Food: The Other Great Equalizer

So, in comments on Sweet Machine’s stair post, Chartreuse said:

Note that everything that you wrote applies to food as well. I always used to think I did things like ate a WHOLE frozen pizza sometimes or a WHOLE bag of chips occasionally because I was fat … and then I found out from my thin friends that everybody does that sometimes.

and Juliafaye responded:

One of my fittest, most athletic friends is notorious for her appetite and her ability to inhale a huge bag of chips! ) In fact, I’d say on average that my thinner friends eat more than my fatter friends. Not trying to generalize in the other direction, just an observation!

I’ve mentioned before that I often eat more than Al, who outweighs me by quite a bit, but last night, we had baked potatoes for dinner (loaded down with fatty toppings, natch), and when I finished mine and said, “Now I want 10 more,*” he looked up from his half-eaten potato and said, “You finished yours?”

The shame was immediate.

I hadn’t been paying attention to how much he was eating — like a CRAZY PERSON, I just focused on enjoying my own food — and I totally figured he would A) be done at the same time as me, and B) have eaten just as much as me. When neither assumption turned out to be true, I couldn’t do anything to stop the flood of “Oh my God, I am such a fucking pig, and this is why I’m fat,” thoughts that instantly bombarded me. I even said out loud, “Well… that’s embarrassing.” Because I FINISHED A WHOLE POTATO. THE HORROR.

This is the kind of thing that can make intuitive eating so fucking much harder than dieting. That potato was exactly what I wanted for dinner. I enjoyed every bite, and at the end of it, I was satiated without being the least bit uncomfortably full. A total intuitive eating triumph — except for the part where I realized SOMEONE ELSE HADN’T EATEN EXACTLY AS MUCH AS I ATE, AND THERE WAS SOUR CREAM INVOLVED, SO I AM A HORRIBLE, GLUTTONOUS FATTY WHO HAS NO RIGHT TO PROMOTE HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY MY ARTERIES WILL HAVE TURNED TO STONE BEFORE I’M 35.

Y’all, I have a friend who had WLS last year, and I have actually gone out to eat with her and caught myself thinking, “Wait a minute, she’s done already — why am I still hungry?” Oh, I don’t know, maybe because I don’t have a band choking off half my stomach that will cause me to barf immediately if I eat one bite too many? Ya think? I have gone out to eat with thinner friends and breathed a sigh of relief when they ordered a burger or a steak, so I didn’t have to get a salad. I have covered up my remaining food with a napkin when I wasn’t completely full, because I believed I should be completely full, and it would be humiliating to eat any more in front of other people.

All of that’s since becoming a fat acceptance blogger.

And last night, in my own home, with my own boyfriend, who would seriously have bacon with a side of bacon in a warm bacon dressing for dinner every fucking night if I didn’t insist on some variety, I was ashamed of myself for eating exactly what I wanted in a quantity that filled me up.

So in case anyone thought intuitive eating — or fat acceptance in general — came easily to me? Like the logic just clicked, and it was smooth sailing from there? And now I write my little blog posts every day from a position of having this food/body thing completely licked? (Uh, so to speak.) Yeah, no.

I have to remind myself of the shit I preach all the time. I have to make conscious decisions not to fall into old habits of guilt and self-flagellation all the time. That’s part of why I write this blog — as long as I’m posting about this stuff every day, it’s a lot easier to keep living it. (Now that this has become such a vibrant community, I even have thoughts like, “HEY! Knock that off! Thinking like that lets the shapelings down!”)

And one of the biggest things I have to keep reminding myself of is that eating until I’m full is not gluttony — even if what makes me full is twice a Jenny Craig portion! — and furthermore is not something only fat people do.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: learning to eat “normally” as a fat person is a minefield, when what we’ve been taught from the cradle is that “normal” people eat less than fat people, end of story. It’s even worse if you’ve dieted, ’cause for many of us, that was the first time we learned about “appropriate portion sizes.” Meat should be only as big as your fist! (Or a deck of cards, depending on who you ask.) Cheese should match the tip of your thumb! One half of a Lender’s bagel is a full serving of bagel, and a typical bakery bagel is MORE FOOD THAN AN ENTIRE FAMILY IN AFRICA EATS IN A WEEK. And, of course, a whole potato should be roughly as big as your fist again, or a computer mouse, or… something much smaller than the baking potatoes you usually find in grocery stores. Which is why it was so horrifying that I finished that whole potato, which was like TWO mice! Maybe two and a half!

Al and I were at Morton’s recently, and I ordered the smallest filet (10 oz.), ’cause I know (intellectually) any more steak than that will be wasted on me. When the food came and I took the first bite, I thought, “OMG, this is so fucking good, I want to order another one right now.” As it turned out — as always — 10 oz. was more than enough to fill me up, and nearly overfill me. But that was such a perfect example of the battle that’s always going on in my head. Because my first thought was, “Oh no, this isn’t gonna be enough; I’m gonna be disappointed” — the automatic deprivation mode that still frequently crops up when I eat something really tasty. And my second thought was, “THIS IS MORE THAN THREE TIMES A FULL SERVING OF MEAT! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?”

Gah.

The reality is, on a typical night, about 8 oz. of steak (with a side and a couple glasses of wine) will leave me pleasantly full, totally satisfied, and not pukey. But remembering that reality — i.e., the lessons of my own body — is awfully fucking hard when I’ve got the devil on my shoulder saying, “You want to eat ALL THE STEAK IN THE WORLD, right now” and the angel saying, “About three bites of this is a full portion, piggy!” (Perhaps I’ve got the devil and angel in the wrong order there.)

Maybe 3 oz. of meat really does satisfy “normal” people, but it sure doesn’t satisfy me. (And in fact, I have never in my life seen that little meat appear to satisfy anyone, fat or thin, other than the aforementioned friend with a lap-band.) Cheese the size of my thumb? I HAVE REALLY SMALL HANDS, YOU GUYS! And also, I like cheese a lot. Ditto potatoes. I might not be able to eat a whole Morton’s-sized baked potato in one sitting, but I can sure as hell finish one in between that and one the size of a mouse. And shockingly, I can eat an entire bagel-shop bagel with cream cheese and not need to vomit! Can you believe it? The gluttony!

So what the fuck is normal? I spent a few years of my life eating according to those “appropriate portion sizes,” and yeah, I got used to it and didn’t feel like I was starving all the time, but I also took zero fucking joy from food and was always thinking about what I couldn’t have; I don’t want to live like that, as you might have gathered. And lord knows I’m well aware of the studies that say fat people, on average, don’t eat any more than thin people, and like everyone else, I’ve amassed reams of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the thin people I know eat quit a bit like I do — at least, when we eat together. Someone with a BMI of 19 really can put away a whole grilled cheese sandwich and some fries and be perfectly comfortable — I’ve seen it! And on other days, someone with, say, a BMI of 33.8 can eat half a piece of salmon and some broccoli and and be stuffed.

But this idea that I am always eating too much when I eat exactly what I want to eat still haunts me. So I have to remind myself that there is no normal. There’s only one way I can determine what an “appropriate” amount of food for me is: eat when I’m hungry, and stop when I’m full.

And you know, maybe the reason we don’t know what “normal” eating looks like is that so few people in this culture do that — especially in front of other people. You go out to eat with friends, and people either gorge themselves ’cause they rarely get yummy, professionally prepared food like that — then sit around talking about how disgustingly full they are, and how bad they were to eat so much — or pointedly eat a tiny amount, and then sit around talking about how really, that was plenty, and restaurant portion sizes are so ridiculous**! How often have you dined with other people and ended the night with everyone saying, “Wow, I got exactly what I wanted, and now I feel comfortably satisfied and very pleased with my decisions!” Maybe if that ever fucking happened, we could all get a better sense of what “normal” eating looks like.

Since we can’t, I will remind you all as I remind myself: there is no metric for determining what normal eating is. Sometimes, skinny people eat entire bags of chips. Sometimes, fat people fill up on very little. There is no evidence showing that fat people generally eat more than thin people. (If you have a binge/compulsive eating disorder, this doesn’t apply to you, so please don’t lecture me on how some fat people really DO eat crazy loads of food. Yes, some do — less than 5% of us. And while, as always, I don’t want to dismiss or exclude fat people with those eating disorders, I also don’t want there to be any confusion over whether eating like that is typical of fat people. It ain’t.) All human beings need and want food, and all human beings are programmed to think (to some degree or another) that fat and sugar taste good. Just like everyone breathes heavier, sweats, and pumps up their heart rate when they exercise, everyone eats. And damn near everyone sometimes overeats, accidentally or otherwise. And everyone prefers foods that taste good to them over foods that don’t.

Eating is normal. It is not a shameful activity that only fatties engage in.

Sadly, I do have to keep reminding myself of that.

*I was, in actuality, perfectly full, but the potato was really fucking good. See thoughts above about 10 oz. filet.

** Restaurant portion sizes ARE ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean you’re only a normal, healthy person if you leave 7/8 on your plate every time.

173 thoughts on “Food: The Other Great Equalizer

  1. Ah, yes. I think I had this whole conversation with myself just last night. Over some chicken. Fried chicken. *theatrical gasp*

    I managed to eat three pieces of this chicken (nothing like mom’s home cookin, folks) and some rice with gravy, and some lima beans AND some corn.

    And then I noticed lil bro with his 2 pieces of chicken, rice sans gravy, and a couple spoonfulls of corn..and thought…criminy. A fat ass am I. But then I remembered…lil bro has ALWAYS been a light eater. I can’t compare his normality to my normality. Cause normality is relative— it ain’t gonna be the same for everybody.

    This post is a welcome reminder to that.

  2. Just found this space on the interwebs (via Laurie Ruettimann’s site). Anyhow, just wanted to say that a grilled cheese sammy and some fries sounds really, really good right now. Oh! And this is a great post and great blog in general. Good for you! I look forward to reading more.

    -HR Wench, a new subscriber
    http://hrwench.blogspot.com/

  3. Yeah, I find myself comparing what and how much I eat to what other people eat way too often. I remember once being visited by my mom, and since she wasn’t hungry all afternoon after we had lunch, I had “decided” I wasn’t either. Only my pancreas disagreed with my brain, and five hours after lunch I had horrible hypoglycemic shakes. “What am I doing?” I said. “Just because you’re not hungry doesn’t mean I have to be on the same schedule, we don’t share one stomach!” She agreed with me that I should have eaten before hypoglycemia set in. Zowie.

    I haven’t allowed things to get that dire since then. But yeah, I live with a guy with a pretty small appetite who’s thin, and I find myself comparing what I eat to what he eats. As it happens, we probably do, ultimately, eat about the same amount of food, just on a different schedule; I eat bigger meals, he eats more snacks. Except when we don’t. Sometimes it’s reversed. The point is, ultimately it pretty much evens out.

    But what if it didn’t? What if it turned out that I, on a regular basis, consumed more food than he? Would that make me a terrible, awful, greedy person? I get so tired of all this ZOMG PEOPLE EAT LIKE PIGS stuff. If everyone just picked at tiny little organic bits of rabbit food, the economy would grind to a halt! Bakeries sell giant bagels because people like them, and not just fat people, either. People of all sizes like the giant bagels, otherwise they’d sell little bitty ones.

  4. I always have more of a problem with this at restaurants than at home, and I think you hit the nail on the head with the really yummy professionally prepared food excuse :-) I try to remind myself that I can come back any time I want and get more, but between the “that’s wasteful!” pixie on my shoulder and the fact that something tastes really good, I usually don’t stop until I’m stuffed. I had a good lesson in that this weekend when I hit a new Indian restaurant with a couple of other foodie friends. Since one of them was a complete “curry virgin” we started off with just two appetizer samplers and a bread assortment in hopes that she could find something she liked in the appetizer to guide her choice of main dish. We took our time (at least an hour) over the appetizers comparing relishes and trying to analyze the spices in each piece, and by the time we were done we realized that those two appetizers actually were enough to make three people comfortably full instead of overstuffed. We were really surprised. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but as far as my own body goes I’d say a serving size is the amount of food that makes me comfortably full/satisfied at the time. This changes by meal and day depending on what else I’m doing. Maybe that’s the point of intuitive eating, it can’t rely on an arbitrary weight or volume. I don’t think it’ll be easy for me to get rid of the cultural programming about food any time soon, but I’m working on it. :-) It helps when I slow down and actually taste/enjoy each bite so that the satiety signals have time to catch up.

