Just THINK about what you eat!

May 13, 2008 at 4:47 pm (binging, diets, disordered eating, media)

This lovely quote came from the Wall Street Journal:

“Most people don’t think about what they’re eating — they’re focusing on the next bite,” says Sasha Loring, a psychotherapist at Duke Integrative Medicine, part of Duke University Health System here. “I’ve worked with lots of obese people — you’d think they’d enjoy food. But a lot of them say they haven’t really tasted what they’ve been shoveling down for years.”

So is it most people who don’t think about what they’re eating, or just obese people? Also, why would obese people enjoy food more than non obese people? Are thin people simply unable to enjoy food, or does this psychotherapist simply buy into the notion that all fat people are fat because they overeat and no thin people over eat? Also, note the degrading, insulting term “shoveling down” in reference to eating habits of OMG TEH OBESE. They don’t eat food. They “shovel down” food. You know. Like shoveling slop from a barrel into a pig trough.

What’s different about mindful eating is the paradoxical concept that eating just a few mouthfuls, and savoring the experience, can be far more satisfying than eating an entire cake mindlessly.

Once again, LOL FAT PEOPLE EAT CAKES LOL. I weigh 280 pounds and have never “eaten an entire cake mindlessly.” Even when binging, which is abnormal and unhealthy behavior that will not be magically cured simply by “paying attention to what you eat,” I’ve never “eaten an entire cake.” But, you know, all fat people are fat because they eat cakes constantly. If they’d just stop SHOVELLING FOOD INTO THEIR GAPING MAWS, they’d be thin. And healthy. And fabulous. And human.

One key aspect is to approach food nonjudgmentally. Many people bring a host of negative emotions to the table — from guilt about blowing a diet to childhood fears of deprivation or wastefulness. “I joke with my clients that if I could put a microphone in their heads and broadcast what they’re saying to themselves when they eat, the FCC would have to bleep it out,” says Megrette Fletcher, executive director of the Center for Mindful Eating, a Web-based forum for health-care professionals.
So, does that nonjudgemental approach to food include accusing people of “shovelling down” food and “eating entire cakes”? Because that seems kind of, you  know, judgemental to me.
Chronic dieters in particular have trouble recognizing their internal cues, says Jean Kristeller, a psychologist at Indiana State, who pioneered mindful eating in the 1990s. “Diets set up rules around food and disconnect people even further from their own experiences of hunger and satiety and fullness,” she says.
Oh, hey, but diets totally work and if you’re fat you should totally diet so that you can be skinny. Even though it fucks up your internal cues and makes you unable to tell if you’re hungry or full or what.
“I don’t think about food anymore. It’s totally out of my mind,” says Mary Ann Power, age 50, of Pittsboro, N.C., a lifelong dieter who thinks she’s lost eight or 10 pounds in two weeks since learning the practice at Duke. “I think you could put a piece of chocolate cake in front of my nose right now, and it wouldn’t tempt me. Before, I could eat three pieces.”
I frequently have chocolate cake or other goodies around me without diving face first into them. I currently have a Vosges Gianduja Bar on my desk that’s been here for two weeks. I love this chocolate bar, but haven’t been hungry for it. If I want it, I can have it, but I haven’t wanted it. Sorry, this fatty isn’t really in the habit of “shovelling down” available food. I don’t need to, because I don’t deny myself and categorize food into “good” and “bad” subsets. It’s just food. I mean, you know, good on her that she no longer feels the urge to binge on chocolate cake. But still.

One of the most frustrating thing about this Hot New Practice!!!! is that it has its roots in Buddhist medidation. It’s like aping Ramadan’s fasting rules or giving up eating for Lent for the vain purposes of losing weight. It’s cheapening a religious practice, removing all the religion and spirituality, and using it solely for vain, earthly purposes. And that is FOUL.

I really don’t see Buddha usind Mindful Eating as a weight loss measure. Do you?


