The diet industry doesn’t care about you or your physical or mental health or your happiness.
They care about your money.
The diet industry doesn’t care about you or your physical or mental health or your happiness.
They care about your money.
Hello fam. How ya doing? I hope you’re doing well and enjoying a day filled with delicious foods and internal sunshine.
With the weather warming up and a mini-toe surgery leaving me unable to do much else in terms of movement, I’ve recently taken to going to long walks with my dog and listening to podcasts. After blowing through a couple series in their entirety, I started listening to Food PsychFood Psych per recommendation of a few others.
Overall, I really enjoy listening to the podcast. It’s thought-provoking, delivers important messages so many need to hear, and is entertaining enough to hold my attention. That said, I do not agree with every message delivered in its entirety (and am a firm believer you should not only watch/listen to things you completely agree with, because that’s called living in an echo chamber, and it’s important to understand other POVs, IMO), and I seriously believe that the podcast is missing an important part of body acceptance.
I can totally get behind the anti-diet movement (for those unfamiliar, it basically points out how society has normalized diet culture, and now it’s more abnormal than not to not be constantly dieting); I’ve felt that way about diet-culture for a very long time and have recently become an advocate of intuitive eating. I am learning to be better at letting go of external cues and just eating what works for me when I want to and I’m all about that life.
But the entire podcast focuses mainly on accepting bigger bodies, “thin privilege,” and how thin people don’t feel the pressure to change their bodies. And I can say, first-handed, this isn’t true. I have felt enormous shame for being the scrawny kid growing up, and even to this day, everyone from strangers to doctors to potential employers feel entitled to comment on my size, make pointed assumptions on how I got to be my size, how I should change, and what my physical or professional capabilities are based on my body type.
I must be weak, emotionally vulnerable, mentally ill, and childish, right? And no one would ever find a woman who looks like a 12-year-old boy to be desirable…or at least that’s what I’ve been told. And heaven forbid I order a salad somewhere, even if that’s what my body is craving, because obviously, you know, that means I have a problem.
I have honestly been asked in job interviews how old I am, and been told that “no one should look like that, it’s not natural or healthy,” regarding my shape and size. Uh, okay, cool.
The sad part is, I’m not even that abnormally sized. And in fact, in my 6 years living in NYC, my body never came up as an issue. But after living in the Midwest this year, I gotta say, I feel the heat very regularly. It reminds me of being in middle and high school again, where people would tease me for my size and I was on the “itty bitty titty committee.” Moreover, eating disorders are SERIOUS disease, and not something to take lightly or assume or wish upon anyone.
Not to minimize any pain any others feel about shame they receive for their body shaming, but I argue thin privilege is not the privilege it’s made out to be in this Podcast series. Thin people get shamed all the time, and damn it, our feelings get hurt too.
Bodies change and fluctuate throughout the lifespan. Maybe in a few years I’ll look different. Maybe not. But this is my body today, and I’m tired to being made to feel shameful of it just as much as anyone else.
I’ve written about this before in this viral piece for Spoon, and years later, I still feel the same.
I will continue to listen to the Food Psych series, and truly DO enjoy it. However, I wish they would feature thin shaming at least just once. They constantly bring up “health at every size,” yet seem to not acknowledge the fact that smaller people may also just be that way and may be healthy.
In fact, at times, I feel as if they almost demonize being small. In a society that is so thin-obsessed, the acceptance of eating what’s right for your body and not fighting your body’s natural size is so so important. But I wish they would acknowledge both ends of this spectrum. People know what they look like, and size isn’t, in my opinion, anything to be commented on.
Anyways, those are my thoughts. Wishing everyone a day of body acceptance and self-compassion!
Kbaked.com formerly focused on recipes, but I’m hoping to change that moving forward and get a lil more real. Today I wanted to share some reflections I’ve had recently and give a general life update. Are you buckled in? Brevity isn’t my strong suit, and I have no editorial team on this blog to tell me I’m talking too much, so I feel like this is going to be a long one…
First, let’s back up a few months. Or more like 8 months. Let’s go back to August of 2016. After completing my master’s degree in nutrition at Columbia University, I traded two job offers and a life in the city I knew and loved for what I thought was an opportunity of a lifetime.
I wish not to go into detail in the interest of being respectful and aware that my experience was highly personal, but what I’ll say is that I quickly realized I had traded a lot of what I’d worked so hard for, for what felt like a series of never-ending empty promises, disappointment, and most importantly, for something I realized my heart wasn’t in.
When I left what I was leaving, I left something certain that made me miserable to move home at age 26 without a job or a solidified future, feeling like a complete loser.
I’d be lying if I were to say the past few months have been easy; they have not been. But something good has come out of them: during the past few months of unemployment/feeling frustrated and angry at the world, I actually finally feel in tune with my body, maybe for the first time since childhood.
After a lot of emotional stress and constantly feeling like I had totally ruined my life/was a giant failure/that I’d generally fucked up big time, I slowly but surely somehow decided I needed to stop holding myself hostage. I started really getting into self-care, and not even intentionally.
