuna and green onions.) Today I grabbed a big bowl and put in a few cups of spinach, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and salad dressing. I was a bit impressed with how good it tasted and that I was able to put it together quickly.

What are your food solutions these days?

Quote of the Day: Hunger, Food, and Self-acceptance

[Discusses calorie counts, reference to dieting/WLS]

I work with Michelle, The Fat Nutritionist, and she’s changed my entire life and my entire relationship with food. I was talking to her about hating myself for eating more often than I “should” […] She said my body requires more calories than I’m able to consume in one sitting . That my 350 pound body requires more calories to function than someone who is, say, 200 pounds. That’s why I eat more often…I need more nutrients and calories than my stomach is capable of holding at any one time. Blew. My. Mind. I just thought, well I’m clearly eating too much […]

We’re told so often that we’re supposed to eat 1,200 calories a day. The end. No flexibility. No matter how much you weigh, no matter how hard you work. 1,200 calories. That’s what I learned as a child and I’ve held on to that – even when I know, logically, that it’s complete and utter bullshit. Even dieting sites tell me I should be eating 2,500+ calories just to function. When you’ve believed your entire life that 1,200 calories is your goal, giving yourself permission to eat twice that amount is terrifying. I don’t trust my body. I don’t trust my hunger. How can I? Look where that left me.

What Michelle teaches me is to learn to accept that my body knows best. My body knows what it needs from me. And even after ignoring and disbelieving that for 30 years, I can teach myself to slowly start listening to the things my body tells me. I can permit my body to eat what it needs and wants, whether that’s a candy bar or a bucket of greens. I can give myself permission to eat. I can eat without judgment or fear or shame.

The food mantra I’ve come up with and repeat to myself when I eat: My food choices are valid. I’m allowed to eat this.

— From Heidi at Attack of the Sugar Monster, in discussing learning to eat more intuitively.   (Warning: Linked page includes discussion of weight loss surgery, eating disorders, and purging.)

I don’t try to count the calories in my food;I know the human body isn’t a bomb calorimeter. But I learned, young, that I “eat too much” (because otherwise I wouldn’t be fat) and was urged to diet (even though dieting isn’t necessarily about being healthy).  Heidi’s framing of this, of learning to trust her body, is really helpful to me.

I am also a fan of The Fat Nutritionist, though I haven’t worked with Michelle one-on-one myself.

Mod note: I keep this a space to discuss life & fat acceptance without focus on weight loss. I realize that quoting from this post of Heidi’s  may seem to open up the door to discuss weight loss here. NOPE. If you want to talk about it, please take it elsewhere.

Yes, I have done some reading on weight loss surgery and am not interested.  I believe in body autonomy and letting each person make their own choices about their own body — including weight loss — even though choosing not to diet is considered wrong by society.

Breakfast Pricing

Out for breakfast one day I noticed that both the plate of 3 pancakes and the dish of cut fruit are “one side”.   Different in quantity, nutrients and fiber.  Different, too, in shelf-stability of the ingredients and labor (mixing and cooking pancakes vs chopping fruit).

But the same price.

Says something about our food system, perhaps?

Semi-Random Update

I am sitting naked on my couch, wrapped in an afghan.

“Breakfast” this morning was a banana, 2 butterflake rolls, and a glass of diet Pepsi.

My temp job is taking huge amounts of my time.  I will likely be working some today, for example.

More permanent positions may be added in my group. I have given my grandboss my resume.

The last few months I’ve been carpooling with friends.  This cuts the average commute time to 30-50% of the typical bus commute, but it also reduces how much walking I do.  I’ve been eating lunch out more just to get out of the building and walk.

I spent time with my father on Thanksgiving for the first time in years.  I took him to lunch at his favorite restaurant.  He was back at his care home in time for the big Thanksgiving dinner there. I had dinner at my place with members of our family-of-choice.

Before leaving to get Dad yesterday I realized the cotton no-underwire bra I’d put on would probably give me a bit of  “4-boob syndrome” as the day went on.  At the time, I didn’t care, since I was going to be with Dad, and that type of  thing isn’t uncommon at the restaurant in question.  This also had me thinking about class.  After lunch it definitely was “4-boob” time, so I changed when I got home.

Dinner included: Turkey, stuffing with water chestnuts and cashews, green bean casserole, mashed yams, butterflake rolls, sparkling wine, coffee, hard cider, marionberry pie and pumpkin pie.  Most of this was cooked by the man of the house.  Yum.

Office Breakfast

The man of the house had picked up a variety pack of instant oatmeal for a trip.  We didn’t eat it then.  Monday I brought it into the office with me.

2 packets in a coffee cup + hot water = hot breakfast.   I don’t eat it every day, but when I was too rushed to eat at home it’s a nice option.

Usually with instant oatmeal I only get my favorite flavors, and even then, they’re often too strong.  Since I have a variety pack I’m mixing flavors – today was raisin & spice with maple & brown sugar.  I generally don’t like those flavors alone, but together they were fine.

