Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Taking on the fat haters

This post by the rotund made me consider how one can best respond to visceral and unfettered fat hate, of the type that seems everywhere.

It made me think about a comment from Sniper on a previous post  which brings a bit of a lump to the throat;
I read a few of those comments and found them terribly upsetting. There is so much hatred for fat people out there, it stuns me. Do these people really think we’re worthless?
The last but one sentence sums it up;
As far as they’re concerned fat people don’t have lives or feelings.
In a sense, that's the way it is, the whole hating of fat people is not really about fat people as people, but as a representation or idea of something else which is then projected onto fat people, as if it's about us.

When it's about you there tends to be some kind of recognition it speaks to and with you. The obesity crisis is not about us, it's about those who define it. It has been defined over and against our experiences and realities in every way.

The problem with this, is it all becomes very hard to avoid when it is directed straight at you. It is disconcerting, unnerving even. We are used to being addressed directly, see how we jerk our heads towards what merely sounds like our name.

That we are as much subject to the same ideas and ideals that shape what's coming at us makes it the meeting of a mindset we're trying to let go of.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Calories in calories out

One of the weirdest things about emerging from switching from an outside in caricature of fatness, to an inside out experience of self, is how often I find my assumption that I knew what people were talking at me, dashed.

Take the above. It means, the calories the you put into your body must equal the calories that are spent by your body.

That means, if you consume 2,000 calories you must use 2,000 calories.

Okay. When you take calories into your body, your body uses them in functioning at all, including eating and processing what you've eaten so you can use it, or digestion. It also uses energy to hold or store them too, expending energy to keep them.

If it means calories in equals calories out, literally, then lowering calories, will lower expenditure of calories, resulting in equilibrium, of that lowered energy.

If you take in less calories and increase expenditure say through exercise, you will use less energy for everything else to allow for this increased expenditure.

To say that all energy must be accounted for, is not the same as saying if you eat less, your body will use the same amount of calories it did when you ate more calories.

If you eat less, you expend less, if you eat less, and raise your calorie expenditure, you will expend less in other areas.

The issue is, why is your body storing calories, what for?

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Conscious mind is part of the whole

Interesting post by Meowser in response to a query raised in Fillyjonk's wonderful recent post about why you can trust yourself to eat what you want. She answers the query that comes from people with eating disorders especially who don't know what to do about the fact that their body demands an excess of the same things, regardless of whether they eat them or not.

I do not agree that eating is intuitive-which suggests that eating is some kind of guessing game, it is the result of information your body collates about it's needs. Your body is thinking about it's requirements we can see this in times when nutrition is hugely important like suitability of breast milk to the needs of the infant also other times when certain requirements become really important; the endless eating of many adolescents during ( and after )puberty or cravings during pregnancy.

The preciseness this ability can achieve knowing it's own requirements is the basis of why wl diets fail, they upset what is already there because we assume nothing is there.

This is why it's important to accept that they fail and to understand exactly why it teaches us about how eating actually works, by doing this, we can avoid a lot of unnecessary suffering( as well as tedious power plays raving nincompoops).

This is why I've never warmed to the term 'intuitive eating' the 'intuitive' part panders to the that underlying assumption of (total) conscious control of eating. Having said that the idea itself isn't totally redundant, if your mind has been so hopelessly unbalanced by wl diet dogma (and the results of dieting) that you can only start to re-gain a normal state by switching off or bypassing conscious input, that may be the best you can do until you restore some balance.

It's like the conscious mind, having been burdened with duties it wasn't supposed to have-being in charge of eating- rather than being in charge of facilitating eating. If its overly excitable and getting in the way with a hang over of fear and hysteria from the pressure of dieting then it's influence has to be minimized to just carrying out orders with minimal interaction. Just until things can calm down and you get a better idea of what you need.

When it's true place in the order of things can be re-gained, it can again play it's useful and positive role in your eating.

When someone has misbehaved, overstepped their authority, they are sometimes punished by being put on menial duties, until they can cool their heels.  In other words it's a recovery technique, not something to live by unless you cannot re-gain normalcy.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with allowing the part of your brain that contains your memories and experiences of eating  to have an overall say over what goes in your mouth, to keep a balance if that's what is needed. After an especially long time dieting, you can find your body is still acting because of that, rather than any set point.

Indeed, the conscious mind is a part of eating and should be part of the whole under normal conditions what dieting does wrong is to make that the whole of the process.

There are different rules for those who either have chronic disease-such as diabetes etc as they have to meet their health needs. Then there are those who are eating disordered or have eating disorders, they need recovery before they can eat normally.

Fire the 'experts'

This is one of the best interviews I've read on the rottenness of the whole dieting canard and how you can try and recover from having been slapped around by it. In short, fire the experts, thank you Monica. As Monica, a former tennis player, wisely realised, the best thing to do with them, is to jettison the useless parasites. Thanks to wellroundedtype2 for linking to it on FJ's excellent thread.

