E34: Eating

Another subject that lights a fire in my gut is eating.

Along with all the other disinformation we must all cull through in today’s culture of 24/7 droning consumer-baiting lies, there are the factually challenged reports of obesity, diabetes, high hospital costs and death related to eating.

The Diet, Fashion, Cosmetic Industries partnered with Big Pharma and Agri-Business hit the jackpot here by selling fear and shame to convince us that fat, our fat bodies are not only eyesores but dangerous and an economic burden on society. Millions upon millions of dollars are spent to eradicate fat.

Stop right now. I ask you to monitor your own response to this image and to the words you just read. I would bet what money I have that the response is powerful and negative. This aversion is not innate. It is a product of billions and billions of dollars over many decades across many industries with overlapping messages of what is beauty, what is health and what is normal. Although most of the disinformation comes mis-labeled as 'scientific study', 'doctors' report' and other sources proporting to be the common good. The goal isn’t for to good of humankind. The purpose is to sell. As with frankenfood, biodiesel, greenwashing and other familiar campaigns, it is nearly impossible superficially for most people to separate fact from fiction in the midst of this overwhelming onslaught of shilled 'factoids'.

On a social level, fat is so reviled that it isn’t even considered rude to openly disparage people with extra weight. I got caught up in this world five years ago when I went to a personal trainer to get stronger and to lose weight. It started with my wanting to feel better and more alive. I followed the eating plan outlined in the book, “Natural Hormone Enhancement” by Rob Faigan. I felt reborn, energized after getting strong, developing muscles and getting a better shape.

I really fucked myself up when I grew impatient. I had a fantasy that reawakened. I wanted to be skinny. I jumped on the National Body Challenge and started counting calories, reducing my intake and eliminating foods my body liked and needed. None of this was how I'd been eating to enhance my hormones. Because the truth is, I called it an eating plan, but it was a diet. And to paraphrase some and directly quote a few more of Kate Harding’s wise words as she ranted about the comments on the subject of Health At Every Size (HAES),
“Diets don’t work, but…” Fill in the blank with any of the following–or make up your own!
  • Diets don’t work, but eating only whole foods, which is not a diet, works.
  • Diets don’t work, but “portion control,” which is not a diet, works.
  • Diets don’t work, but eating right and exercising, which is not a diet (and clearly not something anyone’s ever thought of before!), works.
  • Diets don’t work, but Weight Watchers, which is not a diet, works.
  • Diets don’t work, but “lifestyle changes,” which are not diets, work.
  • Diets don’t work, but restricting calories for the rest of your life, which is not a diet, works.
  • Diets don’t work, but cutting out carbs, which is not a diet, works.
  • Diets don’t work, but reducing fat intake, which is not a diet, works.

The thing that causes so much confusion (to put it charitably) here is that diets do work, actually–in the short term. All diets, from cabbage soup to Weight Watchers, will cause people to lose weight. At first. But after five years, all diets have the same result: the vast majority of people who lost weight at first gained it back.

This is what people mean when they say, “Diets don’t work,” without adding a “but…” Diets do not lead to permanent weight loss for the vast majority of people. A slightly more efficient way of saying that is, “Diets don’t work.” But boy, people come out in droves to argue that one.[snip]

Diets do not lead to permanent weight loss for the vast majority of people. Not even if you call them “a whole new way of eating.” Or a “lifestyle change.” If your lifestyle change involves putting restrictions on your food intake, you will almost certainly be fat again in five years.
I am living proof of this, as are millions of others. But, divide and conquer is an effective way of keeping us stupid and self-blaming.

For all the challenges coming from Crunchy Chicken, the recent one about food reduction sent me clicking to another website. This is one challenge I will be sitting out even though I think eliminating waste is a wonderful goal. There is just far too much disinformation and self-contemptuous energy that perpetually gets re-circulated and it just gets me fired up. So I pass.

Yes, yes, yes, I just got through writing about limits and enough. See, this just proves that there are no simplistic answers. If our current political environment isn’t enough to reveal the stupidity of a sound bite pResidency, a sound bite government, we have the global warming news misinforming millions one sound bite at a time. These are complex things without black and white, yes and no, binary rules or solutions.

What I have turned to in my world of eating is a mixture of things. I am trying to integrate what I know about my own body, what I have learned about whole food grown in nutritious (no-toxic) soil, with what I study about my carbon footprint and other planetary aspects. This is what the HAES approach advocates. And, yes it is hard.

Sometimes following a diet (like the statistical formulas of this year’s challenges of 90% reduction or no plastic or 60 degree thermostat or any other finite restriction) is easier. This is simply the next step in my journey. I am now eating to feed my body, and that includes the foods I learned helped my natural hormones. Now it has become more instinctual. It feels good.

Esther Bacon nude via Petulant