This is going to sound cheesy, and I hate to sound like one of those cliche fitness-saved-me people, but I really think getting into barre helped kick me in the right direction.
After weeks of debating if I should or not, I tried a class at my local The Barre Code. I loved it. The atmosphere was so positive, and the whole class was about challenging yourself, taking time for yourself, and getting stronger, physically and mentally.
I almost immediately signed up for a month unlimited deal, and started going regularly.
This was the first workout I’ve genuinely adored and looked forward to since my competitive dance days in high school. The more I went, the more I wanted to go back.
All the instructors were kind, and the strength focused movement was really great for working out lingering aggression.
A funny thing happened when I started going to barre regularly: I also started eating more based on hunger/fullness cues, and less according to clocks/schedules/what and when I normally eat. I also started letting myself sleep – like actually rest and sleep – for a full 7-8 hours a night, for the first time in years.
In grad school, even though I was studying nutrition, I look back and realize I was really unhealthy. Between the rigor of school and research, working two jobs, and my anxiety, I was averaging 5-6 hours of sleep on a good night, and I was constantly so wound up that I actually induced terrible migraines and muscle spasms in my shoulders, neck, and back, all of which lead me to countless doctors appointments, physical therapy, and therapy therapy.
When it came to eating last year, I’d like to say I was healthy – and generally speaking, my diet probably looked healthy to an outsider. But I look back and realize how planned everything was. I was on a tight budget and would grocery shop once a week, buying basically the exact same shit every time, perfectly calculated to get me through the week ahead.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this; I hate food waste and think it’s good to plan ahead so you don’t end up with lots of spoiled food, BUT the way I was eating was very structured, based on routine, and didn’t really allow for too much flexibility. My eating routine became a habit: just another thing I had to get out of the way to move on and focus on other things, not really checking in with what I wanted and needed as much as I probably should have.
Occasional dinners and desserts out aside, I ate mostly the same things almost every day, at almost the same times, for a year. Didn’t matter if I wasn’t as hungry one day, or if I was famished another. I somehow became a highly routine eater, probably as a result of my insane schedule and tight budget, and also probably because I was too exhausted to take care of myself.
Over the last few months, however, I started eating more based on intuition, and less based on what the clock said. And I stopped pre-planning my meals. Granted, this is much easier now that I live a 2 minute drive from an amazing grocery store with good prices and my schedule is currently WAY more flexible, but still, it’s been a really awakening experience.
Somedays I eat lunch at 11am. Somedays it’s at 2:30pm. And sometimes lunch is a giant plate of snack foods like veggies, dips, avocado, and crackers, other times it’s nut-butter slathered waffles and fruit, and sometimes it’s lunch that actually looks like a ‘lunch’ like salad or sandwich. Some days I eat a lot more than other days. I’ve learned my body has ebbs and flows with when it’s hungry and that’s okay.
I’ve also finally gotten a handle on stress eating. Stress eating is something that has been an issue for me in the past. I am generally a healthy eater, but could get out of control around sweets when I was overtired or stressed. I used to inhale entire pints of ice cream or packages of cookies in a single night and feel like total garbage after. Sometimes it wasn’t even because I was craving sweets. I think, honestly, I was craving the rush.
Now I can have some ice cream or a cookie or a chocolate bar and not feel crazy. Some days I want a lot of sweets so I eat a lot of sweets, and other days I can eat half a cookie and be done with it (minus chocolate, chocolate is an everyday food to me). But it’s so nice to not feel like food is a coping mechanism.
So my food habits have shaped up, not necessarily in terms of nutrition, but in terms of intuition, which is something I believe I have lacked since probably high school, and something I believe is overlooked in terms of importance when it comes to food. I just feel so much more sane now.
And sleep: SLEEP. Sleep is the best. I can’t say enough how much sleep has helped me mend my overall frame of mind on a daily basis. I just feel so much better when I get enough, and would 10/10 recommend you prioritize you do the same. I’m going to post more about this in the future.
As mentioned above, much of the positive shifting in my life in terms of being more in tune with my body was unintentional; I was actually awakened to just how much progress I’ve made with I attended a free Orange Theory Fitness class last week.
I’m going to preface this by saying I have nothing against OTF, but it simply wasn’t a positive experience for me. Besides having an instructor who wasn’t my style, shall we say, I didn’t like how the entire workout and OTF concept is so heavily focused on numbers: how many minutes you spend at your max heart rate and how many calories you burn seem to be what’s prioritized in an OTF class.
I didn’t want to wear a heart-rate monitor, because personally I don’t think it’s healthy to focus on how many calories you burn while exercising (any anyways, those monitors are notoriously inaccurate). When I asked if I could NOT wear the heart rate band, I was told that that was “the point,” of the workout.
And it made me reflect: at barre, I don’t focus on calories or numbers or my max heart rate. I focus on releasing stress, turning the anxious part of my brain off (temporarily), and getting stronger, not smaller.
These two very different exercise experiences and my recent shift towards self-care have reminded me of the following things:
That’s all for me today on this long rambling post. Hope y’all have a restful, delicious, happy, wonderful, productive day.
More food for thought: Thinking Out Loud – Running with Spoons