What one of the more admirable players to ever walk on the tennis court in modern times realised is that they are always 'well-meaning' even though they failed and got paid for it, is that their useless advice fuelled the cause, not the solution to her eating problems.

I remember that awful incident when she got stabbed, it wasn't just the obvious pain, it was the shock of going in an instant from safety to having that bubble burst. I wasn't surprised that it seemed to precipitate weight gain at all, especially given the way that tennis players seem to be capable of being and staying plumper than a lot of athletes in other sports.

A lot of them don't look any different from folks you see walking about the place.

The puncturing of her body seemed an apt metaphor for what precipitates similar fall out from shock or traumas for so many, the imperceptible, usually, puncturing of a balloon of reassurance.The point is reached, without any warning, you may have gone through hell intact and then pouf! Something changes, after the fact.

It's often a shock, something that changes the way your body functions ever so slightly and often changes you as a person. We know the latter happens, that people can change palpably after certain experiences or a set of experiences. We often forget the same can happen to the body, in fact who knows, maybe the body follows through and changes the mind, as much as the other way around.

The loss of a loved one and grief too is so often the precipitator of eating problems the loss of her beloved father, who was her inspiration to her in general and set her off on her career, follows so many people who's body tries to find some stability through making changes here. To attack this attempt to bring internal stability seems an uninspired way to go and its all people seem to be able to really think about.

What I love about this interview is that her recovery started when she got to fire them, they were unnecessary as her career waned. That's when she realised they had nothing and she would have to take care of her own business.

She said that at one point she played tennis five hours a day retaining the weight she'd gained.

That's a similar awakening for a lot of us, we've fired the smeckperts too and let go of the 'rules' the obsessed always dream up. I honestly think they live vicariously by telling others what to eat and fixating on it. She speaks of how her cravings went away and she lost weight. Something that is not necessarily the case for others, but the general rule of allowing forbidden foods, and not trying to stop yourself eating things, when your appetite is raging out of control and you end up either eating them anyway or eating more of something else, or both.

Is worth hearing even for those who do not have an eating disorder.

Friday, 24 April 2009

What would happen if weight loss diets did work?

This is something that has come to mind before, but rarely crystallised into a direct question. We are so used to assuming that diets should work-and granted logically speaking eating less calories in order to get your body to use up your fat stores makes perfect sense, in theory.

But what if weight loss diets did just work that way, what would that mean? It's worth asking this because of the fight the body puts up against dieting. It's extent and comprehensiveness is such that it has to be taken as more than mere rebellion for its own sake.

What has occurred is of none of this was there would there be anything stopping us from becoming anorexic?

Our bodies are primed to resist depression using a myriad of strategies and options to see it off, block its path or slow it down. Ironically part of that can be the adjustment of our appetites and/or eating.

Anorexia is said to happen due to stimulus plus genetic propensity. That varies from those who get the full condition and those who are able to life a lifestyle that skates the edge of it due to their application of focus.

I can't separate the relationship between that focus and the propensity to stick with calorie restriction as opposed to another focus of attention., but I think what stops diets from working is what is stopping us from keeping going and starving to death.

We have taught ourselves that we will stop way before we get to this point, or that dieting is one thing and this eating disorder quite another. But it seems more likely that these defences are all that is in the way of harm without them they'd be little to stop us keeping going except our reason, which may not survive, or even if it did is a thin thread on which to hang our will to live. If we did  not fast to our deaths we can do serious harm long before that in some cases especially.

Anorexia can alter the perceptions significantly, to the point where it becomes virtually impossible to eat. I'm not sure whether that would be defensive in a situation of actual starvation. Undoubtedly it is still an unimaginably agonizing way to go.

Threatened famines

Excellent post by Fillyjonk over at shapely prose responding to the genuine fears many have that they cannot trust their bodies to match their needs.

That fear and mistrust is also shared by your body of you and your proposed actions and motives with regard to dieting. If you've repeatedly threatened, and I don't mean actually been able to start a diet, I mean merely seriously intending to.

That is enough to make your body fearful that at any moment, you'll spring another surprise on it. What this can do is leave your body in a state similar to when you are working up to starting a diet and you start eating like there's no tomorrow, another one of the body's inbuilt strategies to try and minimize the loses you're trying to impose on it.

Your weight can just end up drifting upward and your appetite and/or hunger continually destabilised. It may not be that you develop an eating disorder, it may be just the amount you eat is permanently heightened, or your eating disordered.

The number one nutrient your body requires, regardless of your weight, is energy in the form of calories. It is because of this that in nature high water low calorie vegetables are the real junk food, because they cannot supply the body's basic need for energy. They are not particularly palatable, compared with more calorie dense foods of all kind. Probably when you get to the higher end of energy, there's a none too palatable element of a differing kind, too.