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Bad Advice: Binging on the weekend

April 28, 2008 at 3:44 pm (advice, binging, diets, disordered eating)

I want to start doing a theme where I take advice column questions and answer the answers. Today’s question comes from About.com
Weekend Diet Traps

I eat a healthy diet Monday through Friday, but on the weekends, it’s no holds barred. How do I bring in the reins?
…Your mindless weekend binge just ruined an entire week of healthy eating. Then the guilt sets in. You get back to your routine diet on Monday, feeling bad and vowing to eat right next weekend. But then Friday comes around and the whole cycle starts all over again. …

Your mindless weekend binge ruining an entire week of healthy eating is one way of looking at it. However, what if you aren’t “being bad”? What if your body is desperately trying to make up the calories you’ve been denying it all week by being “good”?

Most of the “tips” in the article have to do with face-stuffing and offer helpful suggestions like “don’t keep food in the house” (ok, I’m exagerating slightly) and “don’t order vast amounts of food at restaurants… if you do, don’t eat it all.” They push fruits and veggies, under the asumption that you’re not eating them at home, I guess. And then there’s the slide into disordered territory. Log everything you eat. Keep track of every calorie consumed, every bite you take. Hungry? Take a walk to distract yourself! You’ll burn calories, too! Want one thing? Have another! Have some fruit. It’s mostly water and fiber.

Nowhere does it address the actual problem, which is a repeat pattern of binge behavior. Nowhere do they ask “are you really binging, or just not dieting? And if you are binging, what’s the reason behind it? What’s causing it? What aren’t you getting that you’re trying to replace with food?

I also don’t like the assumption that a “healthy” diet is one that’s bad or boring. It’s very possible to eat healthily and enjoy your food. In fact, that should be the default… enjoyment of food. Scandalous, I know. But what happens when you don’t enjoy your food during the week? You stick your face in a pie on the weekend. Yeah. That’s healthy.

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The Diet Mindset

April 8, 2008 at 11:49 am (diets, disordered eating, weight loss) (, , , )

It’s pervasive, this idea that if one simply limits one’s calories below what they need to survive, one’s excess weight will melt away like so much ice cream in the hot sun. Despite studies that have shown that people burn calories differently when they have plenty to eat versus when they have little to eat, and despite studies that have shown that biologicaly fat people and thin people burn calories at a different rate, most non-fat-friendly people who talk about THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC lead off with the assumption that fat is a choice, and fat people could all be thin if they’d only eat less and move more… despite the failure rate of diets, and despite the fact that most fat people have been on diets and failed, and despite the fact that many many many articles talk about “the dangers of yo yo dieting” in the same paragraph they talk about yet another low calorie starvation fest.

I know my body. I’ve lived in it for a long time, and started listening to it actively recently. I know for a fact that I can limit calories to starvation levels while doing intense aerobic exercise for many hours a day and still not lose weight. But the other day while changing into pajamas and thinking about whether or not I wanted to have some ice cream, that little niggling voice in the back of my head whispered that if I’d just skip the ice cream my clothes would fit that much better. And maybe I should just have a salad for dinner, or skip it entirely. I have been losing weight after all. If I just take control and limit my calories a bit, I’ll lose even more weight, even faster.

This, despite the fact that I’m losing weight at a time when I’ve eaten more calories than I have in years. I’m eating more food over the course of the day than I usually do because I’m not restricting what I eat, I’m not eating what I “should” eat. I’m eating enough to be healthy and have energy and to keep me alive, and my body’s responding by stopping it’s OMG FAMINE HOARD HOARD HOARD freak out and letting go of the excess fat I have… the fat that truely is excess, and which has me at a higher point of my body’s natural set point. I know what’s healthy for me, what’s good for me. Yet even knowing that, I still feel the urge sometimes to act in unhealthy, destructive ways; to engage in disordered eating and compulsive behavior again.

And that’s not right and that’s not good and that’s not healthy, and that’s the diet mindset that grips this country.

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Weight Loss

April 2, 2008 at 1:00 am (diets, disordered eating, weight loss) (, , )

I haven’t been doing any extra excercise lately, or conciously restricting my caloric intake. I have, however, been pretty sick, to the point of not eating. But when well enough to eat, I’ve been eating pretty fatty things– in large part a response to my enforced fasting, I think, and the fact that my body is trying very, very hard to recover and get well and needs to burn calories to do so. Despite that, I’ve been losing weight over the past few months.