  5. kate, i thank you from the bottom of my heart for verbalizing something painful and honest, and for doing it in a way that doesn’t trivialize a big issue but also makes it funny as hell. damn you’re good!

    i really feel that food is one of the biggest guilt triggers for me, for just the reasons that you’ve mentioned. my friend here can’t finish her personal pan pizza, while i could eat my entree AND a salad AND dessert AND KEEP GOING? regardless of every other circumstance, including HER metabolism, MY metabolism, amount of activity, genetics, the fact that i’m nearly three feet taller, i always feel a crushing wave of guilt when that happens. and, like you, i feel like this even after accepting “fat” as a zero-value term, just like “brown hair.”

    i’m the loosest kind of vegetarian, and have been for three years now – and when i say “loose,” i mean that i eat fish very happily, and if i desperately want, say, a cornmeal bacon sandwich once or twice a year, i’ll eat it, no guilt attached. but y’know? shame about what we eat isn’t just limited to weight. i have been met with wariness and occasionally all-out hostility from vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike for the way i eat, mostly because people assume that i will judge that whatever goes into their mouths is DISGUSTING and EW, I WOULD NEVER EAT THAT. (it reminds me of being the only italian kid in grade one with a sandwich made of stinky mortadella, by the way!) so thank you for bringing this subject up. we all need to eat, and eating is good. apart from that, i don’t think we can assign absolute values to what and how much we eat. thoughts, mebbe?

    thanks again,
    angela

  6. A year and a half ago, my gynocologist prescribed metformin for Insulin Resistance and to help with some of the symptoms of PCOS. As soon as I got on it, my appitite completely vanished.

    About a week after starting to take the medicine, I went out to dinner with my mother-in-law and cousins on my husband’s side of the family. Everybody was astonished at how little I ate (and it was a very little bit, only about 5 bites and I was so full I was feeling stuffed). I took home leftovers and ate on it for almost a week afterward.

    Now, I’m eating more. I’m still only eating a “child’s portion” (ie, going to a restaurant and ordering off the child’s menu gives me enough food to fill me up without having enough left over to bring home, unlike normal portions, where I’m bringing home 1/2-2/3 depending on the restaurant and how generous their portions are). One day, the MIL said something about how she hoped I wasn’t gaining weight back, as I was eating so much more than when I first started on the metformin.

    Nevermind I’ve been at the same weight (210 for those who care) for about 9 months now, and have not increased dress size in all that time. She’s concerned I’ll gain weight because I’m eating child sized portions.

    And yeah, when she said that, my immediate thought was OMG I’m so FAT! Maybe I need to talk to the doctor to increase the dosage of metformin, as the side effect of lost weight seems to be slowing down. *rolls eyes*

    No, I didn’t talk to the doctor, and I’m enjoying the food I eat. But yeah, it was REALLY easy to fall back into the whole “I’m fat, therefor I shouldn’t be eating” mindset.

  7. Just the other night, I had one of those long-delayed conversations – y’know, when it’s two years later and you’re STILL thinking about what you should have said to that asshole?

    Well, the asshole in question was telling me that there was no way my assertion (that fat people don’t really eat sufficiently more than thin people to account for 100-pound differences in weight) was true, and that obviously I’m fat because I eat too much. He then tried to soften the blow by saying that it was understandable, though, because Caz and I are some of the best cooks he’s ever met.

    So what did I do? I sputtered and huffed and go really mad and couldn’t make da wurds werk! and eventually time passed and I realized that I had internalized what this asshole had said.

    And so just last week, there I was in my kitchen, with my not-helping-matters-any brain reminding me of this long past conversation and thinking about what I should have said, which was, “So, what you’re saying is that I’m either stupid or delusional, and that being a good cook is what makes me stupid and/or delusional? And that if you were as good a cook as Caz or I are, you’d be stupid and/or delusional too??”

    Quick! Cancel all Home Ec. classes! The key to eradicating the obesity epidemic is just making sure no one knows how to cook a decent-tasting meal!!!

    Oh wait. But won’t that mean people eat out more often?

    Ah crap. Re-schedule the Home Ec. classes!

  8. Great post as usual! I think of feeling deprived as being hungry (hunger in the American sense of course). If I’ve stopped eating cheese because I’m feeling bad about myself (even though cheese is one of the best things on the whole planet) and I got too long without it, I feel the lack. I may not be all rumbly in the belly, I may actually be quite full of something else. But it’s not cheese and therefore not satisfying.

    In many hunter-gatherer tribes in Africa, there was often a word that distinguished “meat hunger” from regular old hunger. We definitely have cheese hunger. Luckily, we do not have to hunt a fine block of Stilton through the dry, hot savannah with our homemade spears. For this I am ever grateful.

  9. the “that’s wasteful!” pixie on my shoulder

    JoGeek, someone here (Meowser?) actually made a point a while back that has been enormously helpful to me with that problem: if you’re already full, it’s just as “wasted” in your body as in the garbage can.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve consciously thought that to myself since I first read it, when I was feeling full but also feeling guilty about not eating everything I paid for.

  10. Thorn: Just remember, if you’re fat, everything you eat is wrong. No matter what it is. If you eat lots of carbs, you’re fat because you eat lots of carbs. If you eat lots of protein, you’re fat because you eat lots of protein. If you like leafy greens, you’re fat because you like leafy greens. If you eat at home a lot, you’re fat because you’re a great cook. If you eat out a lot, you are a Giant Restaurant Portion Glutton. And if you are fat and don’t eat much of anything…you don’t really exist.

  11. Thank you. Really.

    I’ve been feeling this lately-after three weeks with the CFH (cold from hell) where I had no appetite to speak off, I suddenly have one again, and I feel guilty for eating. I wanted to puke after lunch today, for eating a few chicken fingers and fries, less than many of the skinny people around me had.

    Thank you for the reminder that I’M not the problem.

    (and you should totally try my Dad’s stuffed two tone potatoes. Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes baked inside a potato. HEAVEN)

  12. Luckily, we do not have to hunt a fine block of Stilton through the dry, hot savannah with our homemade spears. For this I am ever grateful.

    You and me both, Sumac.

  13. JoGeek, someone here (Meowser?) actually made a point a while back that has been enormously helpful to me with that problem: if you’re already full, it’s just as “wasted” in your body as in the garbage can.

    Yeah, KH, that was me. Thanks for remembering that!

  14. (and you should totally try my Dad’s stuffed two tone potatoes. Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes baked inside a potato. HEAVEN)

    Oh my god. It’s like potato turducken. I’m all over it.

  15. Kate, I think many of us has had this conversation with ourselves while eating out with friends. When I went on my first date I tried to think of the weakest, lowest calorie things on the menu I could find to eat and the guy I was with ate whatever he want and rare as he wanted it (kind of ew, rare steak?). Why was I sitting there plaguing my thoughts with, OMG hes going to see that I actually like eating. OMG he’ll find out my secret!

    The nature of this post was completely fitting because I always worry about eating too much even though I know very well there are definitely certain things I like more than others.

    You’re so good at pointing out stuff that we forget ;)
    Great thoughts.

  16. Meowser, right on with that last comment.

    We’ve got two office admins at my work. Both have had two kids, both are the same height, both regularly eat fast food for breakfast and lunch and nibble on candy all day, both drink about 32 to 60 ounces of regular sodas daily. One is thin and never gains an ounce. One is over 300lb. Neither of them have an exercise routine. I’ve been really paying attention to this for several month now, to make sure I’m not just imagining it.

    Now, I’m not claiming their caloric intake is exactly the same all day long, but what they in in the 8 hours they are at work is pretty similar – even have the same sedentary job.

    Guess which one gets talked about behind her back for being “so unhealthy” all the time?

  17. Also, I’m one of those people who thinks global economics will ultimately take care of the Portion Size Issue. When China and India and Vietnam start demanding Western-sized portions of everything we’re eating, you can bet your ass the price of everything will soar, and since almost nobody will pay $25 for a 1-pound burger, that will be that. So, say I, get it while ya can.

  18. *snorts*

    Dammit Kate, you posted about something I had an issue with this morning. I sat at the computer all happy until I noticed my vision started going funky. I know that my vision goes funky for 2 reasons- migraine and a sudden bottoming out of my blood sugar. Even though I ate breakfast this morning, I jumped right to blood sugar as it wasn’t my standard migraine tunnel vision. What did I find myself doing but standing in front of the junk food machine downstairs debating on calories and sugar etc etc whilst losing yet more vision. I should be able to rationalize that my body is saying “Yo dumbass, I’m not too happy and need sugar now” so I could just get the little baggie of M&M’s but no. . .couldn’t do that because OMG it’s a baggie of M&Ms, what happens if a coworker comes in and sees me getting them even though it’s 9:30 in the morning.

    And yeah after a Oat and Honey Granola bar, I find it’s a combination of my blood sugar dropping. . .enough to trigger a migraine.

    Oy vey!

  19. I think I may have won the crazy sweepstakes. I’m reading this comment threaed and thinking, “Oh no, somebody is going to come here and think we’re making light of gay rights because we’re talking about food.”

    Okay, I’m operating on almost no sleep, but still.

  20. As per usual, Kate, great post.

    I think about this sort of thing sometimes if I’m eating out with a friend, and we order dessert….I always wonder if the waitperson is thinking, “Dude, she should lay off the dessert!” I rarely have that sort of “people are judging me” internal soundtrack, but it creeps in every now and then.

    I mean, I still get freakin’ dessert, ’cause hello, vegan pumpkin chocolate cheesecake? That needs to be eaten. But, you know, I have that moment where I think about it.

    I had a little backsliding experience last week myself…only I went in the so-stressed-with-work-and-drama-I-forgot-to-eat-more-than-once-a-day direction. (Yes, I know you have to be a special kind of stupid to forget to eat….but I am that kind of stupid sometimes.) I was in this horrible snarky bitchy mood for two days and couldn’t figure out what the hell my problem was….until I stopped to look at my week’s schedule and realized I’d had seven meals over five days.

    Turns out, not eating is bad!

  21. Two things…

    1) I find that as my monthly friend is preparing for a visit that I can eat continously. I’m hungry for something, but never find out what that something is. So, I just eat and eat. It’s a little scary sometimes.

    2) We have an expensive little deli in our office building. They offer all sorts of delicious things for breakfast and lunch. Anyhow, I decided on two hard boiled eggs and yogurt on Friday morning. It sounded good and promised not to be too filling because we had a company Xmas lunch that afternoon. SO, I have my eggs and yogurt riding the elevator up ONLY 4 STORIES! (It’s a sin) This old man decides to comment on my food….something to the affect of “Eggs and Yorgurt…heh heh….that’s a good breakfast…heh heh.” I said “Yeah, thanks” as I left the elevator. I am not exactly sure if he was being judgemental or if he was attempting (poorly) to make conversation.

    At any rate. I’ve stopped hating on myself for eating what I enjoy. I do owe it to this website. I really learn a lot here and I appreciate it!!

  22. Thanks for your honesty. You are only human and I appreciate you admitting that. Sometimes we like to think we are supernatural, especially if in positions of influence. But your authenticity is what makes you relatable, not your ability to be perfect and on-point with everything.

    I, over the last year, have found the true hunger within me. I listen to what I want to eat, when I want to eat, and when I want to stop eating. It’s amazingly liberating. Thanks for reminding me I’m on the right track in healing my negative relationship with food.

  23. A total buzz kill when someone (or everyone) at the table repudiates what they just ate. When this happens at my mother’s dinner table (every time as it turns out), I just feel sorry for her that she was never able to break away from the Puritain streak that surely must run straight through her stomach and heart. It’s a sad way to live — feeling suspicious of every delicious moment or bit of fun.