What I never considered was that depriving yourself or threatening to deprive yourself of calorie dense foods, could itself be enough to upset your internal fat metabolism and disrupt the balance of your eating.

Most people who've ever tried weight loss dieting or to exclude whole food groups from their diet, have experienced the way their desire for those foods goes up, often way past the point of whatever desire they might have had for them previously.

This is often characterised as rebellion, but it's just a very effective strategy that works. It's purpose is to see off the threat of a threatened famine.

Why not famine? If you threaten the exclude the most efficient sources of the basic currency of nutrition, why wouldn't that be seen by the body as a kind of famine?

It is and one of the most senseless kind too, because it's in the midst of availability and you know it is. It's not that the crops have failed, or you are poor and will have to scavenge. No, there is nothing stopping you except a conscious notion. Which doesn't seem to compute, via the means of famine.

There must be some way to link say, physical discomfort or desire to lose weight or be thin, to the bodies capacity to shed weight. But both have proven somewhat elusive.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Normal eating

To eat normally is to eat according to your needs or as little as you want, in the proportions and amounts you feel are right. Although I cannot agree with the weight control aspect of this blog- a normal weight is not defined narrowly by BMI of 20-25, it does have some righteous words on the innateness of eating.

Built into the human body and nervous system is the automatic ability to collect information from all its parts on what is needed for the body to nourish, replenish and sustain itself. That information is collected into the conscious parts of our mind we act on it on that basis. It’s the overweening reality of our conscious minds that has fooled us into thinking that we control eating from there, rather than it being a part-an important one-of a whole process.

The conscious mind is the closest and most obvious link we have to our eating, it is right to assume that any conscious attempt to change our weight or eating has to come from here. The problem is the assumption of how, monitoring the part of the energy equation that we are aware of, because of course we do not control, in the main things such as the basal metabolic rate, that is the rate at which we make use of energy just to keep our vital functions ticking over.

It is important to state what normal eating actually is because we are losing touch with it. The great and sustained power playing of such as the slimming industry-trading on our desire to be slim, the fitness industry, trading on our desire to be physically fit and attractive to others. And the obesity field, which trades on our desire to be healthy and our fear of death.

Between them, with a special mention for the food industries and nutritionists, they have unbalanced and compromised the links we have to our needs. They’ve introduced factors other than that and prioritized them, whether it’s entertaining ourselves with some silly new snacks or comforting ourselves with some high energy product, then there is the veneration of things that are low in calories which we are advised by nutritionists especially to eat regardless of whether we desire them or not, ironically making use of our capacity for greed.

Those in the field of obesity add a tremendous amount of anxiety to and around our eating process by confirming the link between conscious eating and weight control, itself a cause of much eating disorders and disordered eating.

Then there’s the slimming industry that trade on the ideal of controlling our weight through controlling our eating. This has had in some cases devastating effect on our ability to meet our needs properly. The body is designed to fight off calorie restriction, whether lowering intake or increasing output, these responses and the anxiety and stress of them, cause both forms of eating disorder.

Its influence has gone deeper shaping our attitudes to eating as a whole, we think that normal eating itself a disorder rather like compulsive eating. We are convinced that this is the cause of fatness or will inevitably cause fatness. This is convenience, something to make the diet industry look as if it is the expert and can add some of that to your life to make you slim.

In a sense, this abnormal and actually bordering on pathological set of assumptions about and around eating have now become the norm by which we measure our eating.

Until we re-gain a sense of trust and freedom about and around our eating understanding our need for spontaneity, along with order of course. We will continue to spiral into increasingly disordered eating, as we have been doing over the decades of the gathering pace of the crisis crusade.

One of the great things about fat acceptance is the re-gaining of self trust, it is slow, but it’s important and vital if we are to rescue ourselves and apply what we have learned from assuming that normal eating was the problem.

It wasn't.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

The more I know, the less I know

It is said you accrue wisdom with age, but I'm afraid there's one area where I feel like I may be losing rather than gaining. That's in the things people say to fat people.

After years of taking on board what people said to me and trying in vain to act on it. I've discovered that when you remove the self-loathing, suddenly you're left with what the actual words they are actually saying at you. I’ve discovered to my amazement, that I’m not actually sure how they should be understood or read anymore.

It seems that in my constant highly emotive state, my mind was filling in with a general purpose sensibility of “oh no, I’m bad”, “oh no, I’m still bad” “oh no I’m badder still” “what am I to do, how much harder is it possible to try, than this?”

That's mostly what I really heard, you are bad.

I used to think I understood what 'you have no self-respect' meant, it meant myself neglect, borne through lack of pride in myself, lead to fat. Now I can hear or, there is less in the way of me recognizing an undercurrent some other things like 'your lack of telling me to get lost for my impudence, shows you lack self respect. It’s me for goodness sake!”

