Actually, many things taste better than thin feels

standard August 29, 2012 8 responses

The sign on the fridge at my inlaws’ vacation home is hand printed in colored pencil, each letter a different shade. The yellowed paper looks like it came from a child’s loose-leaf notebook. Despite the appearance the message isn’t quite what you’d expect a child to be sharing.

“Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.” ~ Twiggy

I can never pass that sign without thinking of at least three things that do in fact taste better than thin feels, and no, not a single one is made from chocolate.

Until recently, the sign just made me chuckle. Now that my girls are old enough to be sounding out words and deriving meaning from what they read, the sign is giving me pause.

Food for me is so much more than sustenance. It’s comfort, it’s love, and it so often symbolizes time with friends, with family.

My mother cooked us hot meals every night. She’s a magician in the kitchen and, other than how delicious everything always was, what I remember above all was how much she enjoyed cooking those meals.

She’d pour over cookbooks and cooking magazines mumbling to herself as she came up with ideas. Then she’d cook. A dash of this, a splash of that, a quick stir with a wooden spoon, and presto, a hot family meal. (Presumably my mother still does this daily. I’m just not there to witness it.)

Now, I’m not saying that all that kitchen magic guaranteed that we’d have a 50’s TV sitcom inspired family dinner. We had our share of squabbles, tantrums, silent dinners. But the food was always good and I could taste the love in it.

(My sister fuels her cooking much the same way which is why I so love going to her house.)

There are so many ways to take ingredients and spin them into heavenly concoctions. So many ways to create flavors that make your mouth sing and your eyes light up with delight. Being thin, buying small clothes, turning heads never made me feel that way.

Last week I read an article in Self Magazine about a woman who lost her sense of taste after taking an antifungal medication. As she tried more and more foods that either tasted like paste or cardboard depending on their consistency, she slowly lost the will to live. Dinner with her family became a chore. Meals out with friends were downright painful. You see, she could smell everything, she just couldn’t taste any of it.

Her sense of taste came back after many long months and with it an appreciation for what food meant to her, an appreciation she had never felt before.

There’s a reason taste is one of the five senses. Without it the picture isn’t complete. We need to eat to subsist, but to really live we need to be aware of what it is we are eating. It lends color to our lives.

I don’t want my girls growing up thinking that some societal ideal on what women should resemble will ever be more satisfying and fulfilling than a great meal prepared with love and care. And for the record, both my mother and sister are thin women, both living proof that you can be passionate about food and still take care of your health. But still, there are much better things to worry about.

I’m putting different messages on our fridge. Things that I hope will give the girls food for thought as they reach in to get the ingredients they need to create food for their souls.

30 days later, barely 4lbs lighter.

standard May 26, 2009 6 responses

I did it. I stuck it out. Except I didn’t really.

Wait. Wait. Hear me out!

I did watch my diet and exercise for 30 days. It’s just that I didn’t exactly follow the prescribed plan for the full 30 days. I started out strong, and for two weeks I kept at it like a dog with a bone. I mean, I ate every single little thing that was on the menu plans and not a scrap more, and I did every single exercise routine I was assigned, and yes, even a little more. After two weeks I had lost three pounds, regained two, and I was going insane.

I’m very, very anal when it comes to dieting/lifestyle changing. Tell me what to do and I will do it to the letter, even if it kills me. But I like flexibility. Or rather I need flexibility, because my life is terribly unpredictable. If a friend calls me at the last minute to beg me to come have lunch with her it’s going to kill me that my carefully measured English Muffin and two tbsp of peanut butter with a side salad is waiting for me at home. And if my kids are out of control one morning and I can’t scramble my three egg whites and sprinkle them with cheese before running out the door I’m going to be pretty unhappy.

So after two weeks of making myself and my family miserable I realized that I needed to step back and reassess the situation. I can lose the weight and get back into shape if I follow a smart, healthy, flexible plan. Like, say, Weight Watchers, which fits perfectly into my need for flexibility and my craving for a plan that I can follow to the letter.

Two weeks ago I hauled out my Weight Watchers binder and journal, I calculated my daily points allotment, and I went grocery shopping for all the foods that I’d been missing. For the last two weeks I’ve been on track, eating well and exercising daily. I haven’t felt insane or trapped, and I know that I can do this for the long haul. Which is a good thing, because it’s taken me a month to lose just over 4lbs and I have another 11 or so to go.

