Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I don't typically talk about food because I am very strongly anti-diet-minded* and find that the mere thought of trying to eat healthier or cut out sweets is a surefire binge trigger. I used to count calories in college, and it made me an obsessive, neurotic, hangry beeyotch, because I'd heard so much about the number of calories a woman is supposed to eat, and those advertised numbers are all for dieting and never for health. It's absolutely amazing to learn how much I'm really supposed to be eating. Though individual metabolisms vary greatly, an Internet calculator told me that for my gender, age, height, weight, and activity levels, I need ~2,300 calories per day. That is so much food!

I really like food. I discovered Health At Every Size late last year through The Fat Nutritionist's blog and very seriously took to heart the practice of intuitive eating with an emphasis on permissiveness, meaning I get to eat whatever I want whenever I want as much as I want and trust my body to tell me when enough is enough. It means that sometimes I eat a little too much and feel too full, and sometimes I eat too little and have to make an extra meal. I get to enjoy food, all kinds of food, without fear, guilt, or anxiety.

Few things piss me off as much as food moralizing and comments about "earning" or "deserving" treats. You don't "earn" food; you require it to sustain life! Our relationships with food, as a society, are fraught, and I am hellbent on finding my way to normal eating, eating that doesn't rely on calories, grams, points, or earnings, eating a variety of enjoyable and life- and health-sustaining foods that support mental, emotional, physical, and social wellness.

One obstacle, though, is that I don't cook. I don't know how and don't have an interest in it. Sure, cooking is super fun and easy for lots of my peers, but it's not really something I enjoy. It takes a lot of time, planning, and preparation. It means I eat a lot of frozen foods, fast food, and cereal.

In the last six months, however, I've learned to use my roommates' slow cooker to make one helluva spicy turkey chili and bumble through various soups and stews with edible success. I dine out once or twice a week and always get a to-go box for the leftovers, which frequently are enough for another two meals.

I also started buying sandwich fixins to try to save money on groceries, even though sandwiches are SO dry and boring. But there is a panini press in my office, magically transforming dry and boring sandwiches in to hot, melty goodness.

As an endurance athlete, I recently rekindled my love for bagels and have been enjoying the hell out of them for breakfast most days. Say what you want about gluten-free, low-carb, no-dairy diets, but I have substantial daily caloric requirements to meet. That's not to say that I'm counting calories anymore; I'm eating when I'm hungry, which is frequently. And you know what? I've been maintaining my weight all year (even with increased mileage for Savage and Spartan training) and getting faster and stronger all the time

You should eat in a way that makes you happy and feel good. Dieting doesn't do that for me; I like and choose to eat anything and everything I want.

*"A panel of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health determined that "one third to two thirds of the weight is regained within one year [after weight loss], and almost all is regained within five years." More recent review finds one-third to two-thirds of dieters regain more weight than was lost on their diets; "In sum," the authors report, "there is little support for the notion that diets lead to lasting weight loss or health benefits." Link

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