Tag Archive | Health

size me down

I am not much of a shopper. And, much to my late mother’s chagrin this is true even when it comes to clothing. However, clothes are one of those commodities that need to be replaced and updated at least once a decade or thereabouts, so I do occasionally have to take to the stores and wrangle with the racks of hangers hawking their formless wares.

I have a whole little narrative about my relationship with clothes–and a good and deep relationship it certainly is. Because once I find a cozy item–since I essentially dress for comfort–we are in for the long haul. I will spare you the hoary details and instead share what happened on a recent outing.

National Eating Disorders Association

Zena and I had gone into town to get something I needed for a class I am taking and were then going to head to the farmer’s market. Back in the car between the two errands, just chatting about life, it did come up that I really could use a pair of jeans–given that I didn’t have any.

A few minutes later, we were passing by a small strip of clothing stores. Zena, making particular mention of one of them, said, “Mom, I think that would be a good place for you to find jeans.” And wouldn’t you know, there were a number of parking spots easily available right in front. The next thing I knew, we were in the store.

Apparently, a love of shopping, along with the refined ability to dress oneself and others in exquisite good style, skips a generation. Having Zena with you while hunting for attire is like having the best in a game hunter–I mean personal shopper. She is really good. Except for one thing. She insists that I must try things on. Left to my own devices, I never try things on in stores. I generally know my size and feel confident that by holding the item up before me, I can determine if it will fit well enough–maybe not perfectly–but that’s OK by my gene-lacking standards. The onerous act of dragging one’s body along with a forearm laden assortment of clothes into a tiny dressing room with an enormous mirror is not how I wish to expend my physical or emotional energy.

Given my dogged determination to stop the madness and to help others make peace with their bodies, I purport to have a ‘relatively’ healthy relationship with my own–though gauging relativity is rather vague in this regard. However, I admit that some of this is achieved by having infrequent encounters with its distorted reflection under bright lights in quasi-public places. I would prefer skinny dipping at a sunny beach if bright light and public places are in the offer.

As it turned out, it was a good thing that I was trying things on. Since the last time I shopped, or maybe it is dependent upon the type of store, sizing seems to have changed more than I was aware. This is either a case of new math, or given the placement of multiple zeros on some tags, a result of some computer coding process replacing real numbers. In the name of I am not sure what–we are not our mothers’ clothing sizes. We are increasingly being resized to a lower number. Zena had to forcibly take from me some of the items I had chosen that were based on my belief in an antiquated sizing system.

Into the dressing room we trudged. This step thus engaged the unsolicited assistance of the kind store clerk. I do know these attendants are there to be helpful, but I still prefer to ignore such attention–and besides, I had Zena to help me. Apparently though, my case was complicated, and required the two of them to seek out for me what would best fit. The sizing and styling of jeans is nuanced. Ultimately, I would have to determine if I was curvy straight or modern straight and the style would influence the size. Zena and the clerk each ably navigated the floor and the dressing room bringing me different options, which I compliantly tried on.

At one point, the sales clerk poked her head in and asked me how I was doing. I was not exactly sure, but said I was OK. Eyeing the tag on the pair of jeans I was then donning, she said, “Oh, that is good. You went down a size.” Apparently, it was time for me to have another one of my stunned moments in a retail setting.

I could have responded enthusiastically, that in the six minutes since she had last seen me in the two digit greater-sized pant, I had in the 4 x 4 space taken to a program of calisthenics including jumping jacks and sit ups while wearing one of those fat burning sweat suits– and was glad that my efforts had paid off. Instead, I asked, “What?” She replied by saying, “Isn’t that what every woman wants, to be a smaller size?” Oh dear, I sighed. With Zena out on the floor, at least my daughter would not have to see her mom (gently) trip out this well-meaning woman. She already knows how I feel about such things.

Quietly, I explained where I was coming from and why I was sensitive to her comment. I shared why believing and voicing such assumptions can be misguided and problematic–if not downright dangerous. (Not to mention, how in this case, absurd.) Such common banter ascribing value to diminished size–especially with no knowledge of an individual’s personal experience–belies the realities of those who may be contending with an illness or emotional stress; needing or wanting to gain weight; actually comfortable with their body size; just changing from an adolescent to adult body shape; or struggling with a psychologically and physically disabling eating disorder. Such entrenched beliefs, can trigger reactions ranging from a shaming emotion to a dangerous feeding behavior. Now, how about those new spring colors?