Being well brought up and with a desire to please, my response was, "why have I upset these nice people?! They wouldn't be shouting if I wasn't bad, I must redouble my efforts!"

Now as my sore brain starts to soothe and calm itself, other things occur. Your fatness is supposed to say you don't respect yourself. But fat people with self-respect are supposed to be much of the reason behind the obesity crisis. Self respect is supposed to keep you fat. As you become fat, if you have any self respect, you must lose it, in order to give you motivation to re-gain it, because you have such self respect.

If in my state of trying to please I never questioned why people were shouting and carry on at me, yes, I was a little lacking, chicken and egg. If I did, I would have asked myself why on earth the way others were carrying on could possibly have anything to do with me.

If it had occurred; it didn’t.

To think I was taking all this seriously!

No wonder that felt so bad.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Eating is bound to be a moral issue

The question is which morality?

I know what is meant by "Eating /food is not a moral issue" but it's a shame that in our response to labelling foods 'good' or 'bad', that we accept the premise of this being the whole of morality and eating. 

The way we eat is bound to both reflect and be affected by our morality (personal and collective) our self expression too as with the clothes we wear. Its necessity makes it an intimate part of our experience, we cannot avoid the way this source has been channelled into the obesity crisis.

It illuminates the anchor it has in people's minds for one, part of the sadness of being under attack is not being able to grasp what gives it such power.

We express our ethical concerns through eating whether its including/excluding things out of conscience or spiritual and religious belief. Even when we change our diet for health reasons that tends to take on a moral tone.

Rejecting obesity crisis dictates about eating offers the possibility of other moralities, better ones. Ones that are humane preferring to reflect people’s lived reality and the way their bodies actually function.

A more intriguing divide is the extent to which you are guided by your inner reasoning rejecting the outer dictates of those who have authority for its own sake or for the convenience of others, even under duress.

It becomes a discussion between those who like to believe human beings lean towards degeneracy when feeding themselves and those who feel given minimal interference from other agendas plus a variety of choice, that the average person will do as well as any ideology in the main.

One of the first ways children begin to assert and test their will is over their food choices, starting from the breast or bottle. Many of their choices seem influenced by their personal bio-chemistry as well as or reflecting their tastes and aesthetic sensibilities and people they wish to be like. We do need to prevent the food industries getting a hold of their imaginations and respect their decisions.

We make moral decisions about the way our food is produced the way we cultivate it those affect our relationship with the natural world and other animals.

On a macro level what is added to everyday food stuffs in order to fortify with nutrients. People suffer especially in terms of brain development all over the world for want of nutrients added to things like salt in the west. Some of the earliest consumer laws in the UK were prompted by the adulteration of staples like flour to improve the appearance or add bulk, up to and including things that were poisonous.

Eating cannot be separated from our innate sense of morality when above all, it sustains our ability to exist.

Hunger and appetite

The words appetite and hunger are difficult to tell apart a lot of the time. They seem to be used interchangeably. Hunger is the easier term; it's the body's need for energy. Now, if you are hungry and ingest something energy dense, you can satisfy or satiate your hunger but it is likely that you will feel the need for a certain something, that's:

Appetite. The content or make up of what you actually eat, the balance of nutrients both major and minor.You can feel full but still hunger for something else that better fulfils you needs. Calories although important and will see you through if you had no choice, are not enough over the longer term, you need things that contain the balance of nutrients you need.

A craving is often part of that appetite, when it is either unsatisfied, has built up over time, or due to unusual demands made on your body, often in times of growth, your own on in the case of women, growing a baby.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Boyle's queendom

I first heard about Susan Boyle from Sandy, as I don't tend to watch the show she featured on. Due to Sandy's ability to convey her innate compassion by the time I reached this bit: 
The first note was all it took for everyone to see.
I felt a slight lump in the throat just hearing the story of  a woman I'd never heard of. A lot of the reaction to the lady's triumphant win-around audition concentrating on the obvious looks angle feels a little bit too easy when we all have equally arbitrary and similar criterion by which we exclude people from the group and that isn't being discussed.

There's a slight air of judgementalism toward the audience but they did accept her on talent, which is more that can be said for those who exclude because people do not share their cultural background and idioms often couched as them "lacking in intelligence.

I watched the YouTube video of her audition (sans sound) before I heard her speak or sing. The story is that Mz Boyle has been scorned because she's neither beautiful, nor young and is plump to boot. That's fair enough as far as it goes, but it appears to be trying to tie her story to its context in a way that allows some to distance themselves from a story that is really a reminder to us all.

My immediate impression of her is that she has an ever so slightly unusual bearing; the way she holds and carries herself, her assertion which has an air of vulnerability nonetheless.

People who are not run of the mill are supposed to be subdued around the more 'socially skilled', if not that gives that would give their assumed ascendancy a bit of a shake.

