Wheels keep on spinning round

Yesterday we discussed that very rare and generally Kolata-specific phenomenon, a sane piece of writing about fat. Gina Kolata wrote an article on the most recent Flegal study that highlighted its general unremarkableness. She didn’t resort to admonishing us not to take the study as an “excuse” to “let ourselves go,” but neither did she make it sound like the results implied that fat would cure all ills. One was left with the feeling that, shocker of shockers, health and sickness and death are complicated issues with more factors than mere girth. Kate gave Kolata well-deserved props for her sobriety, and you all agreed.

But we would never get our lulz in if everybody were so rational. Luckily, lots of the doctors quoted regarding the Flegal study — and some of the reporters — were so blindsided by the news that fat isn’t an instant death sentence that you could just hear the cognitive dissonance grinding in their brains. What’s that awful noise? Why, it’s the mental wheels of an obesity researcher, trying to churn up an explanation for why you don’t get a side of immortality with your 18 BMI.

I present you with a hit parade of my favorites.

“Health extends far beyond mortality rates,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Dr. Manson added that other studies, including ones at Harvard, found that being obese or overweight increased a person’s risk for any of a number of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and several forms of cancer. And, she added, excess weight makes it more difficult to move about and impairs the quality of life.

Five minutes ago, of course, fat was bad because it would totally kill you. Now that it might not totally kill you, though, health is about WAY more than just mortality rates, you short-sighted peons! (It’s about, uh, your increased risk of diseases that might kill you?)

And that bit of sour grapes can’t even hold a candle to the real highlight of this excerpt: “excess weight makes it more difficult to move about.” Remember, the Flegal study found the most health benefits from being “overweight” (BMI 25-30), so Manson is talking about excess weight like Shauna’s excess weight and Chiara’s excess weight, not just, say, my excess weight, which clearly renders me practically immobile. If only Shauna, Chiara, and I could spend our time weighing and measuring lettuce leaves instead of lugging our enormous bulks into our early graves. Our quality of life would be so much improved!

Then there’s Reuters, which put out an article with the title “Being Fat is Still Unhealthy” to report on this study showing that fat isn’t nearly as unhealthy as previously thought. Brilliant Shapeling spacedcowgirl mentioned in our comments that “the one thing I am pretty sure I understand is that ‘the death rate is lower among the overweight’ cannot also mean ‘the death rate is higher among the overweight,’” but Reuters apparently isn’t so sure. Awesomely, the Reuters article is illustrated with a thin guy eating what I think is a cheesesteak. Because of course, eating a cheesesteak and being obese are practically synonymous.

So, how does Reuters support the notion that being overweight is unhealthy while reporting on a study that says being overweight is healthy? Well, because if you’re overweight you might eventually become obese:

“You should not take heart in the idea that if you are only overweight you are OK,” said Dr. Robert Kushner, a professor of medicine at Northwestern University who specializes in nutrition and diet.

“Given time, there is a high likelihood you will be obese because people gain weight as they age in this country,” Kushner said in a telephone interview.

(That’s “in this country,” folks. Gaining weight as you age? Apparently a purely American phenomenon.)

As Kate said, evidently being fat is a gateway drug. It’s a slippery slope, folks — even being underweight isn’t safe, since it could lead to being normal weight, which could lead to being overweight, which could lead to being FAT! It’s also nice how perfectly this matches up with the definitions of “overweight” and “obese” used by anyone who isn’t a doctor and hasn’t seen the BMI Project, to wit: overweight means “chubby but still looks okay to me” and obese means “someone I think is real fat.”

In all seriousness, though, I love that in a response to this study, which troubles the idea that a measure based on 19th-century insurance tables is necessarily the best way to gauge the health of modern people, acknowledging that people naturally change weight over time doesn’t lead to the epiphany that hey, the BMI doesn’t account for age! Oh no. Rather, it means that you could go tumbling into the deadly hinterlands of obesity at ANY MOMENT, simply from the PASSAGE OF TIME. Retreat! Retreat!

Not to mention the fact that this quote boils down to “you should not take heart in the idea that… you are okay.” God forbid we should feel all right about ourselves. Especially when the alternative is so damn effective.

Kolata’s article ends with a lovely quote about the possibility of health at every size. Here’s the quote that wraps up the Reuters piece:

Dr. Louis Aronne, an obesity expert at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said it would be “dangerous as a society to assume it is OK to be overweight.”

And that’s the last word, folks: Don’t interpret this new evidence that being considered “overweight” has some health benefits to mean that it is okay to be overweight. After all, we all know that it is not okay to be overweight, so if somebody says it might be better, it’s actually worse, because if you think being overweight is okay then you might go ahead and be overweight and being overweight is bad. Despite any evidence that it’s not bad. So don’t do it. Because it’s bad. Even though it isn’t.

Just listen to those wheels spin.

140 thoughts on “Wheels keep on spinning round

  1. Oh man, you guys are just kicking all kinds of ass this week. I mean, Big Tobacco couldn’t dream of owning the Paid Media the way Big Pharma and Big Diet do, and it’s not like Big Tobacco doesn’t have the cash to buy and sell everyone, either. There is something deeply sacred in the idea that it’s a sin to be fat, that if you are fat you are practically wearing your lack of concern for your fellow man on your very buttocks. People just can’t let it go — except for Shapelings, of course, who are smarter than everyone.

  2. If you want another example of being overweight and moving around you can use my half-ironman pictures: http://deeplanguage.blogspot.com/2007/10/full-race-report-south-carolina-half.html I’m 5’6″ and 170 lbs so BMI of 27. I’m 52 years old and only became an athlete 3 1/2 years ago after being diagnosed with diabetes. I refused make losing weight my goal and instead focused on controlling my blood sugar (as in the approach recommended at: http://www.phlaunt.com/diabetes/ )

  3. Those wheels spinning make my head spin. Can’t formulate coherent thought.

    Here’s a question: what do you say to someone (a friend IRL or bloggy friend) who has decided to diet? I don’t want to be condescending or rude, but I also don’t want to waste this opportunity to say something thoughtful and true. Best not to comment at all?

  4. I want my own, personal scientist to follow me around all day yelling, “YOU’RE GOING TO DIEEEEEEEEEE!!!! BOOGAHBOOGAHBOOGAH!”

    That way I wouldn’t have to watch dinner-hour news at all.

  5. Alyce, I was in that same situation a couple of weeks ago. My best friend – who has never dieted in the years I’ve known her – has suddenly decided she’s going to a slimming club.

    I respectfully told her that I had actually decided not to diet again. We ended up getting interrupted by one of her kids, but I was going to go on to explain to her why I’m never dieting again. I was going to tell her how yo-yo dieting really affects one’s health, and encourage her to eat right and exercise but not dwell on what the scale or the label on her clothes says.

    I think it all depends on the friend, but with my friend the direct approach always works the best. She’s one of those bluntly honest people (that sometimes hurt your feelings even if she doesn’t mean to), and she appreciates it when people are honest with her as well.

    But like I said, I think it all depends on the friend.

  6. After all, we all know that it is not okay to be overweight, so if somebody says it might be better, it’s actually worse, because if you think being overweight is okay then you might go ahead and be overweight and being overweight is bad. Despite any evidence that it’s not bad. So don’t do it. Because it’s bad. Even though it isn’t.

    Owie! That one hurts!

  7. Oh… and am I the only one that gets the feeling that these media peoples’ heads are going to explode one day?

    Their brains can’t keep spinning for infinity. Something’s gotta give sometime.

  8. Alyce, I was planning a post about my own frustrating female friends anyway, so by the time I’m done with that maybe I’ll have sort of an answer for you. Or at least different questions.

  9. NPR’s Talk of the Nation actually had someone on yesterday (11/7) to talk about this study and a lot of the people that called-in were taking issue with BMI and the last guy to call-in said something about how stupid this whole “ideal weight” thing is. I think he also (or maybe it was someone else) had a whole rant on how maybe the overweight people are better off because they’re enjoying life more than those who are painfully counting every tiny thing that goes into their mouths. It’s a pretty good listen. Neal Conan and the researcher are clearly baffled at points when people don’t think “teh fat= teh death.”

  10. Colleen -I heard the same show. When that doctor said weight was a reflection of behavior, I tried to call in but my furious redial attempts were spurned by a busy signal.

  11. I’ve come up with a PSA. You have to picture it with really depressing instrumental music in the background. The camera pans in on a chubby, tear stained face, as it goes on it slowly pans out to reveal the full extent of her overweighness. It will be called “Put Down That Fork -Before It’s Too Late!”

    “It seemed okay at first. It was frowned upon, but we all knew other kids that were doing it. Some girls at school warned me that once I started, I wasn’t going to be able to stop. But I didn’t listen. I remember the first time I picked up that fork and ate food, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would but I was sure that I would be able to control it. Boy was I wrong. Once I moved onto the hard stuff – donuts – I knew there was no turning back. Now I’m overweight, and the dreaded obesity is right around the corner! Parents, talk to your kids about putting down that fork and tell them to just say no to food. It’s too late for me, but there’s still time for them.”

  12. I have to say I am a bit encouraged by recent discussions of fat that I have seen (I’ll definitely have to listen to that ToTN). It seems that people are rejecting the cognitive dissonance a little and starting to realize that different people come in different sizes, and that the reporting on weight doesn’t often make much sense. Not that the media has caught up yet… but then again, they are still telling me I need to sneak vegetables in when putting dinner on the table for my mayun, so perhaps that’s not surprising.

  13. Health isn’t just mortality and mobility – it’s also mental health and, um, not intentionally under-nourishing yourself.