IMG_3545.JPG

Cat and Flowers

The clerk’s cheerful countenance dimmed a tad, but she acknowledged what I was saying. She said she had not ever really thought about it. Understandably, it is one of those things we don’t think about unless we have to. But, with 30 million Americans struggling with some form of an eating disorder and many more at risk, (and a zillion just wishing to hate their bodies a little less) I tell this little story in honor of  Eating Disorder Awareness Week which is observed this year from February 26th through March 4th. This year’s theme is, “It’s Time to Talk About It”.

The insidious nature of eating disorders keeps them hidden in bedrooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms and emergency rooms. To shine light on the seriousness of these disorders, an incredible event has been coordinated by the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). Large iconic landmarks throughout the country will be lit with the blue and green colors of the organization. Please check this out and look for a location near you. Otherwise, you might even see these lights but not understand their significance.

In the end, all was well. I purchased one pair of jeans of some size and style along with a few other attractive items that should keep me well-attired for a few years. I think my mom would be pleased. The clerk and I were all smiles as she handed me the large shopping bag over the counter, and I was feeling smug about the 60% savings. We had actually had a somewhat intimate encounter. Thinking about it, I recognize that dressing room attendants play a big role in helping women of all sizes to find clothing that makes them feel good. Cheers to them! Zena and I headed back out into the great outdoors feeling quite accomplished. Though we never made it to the farmer’s market we’d had a good catch.

Please drop in, say hello, share an experience, subscribe and/or pass my writings along. Thank you.

In health, Elyn

my plate

MyPlate Plate

MyPlate Haiku: In the dark places/I ask courage to believe/I am beautiful. by Anne-Marie

set the twilight reeling

Lou Reed died on Sunday. This was strange to me because my relationship with him had only begun on Saturday night. I am a little embarrassed that I was not fully informed about the music of this artist. Of course I knew some of his songs and was aware of the Velvet Underground and their being part of the Andy Warhol scene, but I think I was just a little too young and a lot too unhip to have accessed more of his music in its time. When I was just a little older and a touch more hip, I did become a fan of Laurie Anderson‘s work, and got it when she and Lou Reed later became an item.

Being attached to the elements of time, sound and place that Lou Reed inhabited, I would have responded with some curiosity and sadness upon hearing of his passing. But, having been in his presence just the night before, made the news resonate through my being.

English: Lou Reed performing Berlin at the Glo...

English: Lou Reed performing Berlin at the Globe Annex in Stockholm July 9 2008  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What had happened was that on Saturday night, Pete and I found ourselves still adjusting to being parents without boarders. This is what my daughter called us when she moved out recently to start college, leaving us with no kids living in the house. Simultaneous with that event, by means of some cable wire, our computer had become magically capable of projecting things onto our television set–thus widely expanding the viewing opportunities at our disposal. So, giddy with this new means of entertainment against the backdrop of a quiet house, Pete turned me onto a show called Spectacle, where Elvis Costello interviews an array of musical guests. Though this was big news to me, the episodes were recorded between 2008 and 2010. The show is a combination of story telling and casual performance which I love.

Comfortably curled up for a night of relaxation, we started with Elvis Costello’s interview with Elton John. Right away my rock and roll pulse began to quicken. Next, we chose the one with Lou Reed. With Costello’s thoughtful and serious questions and Reed’s droll but meaningful answers, the segment just began to unfold like a walk through a park. Reed was iconic but also gracious and familiar seeming. He  discussed lyrics, the influence of the Beat poets, songs as stories and the effectiveness of minimal chords. Then, the artist Julian Schnabel joined them on stage. A very close friend of Reed, he told a touching story about loss that brought out the richness of their relationship. He recited Reed’s Rock Minuet as if he were Hamlet. Costello and Reed performed a perfect duet of A Perfect Day and they ended the segment with Set the Twilight Reeling. The combination of the scorching guitars and contrasting vocals was beautiful. I turned to Pete and said that I felt that I had just had a spiritual experience.