  24. I can’t wait to write about this later — because youv’e said a lot of things that I’ve been struggling with (particularly as a reocver(ing/ed) anorexic with various other health issues that often change my appetite on a dime), both internally and with my boyfriend, who has a very Holier-Than-Thou attitude when it comes to food — “healthiness,” portion, the whole deal.

    Thank you for being a genius and giving me plenty to think about.

  25. Another fantastic post. Thanks for being honest. Sometimes it feels like once I have an epiphany, there will be no more backtracking. But my habitual nurgling thoughts can be right around the corner. The only thing I can count on is that I might be able to spot the mean thoughts quicker and dismiss them sooner. And dammit, I was hoping I was cured!!!

    As far as normal eating goes, my best example of to each their own is my husband. 6’3″ 175lbs. Never gains weight. Sometimes he just revels in food. Once he cleaned a massive plate of bqq ribs with all the sides: mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob covered with butter, and cheesy greens. He accompanied that with 2 Guiness beers and had a double scoop of Ben & Jerry’s for dessert. What I want to point out: If he were fat, people would look at him with disdain. But because he is skinny, they look at him with envy.

  26. Thank all the Stars for this blog. Just today I had a second helping of fantabulous whole wheat spaghetti w/ homemade sauce and almost immediately had a knee-jerk “THIS IS WHY YOU ARE A FATTIE” thought that I had to stifle so I could enjoy my amazingly wonderful meal. And I’m a champ at compulsive “everybody is looking at what I’m eating because I’m a fat-ass so I can’t have dessert lest I prove that all the stereotypes are true!” restaurant thinking. Fighting against the cultural programming, the Fat Bingo craptango, is a daily thing for me. It might be one of the hardest things I do every day. It’s a rosy ripe hell, actually.

    So much so that even though I was aware of the FA and HAES movements in my early twenties and spoke out about and educated myself on the issues often, in my late twenties I went through a 4 year spiral of self-hatred and dieting (cleverly disguised as “lifestyle changes” that did nothing except reinforce the culture-coded idea that I was an ugly, unhealthy failure) that I am only now starting to once again recover from. This blog has been instrumental in my process of reminding myself of the truth of the matter – of my own self-worth. So I thank you for it.

    -S

  27. I went out for dinner one night a number of years ago with a friend. Not only did she clean up her entree and all the extras with dinner, she was looking like she was going to start spearing food off my plate. She was all of 95 lbs dripping wet in a parka and roller skates. And I was the one getting looks for having a nice big entree of almond chicken! The leftovers of which went with me since that was going to be my lunch the next day, me who weighed in somewhere around 250 or so. She of course didn’t get any looks.

    SIGH!!!!!!

    At the time I was still in my OMG I must be doing something wrong cuz everyone is staring at me and my plate and I knew I should have ordered nothing but steamed broccoli and skipped the rice stage of my life.

    :P

    Thank the Gods I’ve gotten past that.

    And I have yet to meet anyone who is satisfied with a whole 3 oz of meat.

    As for restaurant portions, I want my money’s worth, I refuse to go places where they charge you a fortune for a dinky serving that looks so pretty you don’t know whether you are supposed to eat it or hang it on the wall. I pay my money, I want plenty and if I don’t finish if, well, that’s what to go boxes are for.

  28. That’s part of why I write this blog — as long as I’m posting about this stuff every day, it’s a lot easier to keep living it.

    YES! That is exactly, first and foremost, the entire reason I keep blogging! My blog is my way of keeping myself accountable to the things I advocate and promote to others.

    Last night my hubby made chili and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, something I’m not really into. I had half a bowl of chili and a grilled cheese which I shared with the cat (yes, the cat). My husband had two sandwiches and two bowls of chili.

    Later last night, I fixed a late-night snack because, well, I was hungry again. I asked the husband if he wanted any and he said he was full. My very first thought was, “He’s full and so you should be too. If he doesn’t need a snack, you don’t either.” Realizing what I just thought, I then mentally smacked myself and fixed the snack anyway.

    Just remember, if you’re fat, everything you eat is wrong.

    Oh, it doesn’t end when you become thin, either. After I lost tons of weight and even became too thin, according to people I know, the food police never stopped. I had friends and family members, many of whom eat crap foods, proceed to continue to lecture me on the foods I chose to eat, even after losing 60 percent of my body weight. A few warnings still spring to mind: I was warned that grapes have too much sugar; to not eat the yolks in hard-boiled eggs because they have too much fat; cornbread is very greasy and high in fat; bread, pasta and potatoes are the devil, etc…

    Is it any wonder my relationship with food was and continues to be, for the most part, disordered.

  29. I just realized something – if I go out to eat with guys, as is the usual scenario, I don’t pay any attention to what they’re eating other than to say “Oh that sounds good!” and the usual menu conversations. I don’t pay attention to how much they eat, other than my vegan friend cause I swear, he has a tape worm and would eat the plate the food is on and it amuses me. He takes such joy in his food, it’s truly an inspiration. And he’s super thin so there.

    Anyway, there’s none of that weird comparing going on when I eat with men. When I eat alone, I am a little, tiny bit conscious of what other people might think of what I’m eating.

    I mean, sad fat girl all alone eating something fatty? Despite the fact that I’m not sad and I usually eat alone to so I can enjoy a book and some soup.

    I eat with other women very rarely but I do know that I make a mental note of what they’re having. Not to compare with what I’m eating, though. It’s weird. I’m not judging or comparing, I’m just more aware of what women are eating than men. Maybe there’s something subconscious going on?

    I am learning that I have fairly healthy eating habits. There are times when I have cookies for dinner or totally overdo it on something delicious and regret the icky stuffed feeling. But I generally just eat whatever my body wants and don’t think about it much.

    There are times, though, when I totally overeat, almost on purpose. Sometimes that super full feeling makes me feel better, even if temporarily and usually, I’m aware of what I’m doing and do look at why I’m doing it. But sometimes I just want to throw down on some noodles. If that makes me a disgusting fatty, fine but those incidences of overeating don’t make me a BAD PERSON.

    I do have one kind of weird hang up – walking past gyms when the people inside can see out at the sidewalk. There’s a small gym near me where the treadmills are right by the windows and whenever I walk by, ya know, paranoia. I don’t want to be anyone’s thinspiration but if they’re so bored that they’re judging me while running on the treadmill, maybe they need a new exercise plan?

    Anyway, living with guilt in your heart over food and eating is as illogical as feeling guilty for breathing air and urinating. But somehow, we’ve managed to attach all these morality issues to food. And if people actively involved with Fat Acceptance struggle with these feelings, then that’s proof of how fucked up it all is. We know better and we still give in to it sometimes.

  30. I mean, I still get freakin’ dessert, ’cause hello, vegan pumpkin chocolate cheesecake? That needs to be eaten.

    Truer words have never been written.

  31. When my boyfriend and I were first talking to each other, somehow I was always either eating something or had just eaten something that made me feel great and tasted wonderful. He said “You must really love food.” and I instantly through ‘oh no, now he must think I eat all the time/am a giant pig’ etc. (we weren’t dating yet at the time) I was kind of upset over it and so I was going to stop telling him about that. But I realized, shockingly quickly for me, that I do love food and he wasn’t being mean. I just like to share things that I enjoy. Even if I’m having a pancake day and the pancakes are especially glorious.

    I really love this blog and all the good things I get from it. I believe I can thank the above story on reading here and trying to apply things other than shame and guilt to food. (though that still happens sometimes, its nice to have something to combat it with)

    thank you :)

  32. 1) I find that as my monthly friend is preparing for a visit that I can eat continously. I’m hungry for something, but never find out what that something is. So, I just eat and eat. It’s a little scary sometimes.

    Me too! And even though it happens every month, I still have to remind myself that it is a temporary occurance and I will not be eat-the-world-hungry all the time, foreva and eva, amen.

  33. “SOMEONE ELSE HADN’T EATEN EXACTLY AS MUCH AS I ATE”

    “it would be humiliating to eat any more in front of other people”

    “I find myself comparing what and how much I eat to what other people eat”

    Not being anti-capitalist, just my little wonky theory.

    I find that the less I compare what I’m eating with what other people are eating, the easier it is to do “appetite acceptance”.

    Because then it’s just me and my stomach and my appetite and myself and I, you know?

    Not the 5 of us PLUS the microscope trained on my mouth and the food, and the friends in the restaurant, and the waiter with (what I thought was ) the judgmental look on his face, and the first date who’ll think I’m greedy (especially for a grrl), and all the other relatives at the table during the holidays.

    (Not taking into account the whole issue of womens’ appetites and how we’re not supposed to want anything — not food, not money, not shoes, not love, not manicures; NOTHING; the entire joy of our existence is supposed to be serving others — b/c clearly that’s a whole other rant.)

    It’s the “compare, compare, compare to what other peopleare doing” that feeds the obsessive thoughts and can really do one in.

    It can also take the teeth from some of the arguments of judgmental bigots. Because if you’re hanging out with people who do less of the compulsive comparisons, the JBs tend not to bring up the comparisons b/c it’s not what the other people in the group are doing. (Sneaky, but frequently effective for more serene meals and parties if an ultra-conformist JB just has to be on the guest list for some reason.)

    Of course (tends to go the counter-argument) if we didn’t have endless comparison ad infinitum we wouldn’t have P&E ratios and stock splits and the foundation of America would crumble.

    YMMV.

    BTW, perhaps plans can be submitted for a high-tech Stilton spear to be put into mass production so we don’t have to make them at home.

  34. As much as blood sugar crashes and the inconvenience of being a bit of a slave to my appetite are unpleasant most of the time, a nice side effect is it forces me to accept that larger portions and three-plus meals a day are things that I absolutely physically need.

    It’s still hard, though, when I put back more food than my boyfriend or have to make myself a snack when no one else is hungry, to remember that I’m not a glutton for it. I still feel the need to validate my eating habits, point out how much I ran that morning, or detail the symptoms I get if I don’t eat when hungry.

    But I’ve found that letting in the feelings of guilt, the rounded down calorie counts, the sense of what I ‘should’ be eating all makes it impossible to tell what or how much my body needs. Attempts to eat “proper portion sizes” lead to dizziness, nausea, and a feeling of being insatiable at the end of the day. Which then leads to uncomfortable overeating because I can’t read my signals anymore.

    And, yeah, personal anecdotal experience, I’d guess that the thin people I know eat at least as much, probably a little more, than the fat people I know.

  35. Sometimes, we have to give in to what our bodies really want because that’s what we need. I almost always eat skinless, white-meat chicken, because it’s lean and because it’s what I like. (Seriously. My husband calls me “Chicken Bane” because I eat it all the time.) Every once in a while, though, OMFG I NEED A BURGER. And it’s because I have slight anemia, and that’s a source of iron that really helps me out. Nobody is going to make me feel guilty eating what I need to be healthy.

    We also need food emotionally too. Who hasn’t had a banana split for dinner after a really awful day? After my mom passed away this summer, I came back home and went for Indian with my hubby. The first spicy mouthful caused such a flood of endorphins in my brain, I FELT IT – a little squirt of happiness after a really rocky few weeks.

    Food isn’t just window-dressing on a plate. It impacts us in ways we can’t see, but ways we can feel. Everybody needs different levels of nutrients, digests them different ways, has different tolerances to different substances. Trying to conform to someone else’s eating patterns is like trying to fit into someone else’s tailored clothes, or taking their medications. You just gotta be you!

  36. I went in the so-stressed-with-work-and-drama-I-forgot-to-eat-more-than-once-a-day direction. (Yes, I know you have to be a special kind of stupid to forget to eat….but I am that kind of stupid sometimes.

    I prefer “too important” or “too busy to live” to “special kind of stupid”.

    It is my own little delusion, but it keeps me cozy.

    Thank you. :D

  37. I’ve actually gotten pretty good with just eating what I want, wherever, and that started a long time back, at various fat feminist conferences. But reading this thread, I realize that lately I have become SUPER entrenched in a certain joyous indifference to the Gaze, by the practice of going out for PSPs (post-show pancakes) with my Big Moves dancers.