We are supposed to get a sense of self worth through belonging and accepted, we sometimes give up things or put aside doubts in order to throw our lot in. "Outsiders" can disquiet us by disturbing the memory of that, if someone isn't accorded the privilege of being one of us, they should feel badly about that to soothe our disquiet at least.

To make it all seems worthwhile and correct.

If not, what do our compromises count for?

Looks aren't as simple a matter as is often made out anyway, I think it was Helena Rubinstein who alluded to it when she said, "there are no ugly women only lazy ones." I always felt "lazy" was a catch all which included disinterested or disobedient.

Or to put it another way, as long as you submit and pay constant tribute to society's beauty representations, you are often deemed acceptable regardless of whether you are a raving beauty or not.

Often its the paying  tribute that really matters more than your level of attractiveness, as you are showing that you are on board with certain values, that you submit to them. That is very important.

The thing I don't really like is the fury and rage about "beauty" from those who feel they lose out here, but are okay in the ones they are trained in which are sometimes less democratic and amenable to tribute.

There is supposed to be this great divide between treacherous beauty and meretricious intelligence, but is there?

Susan Boyle is unstyled we have no idea how she'd 'scrub up', how she would look if styled in the manner of middle aged women who preen and pluck themselves to the nth degree. Now no one must escape that, regardless of age or stature.

See Hillary Clinton as opposed to say Golda Meir.

There was some talk about a traumatic birth leaving her with a brain injury and some kind of  learning disability. This is possibly what the audience was picking up on and is often played up in this kind of programme as a trigger to respond sceptically. Tending to zero in on them as the early stages contestants showing people overly optimistic about their level of talent.
I find this almost painful, excruciatingly unwatchable-which is why I don't. I received notice, would I have reacted any differently to the audience without that? I'm not entirely sure.

At some point in all our lives, we will have to win people round often it is profoundly unfair, which is why it is so often the stuff of our deepest-"I'll show them!" style fantasies.

Whatever group, we all decide those who is like us and therefore part and those decidedly not and to disassociate from them too. Often outsider status rests on the same kinds of things present in Susan Boyle a seeming unworldliness about the rules of the clique and their acceptable codes of carriage, manner and dress, worse still if it seems to be combined with some or any appearance of confidence or self-belief. That as well as the opposite being upset by exclusion provokes amusement.

"Misfits" they may be, but they must get their tone even-no strong emotion that betrays they care unduly about their status. Rather than feeling complimented, it seems to make people wonder why you'd care so much about little old them?

We can re-confirm what we've (supposedly) gained in the group against the appearance of someone who never came close to the corps d'espirit.

Here's a woman that's had to rely on inner reserves to keep going in circumstances that have seen off others who may be a better fit, caring for an elderly person in their declining years. Her mother was 91 when she died and Susan looked after her for years.

She has also had to be strong to resist the campaign of bullying by local children, when she herself was one and as an adult too.

She was able to win people round in part because she was in her milieu, she's watched the show as a viewer, sung her songs locally, these are her people even if she's had an uneasy fit.

Those who'd have no place for her turn this into axe grinding about beauty and youth, rather than considering how we all push people to the margins of our snug habitats and what we expect them to do about that.

We all set people aside, write them off in ways no deeper or probing a judgement of the human character than one's hair or eyebrow styling.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

A nourishing bowl of blahhhh

It's never convinced as a dish, the effort and ingredients needed to make it half way pleasurable are often wasted. It used to be the thing, still is amongst some to thicken what already tends toward tastelessness, with tasteless thickeners, yum.

Then there's the handful of salt you end up putting without intending to, in the vain hope that it might somehow be about something. Or the thinking that soup's healthy trap. This soup tastes good, only to realise that 'tastes good' is relative to soup and you've used more fat than is contained in a portion of fried chicken to try and oomph it up.

The texture often isn't right, silky smooth, often it's too thick and yet at the same time bitty and gritty. So you feel like you are swallowing something you should be chewing.

All this for something that was presumably created to be a vehicle for leftovers. In order to make it taste anything like exciting- without talking it up- it tends to become unbalanced. The tendency is, f it tastes even half way decent, you might as well have something that has comparable fat and less salt and is better conceived and satisfying.
What is it, a drink or food?

Would you pour say, orange juice, even the kind 'with bits' into a bowl and slurp it with a spoon?

Identity crisis.

A hearty soup is either a thin or nearly stew, nothing wrong with that. If you actually make a stew, you can have it with some rice or some other starchy ballast. Rather than having it all dumped in the soup. Every bite, more or less the same. Any room for differing combinations, depends on your spoon craft or the viscosity of our bowl full of steam.

But more than anything, I think what has been the final straw in my flight from soup, it's this deadly phrase.
'A nourishing bowl of soup'
It has to advertise its moral credentials to entice?

