sqbr: A cartoon cat saying Ham! (ham!)
Sophie ([personal profile] sqbr) wrote2010-02-27 04:16 pm

All the fun of a diet without the weightloss!

(This has been sitting in my drafts folder for a like a year, I decided it's never getting any better and has merit so might as well post it)

I've always felt a bit cut off from the usual female obsession with thinness and dieting. This post isn't meant to criticise those who work against that obsession, it doesn't really have a point at all, I'm just poking at my different experience.

As a child and teenager I was short (and thus light) and of medium-thin build, and had lots of other physical attributes to focus my unhappiness on (acne, body hair, etc) I always worked on the assumption that people (possible love interest or otherwise) would be much more put off by my awkward social skills and poor taste in clothing than my body anyway. As my social skills and clothing improved so did my appearance(*) and I've had enough positive attention about my appearance for it not to bother me too much. (And again, when it does, I'm more likely to focus on non weight based flaws)

But all of this is nothing to the mental change that goes along with having food issues. When I look at food there is a tiny part of my mind thinking "Will this make me fat?" but it is almost completely drowned out by the litany of "Does it have dairy? When's the last time I had some fibre? Do I dare risk that much sugar, what else have I eaten today? What about acid? IS IT GOING TO MAKE ME SICK?" I have learned a certain amount of "being in touch with what my body wants", but sometimes it lies (it wants chocolate an awful lot of the time..but is less enthusiastic about the side effects of eating it).

And since my issues work in complex and unpredictable ways (what can be bad one day can make me feel better the next), and I haven't figured them all out, I can never answer any of these questions for sure, and every time I take a turn for the worse I obsessively look back over everything I ate and did to figure out What I Did Wrong. And of course there's the fact that being overweight (as I am now) may be exacerbating my reflux, but exercise exacerbates my chronic fatigue. So yay.

So when I see all this talk, from dieters and people selling diet food, but also from fat-acceptance people etc, about how food is either "sinful" etc, or you should just eat what you want or whatever, it's like it's this alien world I can barely remember being in. In the other direction, when I say I want to lose weight and cut down on fat and sugar people sometimes reassure me that I look fine (or they did when I was thinner :)) but this is entirely beside the point.

A lot of anti-diet stuff has this attitude of how psychologically unhealthy dieting is because it takes all the fun out of food and I read it and think "Well, yes, but some of us don't have a choice." I mean I enjoy eating, but food is always to some extent a combination of poison and medicine, I pretty much can't ever just eat what I want without thinking about it.

Complicating things for me, while I don't fit the usual mold (I don't hate myself for it, and until I got sick wasn't very overweight) I am an emotional eater. Not because of any deep seated neurosis about food (I have those thanks to my intolerances, but they came later) but just because my mood is hugely affected by what I eat: if I'm hungry I get incredibly grumpy, and if I eat I get an intense burst of endorphins. So I probably do end up eating more than I should, but the stuff I eat is all stuff like carrots and Vita Brits. The couple of times I've tried to cut down the amount I eat I was so freaking miserable.

Note: I know it's a reflex we all have that when a woman talks about her appearance/weight she immediately needs to be told how attractive/skinny etc she is, but seriously, I'm cool, and that would make me feel uncomfortable.

(*)As an aside, I have a theory that the daughters of happily curvaceous women tend to worry less about being too fat and more about being too flat chested, which while not super fantastic does at least mean we greet the inevitable weight gain of adulthood and childbirth etc with a certain amount of glee as we go up in bra size :)

Not telling you you're pretty, just rambling.

[personal profile] gretel 2010-02-27 08:48 am (UTC)(link)
My experience are pretty different to yours. So I'm just going to comment on your note. Because I can relate to that so much!

Note: I know it's a reflex we all have that when a woman talks about her appearance/weight she immediately needs to be told how attractive/skinny etc she is, but seriously, I'm cool, and that would make me feel uncomfortable.

I don't get this! I am not traditionally pretty in any sense, and I'm no longer 10kg underweight. I know these things, and I'm fine with them!

When I was in hospital with road rash down half my face, my parents came to visit me. My dad comment, 'ah well, you weren't much of a looker anyway'. To me that was a reasonable (and amusing at the time) comment. To my grandmother it was a nearly unforgivable sin* and most girls seem to freak out if it's mentioned and tell me how pretty I am. Which is just, well thanks but I'm good! I have other things to care about! I feel like I'm being given a gift I have no idea what to do with. Or something. I dunno.

My sister yells at me quite often to take care of my appearance because 'you gotta make the best of what you've got honey'. I never understand that either. Least she doesn't tell me how it'll help me find a man I guess? Those talks are entertaining.

*Much like the time he hadn't seen me in awhile and exclaimed 'You've gotten fat!' at me. :P
polyserena: (Default)

Re: Not telling you you're pretty, just rambling.

[personal profile] polyserena 2010-02-28 03:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Huh, for what it's worth I understand and use "lovely" as a way of describing personality far more often than appearance. If I think about it it could mean pretty but that's not my first instinct about it. So maybe they're using it like that as well? That said, I'd use it for a mixed-gender group or for a woman, but would be less likely to use it for a man.
softestbullet: Aeryn cupping Pilot's cheek. He has his big eyes closed. (BH/ in a dream all my teeth fell out)

[personal profile] softestbullet 2010-02-27 12:56 pm (UTC)(link)
A lot of anti-diet stuff has this attitude of how psychologically unhealthy dieting is because it takes all the fun out of food and I read it and think "Well, yes, but some of us don't have a choice." I mean I enjoy eating, but food is always to some extent a combination of poison and medicine, I pretty much can't ever just eat what I want without thinking about it.


Aah, this is so so important. Thank you for saying it.
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[personal profile] rainbow 2010-02-27 08:51 pm (UTC)(link)
I mean I enjoy eating, but food is always to some extent a combination of poison and medicine, I pretty much can't ever just eat what I want without thinking about it.

definitely here too!

i have about a dozen relatively safe foods (if i don't have them too often or have too much at once), 4 foods that are hard to come by (seasonal or expesnive or hard to find) that are pretty safe, 4 foods i can have regularly but in small quantities, and 6 very safe foods i can eat without worrying and can afford (grass fed beef, celery, olive oil, blueberries, raspberries, lemons). getting *enough* calories is a constant battle.

but i'm chronicly ill, disabled, and fat, so obviously (to most of the world) if i just ate "healthier" foods (and generaly people mean ones like beans, corn, whole wheat, low fat dairy, tomatoes, peppers... all things that make me sicker) i'd be fine.

i'm envious of your endorphins when you eat!
pseudo_tsuga: ([Miyazaki] San of the wolves)

[personal profile] pseudo_tsuga 2010-02-28 12:02 am (UTC)(link)
I'm sadly a resident of that other world sometimes so most of this post I can't comment on, but I hate that the first reaction to someone making diet talk is to assure them they're pretty and desirable. As if that's the most important thing ever! It's again prioritizing how women look over everything else. Women can not be attractive and that's still okay! Our lives shouldn't always revolve around that single variable.

[personal profile] ex_angiereedgarner191 2010-03-01 08:52 am (UTC)(link)
I relate, had to change how I ate about a year and a half ago. Choices and consequences! It took me about a year truly to settle into a new way of eating around my health issues, but fortunately I felt benefits from it right away.