    The acronym PSPs has come to stand in for any food consumed at a late-night eating establishment after a Big Moves show. It’s most definitely a ritual gathering, where cast and crew and fans can gather together and keep coasting on the adrenaline high. Also, for most performers, we’re fuckin’ FAMISHED after 2+ hours of moving and singing and staying psyched. It doesn’t matter that it’s a) late-night, b) bound to be “bad food” (pancakes, bacon, butter, fried things, omelettes), and c) eaten in quanity. Our bodies crave what they crave, and we are giving them what they want: enough food, tasty food, in the company of fellow fatties and fatlets.

    As you might imagine, such gatherings can get loud and strange. People are already staring at us, because we’ve got a lot of fatties sitting there in outrageous makeup and hair, and some people (a-hem) just can’t talk any softer than a roar after a show, and other people insist on making crude jokes all the way to the other end of the table, and our poet laureate may very well stand up and declaim from the menu in her best erotic voice (which is better than almost anyone else’s). So we are already making a scene, and the food is the least of it. Somehow I’ve just internalized that experience and carry the aplomb with me everywhere. It’s nice.

    My typical PSPs:
    waffle (extra butter for all the spaces), bacon (2-4 pieces), two eggs (separate plate), syrup, + the beverages that my fatties tease me about because they’re so plentiful: water, coffee, large OJ, small milk.

  38. Oh, it doesn’t end when you become thin, either. I had friends and family members, many of whom eat crap foods, proceed to continue to lecture me on the foods I chose to eat, even after losing 60 percent of my body weight. A few warnings still spring to mind: I was warned that grapes have too much sugar; to not eat the yolks in hard-boiled eggs because they have too much fat; cornbread is very greasy and high in fat; bread, pasta and potatoes are the devil, etc…

    This is why you’re so much cooler than me. Had it been my plate that were commented upon, there would have been several generous helpings served of STFU.

  39. You know what would be interesting? At least anecdotally? If there was a BMI/food diary project. Like compare what I eat in a day as a person with a BMI of 51% to a person of a “normal” BMI. I’m sure there have been studies like this (or, possibly not) but if people see that their assumptions about size AND assumptions about what teh fatties are both wrong, maybe that will.. I don’t know, do… something?

    Or maybe teh fatties don’t need to justify their food choices *shrug*

  40. This is why you’re so much cooler than me. Had it been my plate that were commented upon, there would have been several generous helpings served of STFU.

    Oh, I’m much more assertive now. I should have mentioned that I received these comments when I was actively anorexic and bulimia. There’s nothing like the concerned compassion of friends and family to reinforce an eating disorder.

  41. Tell me about it. I have one of those husbands who can regularly out-eat me, especially in the chocolate department, and remains thin (ish). I sometimes used to wonder if people looked at the contents of our supermarket trolley and made assumptions about which one of us it is that buys the multipacks of Jaffa Cakes.

    The thing is, one time he gave up chocolate, just to prove he could. Now, seriously, I am really a take-it-or-leave-it person with chocolate, especially if it’s just blah everyday chocolate and not the good 70% cocoa stuff. Hubby is the kind of person who ‘levitates’ bars into the supermarket trolley when I’m not looking. Hence, actually giving it up was a fairly big deal for him. But, during those few weeks – actually, I think he lasted about a month – I felt really, really guilty on the few occasions when I did fancy chocolate. I was like ‘You’re making me look greedy!’

    As for the whole ‘portion size’ thing…I was in London recently, at a place called the Wellcome Collection, a small museum run by the drug company. Part of one of their exhibits related to obesity, and there’s this case full of ‘weight loss aids’, pills and stomach bands and you name it….and ‘portion plates’ and plastic models of food to show you what’s OK and what’s ‘too much’. And I’m looking at this tiny, teeny model of mac and cheese, and the ‘correct’ portion would fit in the palm of my hand. (And like you, Kate, I have small hands.) OK, maybe that amount would be OK as a side, when there’s a potluck and lots of other little bits of different stuff on my plate, but I somehow don’t think that’s how they meant it. And when it’s just pasta and sauce, the hubby and I both polish off about four to five times that. So much for ‘what normal people eat’!

  42. A few warnings still spring to mind:I was warned that grapes have too much sugar; to not eat the yolks in hard-boiled eggs because they have too much fat; cornbread is very greasy and high in fat; bread, pasta and potatoes are the devil, etc.

    Ugh. I will never forget telling my mom I was eating a single slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter for breakfast (this is all I was eating until lunch, which was also small) and her telling me: “But peanut butter is so fattening!” As a fat woman, if you’re not living on celery and water, you’re eating too much and the wrong things.

  43. Pingback: AMEN, SISTAH! at Evilsciencechick

  44. Hi, I’m new. :)
    This post is incredibly time-appropriate for me…the office holiday potluck lunch was today, complete with all the lurvely food issues that come with such things! It was really interesting that the women that I sat with definitely enjoyed good quantities of the yummy stuff, but afterwards exchanged ways in which they were going to ‘atone’ later: going running, skipping dinner, etc. You ate what you wanted and it was damn good…just chill and enjoy it! I wonder how much was for appearances and how much was serious. (I was kinda proud of not participating in that particular discussion.)

    And now for my completely self-absorbed introduction. ;)
    I’m Mandy; I’m 26 and an in-betweenie (size 10 and holding). I found this blog about a week ago through a link to the BMI project, and it’s helping with the serious kick in the ass that my thoughts about my own fat and dieting have been experiencing over the last several weeks. This started with my best guy friend asking me why I kept starting and quitting weight watchers and why I felt it necessary to diet at all; we determined that I’m perfectly happy with my body and only wanted to lose weight to make other people happy and because I wanted to be ‘good’. Screw that! I accept the hell outta everyone else’s fat, so why can’t I be as nice to my own? I don’t expect that learning to do this will be easy, but I do want to give it a proper try. Thanks for the help and inspiration!

  45. Oh god, the meat portions thing. 125g of meat is a serving for a small child, not an active adult. And all the other portions I’ve memorised from 3000 diets and “lifestyle change” guides. (And I remember my mother saying we would be going not on a diet, oh no, it’s not a diet, but a “careful eating plan”. Back in 1987.)

    I sometimes eat more than my boyfriend, and get the same guilt thing. Though, I think he may well have some weight issues of his own – he used to be fairly “buff” but put on some weight over the past couple of years and I think he feels badly about it. Trying to work out how to bring that one up, because I know from my own experience how badly that can go wrong.

    And sometimes I forget that I don’t own a car and I walk everywhere that’s more than a few bus stops (and they’re widely-spaced bus stops in this town) or just walk long distances anyway because the bus timetable sucks. So I need to eat enough to do that without crashing. And that involves fighting the little voices that say “But if you walk as much as you do and just keep eating the same as when you’re not exercising much, you’ll lose weight!” – HAH, yes, calories in/out sure works! Except when it doesn’t. And walking along, I get tired and muscle fatigue and a headache because I haven’t eaten enough. BUT YOUR FATTY FAT SHOULD BE ENOUGH! Never mind that your body starts depleting reserves from your muscles well before it starts on biologically-precious fat. BURN FAT! Gah.

  46. As a fat woman, if you’re not living on celery and water, you’re eating too much and the wrong things.

    Yes, this is so reminiscent of the comments I received during the whole Dan Savage debacle, like “I totally saw this fat woman with five fat kids in the grocery store with a cart full of junk food.” This is, of course, totally ignoring the other mother with five cats in the grocery store who also had a cart full of crap foods. But since the other mother is thin, she doesn’t even register on the food police radar.

    I sometimes wonder if people really do think fat people, particularly women, should learn to subsist on air.

  47. Rachel, Becky – yes, I got the ‘bread and potatoes = bad’ thing at home, but I simultaneously got told that refined sugar was vital for my health, and that cutting down would be unhealthy. I also recall a phase when a lot of people in my office were dieting and I got tutted at for eating a banana because they were so ‘fattening’. But basically, most of the time any foods I obviously liked were ‘the wrong things’.

  48. I got tutted at for eating a banana because they were so ‘fattening’

    Oh, Jesus Christ. It’s like the “DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN A SMALL GLASS OF ORANGE JUICE?” people. Yes, yes, I do. Do you know how many nutrients are in it?

  49. Twice baked potatoes! Thanks for the dinner idea.

    And I have to say the feeling self-conscious about eating/purchasing food is a bitch. Though sometimes I realize how silly I’m being. Today I was at the store buying 1) fake meat for me and 2) organ meats for my dogs and I had a cart full of beef heart and boca burgers and the guy who checked me out clearly thought I had issues.

  50. Oh, Jesus Christ. It’s like the “DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN A SMALL GLASS OF ORANGE JUICE?” people. Yes, yes, I do. Do you know how many nutrients are in it?

    Jeebus, I hate that shit. Calories are not the only things we get from food, asshats!!!

  51. Calories are not the only things we get from food, asshats!!!

    Also, WE LIVE ON THEM.

    Also, DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT A CALORIE IS? This one really bugs me, because hi: a calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise one gram of water one degree. It is not a packet of concentrated evil. It is not a black mark on your permanent record. It is not a unit of tarnish on your unstained morality. And even if it were, what you’re eating is actually measured in KILOcalories, muahaha!

  52. And even if it were, what you’re eating is actually measured in KILOcalories, muahaha!
    FJ, shhhh!

    Do you hear it?

    It’s the brains asploding from that tidbit.

    I’ll go get the mop.

  53. Oh my gosh, you totally hit the nail on the head with that one! I’ve been obsessed with this for as long as I’ve been dieting/food-conscious (read: since I was ~5 years old). Whenever I eat with other people – or even eat or buy food where other people can see me – I’m consciously evaluating my choices and portions in relations to theirs, or what observers might think of my choices and portions. Even at home with my boyfriend, who loves me as I am.

    This is going to be a really difficult thought process to break (this along with the instinctual habit of constantly measuring portion sizes and counting calories). I’m a newbie to fat acceptance, just beginning to incorporate it into my life and thinking, and I (like several other commenters over at GoodWithCheese) have commented recently that you – and all the posters here – seem to have it all together, it’s seemed so easy for you. While I wish, for your sake, that it was seamless for you now, I have to admit, selfishly, to feeling a little relief that I’m not the only one struggling with this new way of thinking.

    I also wanted to comment that I HAVE experienced thin people’s eating habits in their “natural habitat” on a daily basis. I spend 3-6 months each year living and working at field stations where breakfast and dinner are served communally in a cafeteria, and pack lunches (the same for everyone) are provided. I’ve eaten 3 meals a day, day-in and day-out for months at a time, with a few dozen people of all body sizes – when you spend this much time with people you just can’t hide what you really eat, or pretend for show, you eat what you need – particularly considering that we’re all doing active work during the day. I can tell you that there certainly is individual variation in how much people eat, but it didn’t associate with body size. The two biggest eaters (i.e., would go back regularly for seconds or thirds) were both borderline-underweight, another two of the skinniest people were unusually light eaters (and one of them was a marathon runner), and myself and 2 other overweight/obese folks ate somewhere in the middle, along with the majority of the skinny/’normal’ folks. I really should start photographing what everyone eats and logging their calories and BMIs when I go back next spring, because no one can accuse you of lying in this environment!

  54. This one really bugs me, because hi: a calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise one gram of water one degree.

    Nutritional biology 101:
    “This (points) is a Bunsen burner. And this (points) is a human body. And they don’t work exactly the same way.”

    (If only.)

  55. Well right, exactly. 200 calories doesn’t affect me the way it affects you, or the way it affects Kate, or the way it affects a gram of water. But I think it’s important to remind people that “calorie” has a definition, because it gets used as a synonym for “badness.” When someone says “do you know how many calories are in that,” they don’t mean “do you know how much heat it would take to burn that up.” They mean “don’t you know how much badness that has?”