    My favorite was Saletan in Slate saying that people had better keep believing fat will make them die, or they won’t eat healthy foods and exercise. Last I checked, it’s possible to do those things for reasons other than weight loss. Probably a lot healthier and more sustainable to, too.

    Maybe it’s just me, but when I think about working out so my heart gets pumping and I’m up as the world’s waking up, and getting faster and stronger, I really enjoy exercise. The second “five more minutes and I’ve burned off that sandwich” pops into my head, I wonder when I can stop with this torture.

    Also, I’ve been falling off SanityWatchers and read some comments. The growing realization that BMI is bunk is nice, but the number of people who can’t even be bothered to read the ABSTRACT of the study and yet profess to know why it’s wrong is amazing. It seems like no one grasped the following basic points:

    1. Yes, the study corrected for smoking and existing illness

    2. No, this was not weight at death. Very clever rationalization. Too bad there’s no basis in the data. This was a longitudinal study. Same people, over time.

    3. “Normal weight” people were not excluded. This is based on a comparison to them.

    4. Yes, everyone dies. But not everyone dies in the time period.

    You know, maybe people need to grasp onto what they’re told is the conventional wisdom. Something about not being capable of actual thought.

  14. “My favorite was Saletan in Slate saying that people had better keep believing fat will make them die, or they won’t eat healthy foods and exercise.”

    My personal view is that the people that believe this? Even (probably especially) when not fat?

    Are projecting. Like. Mad.

    *serenely sits back in Hero Pose to wait patiently for pundit heads to explode*

  15. Entangled – when truth isn’t on your side you simply lie. They hate the very thought of anyone enjoying food and eating it for pleasure. There are some people who obess over women enjoying sex, they want to pull out all the stops to make that as difficult as possible, they want us to suffer the “consequences” of our pleasure. Well, the anti-fat brigade are very similar to the anti-sex brigade and have been pushing early death as our big consequence for refusing to starve ourselves. If you take that away from them, what the hell do they have? Of course they were going to freak out over this study and say it’s all LIES! LIES! LIES! I’m actually surprised it took a full day to get this first response out there. And I fear in this climate there will be serious moves to destroy the credibility and careers of the scientists who did the study.

  16. Good point, Rose.

    I know all too well – I went through a point where I was becoming one of those people. I still feel a little guilty for enjoying my food, but I’m getting better.

    Though I am flabbergasted at the people who think that people will only exercise if they see it as a way of compensating for pleasure. As if it can’t be in and of itself a pleasure.

    I mean, I love running and eating steamed vegetables. This does not make me a superior person who honorably witholds pleasure from myself. Mostly it just makes me a PITA to the people around me.

    Maybe there’s the reason stuff like HAES is showing such strong results compared to an emphasis on weight-loss. But, no, I’m sorry, people won’t be healthy if they’re not terrified that failing to do so will make them overweight and about to die.

  17. Dr. Manson added that other studies, including ones at Harvard, found that being obese or overweight increased a person’s risk for any of a number of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and several forms of cancer. And, she added, excess weight makes it more difficult to move about and impairs the quality of life.

    Gee! I had no idea that my fat makes it hard for me to move. Gee, I’d best do something about that, like oh, I dunno, do a triathlon. Oh wait, I’ll grind my joints to a pulp because I’m so fat.

    (ps — reporters like Kolata are doing journalism the way it’s supposed to be done. As fairly as possible without inserting unnecessary bullshit or subjective comments like so many others shove in their work.) So many of these articles coming out make me cringe and make me embarrassed about my profession. It’s not always about the sexiest quote. It’s all about getting it right.)

  18. I’m sorry if this is covered elsewhere on the site and I’ve missed it, but I’ve seen the line about BMI being a measure based on 19th-century insurance tables a few times and I’d like to read more. Can anyone link me?

  19. Bluegirl, the BMI is based on the Quetelet Index, which was developed by a 19th-century Belgian statistician. He actually didn’t develop it for insurance — more out of curiosity — but that’s what it was used for (can’t remember starting when, unfortunately). I got my BMI history out of J. Eric Oliver’s book initially, but here’s a decent little essay on Quetelet from an edu site.

  20. There’s an article in Salon today about diabulima. For those unfamilar with this, it’s a particularly insidious eating disorder in which type 2 diabetics stop taking insulin to lose weight. A young girl cited in the article was considered the perfect gymnast at 4’10 and 60 lbs, so much so that her doctor wouldn’t let her know her diabetic condition because he didn’t want her to gain weight. She found out when she became very sick and he was out of town. Anway, after she starts insulin she goes up in weight to 100 lbs, gets thrown off her gymnastics team and shunned by her schoolmates and parents. She turned to diabulimia, lost a lot of weight and almost lost her life (this illness has a 39% fatality rate).

    I looked at the letters and found one that was so sad it almost made me cry. A woman wrote that she thought it was terrible that people would humilate a 100 lbs girl, which is still very slim. And then she went on to say that if she was in her position she’d have done the same thing, it would be too “irresistable” to lose weight so rapidly while eating whatever you want.

    That’s the weight-loss culture in a nutshell. So many adults are telling young girls to be thin at any cost, even their lives. And so many other adults are sympathetic to their ordeal but are also openly envious of their “successful” weight loss.

    So, Dr. Mason, tell me again about how fucking healthy it is to obess over our weight 24/7.

  21. she thought it was terrible that people would humilate a 100 lbs girl, which is still very slim

    Yikes. Because it wouldn’t be terrible to humiliate her for her weight if she were fat, right?

    I’m glad to see diabulimia getting more press, because it was completely unknown until very recently, and is still relatively unknown. People, especially parents, need to know how insidious eating disorders can be, and how in this culture it’s practically expected that you have a stop-at-nothing attitude.

  22. In other news, WHY did I have to name this post what I did? I will have this song stuck in my head for the rest of ever.

  23. “A young girl cited in the article was considered the perfect gymnast at 4′10 and 60 lbs, so much so that her doctor wouldn’t let her know her diabetic condition because he didn’t want her to gain weight. She found out when she became very sick and he was out of town.”

    Rose, that is so completely disgusting. I hope he’s also now out of the medical profession, and if not, I want to know why.

  24. That desperate need to find new ways to rationalize fat phobia even in the face of research that shows that it isn’t necessarily unhealthy to be fat? Here’s the latest way I’ve seen it manifested: lately on an internet forum I frequent there’s been a discussion about fat and health, and I offered up my typical diet as a fat person, as evidence against the assumption that fat people are fat because they eat junk: eggs, homemade bread, brown rice, water to drink, chicken, beans, cheese, lots of veggies, and at least one piece of fruit a day, plus supplements including EFAs. The response? One can be fat because they eat too *much* of these things and because they don’t eat the right *balance* of whole foods for optimal nutrient gain. I wish I were kidding. I mean, where does it fucking end?

  25. Does anyone else notice the near-constant references in these types of articles to the fact that people at HARVARD think it’s bad to be fat?

    It’s almost always dropped somewhere into the articles. Not just in an indentifying way either, but as an appeal to the awesome authority of the Ivy League.

    I saw an article on this study where Papa Willett was asked about the study and his entire reply was basically “It’s rubbish because we all know being overweight is unhealthy.” And, in contrast, Flegal was quoted as explaining that this was something that had to be looked into more and that it showed how complicated the issue was etc… And it just struck me that Willett doesn’t even have to say something reasonable and he’ll get quoted and the word Harvard will get thrown around like it’s magic or something.

  26. What song are you referring to, fillyjonk? The one that’s stuck in my head off this title is Wheels on Fire (“go notify my next of kin, this wheel shall explode” – perhaps this is because that Reuters article makes my head want to explode!). But the lyrics are different, so I don’t think it’s the same song you were talking about.

    Also, a correction, I accidently refered to diabulemia sufferers as type 2 diabetics, when it’s type 1 diabetics who need to take insulin. That was actually a typo.

  27. attrice, reporters generally go for quotes from people whose titles sound impressive. If they’re looking for a quote from a doctor, they’ll go to Harvard, JHU, NIH, etc. Which means Willett has media tenure even though he’s a fucking kook — Harvard sounds good, and he’s willing to talk to the press. He’s probably always the first one to call back, and if they don’t know what a lunatic he is already (since reporters can’t be experts on everything they report on), they just think “score, the Harvard guy gave me a quote.”

    Rose, the Cake song “Wheels.” Which, it occurs to me, makes fortuitous reference to “overweight Americans”:

    In a seedy karaoke bar
    On the banks of the mighty Bosporus
    There’s a Japanese man in a business suit
    Singing “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”
    And the muscular cyborg German dudes
    Dance with sexy French Canadians
    While the overweight Americans
    Wear their patriotic jumpsuits.

  28. The response? One can be fat because they eat too *much* of these things and because they don’t eat the right *balance* of whole foods for optimal nutrient gain. I wish I were kidding. I mean, where does it fucking end?

    *begin mystical music*

    You mean, you don’t know about the magical balance of food you must eat in order to lose weight? It isn’t much publicized, that’s why people have such a hard time keeping off any weight they lose, but if you are eating as you say and aren’t losing weight, it is because you have failed to achieve the balance. Even if you think you’re eating in a healthy way, even one wrong move upsets the balance and can prevent weight loss and keep you fat forever!

    *end mystical music*

    The “wrong balance” has always been one of my favorite last-ditch-before-your-head-aslpodes explanations for teh fatz.

  29. Oh I meant to say that this part of the article is what struck me:

    “Dr. Manson added that other studies, including ones at Harvard,”

    And all I could think is that people are supposed to go “Ohhhh HARVARD! Well, why didn’t you say. I don’t know what I was doing even thinking of paying attention to this study when studies at HARVARD disagree with it.”

