Happier and healthier relationship to food

content note: weight / exercise

As a side note to the long healthy travel post a little ways back, I must admit that I do still fret about appearance and weight too. I almost don’t want to talk about it, because I’ve spent enough time reading through work from the fat acceptance community to know just how much damage these ideas can cause.

And yet, here we are, and one essential component of my job as a writer is, I think, to be as honest as I can. Even if sometimes what I’m saying is problematic, and may even reveal poor thinking.

I’m sitting on a plane right now, and I find it deeply irritating that my momma belly is protruding notably over the seatbelt and onto the bottom of my laptop. I try to love my body, and am glad I was able to use it to help create my two munchkins, but I would be happier without quite so much of this physical residue.

When I packed for the trip, I prioritized comfort and layers most of all (with my thyroid condition, I get hot and cold easily, so layers are key), but I’ve watched enough What Not to Wear to have learned from the fabulous Stacy London that tailored layers that skim the body are the most figure-flattering — by which they mean ‘makes you look as thin and tall as possible’. At 5’0″, tall is not so feasible, and every additional pound is very visible on my frame.

I really don’t stress about it most of the time, even though I’m two sizes bigger than I’d like to be. I try to have fun with my clothes, pick them primarily for style and color and general aesthetics, not for which ones make me look the thinnest. But packing for a trip and choosing a set of clothes brings the frustration and anxieties out.

I’m supposed to make a bunch of cooking videos, promised for the Kickstarter, and I had to really make myself do them.

In the end, I did have some fun with it (it helped SO MUCH having Kavi and Jed and other friends being willing to do the videos with me), but I fretted about my clothes and how thin I looked in them a lot for the first one. And now I have to edit them, and I’m having a hard time making myself look at the raw footage. I may have to pay someone to edit them in the end, just so I don’t have to push through my self-consciousness first, which feels like a ridiculous waste of money, but I have only so much fortitude, people.

And I know, no one really cares but me. Heck — people probably like to buy cookbooks from plump cooks. I look like I love food, right? I do love food. But if I’m going to be writing about food a lot, I think I’m going to have to spend a little time working through how I talk about it, and about my relationship with it.

If I try to cook ‘healthier,’ which is such a fraught and coded word, I need to think about what ‘healthier’ means to me. I’m not a nutritionist, after all. And I’m not immune to the fads and bad food science that sweep through the cultural consciousness, powered by the diet industry.

I’m going to try to mostly keep ‘diet’ talk out of my food writing, I think, in the calorie restriction sense. But I probably will be talking a fair bit in the next year about things like eating whole foods, including protein in meals, adding in more plant-based ingredients. Reducing carbs, perhaps. But also maybe increasing fat? Additional satiety sometimes means you desire to eat less.

I’m very interested in the question of why diets almost never work. What are the contributing factors that lead to that, particularly in terms of social supports for those who are trying to make diet / exercise / lifestyle changes? (Or rather, the pervasive lack of such supports.)

I want to think through how we can, as a culture, learn to have a happier and yes, healthier, relationship with our bodies and our food.

No real conclusions here, just questions and embarrassed admissions. I did go back for seconds at lunch the other day, but picked the salmon and sweet potatoes, instead of the shortcake, because I was trying to make the healthier choice. It was delicious, filling, and kept me going happily through a long afternoon of work.


Pictured: Me taking a selfie in the mercury glass of the hotel elevator, trying to look thin. Sigh.

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