Friday, August 27, 2010

Normal-Person Eating

Many of us who have battled our weight for the majority of our lives know that we can't really eat "normally." Our bodies have thus far precluded us from partaking in the joys of thoughtless eating, of enjoying food for food's sake rather than tricking ourselves to view food as a necessity and never a pleasure. We eliminate this, add more of that, limit, limit, limit. We count calories; we perform mind-numbing mathematical calculations that we could never in a million years answer correctly back in our old high school algebra classes.

We tell ourselves that this is how we'll get thin or get fit or get to whatever goal we set for ourselves and our bodies. And for those who strictly prescribe to these tenets of weight loss and fitness, this way of life works---and works well. I firmly believe that making a commitment to a healthy-eating lifestyle along with exercise will do the trick. I believe that diabetes-related complications, such as cardiovascular disease, can be alleviated by eating accordingly and exercising.

But part of me, the part who always felt like an outsider, just wants to be a normal person, a pizza-eating normal person.

There are times when I resent the burden of my own weight awareness, which I've carried day in and day out for the majority of my life. I resent the overanalyzation that occurs at the planning of every meal. I see commercials and programs on TV in which attractive women and men at particular restaurants eat with gusto, eat without intense scrutiny (of their food and of themselves). 

And they look normal to me.

Yet, I can't help but assign moral connotations to foods. I call some foods bad and sinful, whereas the accepted dieter's menu of foods, like vegetables and lean anything, are more positively labeled as good, on-plan foods. But who in this world is truly, wholly moral or immoral. Aren't we all sometimes sinful or make bad choices?

So why must my eating record be cleaner than my soul?

I suppose I called this blog Cupcakes & Fitness: Having My Cake and Eating It Too because I want so very badly to find a way to eat normally. I want to eat healthy, good-for-you foods, yes. But I want to still enjoy the social, pleasurable aspects of food and eating as well. I don't want to be the one to order a side salad while the rest of the table enjoys the house specialty. I want to be able to include myself in the festivities, in the act of the meal and not be the outsider sitting on the fringes of the table quietly nibbling lettuce. I want to be able to call for a pizza without guilt. I want to go to the amusement parks and have an ice cream cone, relishing the cool creaminess in the summer heat.

I want to have my cake and eat it too!

Is there a way to go to the restaurant and order the house specialty and not overindulge? a way to order a pizza and not eat the entire pie? a way to have an ice cream cone to celebrate the joys of summer? I hope with all my heart that there is a way, a way to eat normally, like naturally thin people.

I have a friend who has been very thin since high school. It's her natural body type and requires no effort on her part to maintain. She eats normally. She follows the school of Paula Deen and stays at or around 100 lb. She can order creamed chipped beef when we go out to breakfast and triple-cheese ravioli at dinner and not gain an ounce. 

I've observed her eat many times over the many years of our friendship. And I always notice the same thing. She NEVER overeats. She eats for pleasure and out of hunger, but she will eat only until those desires are satiated; she eats only until it stops being as pleasurable and never when she's no longer hungry. Can I ever learn to eat that way?

I love eating healthy. It makes me feel wonderful and clean. But there are some days and certain occasions that call for more freedom, the freedom to be normal. And I think (again, just for me) that it could be OK. The celebratory cake or the pizza I ordered to save money will all come out in the wash if I continue to practice responsible eating, by which I mean aiming to eat healthy always but not denying myself the pleasure of food on occasion, as in if I get married someday I'm not going to spit out my wedding cake!

And although I believe that everyone should follow the rules of healthy eating, such as eating whole grains, lean meats, and a lot of fruits and vegetables (and of course exercising and maintaining a healthy weight), and make those a part of our daily habits to avoid the devastating consequences of diabetes and obesity-related illnesses, I don't want to believe that food, in and of itself, is bad.

It's what we do with it and how we use and abuse it that damns us.



Mark on August 27, 2010 at 2:47 PM said...

Some foods are bad and there's no getting away from it. We have lost track of our roots when food was about whole ingredients and freshly prepared meals. Instead of being responsible for what we eat, we have outsourced it to corporations that produce food loaded with cheap indredients (fat,sugar,oils,additives). It's about profit.

What gets me is why this trash tastes so good! :)

hamburke on August 30, 2010 at 7:48 PM said...

Jerry's pizza isn't that bad for you as long as you stick to veggies and cheese - no meat. If you do WW, it's 4 pts a slice (most others - cheese only - are 7+).

And continuing our conversation from this weekend, it's so much harder if you were skinny when younger simply b/c you were athletic. I have too much going on in my life now to keep up the kind of athletics that I loved before getting out of college where options were plentiful and cheap. Our skinny friends who were anti-athletic are still skinny and don't try!

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