  30. Ok – I LOVED THIS:

    Not to mention the fact that this quote boils down to “you should not take heart in the idea that… you are okay.” God forbid we should feel all right about ourselves.

    Amen. If we were all alright, there would be no need for us to improve. If none of us are improving the economy might crash and burn. And, to be honest (not that I am an economist) it might actually take a dive if everyone just said “SCREW IT! I am cool just the way I am!”

    Being a little overweight is just like smoking a joint! Don’t DO IT PEOPLE you’ll end up hooked on crack AND OBESE!

  31. Emerald – the article states that it would emerge later on that her doctor had been withholding blood test results, which indicates that there was some type of investigation took place, but it doesn’t go on to say that he lost his license.

    Now if I were her mother, this doctor’s license would be the very least of what I’d want to take from him. But if the article is to be believed it suggests that her parents were most upset that their Olympic dreams for her were dashed by the illness and subsequent weight gain.

    It’s all very sad.

  32. Only Sweet Machine will get this, but I have to say it: OH. AN HARVARD.

    Jae, the “wrong balance” one is narrowly edged out for me by the “wrong order” one, which I am not making up.

  33. You guys are seriously awesome. I was feeling all stressed out over some fat-bashing going on in a thread at Feministing, and then I came here and read all these comments, and I feel so much better =)

  34. FJ, is “the wrong order” thing what it sounds like?

    And, to be honest (not that I am an economist) it might actually take a dive if everyone just said “SCREW IT! I am cool just the way I am!”

    Given the amount of money spent on beauty products, diets, gym memberships (yeah, going to the gym can be good just for health, but most people do it to lose weight), not to mention brand name clothes designed to make the wearer seem “cool”… you may be right.

  35. Becky, probably. I have seriously heard people argue that if you want to lose weight, you have to eat carbs BEFORE protein or protein BEFORE fat or protein only in the MORNING or EVERYTHING after some CANTALOUPE. I’m not making up the cantaloupe part, either.

  36. fillyjonk – I’m going to check that song out on Napster when I get home tonight. I don’t know a lot of Cake, but Rock n’ Roll Lifestyle is one of my favorites.

    Emerald – they never said in the article if the doctor lost his license, and personally, I think that’s the very least of what he deserves (first do no harm, my ass!)

    By the way, if a second post comes in that sounds fairly repetitive, it’s because I just tried to post something that didn’t go through. I know the way this works and it might end up showing up anyway, so, if it does, sorry ’bout that!

  37. So losing weight is similar to the cure for hiccups?

    Stand on your head, count to ten, sip some water and eat a spoonful of sugar. You’re cured!

  38. Rose, I see it, it got caught in spam for some reason. I’m going to release it just so that our filter learns that you’re not a spambot. It’s having a little fit right now and marking regular commenters as spam, but Kate says it adjusts well with training. Sorry to make you look repetitive!

  39. Yeah, it’s not like the line is obviously from any one single source… unless you have had “Wheels” going through your head all day now. It’s insanely catchy.

  40. And it just struck me that Willett doesn’t even have to say something reasonable and he’ll get quoted and the word Harvard will get thrown around like it’s magic or something.

    Dingdingdingdingding!

  41. Stand on your head, count to ten, sip some water and eat a spoonful of sugar.

    NOOOOOOOO DON’T EAT SOME SUGAR

  42. if you want to lose weight, you have to eat carbs BEFORE protein or protein BEFORE fat or protein only in the MORNING or EVERYTHING after some CANTALOUPE. I’m not making up the cantaloupe part, either.

    Ding! Ding! Ding! And what does FJ win……………?

    Seriously, though… when I was in my “I have to diet or I’ll never be worth anything” phase, I knew a lady who was absolutely convinced that she would only lose weight if she ate fruit first thing in the morning… and never eat it again the rest of the day. Seriously. She honestly believed that if she ate… oh, I dunno… an apple?… any later than 10 a.m., her “diet” was ruined for that day.

    The sad thing was, she had gone from something like 300 lbs. down to 180 and she still wasn’t happy. But you know what? She was absolutely gorgeous! She was beautiful before she lost the weight, obviously, but still… She couldn’t be happy with herself unless she got down to that “magic” number.

    Now that I’ve started to get my brain out of that disordered eating cycle, I can see just how sad it really is.

  43. And what does FJ win……………?

    Can it be cantaloupe?

    Incidentally, Becky, your comment up there made me break my Sanity Watchers diet to go read the Feministing comments, because I was upset that there would be fat-bashing at such a killer blog. But aside from one “omg ur health!!” concern troll (we need another term for people who are concern trolling without knowing they’re concern trolling), everybody else is awesome in the part of the thread I read! I feel a lot better now. Looks like being involved in feminism can make you actually understand size acceptance, even if you’re not steeped in the movement. Yay Feministing! (I understand why you were upset, but in the general tone of the thread, “fat can be healthy” and “why do you care anyway” are totally winning.)

  44. True enough FJ, and I feel better now too. It’s just that Feministing is one of the places I let my guard down, so even one person making those comments felt like a slap in the face. But yeah, once I calmed down I realised how awesome it was that so many people were being good about it. Anyway, now the one person is taking her ball and going home (and according to her, my posts are EXACTLY why she’s leaving the site… I post as under_zenith over there).

  45. AND her comments inspired me to get my own blog! Because I wanted to say something about safe spaces and letting your guard down, but didn’t think the comments section at SP would be an appropriate place to put it… not on a completely unrelated post!

  46. “My favorite was Saletan in Slate saying that people had better keep believing fat will make them die, or they won’t eat healthy foods and exercise.”

    Reminds me of the anti-atheism argument: ‘Once people stop believing in god, what’s to stop them raping, pillaging and murdering their neighbours?’ And just as logical, too.

  47. I thought of the Steve Miller, too. Too bad, as I love Cake and Bob Dylan/The Band and find Fly Like an Eagle somewhat annoying.

    I am so horrified by that diabulimia thing. That really shows the extent to which the desire to be thin really doesn’t have anything to do with health most of the time.

    As for the economy-crashing down, I am a big econ geek and, yeah, a lot of consumption does seem to be driven by a desire to be something we cannot actually become through material goods. Yet… given that much of the current issue in the US economy has come from the overextension and overuse of credit, in the long run, it might not be such a bad thing.

    But if you think the subprime hit to the economy is bad, imagine the adjustment pain of people consuming only what truly makes them happy.

  48. Hey sorry to be a bit off topic but I just wanna say thanks real quick for helping me see propaganda that I could not have realized was out there before. I clicked an article today on MSN titled “From Fat to Fabulous” because I now find that kind of language incredibly unkind and slimy. The worst part for me was reading about a girl who has 3 kids… and is now “fabulous.” Do you see any abnormal habits listed here?

    ” I finally found a great exercise routine. I run 24-28 miles per week. We don’t eat out very often. And I eat lots of fresh foods.”

  49. Time-Machine, you’ve killed me dead.

    (Also, FJ: I’m off to play the graaaand piaaaano.)

    Quetelet is also important to Michael Warner’s seminal (ha) queer theory book, The Trouble with Normal, IIRC. Bad statistics fuck over everybody!

  50. Can I just say how much I love you people?

    Damn, and I thought FJ was referencing “Jet Airliner” by Steve Miller. What a boring old fart I am.

    Meowzer, it’s a comfort to know that I’m not the only old fart here. I had that reaction, too.

    Completely off-topic, FJ – Comet in Moominland was one of my favorite books as a child. I must have read it a dozen times the year I discovered it.

  51. Kate, badass, I was waiting for someone to recognize my nom de blog! Tove Jansson, along with fellow crazy Nordic person Roald Dahl, really proves that we underestimate kids most of the time.

  52. Time-Machine, you’ve killed me dead.

    You mean it wasn’t teh fat? Are you sure? Well, you must be an exception. We all know it would have gotten you eventually.

  53. Yay, Feministing, and yay for Feministe, too, which now has a post up by Jill decrying said fat-bashing. So far everyone there seems to be ITA.

  54. Oh, yay Jill indeed. Yay internet feminists. It bothers me incredibly when progressive populations can’t extend their progressiveness to fat people, so it’s great to see my worst expectations NOT being realized for once.

    And Becky, after reading that thread, it was a huge kick to realize that under_zenith was you.

  55. I’m amazed and horrified again and again at how differently German media peort the very same studies. This study, for example, was featured everywhere as “moderately overweight people live longer- awesome, huh?- it might be because their bodies are stronger or something”.
    Remember the “fat is contagious” study? I hardly recognized it when I read about it on Shaply Prose, because when I read the news in my country, they were “a study showed that we don’t mind getting fat that much if our friends do, too- shows how we’re more influenced by the people we love than the media- awesome, huh?”

    Anyway, it drives me INSANE to see this reported as news anywhere at all, because the first time I read about the overwhelming evidence from several huge population studies in both Europe and the US, that people with a BMI of 25-30 live longer than everyone else, was back in 2001, in a book. So the original studies must have been out there for a DECADE at least!! And now everyone’s all bloody shocked in 2007 about this one oh so surprising study?! Is this is going to go on forEVER?
    “November 9, 2047, a ground-breaking study has been published with some shocking and paradox results…”

    *headdesk*

  56. Em, to be a little fair to the American media, there is a new study out, an additional one. That doesn’t explain why all the doctors and researchers are acting affronted, but it explains why it’s getting reported on now.

    But that’s all the fairness they deserve. That’s totally fascinating about the German spin on these stories. It really highlights how fucked-up our attitude is here. I may have to move.