I first noticed it, as I always do, in my breasts. I’ve gone down a cup size. And now my pants are too large on me as well, and some shirts with very snug arms now fit a bit better in the shoulder/upper arm area. When I look in the mirror I look different. Shirts on hang on me differently. I don’t know what I weigh. I don’t own a scale, and the few times I’ve stepped on one, out of curiousity, in some friend’s or family member’s bathroom, the needle has burried itself in the “lolfattylol” range of over 250 pounds. Just… thunk.

If I mention my weight loss to most people they congratulate me. “You must be so proud,” they say. But I’m not proud. I’m not doing anything to lose weight, and even if I were, why should I be proud of the size I am? How is that an important thing?

What I am, however, is worried. I’m something of a hypochondriac, so I lose weight without meaning to and my brain is all “OMG cancer! OMG thyroid problems! OMG tape worm! OMG YOU WILL DIE.”

I spoke with another friend of mine, who is also fat and who also grapples with positive self image, FA, HAES, and intuitive eating. She asked me if I started losing weight after I started eating more intuitively and yes, that’s when it started. When I finally let go of a lot of my hangups with food and started listening to my body, I started losing weight. I’ve been feeling healthier for a while now, eating a more balanced diet. I doubt I’ll loose MUCH weight… just get back to a lower point in my body’s natural range, which is still fat. But people tell me I’m looking better, that I must be proud. After all, I’m losing weight! Isn’t that fabulous?

I was sitting in the lunch room at work while a co-worker talked excitedly about finally fitting back into a pair of pants she hadn’t worn for sixteen years. Which means that she hauled these pants (and other articles of clothing) around with her every time she moved for sixteen years. For sixteen years, those clothes have been taking up closet, shelf, and drawer space. Instead of buying clothes that fit and look good on her, she’s been maintaining a shrine to clothes she can’t wear, for over a decade and a half. They’re nice pants, don’t get me wrong, but not worth wearing around your neck for sixteen years. She took a break from marveling over the new shape of her butt and thighs to congratulate another coworker on her recent weight loss. The other coworker tried to deflect the congratulations by saying she’d been really sick. “But you look so great! So thin!” “Yeah, I was really sick. I almost went to the hospital. It was awful.” “You must have dropped two pants sizes! You look so good!” “Uh… I couldn’t stop puking. Seriously. I thought I would die. I was so incredibly dehydrated. I burst all the blood vessels in my eye balls.” “Really really great! You’re so slender now! Your clothes are just hanging off of you!”

Because being thin is always healthier than being fat. Always.

I’m so glad I found FA.

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Food Dreams

March 28, 2008 at 10:15 am (binging, disordered eating, dreams, fasting) (, , , )

The problem with fasting for a long time is that after awhile you get hungry again. Sure, you can ignore that hunger for a few hours, a few days. You can ignore the light-headedness and the confusion and the shaking hands. But after awhile your body reasserts its claims, its needs. And then you get hungry. Ravenously hungry. Out of control hungry. Your body craves fuel, craves sustenance, craves life. Driven by my body, I would binge.

I’ve read accounts of other people who binged (and usually purged. I never did. Not out of any reason other than I have a paranoia of vomit.) where they recount the tubs of ice cream, entire cakes, multiple bags of chips they devoured until they were stuffed and groaning and distended, unable to move. I would eat… wait for it!… several pieces of toast. A sandwich AND chips AND soup! A bag of chips! A carton of Chubby Hubby Ice Cream! You know, amounts of food that were fairly normal for most people, but I’d internalized the idea that since I was big fat fatty mclardass I must automaticaly be eating more food than other people and therefore when I ate a meal I must be pigging out and cramming mass amounts of food down my gullet. So a fast food combo meal or dinner at a Greek restaurant became not a meal but a horrible binge, more fat coins put into the lard back that was my gaping maw.