So, when on Sunday, as I was home working on some frustrating and soul-constraining activities and then saw the news that Lou Reed had died, I was strangely affected. How could that be?  I just saw him the night before. He seemed ok–his heart was full and he treated us to some of Sweet Jane. I texted Pete–who was at a conference–the news. He wrote back agreeing that was very weird. Throughout the rest of the day, in between tending to my mundane tasks, I gobbled up the various contents of the musician’s cholesterol-rich oeuvre by reading articles and listening to his music. When Pete returned, he played me some more. I felt kind of empty. I regretted the loss to the world of a sensitive artist.

My own clinical work can frequently feel quite vapid to me–I am reactive to when there is too much science, too much medicine, too much judgement, and too little soul. The lyrics of my day are littered with mean or inflamed words like hypertension, arthritis, hypertriglyceridemia, gout, GERD, diabetes, obesity and diabesity. Diabesity–actually sounds like it could be the name of a Lou Reed song. While Lou Reed’s lyrics can be ugly, angry and crass sometimes too, they are also tender and romantic.

I am always longing for the lyrical and the poetic–and am grateful for artists and their art. For the lives and stories that I am privy to, I imagine something I call Diapoetry–where the impersonal becomes personal, where healing becomes love. This is any artistic or humanistic expression of matters related to health and the conditions that support or hinder it. It has applications wider than its name. There are beautiful renditions of illness and loss; there are healing practitioners whose science is art, there is life-giving  food prepared with love and there are acts of service. It can be pretty or not–but it touches emotions and represents our fuller selves. Diapoetry can be represented in many ways. My observation is just that the collective psyche is weary of the bombastic and literal when it comes to our bodies.

So, it was additionally strange when on the following night, Pete said, “El, read this“. He handed me a New York Times article about Lou Reed having diabetes. Apparently, as Reed struggled with what to eat in response to it, the restaurateurs and chefs he knew throughout his little village of New York began to create special menus for him and helped him to become interested in food for health. I was shocked. Here I am following the life and times of this legendary artist who was known for his often alienating and transgressive behaviors–and he ends up with the same humbling condition that brings many to their knees, praying for culinary and nutritional redemption. Suddenly, Lou Reed who traveled in realms quite foreign to me, landed in a place I know a little something about.

The article concluded with a quote from Reika Alexander, the owner of one of the restaurants who nourished him. She said, recalling a strong final hug, “Even a couple of weeks ago he told me that he loved eating our food because it made him feel really healthy. He was really sweet. I really miss him. I was hoping I could see him again.”

That story, that food, that hug and Lou Reed himself–I think that is diapoetry. It may be a fitting ending for this man who obviously fed the collective psyche.

Anyway, send word, love and any expressions of Diapoetry you may wish to share.

In health, Elyn

Happy Birthday to my dear husband Peter, who brings a lot of  music to my life. Really– jazz, classical, post rock, electronic, some really weird stuff–and always rock and roll. This video is for you, my love.

http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2013/11/11/131111ta_talk_smith

 

my plate

my plate

My Plate Haiku

As the twilight sunburst gleams
as the chromium moon it sets
As I lose all my regrets
and set the twilight reeling
I accept the new found man
and set the twilight reeling.  By Lou

 

dear eaters

Recently, having taken the commuter bus to work, I walked past a low-income housing complex that is on the way to the Health Center from the bus stop.  As I approached the complex, I saw two women standing on the sidewalk in front of the buildings.  I would guess they were both in their sixties.  One of them was blind and was holding her white cane.  The other was standing very close to her, ready to guide her if necessary.

autumn leaves

autumn leaves (Photo credit: Muffet)

I was quickly scurrying along, gauging my pace on my need to arrive at my office on time.  As I only take the bus on occasion, I was aware that my mind was taking in very different impulses along this route than when I drive.   As the two women came into view I processed thoughts about the nature of their relationship, kindness, the burden of poverty coupled with blindness, and a reminder to myself to work on my gratitude list.   Just as I was passing them, the blind woman said, “And I heard that sugar substitutes aren’t that good for you, and that they make you crave more sugar.”  The sighted woman replied, “Yes, I heard that too.”

