The big fat TRUTH is if you are eating the standard American diet plate/pyramid or according to the American Heart Association or American Diabetics Association food guidelines you are eating big fat lies.
I want you to get out a sturdy chair and step up onto it and scream the word “Fat” until you don’t even recognize the word anymore. I mean it: “Fat. Fat. FAT. FATFATFATFATFAT.” (thank you, Caitlin Moran; read more of her funny stuff here). Yell it until it’s just a sound. You can use a sturdy step stool if you’re afraid of heights.
Fat is just a word. Your body is your body. You should only change your body if you want to, not because the media tells you to, or because your doctor says some amorphous phrase like “lose weight, exercise”. It’s like telling a kid to go clean his room. He looks in his room and sees the mess but he doesn’t know where to start cleaning so he doesn’t see the mess. It’s his room. Then one day, he can’t find something he wants and suddenly his room gets real clean.
There is no perfect body. Skinny doesn’t equal healthy. Fat doesn’t equal unhealthy. Plenty of skinny people have diabetes, and heart disease, and plenty of fat people have no disease at all. But while fat people may not have disease, fat indicates a metabolic disturbance, and any disturbance in the system will eventually result in unwellness. Get Real Clue: You have to eat fat to lose fat. Your cells are made of water and lipids (fat) and a few other chemicals and minerals and nutrients and amino acids, oh, sorry, I was going to skip the science. The truth: you have to eat fat.
Now don’t go out and get a bacon cheeseburger and fries, or whatever your fave fat food is just yet. You still want to make healthful choices of fuel for your body.
**A Semantical Aside:: Being an English major, some common word usage gets under my skin and I will state my case here. Snacks are not healthy. A diet is not healthy. Proper eating is not healthy. Exercise is not healthy. Only people, and maybe their pets because they are living beings too, can be healthy. A plant while it is growing and vital can be healthy. When it is going into your mouth it is healthful. Snacks are healthful. A diet can be healthful, or not. Proper eating is healthful and exercise is certainly healthful for you. I am healthy or at least trying to be healthier, by eating healthfully and getting daily healthful exercise. Case closed.**
I’m not the type of person who can go to a doctor and say my ankles hurt and accept her saying, “Take this, you’ll feel better.” I have had horrible reactions to pharmaceutical drugs, so taking “this” sets off alarm bells for me which immediately spews forth a torrent of questions and I make doctors crazy. Because they don’t know all the answers. I swear I’ve had doctors leave the office and go google my question to come back with the answer I’d looked up at home the night before. You know, when it’s word for word, you know.
Then I’m offended because I don’t think they ask the right questions to be able to give the best answer. When I say my ankles hurt, they should ask me about them and not just “what kind of pain”: general coordination, history of injuries, what exercise are you taking, what shoes do you wear, what career are you in and how much are you on your feet, ditto with home life, and whatever else they can think of pertaining to my individual use of my ankles. I could tell of a general uncoordination from the age of five with random twists and turns and pitching forward off my feet, multiplied by spraining both ankles at least twice each throughout my adult years, in addition to insufficient time to heal from the injuries, plus two careers in which I am on my feet eight hours a day, exponentially aggravated by carrying more weight on bones than they were designed to carry. It’s no wonder my ankles hurt. A pill will not make them feel better. Not using them won’t make them feel better either.
Doctors are not in the business of finding out why you are ailing. They are in the business of treating what ails you and selling you a treatment under the euphemism “prescription”. Scientists and researchers find out what causes illness and try to develop drugs to make the illness better or go away. Scientists and researchers and doctors are not superior beings (though I think that’s what doctors are taught in med school). They do not know everything and being the human beings they are, they are not always right. Most modern drugs, that is drugs developed within my lifetime, often not only have a fossil fuel petroleum base (no wonder I have bad reactions!), they haven’t been around long enough to have a track record of any kind of proven efficacy. The pharmaceutical drug developers make a drug for one illness, notice the drug has other side effects, so sell it for the side effect illness after it doesn’t work so well for the illness it was designed for. That’s bad science and it means they don’t really KNOW WHAT THAT DRUG DOES.
After the diabetes diagnosis this kid knew she needed to do an even better job of cleaning her room. I had to look at my metabolism the same way I looked at my ankles. I was already “eating good”. I’d been “good” for five years and gained forty pounds and got diabetes, so something still wasn’t working for my body. I’d cut way down on processed foods, junk foods, was eating clean and fresh foods, but I had to have my daily “treats”. Get Real Clue: a daily treat isn’t a treat, it’s a habit.
All this cleaning up was good, but the mechanism called metabolism, which runs the whole she-bang, was broken and needed a re-set. Like an infant, I had to start all over again with food.
Let me tell you how HARD this is. I can live without lots of processed foods, but Coca-cola is the nectar of the gods to me. I’d weaned myself down to eight ounces a day, a small daily treat (GRC). If I knew it didn’t do what I know it does, I’d drink a gallon every day. I’d love to drink a gallon right now. I choose not to. I choose to drink it as a rare treat. Same with potato chips, food to live for, complete meals of coke and chips, heaven. Holy metabolism.
This stuff tastes great. BUT IT’S NOT FOOD. That’s how Big Agriculture and Big Food companies make this stuff. All manufactured food is just that, manufactured, and manufacturers hire chemists who are paid to figure out what chemicals please the human tongue with total disregard for what the chemical construction does to the human body. The stuff can go into your mouth, through your digestion, and out the other end, while either wreaking havoc along the way or doing absolutely nothing for your nutrient health. That’s what you’re buying at the grocery store. That’s what you’re feeding your family.
Grocery stores are a phenomena of the twentieth century. People fed themselves before big Agriculture and Big Food. They did not need to concern themselves with feeding the world as each community fed themselves. Shannon Hayes, author of Radical Homemakers, recently posted an excellent essay on feeding the world. With current knowledge, transportation, and refrigeration techniques there is no excuse for not having fresh wholesome foods in every local community. It will require a change of social paradigm but you have to start somewhere. Tax funding currently given to Big Food can be kept in and funneled into communities and neighborhoods of all sizes to create green belts around and throughout those communities and neighborhoods, and build household chicken coops and gardens in individual homeowners’ yards. If the homeowners can’t tend the chickens and the gardens give the work to all the returning veterans whose number will hopeful be dwindling because everybody is too busy gardening and eating. It’s good honest work with good honest results.
Mmmmm, eating. The truth: eating is one of life’s pleasures. Eating well does not have to include processed food. I remember sitting at grandma’s table and eating fresh bread slathered with homemade butter, mashed potatoes made with butter and cream, fried chicken and cream gravy, green beans and bacon, fresh lettuces and sliced tomatoes, dishes of pickled beets, beans, and cucumbers served alongside it all. Not one overweight person sat at the table. We ate but we were all busy, active people. Eating, one of life’s pleasures. Gardening, how to get to eating, a true pleasure, no lie.