I started having horrific dreams where I’d wake up terrified, soaked with sweat, and feeling huge whomps of guilt. What was I doing in those dreams? Eating food at barbecues. Buying cakes at bake sales. Eating. Or… trying to eat food at barbecues, trying to buy cakes at bake sales, trying to eat. The dreams would often involve me feeling so shameful and guilt ridden that I couldn’t eat in front of other people, or I’d be unable to find my money and thus pay for the food, or everything I wanted would be snatched away and I’d run through mazes trying to find it. Or I’d eat and eat and eat to satiety and wake up feeling guilty because I was full and satisfied in the dream. And I’d feel “off” and shaken all day, and depressed. I felt bad about food even in my dreams. I felt bad about eating even when my dreams were trying to tell me to eat.

When did food become the enemy?

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The Way It Began

March 26, 2008 at 12:13 pm (disordered eating, fasting, highschool) (, , , , )

People were always telling me I “would be so pretty if only” and then a bit of a pause, and then a litany of my failings. If only I were thinner. If only my teeth were straighter/whiter/didn’t have braces on them. If only I just did something with my hair. If only I wore better clothes. If only I had better skin. If only I were thinner. The “thinner” one is, actually, the one I heard most often with the skin thing coming a close second. In my whole life, I’ve had all of one person come up to me and offer to help me with my awful, awful skin (her own words). I’ve had hundreds, literally hundreds, offer me unwanted advice about how to shed my awful, awful weight.

I can’t remember a time that people (my peers, kids younger than me, adults) didn’t pick on me for my weight. Looking back at photos of myself as a little kid I was a huge toddler, and then “normal” sized when I hit pre-school and kindergarten (right around the time I had two growth spurts), and then started chunking up in first and second grade. I’ve been fat ever since then. Consistantly the same amount of fat, consistantly the same size. Consistantly too big.

When you’re constantly told that you’re bad and weak and wrong because you’re fat, what do you do? How do you address that? When other people constantly question how much you eat, constantly ask you if you’re “really” hungry, how long does it take before you start second guessing yourself?

When I was in highschool, my diet on a good day consisted of:

  • Several cans of caffeinated soda, all diet (of course!)
  • Half a bag of M&Ms, Skittles, or Reeces Pieces, shared with someone else
  • Whatever my family was having for dinner.

There were times when I didn’t eat for two or three days.

I was cranky and out of it all the time, constantly tired. I had problems focusing, concentrating. I never got the final growth spurt my school mates got between 8th and 12th grade. My  nails were brittle and broke easily. And I remained fat. And people still insulted me for being fat, and told me that if I just ate a little less and stopped pigging out I’d lose weight. I hated myself for so many reasons, and sometimes I still do. I became more and more restrictive with food and eating, and became more and more depressed, until I realized that I was actively suicidal which was a bit of a wake up call and very very scary.

A few months ago I started practicing intuitive eating, trying to eat what I want to eat when I want to eat it in the quantity that I want. If I want to eat a baked potato for dinner, I will. Or a salad. Or soup. Or a pound of steak. Or some green beans. Or artichoke dip and pita chips. Or waffles.  It’s changed the way I eat. I don’t feel as compelled to finish off those last french fries. I don’t feel as panicked that food might run out. I have less horrific, guilt-ridden nightmares about food and eating. I am eating a wider range of food than I have in fifteen years. And people still give me shit for being fat.

Because, obviously, fat is a choice and if I’d just try a little harder, I wouldn’t be fat. If I’d just eat slightly less, I wouldn’t be fat. After all, humans are just like bunsen burners, and if you consume less calories than you’ll burn, the pounds will just melt away. If an 1800 calorie diet doesn’t cause you to lose weight, drop down to 1500 calories, 1000, 800, 500. If you can subsist on water and air for a long enough time, you’ll be thin, and who cares about malnutrition because thin! Thin is healthy! Automaticaly!

I am a woman of abundance. My hair and nails grow quickly, I have a big stomach, big arms, big belly. I heal quickly when injured. I am fat. I am hated for that. I am trying very hard not to hate myself.

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