I often say that it does not take long in the course of my day for some nutrition based message to filter into my consciousness.  Yet, this was  an unexpected source.  By the time the women exchanged the two sentences my steps had already taken me just past them.  For a split second I thought to stop to engage them in a conversation, to inform them of my nutritional proficiency and expound on the topic of artificial sweeteners, affirming what they had heard.  Instead, I felt my lips turn into a mild smile that was intended to be for them, but that neither would ever see.

I think I absorbed the experience as a quiet lesson that one never knows how or where new information flows.  In this regard it related to my own work of attempting to expand nutritional consciousness and yet not always knowing how or where my own or others efforts are reaching.  I internally thanked the women and carried their story into my day–and referenced them as my teachers with some of my clients.

This story also has meaning for me as I come full cycle of having written this blog for two years–and as I contemplate beginning a third.  Looking back, I see that I have written 75 posts on various nutrition-related issues.  I see them as vignettes that describe the milieu that defines eating in this current and complicated time; the challenges that dictate and mutate our food culture and the experience of the real and humble people who eat in response and reaction to this environment.  I hope others see them in this way too.

I often wonder if my stories have resonance and purpose and whether they are instructive.  Or, if they need be.  Many people out there are doing incredible work and informing in clear and beautiful ways on how to address and improve human nourishment. It is not infrequently that I have doubts about the service of my writings and if they justify the time they demand.  Are my words flowing into any cracks and crevices that may be helping others that I may never know about?  Or, as my wise friend Lisa Dungate, who writes Lion’s Whiskers suggests, if my writing serves to fulfill some need of personal expression, that is adequate as well.  Sometimes I don’t know.

But here are a few things I do know:

Everyday a small but real number of people from all over the globe are reading my blog.  Thanks to the amazing stat collecting abilities of WordPress, I know that people from eighty-four countries have seen The Nutritionist’s Dilemma.   Just yesterday I had readers from Poland, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.  People in Azerbaijan, Mauritius, Guinea-Bissau, Estonia and Oman have crossed paths with my ideas as well.

My blog is listed in  Healthy Living Blogs and I get some nice readers from that connection.  This site offers a very vital community for people writing on many diverse topics devoted to health.  I encourage anyone interested in writing and reading about these issues to visit and support the members of this site.  I give thanks to Lindsey Janeiro and the staff at HLB for creating this exciting space and offering all the amazing opportunities that they do.

That my blog was also chosen by Marc David and the Institute for the Psychology of Eating as one of the Top 50 Emotional Eating Blogs of 2012.  Check out #47.  This was a big surprise and very exciting.  It is particularly meaningful as Marc David’s work has been phenomenally inspirational to me on my own path.  I have shared my feelings about the importance of Marc’s contributions in Three Good Mark(c)s.

And finally, that I have a circle of subscribers who do follow me and who offer words of kind support along with relevant insights of their own; as well as a few hundred clients a year who I am privileged to work with and who always inspire me with their courage and capacity for change.

So, though the anniversary date of my blog just happened to occur during one of the most intense of times– in the post-Superstorm Sandy and pre-election week.  And,while my own dining room table was still littered with hurricane preparedness supplies and Halloween trappings and my head swam with thoughts about health care reform and the millions affected by the storm for whom eating had suddenly taken on a new meaning regarding survival, I committed to continuing the blog that I had birthed into being one fall day, two years ago.  For the occasion, I have dressed it up with a new decorative theme that I think is very nice and makes for a cleaner read.  If you are a subscriber and usually receive my posts via email, do go to my home page to see its new threads.  I hope you like it.

My commitment includes my decision to allow myself greater voice and visibility.  In my tiny corner of the world, in the confined spaces of my offices, I bear witness to some big and powerful stories.  If I can participate in the larger conversation and in turn can give expression to someone’s experience that may help others–then that can be a good thing.  Who knows?  Maybe a person standing on a sidewalk in Baku, Port Louis, Bissou, Tallinn or Muscan or even in my own community will help carry the information or inspiration forward.

As always, comments, clicks on the like button, subscribings, sharings, stories, feedback, my plate haikus–and any suggestions for improving the quality, content or technological capacities of my work are greatly appreciated–no, let me amend that–deeply craved.  Let me know you dropped by for a virtual cup of tea with me.   Thanks.

