“Perseverance is the most overrated of traits, if it is unaccompanied by talent; beating your head against a wall is more likely to produce a concussion in the head than a hole in the wall. “

29 Oct

When did we stop eating?

Or rather, when did we stop eating for the sake of eating, for the wet juice of a warm peach down our throat? For the subtle play of a good marinara on our tongue? for the sweet taste of fresh baked warm bread and creamy butter? When did we stop eating to savour the moment, and the food?

I can remember, clearly, shucking corn as a child on the step of our back porch, mere hours after plucking it from the corn field of a family friend, in the heat of late summer. The kernels were a lovely creamy yellow, and the silk flew in the air around me, picked up by warm wind. Later, as I bit into a cob, covered in margarine, salt, pepper, that day seemed so perfect. From field to plate to mouth, an explosion of taste and memory in my mouth, covering my tongue. Perfection.

I can remember the Swiss Bakery down the street from my house, the nicest, kindest people you’d ever meet, friends of my parents, who would hand me soft warm cookies when we entered the bakery, of even better, the odd time, a silky, flaky Napoleon would be gently pressed into my hands, the cream like a blanket under the pastry, the sugary smells wafting. Such a rare and wonderful treat.

I now sit in an office where most of the women, and a rather disturbing number of men talk constantly about calories, weight ins, all the stuff they can’t eat, slam the doors on someone offering a piece of pizza. The obsessive single mindedness of it all-when we were teenagers, we were full of music, books, movies, other people. What changes that we get full up on NOT eating? How do we gain satisfaction from losing a pound, or looking increasingly anorexic? Where’s the enjoyment in only drinking coffee all day?

Where did we go wrong? When did we stop eating for enjoyment, for sustenance, and begin looking at everything with points in our eyes? Why can’t we look at a fabulous bowl of pasta, of a nice thick piece of rye bread with a growl in our belly instead of a “ugh-can’t eat that?”

WHY?

You are meant to eat. Your body wants food. Confusing your body with crazy chemicals that make people like me ill doesn’t help. Thinking you can pull a fast one with the fat-your body has evolved to desire specific things-it knows better. Thinking that fake sugar will be as good or better than sugar-why? Why are chemicals preferable to a few calories?

Why do we sacrifice so much for so little? For a body we’ll never be happy with anyway? Why is it so hard to do what’s easier-ACCEPT OURSELVES.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a fatty. I believe in HAES (Health At Every Size). I believe that exercise, and normal eating is more important that only eating 3 carrot sticks a day. I believe that loving who and what we are is much more meaningful than being able to not eat friend foods for months at a time. I believe that remembering how to desire the cold snap of a cucumber or the rich love of a chocolate cupcake is vastly more important than fitting into a size 10 pant for a few weeks.

I believe that standing and looking at ourselves, and saying ‘YES” means more than any weight loss ever could.

I’ve had two children. My body had never been a temple I had been comfortable with-skinny or chubby, But after creating, growing, protecting and birthing two magical little people, my body took on a whole new dimension. It had meaning. This belly that’s so distraught, with it’s stretch marks and dis colorings-it makes a place where life grew, and began. These arms, losing their definition through misuse and just general busyness-they’ve held infants growing into toddlers growing into children. These hips, so broad and strong, they’ve pushed new life into our horrid and wonderful world, I have felt their movements, bringing life to create and pushing it out into the light.

My body means more than my pant size. My body is a beautiful, awe worthy thing. My body deserves fresh summer corn and cupcakes. My body deserves the pleasure of just eating for itself.

As does yours.

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14 Responses to ““Perseverance is the most overrated of traits, if it is unaccompanied by talent; beating your head against a wall is more likely to produce a concussion in the head than a hole in the wall. “”

  1. nylonthread October 29, 2008 at 10:17 am #

    I think that lack of pleasure associated with eating is because the quality of food in the stores today has diminished. Many fresh items that used to be full of flavor and vitamins are now mass farmed hydroponically, with tons of chemicals and we just feel blah about them. They contain less of what our bodies need, so we eat more of them, trying to get the vitamins that our bodies crave. The processed food is worse! It’s full of preservatives, chemicals that we would have never introduced into our systems and even more of nasty, artery clogging pseudo-fats that our systems don’t know how to process so they remain, stuck inside fat cells. Okay, that was a rant.

    Yes, to peaches. Yes to farm-grown ears of corn. Yes to freshly baked bread. Yes to butter, yes to home-cooked spaghetti sauce. Go, Thordora!

    Hell no to abominations like Kraft Lunchables! And GoGurt! And Lean Cuisines. Dear g0d, people, just eat real food.

  2. Julie Pippert October 29, 2008 at 10:20 am #

    The Twiggy icon came back in fashion. We lost track of healthy portions. We became cemented to our chairs. We got unhealthy. They started a weight loss mantra, since the Just Say No to drugs campaign worked so well. It got to be a fad and a trend, and then, it became more noise amidst all the rest, and it became too loud for some and not loud enough for others. It became meaningless. It became a competition. I can’t speak for other worlds, but in mine, I see the at-home moms engaged in a sort of competition of dieting and exercise.

    I’ve gone to weight watchers twice, when I got unhealthy and lost perspective. I eat regular food for the pleasure of it, but make sure I do so with thought rather than thoughtlessly.

    I think the real thing lost here—not weight, not perspective, not joy in eating—is the art of conversation.

  3. sweetsalty kate October 29, 2008 at 10:49 am #

    amen.