  57. fillyjonk, I know that there’s been a new study, and it might even be a particularly big or important study. What makes me so angry that this is making headline news, as if the dozens of decades-old studies didn’t exist!
    I’m not talking about small stuff here, most of the big, substantial population studies that have contributed largely to today’s idea of what “healthy living” means, have at the same time shown that people in that weight range, and people who consume the most calories, live the longest. This is practically common knowledge among most of our medical professionals.

  58. Can’t we just clone Gina Kolata, and have her clones installed as the health reporters at every newspaper and news service?

    Isn’t it weird how when there’s a story that portrays that maybe some of the thinking about weight and fatness is wrong, there’s always this backlash that reminds people, “don’t you dare for one solitary second relax” but not when the myriad of anti-fat articles do we see “hey, wait a minute, you can be fat and healthy” backlash?

    It’s almost like there is an anti-fat publicity machine out there that goes into overdrive when a Kolarticle appears.

  59. Em, that picture is awesome!!

    I’m actually really surprised to hear that the German idea of healthy living incorporates eating and having some food reserves, and that this is considered normal by German medical professionals. It’s such a stark illustration of what’s going on here, both with doctors and with the media. All evidence that eating food is good and being “overweight” is healthy has been ignored or suppressed here. Shit, they still put people on doctor-supervised super-low-calorie (like 800 a day) diets. Almost the only mention I’d seen of Flegal’s previous study, outside of the fatosphere, came from people complaining erroneously that it was flawed.

    Gee, you don’t think the massive piling on of neurosis related to food and weight could have anything to do with this vaunted obesity epidemic, do you?

  60. This is off-topic, but I’m so sick of articles talking about how people are “fabulous” after they lose weight. Why aren’t there articles about how people go from being self-absorbed jerks to caring about other people, and in turn, become “fabulous”?

  61. To me, the issues presented here go to the very core of what it means to be considered overweight. Specifically…over WHAT weight? The medical community would probably maintain “overweight” signifies “over the optimal weight for good health.” However, if that were the case, then the appropriate and logical conclusion to be drawn here is that the current definition of “optimal weight” is in fact too low. The actual reactions taking place suggest “overweight” has really come to mean “over the weight aesthetically pleasing to the fashion industry and/or to society.”

    It’s getting harder and harder to cloak fat prejudice with the oft-used thin veil of concern for health, but that apparently does not stop people from trying.

  62. Em – that is wonderful!!!! i wish the media in the states were more like that.

    Rose – your PSA idea, if you film it i can do the post production for ya and we can post it on youtube :)

    Buffy – no offense, i agree with everything ur saying. Just for me perosnally, i really don’t like people comparing soking a joint to being overweight… esp if “overweight” is actually shown to be a wonderful healthy weight.
    tho i mean, that’s just me, cuz i’m not really pro drugs of any kind and while i’m not saying they’re all the same, i don’t see any of them as very positive or helpful to a healthy mind and body… thats really just me tho, i totally get that others feel differently.

    I DO however totally agree how ridiculous it is that doctors are so scared we should – god forbid – feel like we’re OKAY. and how ridiculous is it say “ok, X is your ideal weight. but u should be less than that, for fear of overshooting it.” funny that nobody would say the opposite, like, u might lose weight and hit the danger zone so best be safe and be higher.
    and BOTH are ridiculous. if “overweight” is actually medically ideal, (which does not prove others should force themselves to get to that weight, thats a whole other issue), if there IS that ideal weight, how on EARTH does it make sense that people are only OKAY if they are NOT that weight? omg.

    fillijonk you said it so well at the end of your post.
    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

    “…so if somebody says it might be better, it’s actually worse, because if you think being overweight is okay then you might go ahead and be overweight and being overweight is bad. Despite any evidence that it’s not bad. So don’t do it. Because it’s bad. Even though it isn’t. ”

    And on the bright side:

    Tell me if u agree that this is a positive thing – cuz i hope it does not offend skinny people but -
    Today on scrubs eliot was talking about how much weight she had lost from a recent breakup or something, i guess she had no appetite.
    later she was telling a patient she should gain some weight, and mentioned her strict eating and exercise regimen.
    Then dr. cox told her she was a hypocrite and weighed her and showed her she weighed a pound LESS than her patient and was the same height, and eats air and salad for lunch or some such line…
    (in the storyline eliot had been accusing other docs of being hypocrites and not following their own advice, and examples were doctors who smoke, who go tanning, who stress themselves out, and advice patients to do other things.)

    eliot promises to gain weight with her patient but is unable to, as everyone is telling her how great she looks (because she was depressed and lost weight i guess… and nobody is concerned about that, only that she presumably looks good.)

    anyway i thought – from everything i’ve read, medical data DOES support that being even a little bit “underweight” is associated with much more health risk than being significantly “overweight”.
    and in this example, the woman had lost weight because of issues that made her lose her appetite; its not like dr cox is saying she should force herself to be higher than her natural weight. its more like, she lost weight because of emotional things and it was getting dangerously low; but instead of eating some cake like she wants to and gain some weight, she can’t do it because everyone is so impressed…

    i dunno, i thought this was interesting and nice to see, that underweight – and specifically when its weight loss due to some trauma and loss of appetite – is a concern, like smoking, and the docs all know it, and advise patients accordingly, but have trouble following this advice due to social pressures.

    anyway sorry for the looooong post, just wanted to share that.

  63. (oh the strict eating an exercise regimen i was referring to – that was the patients’. i thought it was refreshing that a show presented that as compulsive and unhealthy even tho most media pretends it is healthy.)

  64. *head explodes*

    You know for a bunch of Harvard graduates (which I imagine is the USA equivalent of Oxford/Cambridge in the UK), they don’t seem to have mastered the art of logic. Or removing their head from their ass BEFORE opening their mouth.

    Sigh.

    As for the girl with the diabetic condition – that’s awful…doctors take the oath of “first do no harm” and then some idiot risks a girl’s life like that. Unbelievable :o(

  65. Why aren’t there articles about how people go from being self-absorbed jerks to caring about other people, and in turn, become “fabulous”?

    Or what about the people who come out as gay and thus become fabulous? Honestly I think that’s the only accurate application of the word anymore.

    Unless, I suppose, you went from being real to being imaginary.

  66. Cggirl, I saw that episode too. I think Dr Cox was more trying to make a point about hypocrisy than to actually help her. But there was some pretty interesting commentary about our culture’s weight obsession.
    1) A female patient comes in who is fainting from her eating disorder, and all the female staff are jealous of how she looks, and vowing to lose weight.
    2) Eliot has lost weight from depression and her male friend says: “You look like you’ve been sick.” and she replies with “thanks!” That made me think of this post of Sweet Machine’s, where people were sharing their experiences of having lost weight due to illness and everyone kept telling them how fantastic they looked, even though they looked, well, sick.
    3) Even though Eliot knew her weight was unhealthy, she couldn’t bring herself to lose it because she looked so fantastic that way. 5’9 and 119 pounds, BMI of 17.6, thats the beauty standard in our culture. (Although, I have my doubts about how accurate that is, women’s weights in books and tv are always unrealistically low).

  67. That should say, even though Eliot knew her weight was unhealthy, she couldn’t bring herself to gain it back.

  68. Re Harvard: remember, the former president of Harvard thought women didn’t belong in academia – so yeah, I’m not buying the idea that anyone at Harvard is by definition “Teh Most Intelligentest Evah”.

    Re: the song from the title – I thought you were referring to New Order’s “Right Round.” Showing my age, too :S

    That Salon article was horrible, but a perfect encapsulation of the pressures on women to be thin above all else, even if it risks our lives. It’s not about health – it’s prejudice, plain and simple. What can we do about it? We’ve made great strides in overcoming prejudice against people of color, women, or by sexual orientation (far from perfect, obviously, but societal acceptance is somewhat better today even than I can recall in my lifetime, especially re: sexual orientation). What do you think it will take to overcome fat prejudice on a societal level?

  69. ccgirl – no offense taken. I am of the opinion that it is your body and you’re entitled to either take care of it or destroy it.

    I used marijuana as a comparison to the idea of “overweight” as a gateway to “obese”. Though not everyone feels that drug use is good, many believe the resources used throughout the years to combat drug use would be better applied elsewhere.

    My point being, marijuana is always tagged as a gateway drug, which will eventually lead to harder and hard forms of drug use. Though this may be the rule for some, it’s not the rule for all. The language used to say don’t be overweight because you will become obese is VERY similar to the language used to discourage using marijuana. The rules and rhetoric can’t and don’t apply to all.

  70. Re: the song from the title – I thought you were referring to New Order’s “Right Round.” Showing my age, too :S

    I had, “The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round” in my head, so count yourself lucky.

  71. The response? One can be fat because they eat too *much* of these things and because they don’t eat the right *balance* of whole foods for optimal nutrient gain. I wish I were kidding. I mean, where does it fucking end?

    Yeah, I’ve had that particular argument on the internet, too – with a group of moms I used to post with and thought were a reasonable group. Until the discussion turned to fat. Then I found out quite a few of them were anti-fat bigoted idiots. I did the same as you, and posted a snapshot of my diet to prove that all fat people aren’t wallowing in cheeseburgers and doughnuts. I was flat-out accused of lying. “Don’t try to make us believe you got so fat on egg-white omelettes and salad without dressing.” Funny thing was, I never said a word about egg-white omelettes and salad without dressing. I talked about good, normal, everday foods I eat like high fiber cereal, soy milk, tuna, cottage cheese, fresh spinach, etc. But since I didn’t cop to a steady diet of deep-fried Twinkies, I must be lying. Then there was the “fat people are fat because they’re stupid” argument. I was actually told if I *really was eating healthy* I must not know correct portion sizes and had to be overeating without knowing it. Like I’m probably pouring an entire box of cereal in my 12 quart mixing bowl and calling that breakfast. *headdesk*

  72. My favorite was Saletan in Slate saying that people had better keep believing fat will make them die, or they won’t eat healthy foods and exercise

    This reminds me eerily of “Atheists can have no moral values without the fear of Hell”.