In health, Elyn

Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/sweet-misery-a-poisoned-world/

http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Deception-Splenda-NutraSweet-Hazardous/

Superstorm Sandy Relief:  http://www.amazon.com/registry/wedding/32TAA123PJR42

My Plate Haiku

My Plate Haiku

Hunger tiptoes in

From bellies, hearts or minds

Feed me now she calls.

by Eva

the humanist imperative to nourish and care for our children accordingly

Wednesday morning, upon logging in, I was greeted by the juxtaposition of the following subject line messages in my inbox:

Race to Fight Childhood Obesity from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation;

Censored: Michelle Obama‘s Biggest Mistake from Ragen Chastain’s blog Dances with Fat; and,

Lock-In Drill from my daughter’s high school.

Where shall I start? To begin with, on Wednesdays, I am not at the Health Center, and on that particular morning, my private client needed to reschedule. So, though I receive an onslaught of topic-related information constantly, I had on that day more time than usual to slowly digest these matters that are so relevant to what I do.

receiving the 2008 Humanitarian Award from the...

Frances Moore Lappe receiving the 2008 Humanitarian Award from the James Beard Foundation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ragen’s offering attracted my attention first. I have referenced her work previously. She is a committed activist and a powerful voice in distinguishing the difference between health and weight issues; preventing fat shaming; and, shining light on the lies and manipulations of the weight loss industry. I can always count on her to keep me informed of something meaningful. Here, I learned that Michelle Obama was planning to go on the show The Biggest Loser to thank the contestants for being role models. Ragen’s reaction was quite pointed and the story of what happened when she and film maker Darryl Roberts (America the Beautiful) tried to field a response to the media is quite interesting. read here. However, it was this comment that contributed to the theme of my day.

The worst thing is that all this focus on the weight of individuals is distracting us from the systemic issue of lack of access. Many people do not have access to the healthy foods that they would choose to eat–including foods that are not genetically modified or full of hormones or government subsidized high fructose corn syrup. Many people do not have access to safe movement options that they enjoy, or to affordable evidence-based health care. But as long as we focus on little Johnny’s BMI, we don’t have to address the real problems here and we can just keep shaming and blaming fat kids and adults and misinforming them and everyone else about the odds of becoming permanently thin.

I strongly share these sentiments and it took only a few clicks on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s page to confirm this dismissal of the larger issues. The articles in their In the News column included, Schools Find Active Kids Make Smarter Students and Virginia Legislation Calls for School PE Guidelines. Both are sad statements about the current state of affairs on such seemingly obvious matters. I applaud the work of the Alliance which I have discussed before, post, but I am often sad to see their amazing talents and resources going toward small, simplistic efforts to repair an intuitive intelligence that was broken by bad policy making and vested interests disenfranchising the well-being of the citizens of the world.

I also have a visceral reaction to the term the fight against childhood obesity. Obesity is not the only consequence our children are suffering–it is just one of the manifestations of poor nutrition and the ignoring of all the ingredients that contribute to both physical and emotional well-being in early stages of development. If this was only about obesity, my daughter would not have had to unfortunately participate in a lock-down drill. Furthermore, fierce language is not what is needed even when details may make us wish to brandish our childhood obesity fighting swords.

Thankfully, on that Wednesday morning, I was also fortunate to hear a really beautiful interview with Frances Moore Lappe, who has certainly had a strong influence on my own path. I will leave you with her words.

“We don’t have a shortage of food, we have a shortage of justice.  As we shift to focus on our relationships with each other, and with the earth, as we align our lives and our economy with what is true about our nature and is harmonious with the wellbeing of nature, we find answers to so many of the questions we face today. Hope is not what we find in evidence, it’s what we become in action.”

So, I hope the connections make some sense and perhaps my title of this piece suggests such a shift of intention toward the task at hand.

Would love to hear from you.

In health, Elyn

My Plate

My Plate Haiku

Are we what we eat

Or do we eat what we are

Are they the same thing?

by Julie

skinny boys

Skinny boys.  Now there is a group who could use some love.  Skinny boys usually, though not always, start out as skinny little kids and stay that way into their teens and young adulthood .  You see them everywhere.  In spite of this obesity epidemic, these poor boys far outnumber the fat kids everyone is clamoring about, but still they get no attention.