A sure sign that something is up is when the pleasure doesn't come from the thing itself, but all the fuss that surrounds it. There are times when one might do bad things if you don't get your hands on some, fried chicken, or french fried potatoes or whatever. But who really would rough someone up if they got in the way of the soup tureen?

Mindless eating

Mindless eating is about outside cues controlling our eating habits. Things like, clearing your plate, judging what you should eat by manufacturers portioning, size of containers or serving and so forth.

This reminds of the old axiom about eating, that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. Brian Wansink has formulated this into a theory, using experiments such as the bottomless soup bowl

This might tell us that when we are socialised to pay attention to these outer cues, they can start to dominate our inner needs.

The answer to this then is to restore those inner needs to the fore and liberate ourselves from the outer ones.

As usual though the answer is put in terms that of introducing another layer of vigilant second guessing of what might be alright to eat and in what amounts. It couldn't possibly be that we should jettison it all for going with our inner cues.

Even though relying mindlessly on outer cues is correctly identified as the problem. You are 'mindless' because if you are really thinking, what do you need your mind for? Nature abhors waste.

What is interesting though is how far does this imbalance between inner and outer instructions go?

How symbolic is it of other areas of our lives?

Are people who keep their own needs and dictates to the fore, more likely to do so with their eating, and vice versa? Because being in tune with a strong inner voice, protects you from loud stridency from outside, it is a refuge from it and a defense against it.

Staying true to ourselves enables our bodies to settle at their best place, and probably empowers us most healthwise, whatever that means for any one of us.

We aren't taught that though, we are taught to mistrust ourselves and our instincts. We are repeatedly told that our inner needs will destroy us if we follow them; see eating what you want= death by eating as an example of this.

The cure for mindless eating is not more mindless following of some other form of diktats, whether it's the food producers, retailers or healthy eating experts, they're all in the same game, to divorce us from our natural needs and desires; to replace them with whatever they want.

That would defeat a lot of the purpose behind the obesity crisis, which is to increase our sense of mistrust again after movements where we began to try and cast aside our shackles.

If we don't nurture, cultivate, read and follow our own inner maps, we must look outside ourselves for direction.

This is where the experts come in, ready and waiting to tell us what to do, if something goes wrong, it's inevitably because we didn't follow instructions or didn't follow them enough, no matter how much we did. As fat people are finding to their cost.

Eventually the pain of this surrender and the dysfunction that goes with it, becomes more intolerable than the fear of letting it go.

That's when things get really interesting

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Weight loss as secular theology

Interesting thread in this discussion

About how Christianity handles the issue of body size. It's clear from what has been said and quoted that opinion seems to vary.

There are references to the state of being fat as something to aspire to, as a blessed state, which probably reflects the threat of hunger and famine.

The issue of gluttony, which of course fat people have become a representation of, seems more about philosophical interpretations of the soul versus the flesh. The idea that our spirit is eternal, but our flesh is mortal, therefore to transcend it, by neglecting to feed it and generally being disgusted by it and such, is a sign of inner piety.

It's interesting to see how various groups handle the current weight loss culture. I always say, diversity is strength, because different worldviews pick up on different things, which should give us ideally a kind of mosaic of wisdom to draw on, and therefore a better ensuring our survival as a whole.

The whole weight loss thing has seen this cherished theory shot somewhat to hell, as groups of all kinds fall like nine pins in line with diet fascism. The sheer ubiquity of this is truly staggering. I never would have predicted it.

Feminist's become sexists, science becomes a form of religion, it just goes on and on. All to perpetuate the notion that we can control our weight using calorie restriction. It makes you wonder what we actually know or fully understand what we are supposed to be believe in.

The big question is why? Why has this idea achieved such potency?

What is ironic about all this in a religious context, is that dieting causes 'gluttony', if you define that as overeating- from rebounding or compulsive eating or other forms of disordered eating.

Attempts to prevent our urges, bring them about- dieting up the scale, attempts to discharge our 'sin', causes it to increase- dieting provoking binge eating etc., Bringing about the sin, through the morality or control is the reason why a lot of secularists reject religion, or believers grow weary and lose their faith.

Like god, dieting can never be wrong, therefore only the individual is left to carry the burden of things going wrong. If you eat a lot, that's why you are fat, if you eat neither too much nor too little, you're eating too much for you, if you eat very little, why then of course you're fat, you're not eating enough.

After embracing atheism and humanism, in part due to finding the very religious notion of original sin depressingly misanthropic and inhumane, we seem to have embraced it again.

It turns out we do need the rigid guidelines of lifestyle choice (which of course isn't a choice), we must have the strictures of dieting to atone for our sin and the threat and punishment of social stigma to keep us in line. Or we will 'eat ourselves to death'.Normal eating- eating according to your own needs and dictates= gluttony. Because we are intrinsically corrupt.