  56. It’s taken me a long time to view calories, not as something intrinsically bad to be avoided at all costs, but instead as units of fuel my body needs to thrive.

    It’s still a work in progress.

  57. When someone says “do you know how many calories are in that,” they don’t mean “do you know how much heat it would take to burn that up.” They mean “don’t you know how much badness that has?”

    So.true.

  58. “Eating is normal. It is not a shameful activity that only fatties engage in.”

    Thanks, Kate. And thanks to the other commenters.

    I need reminding of this on too regular a basis.

  59. if you’re already full, it’s just as “wasted” in your body as in the garbage can

    NARF…that never even crossed my mind before. Why is it less wasteful to eat what your body doesn’t need than it is to toss it, it all ends up in one waste treatment plant or another….

    mean, I still get freakin’ dessert, ’cause hello, vegan pumpkin chocolate cheesecake? That needs to be eaten.

    Holy crap on a cracker that sounds good! Do you have a recipe? Or a more detailed description so that those of us without groovy little vegan deli’s around can try and fake it?

  60. “Eating is normal. It is not a shameful activity that only fatties engage in.”

    I cried. SRSLY. Sitting here at my desk grateful that no one’s in the office with me right now.

    This is such a fight for me.

  61. Also… I happened to catch an episode of Miami Ink yesterday featuring a plus-size (fetish) model named Deidra. She was awesome. I loved that they put her on the show. Didn’t love so much the chubby chaser/fan they had on with her, but that’s another issue.

    I had taped the episode based on the description, 300lbs woman gets a tattoo of a pinup girl. Sounds like me, I thought. I was interested in seeing how they dealt with it – they can be misogynistic pricks 9 times out of 10.

    But Deidra is 450+ lbs by her own admission. She’s a proud fattie – a rockin’ role model. So I have no idea where they got the description for the show. Certainly not from her. And I couldn’t help thinking of the BMI project and the headless fatties that provide color to the obesity epidemic. And thinking about how after I corrected my weight on my recent driver’s license the clerk almost choked when I said 310lbs. In her mind 310lbs doesn’t look like me.

    Ramble ramble. I don’t know where I was going with this.

  62. I sometimes wonder if people really do think fat people, particularly women, should learn to subsist on air.

    Well, yeah.

    It’s like we were talking about in your post-whose-subject-I-won’t-name the other day, the “Teh Fatz is Unhealthy !11!” coalition really believe Fat People Should STARVE. (And also not to leave the house until they’re thin – ha! – so “normal people” don’t have to look.)

    They really do.

    But they won’t admit to it. Because it’s brutal.

    Which is why I enjoy confronting them with it so much.

    People don’t enjoy dealing with the fact that not only are their staunchly believed assertions illogical, they’re also cruel.

    And, of course, women only need to feed other people. They don’t need food themselves.

  63. Whoa!

    Sorry about the lack of blockquote slash.

    Teh ranting bout sad thingz putz teers in teh eyes and then I don’t seez as well. *kthxbai*

  64. I’ve had duodonal switch surgery (a form of weight loss surgery that removes a huge portion of stomach and replumbs where you start processing your food) which helped me lose 100 pounds. All that said, I still wake up EVERY MORNING as the 260 pound person I was almost three years ago! My mind hasn’t caught up with my body at all.

    At one point I was eating about 500 calories a day (after the surgery) and GAINING weight! Know what the doctor said to me? “Well, you are overeating! You need to only eat what your body needs to function normally.” Okay, so what the hell is normal?????

    Being healthy is so much more important than fitting into a mold that society has created. My weight was causing health issues that are now gone. I am not now, will probably never be, and never desired to be, model-like in appearance. (And believe me, the skin flab would eliminate ANY desire I might have had!)

    Fighting the mold starts by retraining your mind to understand that healthy does not equal rail-thin! My 300 pound sister is healthy as a horse! And she never bats an eyelash at the stupid people who chastise her. She does, however, ocassionally remind an obnoxious person or two that fat does not equate to JOLLY!!!

    Have a great day!

  65. “Ramble ramble. I don’t know where I was going with this.”

    Maybe the idea that the average Joe-on-the-street really doesn’t know what BMI categories and weights look like. Someone says “fat” and they picture one of the victims of reality TV, or “obese” and they picture someone too fat to get out of bed. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t people out there who fit those categories, just the ways in which prejudice sways concepts.

  66. Why is it less wasteful to eat what your body doesn’t need than it is to toss it, it all ends up in one waste treatment plant or another….

    Yeah, the “If You Don’t Eat It That’s Wasteful!” Shoulder Pixies do lots of overtime during the holidaze.

  67. I had step-grandparents who were small people – 4’9″, maybe 100 pounds at their heavy weight. I felt like a gargantuan beside them, even at a “normal” weight BMI – and they certainly helped, calling me “moon-faced” and chubby.
    (I was, and am, big boned, and I was at the heavy end of an adult’s normal BMI at 14. So I didn’t think they were insane – I’d heard it before.)

    One summer, as I was eating lots of watermelon in the late afternoon, in the heat, my step-grandma came out and scolded me on how much fruit I was eating. Didn’t I know that fruit would make me fat?

    I’ve been scolded about tuna and cottage cheese, too.

  68. by the practice of going out for PSPs (post-show pancakes)

    Dude! We do pancakes, too! (We just call it ‘pancakes’.) Although we go after every rehearsal . . . and I’m in a gay band, not a dance troupe. Still. A fellow pancaker!

  69. It’s like everyone is a doctor/nutritionist anymore. You read one book or magazine article and you know what is good and bad for everyone.

    My husbands sister is tall and chubby. I mean, she’s built like her dad. My husband is built like his Mom. Switch them and he’d probably be the male ideal and she’d be the female ideal…but genetics sometimes just fucked up that way. Annnyhow…my father in law is commenting on how cheese is good, because it’s low carb….and he and my mother in law eat no carbs at all. My sister in law says that according to her trainer all bodies need carbs, just like they need vegetables or protein from meat. My father in law said, well carbs are bad for you and they make you gain weight…so who are you going to believe? Me or your trainer. She said….my trainer.

    I mean seriously, your body needs all of it, carbs too. For my mother in law, it’s a treat to eat a potato or a piece of bread, like in the same way it is for me to eat a piece of cheesecake or a candy bar. CraZy.

  70. Holy crap on a cracker that sounds good! Do you have a recipe? Or a more detailed description so that those of us without groovy little vegan deli’s around can try and fake it?

    Oh, I wish I had that recipe, but sadly I do not. Also, I am not kitchenly talented, so I will not even try to take a stab at how they made the awesomeness that was vegan pumpkin chocolate cheesecake.

    The (brilliant) place I had it (The Chicago Diner) sells a cookbook, but I have no idea if that recipe is in there. They might be able to give you the receipe if you contact them; they post some of their recipes on their website, so they don’t seem opposed to sharing.

    Otherwise, I say come to Chicago and check it out!! ((When is the next Think Tank? February?))

  71. Ha. My mother always accuses me of overeating, yet she out eats me every. single. day. It is, I am convinced, part of the reason why I’ve eaten so badly during my pregnancy and why I’m now a borderline diabetic when I’ve shown no signs of it before, ever. And now I have to make the choice to literally fight for what I need, nutritionally speaking, and that’s difficult when you’re living in your mother’s house until the baby is born.

    Come to think of it, just about everyone I know can out eat me. Of course, they’re all thinner, too, just to add insult to injury. Meh.

  72. So I haven’t had time to read all the comments yet. Amazing how a full day of actual work and no internet disrupts my blog reading.

    Anyway, a month or few back, and I think it was on this site, I had mentioned that when I make dinner, I always give about 2/3 of the food to my boyfriend, and take 1/3 myself. I have stopped doing that, and now give us equal portions. And end up giving him what’s left on my plate.

    The point is that I don’t have that “I must eat less food than him, otherwise I am disgusting/fat/unattractive/ whatever” thing going on anymore. I LOVE that. I love putting tons of melted butter on my popcorn, even though he doesn’t like it. OH, we can each have our own bowl, you say? Made the way we each like it? AMAZING.

    For the billionth time…Thanks you guys for being so awesome.

  73. This reminds of the book After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, which is a really beautiful collection of thoughts and writings about what happens after spiritual enlightenment (from a bunch of different traditions). After that “Aha!” moment, you still have to deal with everyday life; how do you incorporate your new awareness into that day-to-day routine?

    Weirdly, I had never made the connection between that idea and activism of any sort, but this post and the comments really brought it to mind.

    Or, as my yoga teacher has said, “Living perfectly would be easy if it weren’t for all these people and jobs and lives we have.”

  74. I LOVE that. I love putting tons of melted butter on my popcorn, even though he doesn’t like it.

    You know, one of the things I’ve recently started to allow myself again, because it dawned on me that I LIKE IT and only don’t eat it because I think it’s BAD*, is butter-flavored topping on my popcorn at the movies. Last time I got some, Al went off on how incredibly disgusting that shit is, and there was a part of me going, “Yeah, it is. It’s a bunch of chemicals that bear very little relation to actual food, AND it’s fattening and unhealthy. I probably shouldn’t eat it.”

    Then I remembered that the man judging me quite happily eats — just off the top of my head — 7-11 hot dogs and taquitos, movie nachos with the pump cheese, and beef jerky — all of which I find highly questionable. (Even if I also eat some of them.) The fact that he finds butter flavored topping nasty means absolutely jack shit, beyond an arbitrary personal preference. I mean, it IS nasty. But I also happen to think it tastes really good, and for as often as I eat it, I don’t think it’s gonna kill me. And yes, we ARE allowed to each get our own bag! What a concept!

    *I stopped dieting years ago and reintroduced most “bad” foods into my diet, but just in the last year, since I’ve really been concentrating on intuitive eating and giving myself permission to eat whatever tastes good, I’ve noticed there are some things I was still avoiding because of negative associations with them in my head, not because I don’t like them. Fettucine alfredo’s the other one that comes to mind. I hadn’t eaten that in YEARS, because even after I stopped dieting, I couldn’t justify the fat/calories to overall nutritional value ratio. But I fucking love it, which is reason enough to eat it.

  75. First, to Rachel: way up there you were talking about grapes. I was lifeguarding once during a really hot Chicago July, eating delicious frozen grapes. This woman came up to me and said I would look a lot better in my bathing suit if I could cut out the grapes.

    Because they are 8 calories each. I can’t believe I remember this shit.

    Kate: I too, had given up alfredo sauces. And when I started making my own cream sauces a few months ago? And realized that 3 tablespoons of butter, flour, 3 cups of milk, some cheese and spices mixed together and fed to 4 or 5 people isn’t so bad? I was so PISSED OFF that I hadn’t eaten this meal for years because it was so “fattening”. Compared to what? 3 ounces of steak?

    Mmmmm. Cream sauce.

  76. ZOMG, Kristin! I do that, too. Give my husband more food than me when dishing up. And I never really thought about what I was thinking while I dished it up. Aw, man.

  77. ZOMG, Kristin! I do that, too

    You know, I tend to do it, too, when it’s not something exactly even (like 2 baked potatoes — and usually then, I give him the bigger one if there’s a difference). Which might partially account for how often I seem to eat more than he does.

    But I have to say, the worst example of this I’ve ever seen was when I was eating at a semi-friend’s house several years ago, with three women and two men in attendance. Now, the main problem was that the cook just didn’t have enough food to go around (and might not have been able to afford more, so I’m not complaining about that). What killed me was, after she doled out a seriously Jenny Craig-sized portion to each of us and we all ate it, she got up and — without asking anyone about it — put seconds on each of the men’s plates. Which finished off all the food there was, period.

    She didn’t even ask if they were still hungry, let alone if we women were. It was just a given that the men needed more food and we didn’t. My jaw’s still kinda dropped over that one.

    (Note that this is the same semi-friend who once said to me, when I pulled a brightly colored floral dress off a rack, “Um, isn’t that a little loud for… someone like you?” Um, no, someone like me wears shit like this all the time — to wit, me. Oh, wait. You just mean I’m fat.