It was not too long ago that skinny boys had their pants buckled up under their armpits for the protection of their private parts or they were required to wear corny suspenders.  Nowadays, it is quite common for their pants to fall below the level of their BVDs even with the use of securing devices like belts and drawstrings–so they are often walking around with their undies showing.  How embarrassing.  If they do have a belt, they have to force a homemade hole into the leather or hemp, whatever, and the non-buckle end goes wrapping around them like a snake, in order to fit.  

Then, their ribs stick out something terrible.  Even nicely developed abdominal six packs cannot cover up those ribs.  Ouch.  It must be hard for them to sleep–their bones jabbing into even soft forgiving mattresses.  When they walk down the street, even strangers like Italian and Jewish grandmothers, are apt to want to take them home and feed them.  What is up?  Are their parents not feeding them?

Despite these emotional and physical challenges, there are no programs, whatsoever, designed to help them.  There is no foundation for the Prevention of Adolescent Scrawniness, nor a Let”s Chill! initiative coming from the White House. Teachers, mothers and fathers everywhere need assistance in just getting these kids to sit still.  Instead, they are flying off concrete ramps on skateboards, incessantly shooting basketballs, playing guitars and drums with manic enthusiasm, and turning everyday household items into objects d’sport.  TVs, video games and writing angst-ridden poetry are the only way to get these kids to stay in one place for any decent amount of time.

One might assume that these skinny boys, when they do eat, are eating carrot sticks and turkey rolled in lettuce leaves.  How else could they be so skinny?  But, what’s that?  They are eating sugar and junk food just like those fat kids?  How can that be?

A few months ago, I saw two teen-aged skinny boys walking.  One of them carried a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew, the other a big box of Cap’n Crunch cereal.  I say carried, but it was more like they were cradling these products, like a young child might cuddle their favorite stuffed animal.  As there had been rumors circulating wildly then that the Cap’n might be retiring from the high seas as well as supermarket shelves, their procured box might have generated even additional testosterone excitement and desperate attachment for the two.

And, just the other day, as I was doing my usual investigative journalism in the local supermarket, I came upon two young, lanky, twenty-somethings crouched down in the cereal aisle, doing some serious nutrition label and ingredient reading.  I was touched.  After serious deliberation, they stood up and strode confidently away–a box of Frosted Flakes in hand.

Liquid, syrupy, intense, colored sugar, seems to be the lifeblood of skinny boys as coffee is to adults.  As many rational grown-ups swear that they cannot survive without their daily Joe, keeping the skinny boys from their sugar would be akin to blood-letting.  How else would they  thrive?  With their powerful internal engines burning high and hot enough to power a jet plane, what else could better serve as jet fuel?

So, that is where skinny boys are at a serious disadvantage in this whole weight war.  We direct a societal finger wagging at fat kids and their parents, preaching of the pain and woe that awaits them should they continue their wanton eating behaviors–but no one has given these skinny kids even a glimpse of what could just as easily be in store for them–that even their propelled metabolisms could be headed for a serious nosedive.

Because, when those adolescent male hormones finally begin to mellow out, even the best of the metabolically privileged, can find themselves in trouble.  Tushies sink deeper into the couch in front of the TV, remote glued to hand; the zillion hours of organized sport become a thing of the past once that diploma is received and such play at best becomes an occasional weekend past time; all the pints of beer downed in solidarity or solitude accumulate in the expanding bladder of the belly and a gut begins to cover those once nicely sculpted abs; and the stress and worry of the real world turn acquired food from active fuel into evil, disease-producing stored fat.  Excessive sugar intake is detrimental to everyone, and, I have never seen Mt. Dew, do a body good.  A pair of true skinny genes or a life pursuit that includes significant physical activity or hard labor are required to stave off the accumulation of pounds in this current climate.

Whereas only 12.7 percent of 15-24 year old males are obese as defined by BMI, 22.2 percent of 25-34 year olds fit that classification.  That could be a pretty big shock for the unsuspecting ten percent who suddenly find themselves in the holes at the other end of their belts.  Their husky elementary school classmates, once the brunt of jokes, have been way better prepared for their  impending corpulence and may in fact get the last laugh.