Spoonful of oatmeal

Spoonful of oatmeal

Today’s Google Doodle

Today’s Google Doodle is on Albert Szent-Györgyi, who is credited with discovering vitamin C.

Growing up, I wished that one could just take pills instead of having to decide what to eat and thus avoid all the questions and pressures around “eating right”.

I don’t wish that anymore.

But I’m glad for beef jerky and dried fruit when I’m dealing with hospitals and insurance and coworkers and deadlines and and and.

Culture Affects Science Reporting

The bare facts in this piece on breakfast size are simple:

German researchers studied the food intake of 280 obese adults and 100 of normal weight. The subjects kept records of everything they ate over two weeks, and were carefully instructed about the importance of writing down what they ate as soon as they ate it.

For both groups, a large breakfast simply added to the number of daily calories they consumed. Whether they ate a large breakfast, a small one or none at all, their nonbreakfast calorie intake remained the same.

What struck me as interesting was that the same results were seen in both groups.  Both the fat and thin groups contained people that ate breakfasts of varying sizes, or not at all.  Both found their nonbreakfast calorie intake remained the same.   (It’s almost like fats are people!)  But the idea that breakfast is “added calories” is seen as the primary news, because it contradicts the “eat like a king at breakfast and a pauper at dinner” advice.

Personally?  Maybe it’s strange, but I try to match my breakfast to how hungry I am.  I also decide whether my breakfast was good or not based on things like mood and energy levels.  I know, it’s crazy.

Things I Would Like To Not Care About

I would like to not worry about:

  • Whether a medical professional will consider my symptoms before making a diagnosis.
  • Whether a job interviewer will not hire me because I’m fat.
  • Whether the friend talking about her diet is doing so as a way of passive-aggressively commenting on my body size, eating habits, or perceived dieting status.
  • Whether I will be seen as an equal partner in my friendships and family relationships, or seen as “stuck” with whoever will have me.
  • Whether a bathroom stall will be wide enough for me bend over and wipe everything, or if I’ll end up squatting “sideways” in the stall.
  • Whether the person who keeps looking at me while I eat is actually engaging in voyeurism without my consent.

I’d like…

  • I’d like my breathing hard walking uphill to be seen as a function of exertion, not fatness.
  • I’d like my periodic wheezing to be seen as a symptom of asthma, not fatness.
  • I’d like the fact that I’m married to not be a shocker.
  • I’d like the fact that I have sex to not be a shocker.
  • I’d like people to treat my exercising as about function and pleasure, not as “a major life choice deserving of applause” OR about weight loss OR as a reason to shout insults at me.
  • I’d like my food choices to be about nourishing my body, about helping my body function well, and about pleasure — not about weight OR being a “bad fatty” OR being a “good fatty”.

I sometimes joke about having “dieting PTSD” from my teenage years, but really, a lot of these buttons were installed by my family (which is not at all uncommon).   I am trying to decouple weight from food and exercise.  I’m trying to decouple health from weight.  I’m not perfect, but I’m working on it.  Most of the time hearing other people talk about diets isn’t a problem, per se — it may be uninteresting, but doesn’t always and automatically start a round of self-recriminations or a visit from The Ghost of Failed Diets Past, and I consider that a win.

I also realize that some of these buttons — like someone commenting on my food choices — are going to get pressed, simply by living in this society, so I’m trying to “disconnect” them.  (This would be easier if there were an actual wire leading from the “button” to my brain that I could reroute or disconnect!)  Again, I’m not always successful, but I’m working on it.

Some of these, like how employers perceive fat applicants or how medical professionals’ biases harm fat patients, do affect my life in very real ways.  I can advocate for myself, I can overdress to seem “more professional than thou”, but all I can do is the best I can.

What about you?  Does this strike a chord for you, or not?

Things to Read: Scandals That Aren’t

This bit on Fast Food Restaurants Not Single-Handedly Ending Child Obesity is hysterical.   Yes, some fast food restaurants pledged to make “healthier” choices available, and yes, they make some “healthier” choices available.  Is it really a surprise that you might have to, gasp, order the milk and apple slices instead of pop and fries?

Hey, here’s another one: Instead of whining about TV ads, why not minimize watching them?  Unlike the world of 1984, televisions can be turned off; commercials can be muted, programs can be recorded and commercials fast-forwarded.   Teach the kids to help you make dinner or with the dishes — that’s teaching the kid an important life skill AND spending quality time together.   Or play a board game or read with the kids or watch a DVD or mute/fast-forward through commercials or, heck, let the kid watch the commercials and tell them “No” if that’s what you’ve decided.  I realize it’s radical to pretend you’re the one raising your own kid, but I won’t turn you in, I promise.

(Not that I think that turning off the TV or passing up a Happy Meal will automagically turn a fat kid into a slender one.  But it’s a lot easier to start learning to cook or do the dishes or handle “No” or amuse oneself without TV before you’re 25 or 30, so why not do your child a favor and teach them?)