    I have not talked to her in years, for the record.)

  78. This woman came up to me and said I would look a lot better in my bathing suit if I could cut out the grapes.

    Holy shit, she said this to you WHILE YOU WERE LIFEGUARDING? Did you tell her that she’d look a lot worse in her bathing suit when she’s fucking drowning because you’re not saving her sorry ass?

  79. Did you tell her that she’d look a lot worse in her bathing suit when she’s fucking drowning because you’re not saving her sorry ass?

    Heh. Also, having been a (fat) lifeguard many moons ago, I can attest that lifeguard training is not for the out-of-shape. But I suppose if you think lifeguarding is primarily about looking good in your bathing suit, that might not occur to you.

    Also, GRAPES. GRAPES!

  80. Sweetmachine- Sadly, no, I didn’t say that. This was waaay before I ever thought I was an actual person who should or could respond to that kind of thing. But like someone up the thread said, I have often thought of what I should have said. If I get to re-live that moment, I am totally using your line :)

  81. Kate- Your story about the too-little-food party made me imagine that afterwards, the men adjourned for brandy and cigars while the women put on aprons and did the dishes.

  82. afterwards, the men adjourned for brandy and cigars while the women put on aprons and did the dishes.

    Heh. You’re not that far off. And the worst part is, this was a woman my age, who fancied herself quite punk rock. Bleh.

    Oh! AND ANOTHER THING! The men included her boyfriend/co-host of this affair. Now, on the rare occasion when my mother had guests and realized (or, more often, irrationally suspected) she didn’t cook enough for an army, she would walk around to all Hardings present, including my dad, and whisper “FHB” — “Family Hold Back.” The rule was, guests got as much as they wanted, and we got what was left after that. So really, it bugged me as much because it was an incredibly shitty hosting move as because it was sexist.

  83. At least in my experience, a weird corollary to this is the assumption that if a woman doesn’t eat a lot in some particular setting, she’s being “good” and deserves praise, usually delivered with a side order of self-hatred.

    For example, I was at a Brazilian steakhouse last weekend with several friends and as I’m not a major meat fan (and am squicked out by the way they come to the table with what looks like a side of beef), I didn’t eat much. At the end of dinner, one of my girlfriends turned to me and said, “Wow, I can’t believe how good you were! You had practically nothing, but I think I ate a whole cow!” I explained that I’m not into rare steak, but I wanted to say, “Why on earth were you watching what was on other people’s plates instead of concentrating on enjoying your dinner?”

    Neither of us is fat, and this has happened to me so many times that I wonder if it’s just a (Western, middle-class, etc) female thing?

  84. Alyce – I saw that episode last night. I thought it was great that she was so self-confident (even though I thought her tattoo was poorly done) but I didn’t really like the whole fat as fetish context in which she was featured. Can’t they just show a confident fat chick without making it appear unnatural?

    Barrysrib: My best gal friend just had the same procedure you had done. There are now a lot of foods she can’t eat and even foods that are okay sometimes make her nauseous. And she has to take vitamin supplements every day for the rest of her life. She says the procedure is somewhat reversible. To what extent is it reversible?

  85. Ooh! Ooh! Is it the thin one?

    Shit, I’m so bad at these games. ( i hope I did the italics right)

    You and me both. I was CERTAIN it would be the thin one. Oh well. I had a 50% chance, right?

  86. After reading a post like this, I really wonder if you haven’t somehow implanted a microphone into my head and are listening to my internal dialog….

    It took me a long time to realize and even a longer time to start accepting that bodies are not machines. They don’t go a fixed distance on a fixed amount of fuel, then need refueling again at predictable intervals like cars. Sometimes bodies need more, sometimes they need less, and it’s not a matter of morality, it’s just the way it is.

    Like many of the commenters here, I got the message growing up that it was not ok for anyone fat to eat until they were skinny. (Yeah, I KNOW it sounds stupid.)

    It’s taken me a long time to get around to the thought that it’s not just ok to eat, it’s required, and I need to eat basically as much as I need to eat – and that is going to vary.

  87. This is a bit of a derail, but Dan’s mom’s approach if she thinks she didn’t make enough food is to subdivide everything to infinity. I know, because Dan picked it up from her (I found out about it when he cut a grocery store coffee cake into like 24 pieces because we weren’t sure how many people were showing up). Annoying, but much better than FHB!

  88. Ha! FHB! … I haven’t heard that in years!

    Was that you again, Oro, or is everybody showing up as Suzanne?

    Or was that actually Suzanne? :)

    Oh, and FJ, the infinite subdivision thing bugs me more than FHB, because when I’m faced with that, I want like 5 tiny pieces of coffee cake (or whatev), which makes me feel like a hog. With FHB, at least I knew we could order pizza after everyone else left — and as I said, 99 times out of 100, it was an irrational fear on my mom’s part, not a genuine lack of food, so once it was clear everyone had enough, we could go to town. I definitely don’t recall every going hungry because of it.

  89. Er … um … it’s me …. Am I the actual Suzanne? :)

    Something just honest to god hit me right this second — my husband and I split portions down the middle to the point where it’s silly. We run a business together and spend most of our mealtimes together. And I weigh about half of what he weighs. Half!

  90. “At the end of dinner, one of my girlfriends turned to me and said, ‘Wow, I can’t believe how good you were!’”

    Whenever I read or hear people assigning moral value to whatever they’ve consumed, I go ABSOLUTELY APESHIT. I used to keep the rage internal, but more and more I find myself loosing the beast within and explaining to people over and over again that EATING DOES NOT MAKE YOU BAD OR GOOD. It’s EATING. Going out to dinner with friends shouldn’t be a test of one’s morals–it should be GOING OUT TO DINNER WITH FRIENDS.

    Wow, sorry about getting all uppercase, but shit, the way eating is demonized makes me spin off the map. This post was perfectly timed, because I’ve been getting itchy lately about my eating and my exercising (getting on my own case about not eating “right” or exercising enough) because of some things going on in my life, and I need to dial it back pronto. *sigh*

  91. Is there a kind of a fat acceptance/HAES 101 out there anywhere?

    Buttercup, The Rotund got the ball rolling here, but it’s pretty incomplete. I’ve promised to contribute more and failed. :)

  92. Buttercup, if you haven’t read the “Don’t you realize fat is unhealthy” post on this blog, it really blows a lot of anti-fat idiocy out of the water. It’s not a 101 per se, but I would strongly recommend it.

    Jane, I wish I’d had the courage to go a little “uppercase” on my friend – I hated that she was trashing herself, and she kind of made me feel like a coconspirator in her self-hatred because I ate less. (I know the latter part may sound silly or selfish, but it I must admit I was kinda pissed off!)

  93. And even if it were, what you’re eating is actually measured in KILOcalories, muahaha!

    And that my friends is the sound of a paradigm shifting, without a clutch.

    (thank you Dilbert)

  94. As a BigFatty who used to be very, very good at not eating, I have to admit (shamefully) that I used to get a kind “virtuous high” on how envious others (women in general) were of my tiny, tiny (or nonexistent) portions. It made me such a GOOD PERSON! Instead of that BAD FAT PERSON everyone knew I used to be.

    I’m embarrassed to say it now, but I really did have an “I’m better than they are” feeling about it. And I clung to that feeling, built a whole persona around it, really–probably because I’d been trained to have such a low opinion of myself for my entire fat childhood.

    Happily, I no longer feel that way, and I don’t struggle with this issue too much at all anymore, but I do hate, hate, HATE it when I get the “you’re so good” comment for eating, say, my beloved oatmeal. And I get it a LOT.

  95. This has been one of the best threads ever. I relived pretty much every good and bad food moment in my life. :)
    ~memories, la la la la dee dee da~

  96. Jane, someone on Fatshionista quoted something from her husband that’s stuck with me. If she said something like “this cake is so sinful,” he would say “It’s cake. It can’t form moral intentions.”

    I use it all the time to derail people’s food moralizing.

  97. Thanks Kate and Another Kate. I’ve read the “don’t you realize” entry several times, and plan to read it several more. I think it’s just that so much of this is internalized (and believe me, when you get older, it gets tougher to extract yourself from lifelong conditioning) and tied up with so many complex feelings. (duh, right? Yeah.)

    I suppose it’s baby steps just like anything else. I’m off the roller coaster for good, it’s the internal dialogue that I’m fighting now.

  98. Tari: They don’t have the pumpkin, but they have a great-sounding gazpacho I might tackle. Thanks for the link! I might see you in February, unless they schedule the think-tank during my vending gig at Convocation. I might have to try and make it to Chicago anyway for some Ethiopian food, blues and chocolate pumpkin cheesecake. And, of course, taking a moment to pity the poor schmucks who can’t eat it because mother culture has their taste buds in a vice :-)

  99. Kate, This post was awesome. I’m so glad someone introduced me to your blog and I know that I”m not the only one who thinks these things. I have often caught myself wondering what people at work think about what I am having for lunch-is this too much food, they will think no wonder she’s fat, look at what’s on her plate. Especially when I have to deal with someone who gets full from 2 bites of something and then declares she can’t even eat dinner because she’s so stuffed. At this is at breakfast at 8 AM WTF??

  100. As spot on as this was, the most hard-hitting part of it for me was just hearing you say that you have to remind yourself that you’re allowed to eat and that you struggle to remember all this stuff.

    Its been a rough week…and its only Monday! I needed this! Thanks Kate!

  101. Rachel, I saw that episode of Miami Ink as well. And I think the model herself did a good job of being very open and honest and confident – it was more the artists and the random fandude who were fetishizing and creepy. But that was my take on it. *shrug*

    As for the actual piece: well, first I think it’s sort of ironic that I’m sitting here with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s that I may well finish. (OMG FATTY STEREOTYPE) I’ve had to deal with so much disordered thinking around my eating – both the “oh god I’m such a pig” sort that Kate described in the post and the binging impulses that pop up way too often. Learning to allow myself to eat, but also to allow myself to stop when I’m full, has been really hard. Particularly since my roommates still haven’t adjusted to having a fourth person taking up fridge space and there’s nowhere for me to put my leftovers, but that’s another issue. XD

  102. This is an amazing thread. Thanks. FWIW I’m such a mess in this way that I go out for dinner and I can’t order till whoever I’m with orders, CANNOT MAKE A DECISION, because I have to know what they’re having first so I can be sure to order from the same section(s) of the menu they’re ordering from. Maybe I’ll focus and tackle that.

  103. Lisa, the ordering thing, my best friend does that too. And if I’m eating out with anyone, except her, I always try to get the other person to order first because OMG the horror of ordering something with fries if my companion orders a spinach leaf and a lemon wedge. So, it’s small comfort I’m sure, but know you are not alone!

  104. When we go out for PSP’s (I’m a BigMoves-er also!), I generally get the most food AND finish first. I’m a fattie at heart- a fatlet, if you will, in our own special terminology. We pay attention to each others food only in a “that looks awesome, can I have a bite?” kind of way.

    It wasn’t like that for me before I met and started working with the troupe, though. I came from a history of eating disorder and general body unhappy, and eating in public was a constant struggle, even after I recovered. When I’m eating with anyone other than my fatties, it’s still strange to be able to order a plate of something and finish it.

    Someone before me mentioned the serving size of a piece of meat. I never really eat ANYTHING the size of a deck of cards, unless it’s a scone, and even then it’s only if I make a runt at the end of a batch. Even though it’s hard sometimes, I eat the things that my body tells me to eat, and I stop when I’m full. I can thank the FA movement for that- everyone’s struggling with the same things, and it makes me feel less like a criminal when I eat a burger and fries. And pancakes.

    Also, the model on Miami Ink is a friend, and an amazing person. She’s open and accepting and loving and just all around good. The tattoo came out really well, too. (:

    Thanks for being here, folks. This blog, and the people who contribute, are a fantastic asset to the community.

  105. At the end of dinner, one of my girlfriends turned to me and said, “Wow, I can’t believe how good you were! You had practically nothing, but I think I ate a whole cow!”

