Thursday, July 15, 2010

Don't Let The Door Hit You In The Vagina On Your Way Out

We are off for Maine Weekend Part Deux, so posting will be light. I have things to say (New York Mag runs another unhappy parenting article! Must Comment!) but need to pack.

The title is apropos of nothing. Just on my mind after reading my brother's post about how he often quotes from Dumb and Dumber and Knocked Up, which I do too. All that money they spent on those college educations...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back Down The Rabit Hole: Or Finding The Right Thing To Read Exactly When You Need It

I have a couple of free minutes to write this evening, and I was searching through my Yahoo account, looking for articles I sent myself that I eventually was going to write about. Key word is eventually. I wanted to link to Medicinal Marzipan because it's one of my new favorites, and on there, I found this link to Imagine Today's post, Falling Back Down The Rabbit Hole.

"See, for all of my talk about body-acceptance and loving yourself there’s still this whisper of self doubt, a voice that is always waiting to let me know just how much better I would look and feel if I just dropped say, ten pounds? Fifteen? maybe even twenty?! It’s a voice that I work incredibly hard to silence with projects, outings, new dresses, and accomplishments. Most of the time I’m stronger than it but if I do something like, say, get on the scale and discover that I now weigh five pounds more than I thought I did… that’s when the voice in my head takes over."


And,

"If that wasn’t bad enough it was all to easy to find computer programs (like Daily Plate) that were ready to recommend a calorie intake of about 1,100 and forms where I could talk incessantly about this diet with other people because our society is structured to encourage diet talk more than nutrition talk. I mean, yeah, we cue in to eating disorders most of the time but you can’t even get diagnosed with an eating disorder until your body weight drops to a dangerous level. This is creepy because it means, essentially, that I can have all of the behaviors of anorexia (I don’t, but hypothetically) without the medical institution even acknowledging something is wrong with me until I drop enough weight to concern people… this makes sense considering American culture focuses on weight as the bottom line, rather than behavior/nutrition/health/etc.

Essentially, our culture tends to encourage people to develop disordered eating behaviors (which I certainly have and I’m not the only one) by focusing so firmly on diet pills, instant-gratification plans, before & afters etc. instead of focusing on NUTRITION.

I won’t let this beat me down."


I needed to read that. This body of mine and I are not in a good place right now. I don't know who declared an end to the cease fire first, but there has been a huge disconnect between how I see myself and what others see, and more importantly, between how I see my body and what my body can actually do. I ran a half marathon, I am regularly putting together 7-8 mile runs, I had a baby, I nursed a baby for a year, and I lost all the baby weight. Still, there's a voice in my head that says "not enough" and the mirror and the pictures just show fat, fat, fat. We went outlet shopping over the weekend, and I cried in the dressing room for the first time in a really LONG time over some ill-fitting pants (always with the fucking tiny pants!) And then I cried more because I am in my mid-thirties, a mom, and relatively smart, and still, this is such an issue for me.

I'm trying to figure out a way to match seeing what my body can do to how I see my body, but it's a work in progress. Just typing it is extremely difficult for me, but probably the only one to get this recovery and acceptance ball o' fun kicking around again.

Reading/A Book Review: Marion Nestle's What To Eat

I think and write a lot about food. And then I think and write a lot about the issues that I think are associated with food -- body politics, health, fat, fitness, intuitive eating, etc. I'm no expert, but I think and write and read a lot about this stuff because I find it interesting and because I want answers. I really have no fucking clue how to eat.

The abridged version: dieted for years, bad, bad, BAD disordered eating behaviors, stopped dieting, started researching/reading, started running and understanding food as fuel. Still completely and hopelessly confused. And totally insecure in my abilities to make decent food choices.

A friend recommended Marion Nestle's book, What To Eat: An Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eating. I absolutely loved this book and would put it on my "must read" list. It covers the same issues as a lot of Michael Pollan's books, but is much more accessible and well, funny.

The book is organized by grocery section, and Nestle tackles all of the issues -- taste, nutrition, health, social, environmental, and cost -- associated with each. After tackling these issues and in some cases, looking at the politics behind them, she talks about how how she, herself, eats and tackles her own food choices. I loved this. I felt it was informative and really not preachy.

Overall, I didn't learn a lot about what I should be doing more of (eating more fruits and vegetables, less processed foods), but I did learn about all the food myths and misinformation out there, and I learned a TON about how to properly read food labels. I thought I was relatively good at this, but I was sorely mistaken. There are so many sugars that I didn't really know were sugars. I also got a better understanding of why it is such bullshit to place the burden of safety and health on the consumer rather than the producers.

And don't even get me started on the chapters on marketing food to children. I've recoiled in horror in recent years when I started noticing products like "Diet Pepsi with Vitamins" or "Iron-Fortified Cookie Crisp," but that's mainly because I like my processed foods exactly that way -- processed, HFCS-ed up, and completely devoid of nutritional value. But that was before I became a parent. I nursed Zygote until she was almost a year old, so I didn't have to think too much about what I was feeding her. When I started feeding her solids, I found that I was grabbing snacks that were labeled "start healthy" or "made with whole grains" because they sounded nutritious, but I wasn't really reading the labels. With the exceptions of a few jarred foods, only a handful of toddler snacks contain ingredients that children should actually be eating. Just an example, I have something called a "lil' crunchies baked whole grain corn snack" in front of me, and the ingredient list is: whole grain yellow corn meal, corn oil, whey, tomato powder, ticalcium phosphate, sugar, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, citric acid, spices (basil, black pepper, fennel), mixed tocopherols (for freshness), natural spice flavor, alpha tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), zinc oxide, elctrolytic iron. What the hell is all that? Just because it sounds healthy and it's marketed as such doesn't mean it actually is.

Nestle comes out in favor of organics, mainly because you can get food that is certified and regulated. I get that argument and respect it, but personally, I find it hard to choose organic strawberries from thousands of miles away, when I get can get local, conventionally grown strawberries from the Farmers' Market down the street, where they will be fresher and didn't use a ton of fuel to get here. My choice, but I feel like it's an informed one.

I'm hoping that this book will have more of an impact on our day to day cooking and shopping, and will help me put some of the beliefs that I have about grocery shopping and eating into real practice.