Also in the “this is a surprise?” is  that the US Dept of Agriculture is promoting American-made cheese.  The Dept of Agriculture was founded with the aim of promoting US agriculture and has maintained multiple roles through its history — it regulates and markets US food, it promotes good nutrition and runs the Forestry Service.  It isn’t, in fact it really can’t, be a monolith.  Maybe I worked too long in a large (50,000+ employees) company, but it’s reasonable that people in the group that works to market the US dairy industry is not necessarily going to be worried about limiting dairy intake.  It’s also reasonable that the people who are worrying about ideal nutrition are in a different group from the ones marketing various types of food.   Yes, they have a point that the USDA is talking out of both sides of its mouth with “eat more cheese” and “eat less saturated fat, including less cheese” as messages, but — hello — the USDA didn’t stop subsidizing tobacco production until 2005 (and is still paying tobacco farmers to help them transition to a free market).   There is big money encouraging Congress to help market US agriculture, and don’t you forget it.

Now, if the NYT is looking for a scandal, the fact that the Dairy Marketing group continued their “dairy helps you lose weight” campaign despite the research they funded disproving it is a better target, I’d think.  Especially since the Federal Trade Commission got involved.  Or maybe it’s just that nobody really expects diet ads to have any basis in fact?

Thankful Thursday

[a not-always-weekly exercise in gratitude]

It’s Thursday and I’m thankful for:

  1. I’m getting better at exercising regularly.  It’s having results in terms of feeling stronger & being able to do more physically.
  2. The rain is watering the yard for me. One less item on the to-do list :)
  3. …and the roses are still blooming.
  4. Fresh strawberries and shortbread with tea this afternoon.  Decadence!
  5. A friend posted a link to a skit from the old Seattle comedy show Almost Live!  Yay being able to laugh at ineffectual middle management suck-ups.

Food as Medicine, or, Blueberries Prevent Death

I’m not the only one who makes fun of the “food is medicine” “eat this and you’ll live forever or at least you won’t get cancer (maybe).”

Am I?

I’m not the only one who rolls my eyes at “superfoods” or who likes smoothies because they’re a quick breakfast, not because they’re “brain boosters“, right? Right?

…and yet…I routinely add eat garlic, onions, and peppers for their decongestant effect.  Oops.

Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution”

I didn’t watch the show. I wasn’t going to blog about it, for one thing. But this article Arun Gupta wrote at Alternet is fascinating, digging into the various federal and state requirements for school lunches, how both policy and kids’ tastes encourages the use of processed foods … and here I am, blogging about it.

That [Jamie Oliver] failed to meet the nutritional guidelines, went way over budget and put the school district at risk of losing federal funding is bad enough. The fact that so many children stopped drinking milk, dropped out of the program and appeared to be eating less food,* strongly suggests they were worse off under his program. As Cabell County has sidelined his menu it’s more evidence that the “Food Revolution” collapsed at the barricades.

That said, school food could be improved tremendously. But it’s a comment on how bad the broader food system and culture is when studies show kids who participate in the school lunch program are eating healthier food than they would otherwise.

Why did kids stop drinking milk?  He banned flavored milk as being “too sweet” — despite that almost half of the sugar in the milk is lactose, which, y’know, is in all milk.   He also decried serving baked “french fries” at school — because they’re French, I guess, because it’s not like they were deep-fried.

*Gupta also notes this was a school where 86% of the kids qualify for free or reduced-cost meals.  They may not be able to afford to buy or bring another lunch.  Hell, some of those kids may not get any food that isn’t at school.

Kraft Dinner Mix-Ins

I think part of what turned me off to the Food Network’s “Semi-Homemade” cooking show, even before I heard the host’s voice, was the very concept of a TV show built around variations on store-bought / prepackaged food.   “People need to be told to do that?” and “God, how boring” where my thoughts.   Then I heard her oh-so-annoying voice and caught a long, lingering shot of how she set the table and it was all over.

This post really isn’t about Semi-Homemade cooking, except that lately when I’ve been adding things to, say, Kraft Dinner, people bring it up.  So no, I didn’t get the idea of adding cheese, or bacon bits, or garlic powder and mustard, or hamburger to Kraft Dinner from a TV show.   They came from my own brain, informed by other meals I’ve had and recipes I’ve read.

Which leads to the question: If you make Kraft Mac-n-Cheese, do you add anything to it?  My usual these days is bacon bits, shredded cheddar or a slice or two of American cheese, and lots of pepper.   You?

March Round-Up

This is partly for me, and partly to show folks a little of what’s going on “behind the curtain”.  I’ve considered calling it “Best of Living 400lbs” but I’m not sure it’s really the best articles…what do you think?

March’s most popular posts:

  1. On Acceptance
  2. Why paying attention to weight can be good
  3. “Every Little Bit Helps!” Really? Depends
  4. Sometimes Exercise isn’t Fun
  5. 400lb Women are Rare….

March’s posts with the most discussion:

  1. Sometimes Exercise isn’t Fun
  2. Why paying attention to weight can be good
  3. On Acceptance
  4. Search Trends: Diabetes
  5. (tie) Sweet Potato Fries and Freedom to Cook

On a procedural note, I am going to have spotty Internet access through the weekend. I may be slow to respond to comments and to let first-timers through the mod queue.