    I love having dinner with this one friend who has a superfast metabolism, loves working out, is skinny, and eats like no one I’ve ever seen. No matter how hungry I am, she’s hungrier. She always orders dessert, whether I’m in the mood for it or not. None of this “oh … aren’t you ordering dessert? Well then, *sigh* I’ll be good too.” She just loves eating.

    It’s wonderful to share a meal with someone I know won’t ever judge me for eating too much (or too little!). I hate that I even care, but still … it’s such a relief.

  106. Oh god, I get that PMS insatiable hunger thing and every time I fear that it will last forever and I’ll eat the entire universe and never be satsified.

    White flour is my fettucine alfredo. I’ve spent so long avoiding it that it’s totally reflex at this point. I made lentil burgers tonight and had to go to the store to get some burger buns and I stood in that aisle for at least five minutes trying to figure out what I really wanted. I finally did get the white flour ones, but I had to fight the voice that was telling me that they were just pure junk and shouldn’t I get the wheat ones which at least had fiber?

    I mean, forget that they only had 2 grams of fiber (vs the 1 gram in the white flour buns.) White flour is the devil! It will lead you to partake of processed sugar and then the fat will have you and you will be lost!!!

  107. I feel like whenever I think I’ve achieved a real peace with food, an incident like the one Kate’s described happens to me.
    A while back, I went to lunch with a group of new co-workers, who were all female. We all talked about what we were going to order. And I weighed all of my options — the menu was pretty fantastic, nouvelle Italian (I don’t know how to say “new” in Italian). I absolutely did not want to seem like a (fat) pig. I also didn’t want to be “good” and then hungry later. And then there was the whole food preference and things I generally don’t like or try to avoid. I think I ended up having something really good — some ravioli of some kind — but I was trying to keep from having the hugest, most calorie, fat filled item on the lunch menu. Argh.
    I am constantly balancing equations about food when I’m eating with others — sometimes I block it out — but these questions will occur to me:
    1. What do I really want to eat? If I could have anything I wanted? Why can’t I have anything I want? I want to have exactly what I want!
    2. What do I want to eat?
    3. What are other people eating? How hungry am I? How hungry “should” I be? Can I justify being that hungry?
    4. Will people think “she has diabetes, she shouldn’t be eating that?”
    5. F – the diabetes thing. What do I want to eat?
    6. If I eat that, will my blood sugar be totally out of control, and I will feel ill and guilty?

    So, then I order something usually really good, that doesn’t make my blood sugar spin out of control, and isn’t any less “healthy” than what anyone else has ordered. And all of that cluttered, neurotic thinking was a waste of time.

    Thanks for this thread — and all the comments — which make me feel like I’m just about as neurotic as many of the rest of the Shapelings.

  108. When I was a kid I was stick thin and always ate in massive quantities. My mom always cooked delicious food and we all ate and enjoyed it! I was shocked when I got into the real world and discovered how LITTLE women eat. I still feel faux pas if I *heaven forbid* take seconds or thirds at a dinner party or finish my plate at a nice restaurant. I’m still an eater, though somehow once I wasn’t stick thin, it wasn’t so cool anymore. I started to feel embarrassed about it, like there was something wrong with me! I have to remind myself that I am TALL, since I was five years old I have had a huge appetite, and most women “eat like birds.”

    Sometimes I feel odd with my boyfriend who eats minuscule amounts (intuitively). At first I felt weird eating more than him, or finishing what was on HIS plate. But well, that’s me! And he couldn’t care less what I eat or how much of it. He envies my healthy diet and food skills, even if I could out eat him in any situation.

    oh, and they say that a woman’s appetite for food matches her appetite for sex. ;)

  109. I’ve had the same problems as Branwyn – I started taking Metformin for PCOS about 2 yrs ago. For the first 6 months I had no appetite. Now my body has adjusted so my appetite has increased. Plus, I’m training for a half-marathon so, you know, I need to eat. Still, every time someone comments on my appetite – for example, the other day I finished a WHOLE salad and my boss said “oh, looks like you’re eating more now” I feel this need to defend myself. I am my own worst enemy.

  110. Having never done the Official Brand Name Diet thing in a serious way, I have had many periods when I’ve felt shame for eating more than other women. It was really not only until the last year or so that I’ve realized (in retrospect) that probably at least 75% of the women I’ve felt shame around were on a diet at the time. Since (luckily) my mom didn’t instill too many body issues in me (the rest of my family and the culture at large took care of that), there was a big disconnect between what we ate at home and what we ate out in the world (like Sunshine says, I it *still* surprises me how little many women eat). At home, no one was on a diet — but out in the wild, especially at a corporate work environment, everyone was on a diet.

  111. Potato the size of a mouse? WHAT?

    I grew up on a farm, so I’m intimately familiar with the average size of both potatoes and mice. And potatoes don’t GROW that small. Well, they do, but you know what we call them? SEED POTATOES. And we put them back in the ground, to grow into PROPER-SIZED POTATOES what people can ACTUALLY EAT.

    (Okay, okay – we eat the first batch of mouse-sized potatoes of the year because by that point we’re desperate for potatoes that don’t taste like cardboard. We estimate five per person. FIVE.)

  112. Oh my god. I just realized I was simultaneously reading the comments of this post, nodding along in agreement and at the same time feeling guilty for polishing off a whole pack of Pepperidge Farm gingerbread cookies. AND I DIDN’T KNOW IT!

    Just goes to show how pervasive the guilt thing can be. I had to check myself and remember that dinner was small and rushed last night and I woke up late and didn’t have time for my usual egg and toast (or my coffee, but that’s a horror of a different sort). So driving in to work I was starving and got a craving for gingerbread cookies so I picked some up at the market on the corner from my office. And with my meetings scheduled today, lunch will be a late one, if it happens at all. So I’m going to enjoy my gingerbread cookies, damn it! :*)

  113. Ever notice that all packaged serving sizes are between 100-150 calories, whether it’s pasta, peas, potato chips, or prosciutto? And that someone is supposed to get (say) 8 servings of vegetables per day?

    Their word ‘serving’ is not a normal person’s word ‘serving.’ And it’s not because we all eat too much or inflated the serving size. It means ‘a certain number of calories that looks attractive printed on a box.’

    Potatoes don’t come in that size. So eat the potato and screw the serving sizes.

  114. What about a potato the size of a jerboa?

    Awwwww! I’m not sure I’d want a potato with ears like that. But I might want a jerboa now.

    Cala, great point. It can be daunting trying to figure out how to get as many veggies as they tell you to eat, until you realize that “five servings” to them is like 2 servings to a person who lives in the real world. Ditto the “eight glasses of water a day!” thing. That’s 8 8-oz. glasses. Or 4 16-oz. glasses, which is what I tend to drink from at home.

  115. It can be daunting trying to figure out how to get as many veggies as they tell you to eat, until you realize that “five servings” to them is like 2 servings to a person who lives in the real world.

    Heh. What kills me is when a serving is half a banana or half an orange or some other “bad” fruit. Who in their right mind regularly eats half a banana?

  116. Why is it that HEALTHY foods have suddenly had this bad morality attached to them? Like I read somebody comment here about being told to lay off the grapes. GRAPES!!! Fruit and vegetables, by any 0.005% sane person are HEALTHY foods. And yet we fatties are being told that they’re “bad” for us.

    [insert screaming face here]

    Where’s Susan Powter when you need her? ;)

  117. I just read this post, and while I usually read/skim all the comments before replying, this time I just had to reply right away because I’m practically in tears reading this. Thank you, Kate. Thank you for putting into words so many of the things that are in my head, and for reminding me that this is not easy, even for you and the other writers here. I could have written a lot of this. (Okay, not as well, but you get the idea. :) ) I’ve sat at a restaurant and thought, “I can’t have dessert if she doesn’t.” I’ve ordered less than I wanted so I wouldn’t be the fat pig at the table. I’ve finished first and wondered what was wrong with me. I’ve gotten the chicken instead of the steak I really wanted because “steak has more points.” I’ve gotten a meal, had that first bite, and immediately had the thought that I wanted another one, because some sort of desperate, “I won’t ever get more of this” feeling has kicked in, and it’s kept me from enjoying my meal in the first place.

    I have two parties tonight, and I’m finding it’s just as hard to prepare myself to JUST ENJOY MYSELF – to eat what I want, to enjoy whatever I choose to eat, to enjoy the company of my friends and co-workers – than it was to prepare to eat on a diet. Food just digs right in there and gets right to the emotions and insecurities, doesn’t it? But thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone in this, that none of us are.

  118. But don’t you know BANANAS HAVE FAT?!?

    Really? I thought they were fat-free but full of delicious.. I mean, evil sugar and carbs.

  119. Really? I thought they were fat-free but full of delicious.. I mean, evil sugar and carbs.

    You got me, Sniper. I always think of them as “the filling fruit” (i.e., “THE BAD FRUIT”), and somehow, I convinced myself that meant there was a touch of fat in there. Sigh.

  120. You’re thinking of avocados, the sneaky, fat-bearing fruit that you should never, never eat! Unless you like them.

    This reminds me of when I burst out laughing in the supermarket because I had picked up an apple bearing a sticker: “A naturally fat-free food”. Seriously. WTF?

  121. Jeeze, guys. I had never really been aware that I was doing this sort of thing, but I do, I have those “I can’t have that because of what other people will think” thoughts. But something I also know – is that food has MEANING. Not the sort of “if you eat xyz, that means you are fat” sort of meaning, but the “I want this because it has all of these feelings and meanings associated with it.”
    My daughter came home this weekend from New York and before she did, she asked if I would make a couple of things that I used to make when all the kids were home and growing up but that I have not made in a long time (time to rotate the recipe cards big time), which is “cheesy rice bake” (sort of this quiche casserole with rice, lots and lots of sharp cheddar, unreal amounts of shredded carrots, some onions, eggs and milk) and Denver chocolate pudding(which is the most frustrating thing in the world because it makes this really dense brownie like cakey pudding on top and its own fudge sauce at the bottom…but there is never ever enough sauce for the pudding and I have never figured out a way for it to make more sauce since I don’t know the chemistry of how it works in the first place). Now, yes, I served this up with broccoli (we can all feel morally superior having eaten broccoli), but the three of us just sat there eating that chocolate stuff and licking the spoons and giving one another the “who gets the last odd bit” and “do I have the nerve to put my fingers into the baking dish” sorts of looks. Great meal. Lots of good food and good feelings all around. Totally satisfying.
    Good food, good company. All good.

  122. There’s about half a gram of fat in a large banana, which is basically nothing, but more that most fruit. I can’t believe (well, I can, but it’s really sad and eating disordered) that people make negative comments about bananas and grapes!

    Another perspective – I am recovering from binge eating disorder and still binge sometimes. I have reached the point where I don’t even feel guilty for what I eat during those times. I feel compassion and acceptance for myself. I hope that we can all feel that way about ourselves eventually (it won’t happen overnight, but it’s well worth working at).

  123. “If she said something like “this cake is so sinful,” he would say “It’s cake. It can’t form moral intentions.””

    I get myself in trouble when others around me go on about which foods they are eating are bad or good, calorically. I get the hairy eyeball when I mention calories are not behavior or morals. Heaven forbid a fat person point out an empiric truth.

  124. I had to wipe my eyes while reading this post.

    Here’s a bit of background:
    I am a skinny girl. I’ve been low percentile “underweight” almost my entire life. It is genetic. I look just like my dad’s grandma did when she was my age. The doctor recommended forcefeeding me when I was an infant because, even though I “looked healthy”, my measurements were off on the low end. (Fortunately my folks didn’t follow the doctor’s feeding regimen for very long.) When choosing teams in PE, I was often last chosen. When I was in junior high, kids started asking me if I was anorexic. I’m far from average when it comes to weight.