  73. Another vote for “Wheel in the Sky” being the stuck-in-my-head 70s song evoked by the post title. :)

    Spacedcowgirl, thanks for giving me my “cognitive dissonance” fix today.

    Haha. No problem. :) Did you read that comment? (Again, not that I recommend it.) The guy for some reason put forth that the results of the study could be explained by all the fat people dying young before they could get “old-age” diseases. Under the reality he invented, more overweight people would still be dying, which wasn’t what the study found! It doesn’t matter how old they are when they die. It’s possible it makes sense in some way that I am not understanding, but I was so confused.

    It should also be a Fat Hate Bingo square because people hide behind it so often. “Huh, according to this study, fat people really don’t have the crushing 1 billion x higher risk for every disease imaginable like I assumed they did. Oh wait, I bet it’s because they are all dropping dead so young they never have a chance to get sick. Whew, I can still feel superior to them.”

    Regarding very low-calorie diets, isn’t Willett a proponent of that whole thing too along with his “be as thin as you possibly can” bias? I think there is some evidence that eating VLCD might be associated with longer life. But I would put that in the category of “huh, interesting, not applicable to the real world.” People who recommend VLCD are doing the same old thing they always do, taking a result from “interesting finding” to “unreasonable policy recommendation” from the get-go.

    I really hate how Willett is quoted in mainstream articles when his ideas are actually so fringe and unreasonable. That Scientific American editorial that was blogged about here a while back was so one-sided (Willett being allowed to malign Flegal with criticisms that weren’t even true, such as the failure to exclude smokers idea) that I wanted to hit someone. I don’t think every issue needs to be presented as if both sides are reasonable, but when Willett is flat out WRONG (and he probably said misleading things on purpose knowing he could discredit opposing studies and nobody would call him on it… I don’t know which is worse, that or assuming that he didn’t fully read or understand the study before commenting on it), or even just anti-fat crazy as he normally is, he is NOT a good source for an objective sound bite.

    I love “Papa Willett” (tm attrice). I think I will use it from now on, perhaps alternating with “Ol’ Walty.”

  74. I thought you were referring to New Order’s “Right Round.” Showing my age, too :S

    What, that you’re young? “Right Round” was by Dead or Alive. :P

  75. My comment didn’t go through, so I’ll post a shorter version without the link.

    The reason calorie restriction extended life in rats is because it rendered them infertile, and reproducing is very difficult on the bodies of rats. Reproducing is less difficult on humans (seeing as we produce only one baby at a time and a maximum of one a year or so) so humans wouldn’t get nearly the same effect, and what little effect they did get could much more easily be obtained using birth control or by getting themselves sterilised.

    Since the comments filter didn’t like the link, I’ll just say, I googled: “calorie restriction rats fertility” and clicked on the webmd article on the first page of results to get that info =)

  76. Becky… aha… thanks for that additional info. I haven’t researched the concept since I pretty much dismissed it out of hand as unreasonable, so whether or not it extends life seemed irrelevant. But I am not surprised at all to learn that it probably actually doesn’t.

    If I may add my pedantic comment about that song, I believe its correct title is “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).” :P

    aaand… in typing that, I mistakenly put “it’s” to start with and wouldn’t THAT have been amusing in a nitpick.

  77. If I may add my pedantic comment about that song, I believe its correct title is “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).”

    Argh! You’re dragging my mind back to high school!

  78. (we need another term for people who are concern trolling without knowing they’re concern trolling)

    People with diabetes call them the ‘diabetes police’ so how about the ‘diet police’ or the ‘fat police?’

  79. In re: the post above by Christine:

    Inspired by the BMI project, I’ve been contemplating starting the “What a Fat Person Really Eats” blog, that would have daily posts with pictures of what I ate that day. Alas, my “dreaming thing up” skills are far better than my “starting a blog, figuring how to post pictures to it and keeping it up-to-date” skills. Would others be interested in participating if something like this was started?

  80. Hello all,

    I’ve been busy eating ignorant bigots for breakfast over at Feminsting and being the glutton that I am, I still have room for a big stack of pancakes!

    FJ – I downloaded Wheels by Cake last night – good song!

    cggirl – I was just joking, but now you’ve got me thinking I should actually film it! I’ll keep you posted. Film is actually a hobby of mine, my husband and I have been making a movie out of one of our plays using dolls as our “actors” and animating them in Adobe After Effects.

  81. Rose: I had to listen to it repeatedly on my walk to the farmer’s market and the subway, because it was stuck in my head so hard. I gotta add that one to my workout mix!

    Jmars, I like that idea. I can contribute when I get a better camera, but not before!

  82. Lol, good points spacedcowgirl and fillyjonk – guess what I’m really showing is my poor musical memory ;)

  83. Em – the pic was adorable. Such cute bellies!

    Becky, thanks for the heads-up about the rats.

    I wonder if that’s also true with the research recently done on rhesus monkeys (i.e. keeping them in a state of semi-starvation.) Do they breed them, or can those monkeys even breed at all? It would be really ironic if that was the key factor – NOT the semi-starvation diet.

    Anyway, ITA that Kolata is the Goddess of Journalism right now.

    And does this mean it’s OK now for Santa to be fat, PLZKAITHNX?

  84. To speak for myself only–and if I don’t like it I can just not participate, so take with a grain of salt–the food diary idea makes me very nervous. Of course I have well-known food issues that not all of you share, but I can see this becoming a competition to see who eats the least/healthiest.

    If on one occasion you go out to dinner and eat your whole portion (maybe you were just extra-hungry and/or the food was awesome, or–gasp!–maybe you even ate past full and regretted it later), are you really going to reveal that in a project like this? Never mind that at some point a thin person would do the exact same thing, if it’s us it’s going to be vilified. (And 90% of the time I can’t eat whole restaurant meals either, but what I mean is, sometime somebody is going to eat more than what is considered OK in our screwed-up puritanical society, and it will only take like one non-perfect meal before the trolls will decide “Fat people are gross and gluttonous and eat whole restaurant portions and that is why they are fat, case closed!”) It would have to be 1000 calories of salad and plain chicken breast a day forever and ever before anyone would actually absorb the message that fat people are not all (or primarily) binge eaters. Thin people eat dessert too, but the second someone like me posted that I had cheesecake, I would be the poster child for the obesity epidemic. It’s not right, but that’s how it will probably be. If you include people who are eating an IMO “average” amount like 2000-2500 calories a day, nothing anyone does or says will convince a concern troll that that’s not way too much food and that’s why the person is fat… never mind that the troll probably eats that much or more himself.

    So, if the point is that fat people eat in substantially the same way as thinner people (generally balanced with occasional non-nutritious choices) then I think it is great and I do love the idea of a dialogue about what people really eat. Usually the only people who post “food diaries” are Weight Watchers who flagellate themselves if they go over 22 points or something, so a saner antidote to that with contributions from people who actually enjoy their food sounds very cool. However, if the message becomes that fat people eat better than thin people (only organic local vegetarian gourmet home-cooked meals, only tea for breakfast, never any refined sugar, 1200 calories a day) then I am concerned that it could backfire and feed into society’s belief that women “should” subsist on like a diet yogurt and a salad a day (see, even that much food and they’re still fat! They should be eating even less!), which is not beneficial to us in the end.

    Note, I do realize that some fat and thin people really do eat super-healthy and/or very little and I would not have that whitewashed to make myself comfortable either. I just wouldn’t want to see a small food intake idealized because we have enough trouble in our society with believing that all of our appetites are wrong and bad and need to be subjugated. Some people eat lightly, others eat a bit more and others eat heartily, and I think that is all OK.

    Again this is all just my 2 cents and probably strongly related to my baggage. Probably the best strategy for me is just not participate or visit the site if I am worried about it, and that is totally fine, I just can’t resist opening my big mouth and giving my opinion on any and all topics. Anyhoo… assuming you go ahead with this, Skwigg’s blog is not a fat-positive site per se but I think her meal photos could be useful to look at as examples (the photography is great and she eats a variety of foods).

  85. Buffy – ya i get what u are saying, totally understandable.

    besides whether i agree or not about the danger of smoking pot – i do agree that a lot of things are exaggerated and that doesn’t help anyone make good choices about whatever drugs they DO decide to take.
    and i certainly understand the point about misused resources! totally!

    i think the whole “gateway drug” thing is debatable but it certainly isn’t the case for everyone, everyone is different and that’s an imoprtant point that gets missed. reminds us of how that point gets missed in the media coverage of weight as well…

    but besides that, i was also saying: yes, one can argue that “overweight” is NOT a gateway to becoming obese.
    but what makes this even more ridiculous, which in my personal view makes it somewhat different than the drug thing, is:
    some people could say “well pot is the lesser of many “evils”, i.e. it could have some negative affect on some people, but not nearly as much as the other drugs it’s compared to, and it doesn’t necessarily lead to those drugs.”
    so then the comparison to weight can read a bit like “overweight is the lesser of many “evils”, it’s could have some negative effect on some people, but not nearly as much as being really really obese, and it doesn’t necessarily lead to being obese”.
    a good point indeed.
    BUT, this study actually takes it FURTHER, saying that overweight is not the lesser of ANY “evils”. it is, in fact, ideal!!!! so how can it be a “gateway” to anything! how can it be a gateway if its the “ideal”? by that logic ANY weight is bad cuz it’s a “gateway” to higher or lower weight….
    argh, i can’t say it as well as fillyjonk – she said it best at the end of her post.