I guess I can’t do anything for 30 days, but since I learned to listen to myself and do what’s right for me instead, I think can live with that.

I can do anything for 30 days

standard April 28, 2009 4 responses

Tonight I got kicked out of the kitchen by my family for being overly grumpy. Seriously. They took a vote and decided unanimously that I needed to go chill out in another room.

Harumph.

It’s not my fault I’m grumpy. It’s the chocolate’s fault. Or rather the lack of chocolate, and bread, and candy, and everything else. I’m grumpy because I hate feeling like I can’t eat whatever the heck I want. Nothing makes me crave food more than knowing I can’t have it.

On the flip side, nothing makes me feel better about myself than being able to control my urges and seeing the result on the scale. It’s shallow, I know, but there it is.

Today I started a new weight loss program. It’s a 30 day deal. 30 days of planned meals and scheduled exercise. 30 days. I can do 30 days without chocolate and without candy and without the freedom of being able to eat whatever pleases my fancy.

I knew day 1 would be hard. I’ve cut out sugar in the past. It’s like a drug for me. The first few days are hell, then it gets easier and easier to resist. I knew that I would be fine for the first 2/3rds of the day and that I’d get crabby and hungry just around the time I brought the kids home from daycare. I had a hunch that that was when my resolve would falter and I’d get grumpy at the thought of another healthy meal for dinner. I worried I wouldn’t get through the day without cheating.

What I didn’t take into account was my family, who, instead of letting me get grumpier and grumpier, sent me out of the room to chill out with a cup of tea and a handful of carrots. Ten minutes later I felt better, the hunger had passed and I was more relaxed and able to face the evening.

Now there are 29 days left on this new plan. 29 days. I can do 29 days. Can’t I?

But will they grow up to love their bodies?

standard March 11, 2009 5 responses

“I have a big fat belly!” C crows, walking around slapping her adorable round stomach.
“No you don’t, you have a sweet little belly.” I reply every time, wondering where she first heard someone talk about her body like that. Was it in jest? Was it lovingly? Was it a critique or a compliment? Her tone doesn’t clue me in. She’s delighted with her big fat belly, proud to show it off, entranced by the sound she can make by slapping her hands on it.

“Bellah! Bellah!” Little L cries as she runs into the room, shirt lifted to her chin, glorious roundness of her baby belly jutting out proudly in front of her. I react accordingly and dive at her, fingers at the ready for the tickling she’s begging for. She laughs hysterically and pleads for more “Bellah! Bellah!”

They’re in love with their bodies. They’re still at that age when being naked feels amazing, where they’re convinced that all you need to be beautiful is lots of pink and tons of sparkle. I’m in love with their bodies. I love the roundness, the plumpness, the dimples that show up in unexpected places like the crook of their elbows. I can’t get enough of their soft supple skin, their full cheeks, and yes, their full bellies.

How long do we have before those cries about bellies are no longer full of pride but rather full of despair? How long before they no longer preen in front of the mirror, but use it to isolate more flaws that they can bemoan?

My kids are young, very young, but I was a teenager once and I know that those days are looming. I remember feeling fat and awkward. I remember feeling like I’d never lose enough weight to look as pretty as I wanted to be. Today I look at pictures of myself back then and I’m blown away by how pretty I actually was. I want to reach back in time and hug that insecure girl and tell her she’s gorgeous inside and out, that anyone who can’t see that is blind and needs their head examined.

But I can’t. There’s no going back. There’s no helping the girl I was back then. Instead I’m focusing on the two little girls running around baring their bellies for all to admire. I’m telling them how gorgeous and smart they are. I’m praising their actions, their thoughts, and yes, their bodies, because it never hurts to know that someone thinks you’re beautiful.

I don’t know if that will be enough to spare them from a future eating disorder. I don’t know if I can help them love themselves no matter what. I’m doing the best I can. Aside from all the love I’m showing, I’m also teaching them to eat balanced meals and to enjoy sweets in moderation. Only time will tell if that’s enough.

This post was inspired by It Started With Pop-Tarts… by Lori Hanson as part of the Silicon Valley Moms Blog book club. Click here to read other posts inspired by Lori Hanson’s battle with bulimia.