  4. nessa October 29, 2008 at 11:16 am #

    Dammit, that last bit made me a little teary.

    As far as eating, we refuse to talk about calories in our house. I know, I am a rail, but that’s not why. It’s because my 7yo already talks about fat and understands what a diet is. My 42 pound 7yo. I make it a point to tell her that we need some fat in our diet because it is the food that your brain eats. And John and I really truly enjoy food and I spend a lot of time making food. I think she gets it, but I am not taking any chances with her body image. We do talk about sugar a lot, though. Not in terms of weight, but in terms of blood sugar and dental hygiene etc.

  5. cinnamon gurl October 29, 2008 at 12:39 pm #

    Hear hear! I think the problem is that we idealize thinness with an overabundance of food — well, food-like substances without actual nutritional content. People have to have disordered eating to even come close to the ideal.

    I work in the same office and it drives me nuts. I was talking to a woman who was once bulimic but is still obsessed with her weight and who “watches what she eats.” I was talking about this book I was reading, a series of essays by people with eating disorders who all felt they were recovered long before they actually were. Her response? “Well you can’t really recover or you’d become fat.” Um, miss the point much?

  6. crazymumma October 29, 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    This is such healthy thinking.

  7. bromac October 29, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    Well Said!

  8. experimental chimp October 29, 2008 at 1:12 pm #

    Have you read Michael Pollan’s NY Times article Unhappy Meals? It’s the single best piece of writing about food, nutrition and health I’ve ever read.

  9. Caitlin October 29, 2008 at 1:33 pm #

    I stopped enjoying it in 7th grade, after my first day of coed PE. We were weighed in front of the the whole class, and I was the only girl above 100lbs and weighed more than some of the guys. It didn’t matter that I was 5’9 and most adult women my height would love to see 120lbs. Once my weight was public, my female classmates felt that it was their job to “save” me by keeping a running commentary on what I ate at lunch. I quit eating lunch for the rest of the time I was in high school rather than go through that and had a complex about eating in front of other people for several years.

    And the hell of it is, when I look back at old pictures of me, there was nothing wrong with my body. It may not have been a size 00, but it was well proportioned. I hate that we focus so much on a number, when we should be more concerned with “Is my body healthy enough to do the things I enjoy or want to try?” I hate that if you’re not under a certain number, a lot of people assume you must be trying to lose weight and feel free to offer loads of unsolicited advice/backhanded compliments. And if you say that you’re happy the way you are, clearly you’re in denial. I wish we placed as much value on intelligence and interestingness as we do on our weight.

  10. Marcy October 29, 2008 at 4:24 pm #

    Yeah.

    And yeah re the first comment about all the pseudo or minimally flavorful and nutritious food available so much more cheaply and easily than real food.

  11. Hannah October 29, 2008 at 8:24 pm #

    I heartily agree. It wasn’t until Isaac started repeating everything I said that I realized how often I run myself down for being “too fat”. I’m making a conscious effort to eliminate the word fat from my vocabulary.

    Yes, food is necessary – but it’s also fun. I think a lot of people have lost sight of that.

  12. thordora October 30, 2008 at 8:08 am #

    Vivian has started judging fat, and it’s been quite the battle to remind her that there should be no value judgements attached to any aspect of appearance. I don’t even know where she picks it up since aside fro my frustration with stores, I rarely say anything negative about my body anywhere near her.

    Caitlin-that’s horrible, and may explain why I had such a revulsion for girls at that age. I was something like 5’7 130 pounds at that age, so I didn’t bother going near the small and puberty challenged.

    I wonder how much of this can be attributed to the office environment-to the almost incestuous nature of being around the same people every day. I watch these “trends” filter through departments, and I’m always amused, because invariably, it involves people overating “diet” food cause they can, and a few dipping a toe into disordered thinking, without even noticing.

    I just wish women could accept themselves, and make decisions from their for health and wellbeing, and nothing more.

  13. Bon October 30, 2008 at 8:53 am #

    amen, indeed. this was beautiful…and reminded me that i hadn’t had breakfast yet. my eating was disordered for years…my thinking about my body still tends in that direction unless i’m vigilant…but i have recovered enough to embrace and love food, because i don’t want to live in a constant state of repression and that illusion of control…it bleeds out all over your life.

    the acceptance you speak of didn’t really start for me at a deep and real level (though my eating had been “normal” for nearly a decade) until Finn was born. and died. that experience often causes women to turn on their bodies, but for me the failure was no real surprise but the beauty and wonder that was part of the whole experience of having him, for however long, WAS. and a kernel of respect and appreciation for my body was planted that i’m still trying to cultivate.

  14. nylonthread October 30, 2008 at 9:50 am #

    Thanks Marcy! BTW, when I was in grades 4 through 12 my mother was horribly depressed, and I had no idea, why would I? I was a self-centered teen. She didn’t cook for us but sent us to the freezer. We had a microwave, and lots of frozen meals, like lean cuisines. I was terribly unhealthy; we had no fresh food. I learned to cook basic meals from my college roommates. I can honestly say I didn’t know soup didn’t originate from cans until I met my husband.

    I’m a bit of a radical now for wanting unprocessed, real foods, because I want my own children to start off healthy. I’m lucky because my spouse actively likes cooking fresh meats & produce and experiments for the fun of it. I didn’t have that at all as a child. You make me want to write him a love letter, for showing me foods I’d never knew existed and providing them to our children!

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