    Anyway i’m sure u already know all of this…

    (and of course guys don’t feel the need to argue the whole drug part cuz i already know that my view is very specific to me and not some kind of empirical fact, and i wouldn’t try to force them on YOU, like buffy said – my body is mine and yours is yours hehe. and buffy’s point was about how the media and government treat the topic and i TOTALLY get that, it is indeed ridiculous, and it is indeed comparable to the comparison to how obestiy is dealt with. Totally.)

  86. cggirl – I don’t want to get into a debate over the merits or lack thereof of smoking pot. I am however opposed to “soking” pot because it would make it all soggy and then how would you light it up? I know that ’cause I read it in a book somewhere, of course.

    I’m sorry to make fun of a typo, I make enough myself, but that was just too good to resist (-;

    By the way, the small but vocal minority at Femisting, who don’t hate us, they just pity us for being so darn unhealthy are still going at it. I’ve decided I’ve said all I need to say and that’s enough. They’re going to make my head ‘splode into little bits and pieces and I can’t takes it no more!

    The good news is that they are clearly a minority, and that’s a very postive development for the progressive and feminist movements.

  87. SCG — the idea — at least in my head — is totally in keeping with your point: it’s to show that fat people generally don’t eat that differently than thin people, not to get all “who eats the least/healthiest/”best”” etc.

    I am still thinking it over. As we all do, I’ve got tons of other stuff going on in life, and I really, really, really don’t want to start something like this and then not have the time to keep it up (which is one of the reasons I though about having other people who’d post — so I dont’ have to do it every day). I think it’s important to give a honest depiction of what people eat. I also probably wouldn’t allow comments; I don’t care what people think about it, I’m just putting it out there for show.

    Another thing I’ve thought about doing is posting something about the number of calories a day the “laws of thermodynamics” say I should be eating to maintain my weight while engaging in no activity more strenuous than sitting at a key board typing. At present, that number is about 2600. So, if someone were to shriek that “OMG she eats 2000 calories a day, no wonder she’s fat” I could simply point out that according to the laws of thermodynamics that so many people have been brainwashed into believing, I should be LOSING about a pound a week eating that many calories.

    Anyway, this is still in the thinking about it stage. If anyone else has suggestions, objections, things to be concerned or think about (and if it’s OK with Kate), please let me know. Thanks!

  88. Or “positive”, whatever! See, I make many typos, ’cause my fingers tend to move faster than my brain. Feel free to make fun of me, I have it coming!

  89. Jmars, it sounds really cool and interesting. I should know better than to project my fears about worst-case scenarios. Not allowing comments could really help with the troll/nutrition nitpickery situation too.

    I agree with you that some honesty in this arena would be very valuable because I believe many people lie about what they eat as much as they lie about what they weigh. I am not referring to people here, just society in general where you get crucified if you admit you ate a dessert (mainly with passive-aggressive “Oh, *I* could NEVER eat that way, must be nice”), therefore you just don’t admit it. On the other side you have women who starve themselves but pretend they are eating just loads and loads and how could anyone worry about them. The message that people of all sizes eat different amounts in accordance with their bodies’ needs and wants does not seem to be well-received.

    That is an excellent point about the thermodynamic argument. So many diet bloggers post at one time or another, “OMG, I just plugged my info into Fitday [or whatever you use for that, I have no idea] and it says I should be able to eat 2300 calories and maintain! That is ludicrous!” They interpret it as “people should eat 1200 calories if they really want to lose or maintain, otherwise they are pigs” not “some people are bigger than others” or just maybe “Hmm, perhaps eating 20 points and exercising an hour a day because I thought less was better, then gaining the weight back and repeating the whole process again like 3 or 4 times, has fucked my metabolism.”

  90. I had a little brainstorm while being excited about my lunch — supposing we billed it as an anti-diet or demand-feeding food blog, not a “what fat people eat” blog. Then we could post porny pictures of our food like the food blogs do, and if it’s homemade we can post the recipe, and just generally be happy about what we’re eating, while simultaneously showing that “not on a diet” and “constantly eating donuts” are not synonymous.

  91. Oh, *I* could NEVER eat that way, must be nice

    Oh my goodness, I hate that. I hated it even when I was thin. “Wow, you ate that whole sandwich? I could never eat that much, I would be full for days.” And you know, if you respond with: “fuck you”, you’re the asshole, even though it’s a perfectly reasonable response to what is basically a passive aggressive way to say: “You’re a disgusting pig.”

    But an anti-food-hangup food blog sounds like a fun idea.

  92. Another thing I’ve thought about doing is posting something about the number of calories a day the “laws of thermodynamics” say I should be eating to maintain my weight while engaging in no activity more strenuous than sitting at a key board typing. At present, that number is about 2600. So, if someone were to shriek that “OMG she eats 2000 calories a day, no wonder she’s fat” I could simply point out that according to the laws of thermodynamics that so many people have been brainwashed into believing, I should be LOSING about a pound a week eating that many calories.

    Now, THIS idea, I love. I agree with SCG about the potential pitfalls of the other idea, though I like it in theory. But a Violating the Laws of Thermodynamics blog would rock.

    I was totally fascinated by this article in Slate about a gadget that monitors how many calories you’re burning, all the time. I’d love to know how much I burn in my daily routine, because I suspect it would be a lot MORE than I think.

    Of course, that thing would be totally dangerous for anyone with a history of ED, but for people who aren’t at risk of becoming obsessed with the numbers, it could be a really interesting lesson in how the Laws of Thermodynamics actually apply to them individually.

  93. Oh, man, I am not TOUCHING that calorie monitor thing.

    Personally, I’ve found that reminding myself that a calorie is 1000x the amount of energy required to heat one gram of water one degree celcius and that seems to have some correllation with the amount of energy a food provides, helps. I mean, really? As different amounts of food affect different people differently, how do we even know the oft-repeated axiom “3500 calories to a pound.” That is like trying to measure the temperature with a ruler. Maybe you can get a rough idea if you feel around enough, but there are better, more complex tools. In the calorie/weight case, we don’t know them yet.

    I’m with SCG on the potential pitfalls, though I do love the idea of showing that fat people and thin people eat more similarly than many would like to think. Which is funny, considering that “maintenance caloric needs” goes up as weight goes up.

    But, hey, that’s light beams with clocks and maintenance caloric needs is, well, what it takes to not be hungry and maintain one’s life.

  94. Entangled, the whole thing is nuts. I suppose they mean that it takes 3500 kcal of energy to burn a pound of fat (I mean, actually burn it, like in a fire). But how anyone thinks they can calculate their resting metabolic rate to anything other than an approximation (and especially based solely on height, weight, gender, activity level, and age, which is how I have usually seen it estimated) is beyond me.

    Therefore I suppose you can say that if you “burn” 3500 calories beyond your body’s needs, you will indeed lose a pound. But knowing precisely what your body’s “needs” actually are, as well as understanding all the complexities of how those “calories” of food (you are right, doesn’t make sense) are processed and/or stored and/or eliminated for your particular body, how your body will respond to exercise, and how your metabolic rate changes with weight increases and decreases, age, body chemistry, etc. etc. etc. all of which change over time and also depend on each other, has got to be just about impossible.

    Even hardcore dieters are often willing to acknowledge the existence of setpoints (though of course they think you should JUST WORK HARDER to get past them). So if there is such a thing as a setpoint, how the heck do you simultaneously believe in the simple “duh” type of calories in/calories out model that they are always snottily preaching to us? If calories in/calories out is true then you ought to be able to calculate exactly how much weight you will gain or lose from eating a certain number of calories. If it is possible for intricacies in your metabolism to bring about “plateaus” or difficulty in deviating from your setpoint when dieting, then it is possible for every 5’7″ 36-year-old woman with a desk job to process food differently too–to eat the exact same diet and end up at different weights. Not that they would admit that.

    I love the anti-diet food blog idea too, FJ.

  95. Note, I am not trying to lecture you because I think you know much more about this stuff than I do, I am just ranting about calories in/calories out people. :)

  96. And you know, if you respond with: “fuck you”, you’re the asshole, even though it’s a perfectly reasonable response to what is basically a passive aggressive way to say: “You’re a disgusting pig.”

    Amen! I consider that type of discussion (having a lengthy discourse about how huge the portions are when the dinner arrives, bonus points if you manage to slip an anti-fat-Americans comment in there, super extra bonus points if it is made personal as you describe as in “how can you eat that much”) to be rude in the extreme. If you don’t want your whole dinner or are full and feel the need to announce it for some reason, just do so and let it go.

  97. I mean, really? As different amounts of food affect different people differently, how do we even know the oft-repeated axiom “3500 calories to a pound.” That is like trying to measure the temperature with a ruler.

    Oh, TOTALLY. That’s why I’m fascinated by the calorie counter, in fact. (I don’t plan to get one, btw, I’m just intrigued.) Because these arguments always claim to revolve around “simple math” that ignores the incredibly not simple human body. Part of me would love to know how many calories MY body burns in a given day, not how many some online calculator thinks a body of my weight, height, and activity level might burn.

  98. SCG, I think the “calories in calories out” people are usually those who don’t diet, and assume because they can maintain their weight on 2350 calories a day or whatever the “Laws of Thermodynamics” say they need, everybody must be able to and those of us who are fat must be lying about how much we eat. People who have dieted know it’s not that simple, but they think a slow metabolism means eat less, and a metabolism that slows down as a result of dieting means keep eating less, and less, and less. So if you have a slow metabolism and are not losing weight on 1500 calories a day, that must mean your body only needs 1200. (According to them, not me, obviously).