Our mistake in the past was having the wrong priests to guide us, not priest's but scientists and doctors, even though they are exactly the same people. On know account should we feel fit to question them, ours is not to reason why.

We must not think, but follow, memorising and regurgitating that which we may or may not understand. There is no point in us understanding what we cannot question or have any say on. We cannot take care of ourselves, we are children, like the sheep of god ( or is it lambs?). Except scrub god, and replace it with man.

We have supposedly progressed from religion to the triumph of rationalism; and yet somehow.....

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


Courtesy of obesity timebomb's reader I discovered this annoying farticle over at TIME, entitled "Kids who lack self control more prone to obesity later", yet didn't have the self control to resist claiming the same old tripe as something new.

When the course is predestined yet produces no answers and won't change, then it goes round and round in circles, calling something old, new because it comes from another source or angle though the message is the same.

Fat humans, in this case children struggle to control themselves.

Not sure why obeying the pointless instructions of adults is seen as a measure of self control, it seems to be more a measure of obedience. Or even why you are supposed to control impulses, they are there to respond to surely. Not doing so can encourage them to get stronger and if that persists it can develop a momentum of its own and become an imbalance in itself.

And as there are differences in weight between races, markedly so;

That percentage is almost doubled among American-Indian children, 31% of whom are obese.
One has to wonder what they are actually measuring. They may well be measuring the effects of stress on the brain. What they call poor impulse control maybe a lack of trust that adults will, or can keep their promises, that as they tend to lack things, they need to grab what is in front of them for fear they will not have an opportunity for an achingly long time.

Other children well catered for may well find it easier to trust and obey adults who are more well resourced therefore able to provide. Having all your needs met is the reverse of the above cycle of responding to impulses.

If they are constantly responded to and satisfied, they become more orderly and rather than become overwhelming, they can  become very mild so can be quite calm about your response. So delaying gratification just means a much calmer and more patient system.

Impulses are not objective criterion.

Eating disorders as mental illnesses

The problem with calling eating disorders mental illnesses, is that it seems to come out of the attitude that dieting is normal. As it is a disordered way of eating itself, it’s predictable that it should provoke disordered eating or eating disorders in the susceptible.

I do not think that eating disorders can properly be understood in terms of mental illnesses as they are. The usual basis for this, their dramatic and powerful hold over the mind and actions, ignores that eating is necessary and has powerful defences built in to protect this from being usurped. One of those is the fact that the appetite and hunger signals can become a lot more powerful than would be encountered normally. We can see the beginnings of this when we miss a meal.

To declare this kind of thing mental illness when it is a consequence of disordered way of eating is unfair on those with eating disorders, it helps to obscure the decisions they need to face, whether pursuing weight loss in the face of the results of it is one.

And it gives the impression that their responses are irrational, when they are entirely in keeping with their survival instincts. How irrational is direct triggering of inbuilt responses. On who's terms and by what measure are they declared so? In order to tell, we have to have a good understanding of normal eating and that has been undermined by the respectability of dieting.

All this favours commercial interests and legitimizes a dubious 'product'. I also don’t like the way it adds to our misunderstandings and ignorance about how eating functions. This follows the trend of pathologising eating in general by expecting it to be ‘genteel’ even when under great duress and direct provocation. Although eating disorders have other triggers, it's possible that they would be reversed by the end of dieting as much as any direct treatment of them for some.

It should be considered how much this means that it is dieting that is closer to a mental illness as it is irrational behaviour in that people believe it works when it doesn’t. The idea that human beings can or should potentially be able to influence or control their weight seems to be to be reasonable one.

The problem is the means and methods used to achieve this are themselves pathological and highly dysfunctional.

This is a clear example of the ends not justify the means.

Saturday, 4 April 2009


This reminds me of this.

Both Star Jones and Fern Brittan got caught in a similar trap when asked about the cause of their respective- and significant- weight loss, both answered to the effect that they had eaten less and exercised. The fuss surrounding them both is one of ‘dishonesty’ as they did not reveal their respective gastric surgeries as the source of this.

Both women had their reasons for being secretive Fern Britton was worried about encouraging others to get the operation done because of her example. It seems she knew the risks and didn’t want anyone coming to harm through following her example. This at least is a commendable sentiment, better than those who recommend this as a good thing to do as if it’s all good.

Star Jones having been known as a fat woman who accepted herself as she was, it seems she had a change of heart in the few years preceding her op and felt that her actions made her previous stance statements look dishonest. How ironic.

Both were responding to health scares and that affected their decisions. Is the accusation of dishonesty itself any less dishonest, if you believe diets are viable? Why should you care if you are convinced they work how weight is lost? If it's via an operation, big deal, you still have the ‘successful’ diet and exercise to fall back on.