    So — here’s the important (and hopefully equalizing) bit:

    “…“Oh no, this isn’t gonna be enough; I’m gonna be disappointed” — the automatic deprivation mode that still frequently crops up when I eat something really tasty. …”

    This is exactly what goes through my head when I am feeling hungry and eating at a restaurant. Every time. Without fail. It often causes me to over-order. Hunger makes good things taste heavenly. If I truly enjoy what I’m eating, I will want to keep eating it for as long as I can, not because I am super-hungry or because I am bored or sad, but because the experience of eating it is blissful.

    This is not a rational response. As far as I’m aware, I’ve never been starved. It may or may not be normal. I have no idea. My family always pokes a bit of fun at me for it, an “eyes bigger than your stomach, ha, ha” sort of teasing.

    So, why do we think like this? It has _nothing_whatsoever_ to do with being a pig. I don’t believe (anymore) that it has anything to do with self-sabotaging behavior or thinking, or some secret self-hatred forcing us to overeat. If anything, I’ve noticed that this response increases when I am feeling upbeat and confident.

    I think it is a natural, healthy, human response to a source of good food.

    I am so sick of hearing people say, “Oh, you like bacon/cheese/whatever???! I’d never know it to look at you!” I am sick of hearing this because it reflects the destructive and widespread belief that skinny people are skinny because they are somehow dispassionate about food, or because they have so much virtue and self-control that they always eat the undersized portions recommended by diet experts. And, conversely, that fat people are fat because they are so much more passionate about food that it’s unseemly and a character flaw. And that “average-sized” people are only average-sized because they control their cravings and seldom stray from the straight-and-narrow.

  125. i’m still working up the confidence to be my normal witty self in the comments, here, but i’ll settle for saying that reading posts (and comments) like these make my day.

    as someone who’s trying to get off the diet rollercoaster (and i hates rollercoasters), it’s really comforting to know that i’m not the only one struggling with intuitive eating, comparisons of eating behavior with others, and guilt about eating just about anything.

    especially when i’m generally convinced that y’all are (to quote someone above) are just made of awesome. does this mean i can be made of awesome someday, too?

  126. I think the sociologists call it ‘confirmation bias’ when people are more likely to notice what confirms the stereotype than what doesn’t. You see a thin girl eating a donut and it doesn’t register at all, but a fat girl eating a donut is proof that fat people just don’t eat well. Had to explain this to my sister lately. My sister is a little pudgy, a recent result of college, and after Thanksgiving she called me because my dad had called her and told her the reason she was fat was because she ate too much.

    “But I’ve lost weight since the last time he saw me,” she wailed. “And I didn’t eat more than anyone else!” So we had a long talk.

  127. Confirmation bias, huh? I’ll add that to my bag of goodies.

    I was browsing around Wikipedia the other day when I came upon their article on the “fundamental attribution error”. They defined it as “the tendency for people to over-emphasize dispositional, or personality-based, explanations for behaviors observed in others while under-emphasizing situational explanations.” What an eye-opener for me.

    So, when we see someone enjoying a nice big meal, the logical “she’s probably hungry” explanation tends to get quashed by the irrational “she’s gluttonous” explanation…

    You know what would be nice? It would be just super if we could have a nice, long talk with the people who are actually committing these errors in thinking, rather than having to blush, cringe, get angry, internally error-check & diagnose, smile, and forgive them, all without saying a word.

    How can we effectively confront our families and friends when they say and do hurtful things like this?

  128. I read something a long time ago that asked people to look at images and tell the researcher their salient thought. When pictures of overweight men eating fast food in their cars came up, the respondents would say stuff like, “overeater”, and “pig”. When thin, well-groomed men were shown, people would respond with, “go-getter”, and “busy”. Talk about confirmation bias.

  129. Toggle, that is why in the imaginary totalitarian state where I’m President for LIfe, all citizens will be forced to take Logic 101.

  130. This will get lost in the rest of your comments, I’m sure…but I am here to say thank you.

    I find you to be an inspiration to the rest of us (like me) who don’t give one fuck, much less two, about what the rest of the world considers us to be.

    I say we all say fuck ‘em and have more Cheet-o’s, but that’s just me…

  131. Cala, great point. It can be daunting trying to figure out how to get as many veggies as they tell you to eat, until you realize that “five servings” to them is like 2 servings to a person who lives in the real world.

    Gosh darn.

    You mean I DON’T have to feel guilty because I didn’t do any salad-chopping because I had a 16-hour day ahead of me and didn’t have a chance to suck down an entire bottle of V8 (which would have ruined my teeth polishing job anyway; can’ t seem to get through the day without pissing somebody off)?

  132. And that “average-sized” people are only average-sized because they control their cravings and seldom stray from the straight-and-narrow.

    Puke. Puritan Calvinist America at its worst.

    I can’t help but think that there’d be a lot less “other group” hatred in this society if actually enjoying things — silk, food, flower, sex (the real thing, not sterile vid/mag porn crap) — weren’t perceived as so unseemly.

    Misplaced aggression based on repression.

  133. Oh God, I’m still laughing after reading the post, and I haven’t even gotten through the comments yet.

    I’m still very far away (sadly) from arriving at a point of sanity about food/body acceptance/intuitive eating… But posts like this–mapping out all of the psychotic restaurant illogic that most women go through on a regular basis–are helping me little by little.

    It’s so embarrassing in my head when I play these stupid games with myself (how much is she eating? wait–I should have ordered more–no, less!!). But you’ve blogged it all, it’s all out there, I’m not the only crazy one who has to try to quiet my inner crazy food voices.

    Funny and smart and thank you.

  134. Puritanism!! That’s exactly it!!! It is pure enjoyment that is seen as evil here in this country. Like, have some fun where anyone else can see/hear it, and you get burned at the stake.

    Littlem, it reminds me that we were founded by a group of people who thought it was wrong for poor people to sit in a church pew they couldn’t afford to buy. Or wear a nice hat, because hey, you wouldn’t want to mislead people into thinking poverty-stricken people were going to get to heaven. (sumptuary laws, I think those were called…)

    I believe that we have the equivalent of unwritten sumptuary laws running rampant in this country. We aren’t allowed to enjoy food unless we can show we are “living right”, according to the most extreme, obsessive standards. And if we do enjoy it, we’d better not flaunt it. Wouldn’t want people to get jealous, eh? :-)

  135. Sweetmachine, I’d absolutely vote for you as president. Hell, I’d lick envelopes for ya!

    Mandatory logic classes in elementary school might help… give the first-graders some rudimentary psych/human behavior classes while they’re at it… *sigh*

  136. Pingback: 34 « Zmama’s Balancing Act

  137. So, I stumbled across your blog a few days ago and have been eagerly flipping through it from beginning to end, and there are just no words for how much I love you. You’re such a great blogger (a great writer), you cheer me up, and you write things like this post, which, even after having read it a couple times, almost makes me want to *cry*, because it’s so awesome to read something I can agree with, to see that there are other people (you AND your readers) who understand.
    Thank you, so much. You make this fat girl feel human.

  138. I want symbolic logic!!! I crept out of class in hopeless confusion at 15 in an HSS program and didn’t come back after mid-semester. I was afraid of the TA; not only did he make it the most conflated convolution ever, he had no enunciation or projection skills, so all I heard was “warm oatmeal mushmouth warm oatmeal mushmouth”.

    Horrors. And now I find I need some simulation of it for my career.

    I can haz tutr plz sweetmachine? SRSLY!

  139. My sister is a little pudgy, a recent result of college, and after Thanksgiving she called me because my dad had called her and told her the reason she was fat was because she ate too much.

    “But I’ve lost weight since the last time he saw me,” she wailed. “And I didn’t eat more than anyone else!” So we had a long talk.

    I had exactly that happen to me. About a year and a half ago, I tried going vegetarian. I stuck it for a few months. (I’m not veggie now – I like fish too much – but I’m not a huge meat-eater anyway.) One week at work, I came across several people I hadn’t seen in a while, and they remarked that they thought I might have lost weight. I asked a close colleague, and she looked at me for a few moments and said, yes, she though my waist was smaller. I hadn’t noticed, but I figured it was to do with cutting out the meat. Anyway, that weekend I also went to see my mother for the first time in a couple of months, and she remarked that I’d put weight on and had better think about losing some!

    Some people just see what they want and are predisposed to see.

  140. Some people just see what they want and are predisposed to see.

    Absotootly. The other side of the coin is people who say, “You look great! Have you lost weight?” when you’ve stayed the same or even gained. It’s like, no, I just got a good haircut/put on some lipstick/am wearing a skirt for once. But thanks for telling me that if I look good, it MUST be because I’m not so damn fat!

  141. I just feel sorry for her that she was never able to break away from the Puritain streak that surely must run straight through her stomach and heart. It’s a sad way to live — feeling suspicious of every delicious moment or bit of fun.

    Oh my word. I live in northeast Arkansas, squarely in the Bible belt, and truer words were never spoken. It’s such a dichotomy here, too. Food is what we do when we’re social, and the sweeter & fattier your delicious offering, the “better cook” you are, and the more praise you obtain from the eaters. But everyone constantly talks about how many calories are in what and how they’re so bad and what we’ll have to do to atone for it. So on the one hand, treats are what we’re “supposed” to do, but we’re chastised for it in the same breath. I hate it, and I verbally reject it at every single family gathering.

    Thankfully, I’ve got a Family 2.0 who sees eye to eye with me on this, and our gatherings are a delicious joy and blessing. ^o^

  142. Hey, I was just re-reading this today and it occured to me that this feeling (or, rather, this incredibly messy tangle of feelings) is what started my Friday Night Supper Club.

    It’s not so formal as to really deserve the name; it’s just myself, my husband, my best friend, and her boyfriend. We seriously do eat dinner together almost every Friday night (many Saturdays, too… we like to eat, and we like to eat together.)

    We came together as a group not just because we’re all friends, but because we value food and food culture, experimenting with ethnic foods, trying new and local restaurants, etc. We are, all four of us, “food explorers.” And because among the four of us, there’s no shame.

    It’s an odd feeling, something I’ve never quite had with any other group of people. We eat what we want when we’re hungry, we stop when we’re full, we try each other’s dishes and comment on everything and never, ever, shame or pressure each other in any direction- no challenges to eat more, no challenges to eat less. All four of us have experienced some kind of painful weight issues in the past- three of us with being considered “overweight” and one of us from being considered “underweight.” Calories are not mentioned. Nobody says the word ‘good’ or ‘bad’ except in praise of the chef’s seasoning decisions. We are each other’s safe zone.

    We have tried to include others, but it doesn’t always work out. One couple that we all know, the boyfriend is often subtly pressuring the girlfriend to eat less; we tried to bring her out with us by herself, but she constantly then turns that same pressure on herself and on the rest of us. We’re not trying to indoctrinate her into anything, but we haven’t given up on inviting her places and trying to encourage her to feel safe with food. But the regular Friday night remains a foursquare.

    It’s just that… I know (all of us do) how awful those feelings are when they strike- feelings of guilt for enjoying the taste of food, cravings that seem overwhelming, guilt and anger tried to pleasure in a way we never really shake off. But for me, I found a safe space- even if it’s only one night a week away from that pressure, with other people who fight the same battle every day. We have so much fun, and it feels so sane to live like that. I find myself living better almost every day, thinking about the peace of sharing food with friends in a happy way. It’s shocking to think we all went without that for so long.

    Your writing about this brought up all those good, Friday-night feelings, so for that I thank you. :)

  143. I went out to eat with friends the other night, and I ordered this amazing salad with a side of sauteed spinach and pine nuts. It was an awesome meal, and I’ll be honest, I did worry slightly what other people might have thought of my food choices. But screw that! I tucked in, and enjoyed every bite.

    I also ate a lovely apple tart with ice cream on the side for dessert. And had a hot chocolate with cream as well. I have to say, I was completely happy with my food choices that night, and it was a great feeling.

    Thanks for this blog, by the way. It’s very enlightening.

  144. Nobody may ever see this comment, but I have been reading back through posts and thank you so much for this one, Kate. I love it and the comments are awesome too.

  145. I realized something after spending weeks reading archives (I hope it’s okay that I’ve printed out a few threads for my friend, who has disordered eating habits and no computer).

    There is no such thing as a “normal person”!

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