  99. SCG, I’m not sure you don’t know as much if not more about this than me. Most of my knowledge of what calories actually are (and thus kilocalories or the dietary calorie we get so damn obsessed about in our society) comes from middle school science class.

    Mostly, I’m just ranting about those people as well.

    Though I feel bad for people who feel the need to advertise how little they eat and how many foods they avoid. Personally, I avoid significant amounts of dairy and fried food because they lead to discomfort, and too much “unhealthy” food in general because I’m not as at peace as I want to be. I find the reaction to be “my god, Robin’s such a pain in the ass about food” than any sort of admiration. Of course, I’m also more likely to comment on how horribly tiny people’s portions are and how I couldn’t survive on so little food. Which, yeah, I couldn’t. When I was under-eating, I was still eating far more than most dieters do. And not really losing weight, just brain function.

    I also feel bad for people who strain to get below their set point. It’s your body’s set point for a reason. Yes, it’s probably more of a range, and probably possible to be at the lower end of one’s range with only a small amount of tinkering. But to get below THAT? If you’re barely eating and not losing, it might be because your body does not consider it a prudent move.

    Kate, I get why you would want to see the way you’re body’s metabolizing things. I guess I’m just still too close to the orthorexic, calorie-counting mindset to feel comfortable with it. And terrified at the idea of finding out that, according to some machine, I don’t actually burn through the abnormally high for my size amount I think I do. That I’d let that overwhelm my determination to let my sense of hunger guide me and start feeling guilty about the amouont I eat again.

  100. After years of fruitless dieting, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve got (as someone once put it), “a lot of play in my wheel”. I swear I can eat anything between 2000-3000 calories per day without gaining or losing a thing, and that that window has merely moved up by 200 calories from my younger and thinner (and less muscular n’ fit) days.
    That said, I think there are ways of measuring your personal metabolism with treadmills and puffers and blood tests and the like. At a university or sports centre, these are pretty good. At the local gym, not so much.

  101. Rose – LOL @ “soking”, yes indeed i was picturing that too in my head when i noticed the typo. i was like “hm, now that can’t be good.”
    don’t worry, ur all allowed to make fun of my typos, it’s just too funny.

    Also, rose, do u do cutout animation? u wrote that u like to use ur dolls as actors. the reason i ask is, i am working on a cutout animation in after effects. it’s an art piece relating to body image and food and the attempt to sublimate women’s desires.
    so if ur interested, if u have any character animation abilities, ur totally welcome to take part :) or if u dont feel like working on it but, since its a hobby of yours, maybe u feel like seeing it as it progresses and giving an opinion… i always welcome those.

    (oh my website is http://www.shmonster.com and u can see my reel at http://www.shmonster.com/reel so u can see my animations there, my paintings are on the site too, etc. and another weird animation of mine is here:

    i should probably add that to my site already…)

  102. Well firstly Kate posted that troll’s comments which implied only thin people have significant others, and now you post with a report which, if it renders you practically immobile must render me dead… I’m beginning to see the many many flaws in all this stuff… Clearly my thrice weekly gym visits are figments of my imagination or something, along with my husband… Life sure is confusing when you start reading FA blogs…

  103. Life sure is confusing when you start reading FA blogs…

    Only because we collect all the fallacies in one place! The contradictory and hyperbolic ideas are out there already. (But this is one place on the internet where we DON’T really think your gym routine or your husband are imaginary.)

  104. Becky, thinking on it further I think you are right. These are the naturally thin Judgy McJudgersons who say things like “Just get off the couch every once in a while and push away the donuts, god!” because they have a somewhat healthy lifestyle themselves and they’re thin, so that’s all there is to it, and it is easy to believe that anyone fatter must be horrendously “undisciplined” or “unhealthy.” Never mind that the person they’re lecturing might have a very similar lifestyle. They never bother to find out, or assume the person is lying if they do.

    Of course, I’m also more likely to comment on how horribly tiny people’s portions are and how I couldn’t survive on so little food.

    Entangled, I do this too to some extent, so I guess I’m kind of a hypocrite since I hate people commenting on large portions. I don’t usually look at someone’s plate and comment on the portion size but I can’t resist saying something when my friend (for example) says something like “I had a [diet] yogurt and a banana for lunch, tee hee!” Even a “whole” Lean Cuisine is too little food for me so I don’t see how anyone can survive on a yogurt and a banana. I call it a “fake lady lunch.” (This is related to my view of unpleasant sales-pressure “parties” like scrapbooking, jewelry, Mary Kay, etc., and things like mother-daughter banquets–most of which are conducted while the men hang out at home and do actual fun stuff and/or whatever they please–as “fake lady fun.”)

    I realize it’s none of my business (and I do believe that–I have no idea whether the person is planning a big dinner, or isn’t feeling well, or just doesn’t like a lot of food at lunchtime) but so often it seems to come with this belief that this is what women are “supposed to” eat for lunch and that is what pisses me off.

  105. Eh, I can’t eat large portions and I’ll definitely comment on it. I’ll say something like “I wish I could finish this” or “”no thanks, lunch isn’t a big meal for me” or whatever. (Yogurt and banana actually sounds about right for me… right now I generally eat a small sandwich and a banana, but that tends to leave me uncomfortably full.) It’s rarely misinterpreted, or at least I think it’s rarely misinterpreted… my mom and sister got mad at me once for lamenting the fact that I couldn’t manage a second helping of fruit salad when they were eating French toast, and that totally caught me off guard, but generally it’s either passed over or ends up as a discussion of which meals we can and can’t eat big for, irrational food preferences (I usually hate eating cooked lunches), etc. Probably it’s because I’m fat and clearly not dieting (in fact, generally when I bring up my habitually small portions, it’s because I don’t want people to assume I’m passing up food for diet reasons).

  106. scg, you bring up a valid point; one which I wish to elaborate on.

    It’s not just that people make it seem like the yogurt and banana or Lean Cuisine is what you’re “supposed” to eat, it’s that they look at you like you’ve grown a second – and far uglier – head if you dare to say something like “that wouldn’t fill me up.” They automatically assume that what you mean is that you’d need an entire gallon of yogurt and a whole tree of bananas or an entire truckload of Lean Cuisines. Which rarely – if ever – is the case. Maybe you mean that you’d rather have a SANDWICH, yogurt and banana? (Which, IMO, is a damned healthy lunch, tyvfm.) But they automatically assume that you’re going waaaaaaaaaaaaay to the other end of the spectrum and are talking about the massive amounts of food that you absolutely “must” consume in order to feel satisfied.

    And then they give you “that look.” You know the look I mean. The look they wouldn’t give the rabid dog down the street, because of course they have more compassion for the rabid dog than they do for you.

    It’s kind of hard to be compassionate and un-hypocritical when faced with that.

  107. FJ, probably I am just paranoid, but in my experience there is not really any reason for someone to specifically describe what they’re having for lunch unless it sounds super-good and they are excited about it; or unless they are eating particularly little and they want to be praised for it. Or conversely if they get McDonald’s and they want me to join in their self-flagellation about how unhealthy it all is.

    In my mind it’s kind of like how it is rude to comment on someone’s weight whether they are thin or fat, but the comment is still much more loaded if you are commenting on someone being fat. It’s probably rude to comment on portions whether they are large or small (for exactly the reasons you describe… not everyone eats the same amounts or at the same times), but large portions are so morally judged in our society that if I had to pick one, I would say it is more loaded and rude to comment on large portions than small. But why is it necessary to comment at all? If someone says “Gee, you’re a light eater” then of course one will respond. And the example comments you give hardly sound judgmental, of course, so I doubt you’re the kind of person I’m referring to (more like the ones that go “This will be 4 meals for me, no wonder Americans are so fat!” or “These portion sizes are disgusting!” or “Heart attack on a plate!” when maybe I’m looking at it going “Gee, I’m pretty hungry, that looks about right”).

    Incidentally the yogurt has to be that foul (IMO, again, I know lots of people are used to it and like it) artificially sweetened kind for it to qualify as a FLL. :) And to be fair, I have thought about it a little more and the only times I’ve commented on this to my friend are if she has said “I’m really hungry, I haven’t eaten today” or “I snacked so much after work because all I could find to pack for lunch was a banana and a yogurt.” In these cases I will pick on her a little about her FLL (“geez, that is nowhere near enough food”) to confirm her implied belief that eating way too little so you are starving later is not a great thing. I know this sounds like backtracking but I have thought about it more, and this is the context where I would make a comment. I would never, for example, walk up to someone at work unsolicited and comment on their lunch, of course.

    Anyway, I refuse to act like it’s all cute and harmless when my friend makes comments like this, or to make the “socially acceptable” response (“Oh, I know, tee hee, I’m usually so busy I don’t eat lunch at all!”) because I think there is so much pressure on women to support each other’s disordered eating behavior and view eating as little as possible as some kind of moral victory.

    Maybe you mean that you’d rather have a SANDWICH, yogurt and banana? (Which, IMO, is a damned healthy lunch, tyvfm.)

    Yeah, that is the kind of thing. I agree with you that it is just so hard to buck socially acceptable ideas that women are supposed to live on air and a little diet yogurt. If you don’t play the game then it is assumed you eat vast quantities. I know the look you mean and I think it comes from the fact that you are deviating from the way women are supposed to interact around food. Of course then it too easily swings the other way where you are outdoing each other with how much you supposedly eat (like when your coworker who you know is dieting and skips meals claims to eat like a pig) and then it’s still a lie, just in the other direction. This topic is such a minefield.

  108. Maybe I talk about food more than other people. :) But you know, I think the difference is between talking about what YOU eat and talking about what OTHERS eat. Just saying what you eat for lunch… well, it’s weird if it’s not clearly rhapsodizing about how good it was, but it’s acceptable if probably annoying at its root. But commenting on someone ELSE’S portion size, big or small — that’s both rude and absurd (like they didn’t know what they were eating?).