It’s as if people feel they are owed inspirational weight loss stories, even though something should either work or it should not. No-one needs to be 'inspired' to take a painkiller for their headache because they can count on its effectiveness.

This is ridiculous on so many levels. If the answer is always eat less and do more, why do people always ask what people did when they lost weight? Strictly speaking what these women were saying wasn’t untrue.

Set up by calorie manipulation as the only way to lose weight, which is illusory in terms of effectiveness. So to achieve this by any means organs are cut and turned into a calorie restriction corset to stymie the body’s inevitable response to deprivation.

It’s an awful tribute to the design of the body which can rarely be surmounted by will. It’s absurd because slim people are slim without any real effort and yet due to the idea that fatness is an immoral bill run up on credit which must be worked off, people feel they should succeed at something they are unlikely to. And feel guilty about that and that spreads to the shame of having weight loss surgery.

It’s like a crazy nightmare where Jack Nicholson as the Joker is in charge. Some say the operation ought to be private, but that helps to maintain an unrealistic idea of the viability of diets.

Truth is people want to keep believing, which cuts to the nub of the issue. Those who wish to believe are disappointed and angry when they see a dramatic story which buoys up their hopes and efforts, only to find out that wasn’t the way it happened. If people wish to buy into the delusion that they are likely to lose a lot of weight, they only have themselves to blame in the end.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

The term 'fat acceptance'

A discussion over at Vesta's site, about a nightclub entrepreneur called Lisa Marie Garbo took an unexpected turn raising problems with the term "fat acceptance". The "fat" bit in this case.

According to some the use of the word is alienating, putting thin people off the fat acceptance movement. This is supposed to be our biggest aim to the extent that we should drop it on that basis alone.

The purpose of trying to protect fat people's rights or restore self acceptance is that discrimination against fat people leaves a mark on everyone, not just fat people. It has become so overloaded with negatives that the poison is spilling elsewhere and that needs to be addressed head on.

Size acceptance would just submerge it which seems to me the impulse at work, giving in to that and calling fat acceptance size acceptance would just be giving into that very power seeming to defeat the purpose. The power needs to be discharged by being aired.

"Size gets you a foot in the door to persuade others by being more inclusive."

But what if that's too high a price? What if the loss of energy by obscuring the aim means we end up not caring enough? What's the point in fighting lesser issues when this one is looming over everything?

There seems to be resentment at the possibility of fat people calling our own shots for ourselves after being told by everyone else what to do the whole time. I feel this is part of what is making people nervous. I didn't quite realise the sense of ownership would remain so strong, and unabashed.

It reminds me of how those hard boiled detectives get into their cases, they are warned off time and again, often unexpectedly at first. The more this happens the more likely they are to want all the more to find the source of it all. The way this keeps coming up shows that we should keep going with it. As the horror fades people won't care and size will be fine.

Truth is people repeatedly keep trying to dissuade fat acceptance from keeping the word fat, because they are not interested in dealing with it because it doesn't seem to affect them directly.

There's also a sense that we are being asked to prove something that others are still in charge that things are still the same, but surely that cannot possibly be what we could want.

By re-reviving the words rich meaning, rich of course is one of them along with fertile etc., In doing that we are lifting the burden from everyone.

I hope others join in.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Good/ bad fatty

Some people believe in what's now referred to as healthy lifestyles. Others are sceptics.

Healthy living enthusiasts believe that a diet of whole grains, fibre, vegetables and fruits, with a bit of protein thrown in, will ensure optimum health.

Others have never lost the sense that what they what and like and enjoy is the only worthwhile criteria for eating.

Where healthy lifers, believe in exercising ones body.

Sceptics move according to their own diktats, as much as they can, they trust themselves to move for a purpose or for the pleasure of it.

Describing yourself as living a healthy lifestyle, is a little like calling yourself 'pro-life' or a 'pro sex feminist'. If you really were, you would naturally personify it and therefore wouldn't label yourself so self-consciously.

Whether people are fat or thin, they come to conclusions based on the people they are, not by their weight.

The above divide is just as much there outside FA as it is within. Fat people, in general and in FA are just like anyone else.

I'm not criticising Cree for raising the point, but I'm not quite sure why people expect fat people to be free of these kinds of opinions, we have all learned them equally, we are part of society, why would we be by necessity be immune?

I do know that healthy lifestyle ideals could be seen to contradict aspects of fat acceptance, undermine them even (or vice versa).

Those of us who are healthy lifestyle sceptics have more in common-on this and many points- with slim people who reject this way, than we do with people within FA who think it's all that. They are enthusiasts and the nature of what they believe tends to make it run amok.

Sometimes H/L does act as a Trojan horse for a lot of unresolved desire, it can serve to hide, and perpetuate all sorts of disordered thinking on food and eating, plus desire for weight loss.

However, it is described, perceived and prescribed as scientifically valid.

And as we've learned to our cost, that can go a hell of a long way.