    Here’s a weird thing: I think fat-free yogurt is utterly foul, but I like low-fat yogurt. I guess just because I grew up with it and it’s what I’m used to. But fat-free yogurt… it doesn’t even MOVE right.

    Also, “fake lady lunch” is hilarious.

  109. On the subject of actually measuring how many calories someone burns…I gather there is a way of doing it. Seem to recall seeing it on TV once. It involved the person concerned spending 24 hours in a sealed room at some university research center, but beyond that I’m not sure exactly how it worked. In this case, it was a fat woman and they told her that she actually burned a great deal more calories than she thought she did. Of course, this was used as support for ‘There you go, fat people DON’T have a slower metabolism like they excuse themselves with!’.

    I’ve seen it claimed as a general rule that the fatter the body, the faster the metabolic rate, since the heart and lungs are working harder to support the extra weight. (Which I don’t get – the 5 kilos on my body are bad for me, the 5 kilos you buy to wear during your workout are good for you? Weird.)

    BUT, having said that, I suspect it’s really hugely more variable than anyone will admit. You have stuff like age, gender, levels of exercise, general health (and any conditions like hyper- or hypothyroidism), medication, stimulants, time of year, time of day, reproductive status, and as so many people here know, whether you’re dieting. And your whole family’s nutritional history back to what your grandma ate (because the egg that became half of you, formed when she was pregnant with your mom), apparently, also has an effect. And how people react to more or less food or activity than usual is definitely genetic, as some pretty good twin studies have proven.

    But then, ‘eat less, move more, insert gratuitous fat insult of your choice’ makes better press than ‘We don’t know every single last thing about how the human body works’.

  110. Gotcha. I think we agree. I don’t think I have ever commented on someone’s small meal without them making a point of it first as my friend sometimes does (like I said, what bothers me is when someone says or does something that makes me think they are trying to earn praise for eating “healthy” or not very much), but I will watch it and make sure I don’t actually do so without thinking. And also try to be mindful of not assuming that I know WHY they eat so little.

    Incidentally, like many fat and thin people, I find most restaurant portions too large (and some way too large) too, but being mentally protective of fat people and even of American culture, I like specifically not to point that out because it can open this can of worms where everyone bemoans how fat and greedy and disgusting we all are, like we have to do penance before enjoying a meal. Just my personal preference. Then again I don’t usually have the pleasure of hanging out with an FA crowd where a meal can be big or small without it being a moral statement (not that most of the rest of you necessarily do either).

    As it happens I like fat-free yogurt pretty well but it has to have real sugar (well, or the dreaded HFCS, which is more likely has these days). Though the less-sweet higher-fat varieties are better. If I could get my homemade yogurt to come out better (it’s all runny and not very smooth) I would be thrilled because so much commercial yogurt is tooth-achingly sweet, and it’s nice to be able to control the sweetness. I guess we all have our yogurt quirks. :)

    Thanks, I enjoy “fake lady lunch” too as it is very evocative for me of Lean Cuisines, skipping lunch altogether, diet yogurt, Diet Coke, dry salads, a single apple, Crystal Light, Slim-Fast, etc. etc. It has to do with how women are supposed to be dainty and weak and not have a strong appetite for anything. But I will henceforth try to assign it in my head based on the dieting mentality of the person in question, not the simple amount or type of food being consumed. :)

  111. Emerald, you know, that’s what really gets my goat.

    If these “experts” would just ADMIT that they don’t REALLY know how to make people lose weight effectively, I would be okay with that (and I suspect a lot of other people would, too). But since their THEORIES stand up on paper, they just assume that they’ll work in real life and WON’T admit that they really don’t know.

  112. scg, on the subject of yogurts:

    I happened to try an organic yogurt, made with all (and I mean ALL) natural ingredients from one of the small shops near my house. It was pretty good, but comparing it to (what I guess you could call) “commercial” yogurts, I could definitely tell the difference.

  113. Personally I love that restaurant portions are so big — I get two meals for one price! But I totally understand what you mean about loathing the “omg so much food” dance. I should also be more mindful about lamenting my inability to eat as much as I want. (Not that I don’t eat enough to live on — my metabolism is slow, as tested by a doctor! — but my stomach gives up long before I stop wanting to put food in my mouth.)

    But I will henceforth try to assign it in my head based on the dieting mentality of the person in question, not the simple amount or type of food being consumed.

    Hm, maybe what I eat is a real lady lunch? :)

  114. Would you say the local organic yogurt tasted better or worse in your opinion, in comparison with Yoplait or whatnot? I’m not sure if we have anyplace like that nearby where I could try local yogurt, anyway.

    I love the Fage Greek yogurt as far as the plain stuff goes, but as far as a fruit-flavored yogurt, I haven’t found a commercial one I enjoy all that much, and homemade is both somewhat time-consuming and doesn’t come out great for me.

  115. FJ, I have no doubt you are a REAL lady! :P

    So, fine, I must regretfully admit that my judginess about people’s lunches is sort of insensitive regardless of how I split that hair. I’ll consider this discussion a welcome reminder not to start verbalizing my thoughts on the matter (or to tone such down even if I think it is “justified”), and that what others eat is not about me. :)

    I will admit frankly that a lot of this is me needing to be less sensitive and not take stuff so personally. I’ll have to continue beating my head against the wall working on that.

  116. Well, I understand the judginess. And I have to say, it had genuinely never occurred to me that people might feel judged if I talk about my food choices (all that’s going through my head is “waaaa, I want to put more food in my mouth but my body can’t handle it!”), so this has been a useful conversation for me too. Don’t sweat it, though — I know you’re not a judgmental person!

  117. scg, I have to admit that I prefer the “commercial” yogurts. But I suspect that has more to do with the fact that I’ve eaten nothing BUT commercial yogurts for 31 years. I’m used to it, you know?

    But this stuff WAS good. If it wasn’t so darned expensive, I’d buy it more often – if for no other reason than health reasons (natural is better for you than commercially processed crap, after all).

  118. on yogurts:

    Trader Joe’s organic full fat yogurt + local honey + whatever fruit I feel like adding = bliss. It’s the best combination that I’ve found that gives that real yogurty flavor and texture without added stuff. I’ve also added all fruit preserves when the fresh stuff is hard to acquire.

    It’s definitely not as sweet as Yoplait, in that particular way that only HFCS is sweet, but the honey adds this nice flowery fruit flavor, particularly if you add blackberry honey, or some other that was made from a fruit plant.

  119. Oh, you guys, I have a post in my head about the lunch thing based on something I read in Virginia Woolf about, basically, fake lady lunches. I swear, when I finish writing up this report on Woolf, I’ll write the post here. I hope that we have not exhausted the lunch topic yet!

  120. nuckingfutz, I hear you and maybe that is why I don’t care for my own homemade yogurt that much either (though I’m going to keep trying different stuff). I’m used to the Yoplaits and Dannons of the world myself. I’ll look into the “local” yogurt just in case I can find any around here, for comparison.

    mizerychik, honey AND fruit! What an awesome idea. Just plain fresh fruit isn’t flavorful enough for me, but add any sugar and it starts to get sticky and too-sweet. Jam seems to work OK too but the honey-and-fruit idea is super. I will try it (maybe put the honey in the yogurt maker during processing and add fresh fruit just before I eat it).

    sweetmachine, this topic basically never gets old for me (all the stuff about food as biological need, but societal expectations around women’s appetites, and also the social functions fulfilled by food, combining to create a very complex set of motivations for what we eat), so I am really looking forward to your post! It sounds really interesting.

  121. I’d like to chime in a bit late re: yogurt

    At several gourmet markets around here (i.e. whole foods) I have been able to find Nancy’s individual yogurt that comes with a little attached thing of fruit sweetened with cane sugar. It is the most natural tasting I’ve been able to find and doesn’t strike me as overly sweet (although I’m not sensitive to such things).

    Cons: expensive ($.79 – $.99 ea.) and wasteful packaging… I also suspect it’s pretty close to “Plain Yogurt + Fruit Preserves” So there you have it.

  122. I’m partial to Brown Cow yogurts, although I’ve gotten out of the habit of eating them recently. The cream top gives me issues as only full-fat dairy can, but the low- and non-fat have a nice texture IMO.

    My mom is a frequent “fake lady lunch” offender and I hate watching it happen. Most “fake lady lunches” are devoid of protein (and often of any proper nutrients at all), they seem designed to make sure the “diner” will be as hungry as possible as soon as possible. For someone like my mom who is older and doesn’t have the appetite or metabolism she once did, I hate seeing her “waste” calories on empty “virtuous” foods. It makes me worry the the B12 deficiency anemia or similar is not far behind. :(

  123. I have seen the Nancy’s but never tried it. Thanks for the idea! It never occurred to me that HFCS actually tastes sweeter and stronger (as mizerychik said) so perhaps the cane sugar sweetener will do the trick. I have tried using sugar in the homemade and haven’t liked it, but maybe I used too much.

    I agree, let’s continue reporting back on natural yogurt finds. I’ll post in this thread when I have tried a couple of these ideas, assuming I can find the thread again. :)

    Yeah, Kimu, the thing that sticks out to me that these meals always seem to be missing is fat! I don’t know how anyone can feel full on what many women eat at lunchtime. You need a little fat to make foods filling and tasty (I mean, you need it in your diet in general, but you know what I mean). Honestly those new “Twice the Veggies” Lean Cuisines aren’t too bad… they tend to have some fat and less sodium and a larger portion/larger variety of veggies and whole grains… so at least those are an option now when people are grabbing their lunch selections for the week.

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