Essentially, we need  to provide all our children with the template of the basics of a healthy lifestyle and to have a society that ensures fundamental support so they can take better care of themselves throughout their lives.

So be kind to the thinnest amongst us.  They have a hard road ahead of them. Chances are, you were once a skinny boy too. The next time you see a skinny boy, hold the judgment, give them a big hug and a prayer for a healthy life–but remember to be gentle, for they are pretty fragile creatures.

In health, Elyn

http://healthland.time.com/2011/03/10/capn-crunch-will-not-retire-but-he-probably-should/

my plate

 

Haiku:

Smooth peanut butter

Spread on a peeled banana

Snack time perfection.

By Gretchen

muse of the girl

Camouflage is definitely not for me.  I prefer pretty patterns and soft silky and satiny fabrics.  Give me beautiful bold colors or light pastels.  Browns and faded olive are not in my color palette.  I may be nicely disguised in a flower garden, but I am an easy target on the battlefield.  That may explain why I am fielding a lot of enemy fire in the trenches these days.  The obesity war seems to be raging on all fronts.  

It’s been a bad week for news journalism with the News of the World scandal, but a few stories got through from the correspondents. First, came the release of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “F as in Fat”, annual report on obesity.  Apparently, obesity rates are increasing in 16 states, but, good news, there were fewer than 20 states with increasing rates.  My state, New York, is apparently in better shape than most, with only 23.9% of its denizens classifying as obese.  Our good showing can be due to the millions in New York City who don’t have cars; and still walk everywhere and climb stairs even to get in and out of the subways.   Maybe an unfair advantage, but, Go team!

http://hosted2.ap.org/APDefault/*/Article_2011-07-07-Obesity%20Rankings/id-38095da30d4549f19a74dac1c3beb368

Then, there was the commentary article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Drs. Lindsey Murtagh and David Ludwig, of the Harvard School of Public Health, proposed that morbidly obese children be removed from their homes and placed in foster care, to control for the harmful behaviors by which they are affected.  They gave exception to cases with genetic causes.

Reading this made me wonder  if I should have been removed from my home due to secondary smoke exposure.   I suppose the smoking could have been attributed to some genetic parental anxiety and my case would have been dismissed.  Just imagine though what would it have been like to live with a normal, straight-haired and non-smoking family?  But, maybe those parents would have drank too much or would not have had patience for my crazy curls?  Didn’t everyone drink and smoke, even in pregnancy, back then?  It took awhile for people to get serious at first, understanding the dangers of cigarettes, and secondly, for the tobacco companies to fess up.  My folks didn’t mean to hurt me.

Now, most everyone has been eating  processed and adulterated food for a long while, but, it has taken until rather recently to catch onto what it is doing to us and few in the industry are fessing up.  My kids tell me how all their friends’ kitchens are stocked with big bottles of soda, large bags of chips and huge boxes of fun cereals.  I know they have at times wished for foster placement due to this.  But, maybe I should warn those families.  The jig might be up–well only if their kids are fat.

http://www.acsh.org/factsfears/newsid.2823/news_detail.asp

Despite this multi-paragraph ramble, the headlines are exactly what I don’t want to talk about.  I want to discuss the war that doesn’t get covered, that wages within the many girls and women–of all ages and sizes–who hate their bodies and therefore deny a large part of their selves.  Or, who, by not loving themselves, direct a lot of abuse to their bodies in both thought and action.  Though they often wish they were invisible, we see them walking around in all types of bodies including those we deem acceptable and those we envy.  Persons, whose self-worth has long been determined by the numbers on a scale or by an image in a mirror.

The confusion and dictates about food and eating cause as much, if not even more, distress for them, than for those who are large-sized without such negative judgment about their weight.  The collective pain and problems here are profound as are those we ascribe to obesity–and the physical consequences can be even more severe or deadly.  Here, much potential is lost and much love is denied.  I think we all have wandered into and many have lingered in this place where reality is distorted and self-flagellation and deprivation seems deserved.

This is the ignored epidemic.  Not many resources are designated here, but I have apparently been assigned to cover this beat.  My field notebooks are filled with stories and quotes that are usually too intimate for me to share.  But they imply a sense that so many girls and women believe that without perfection they cannot be whole and should not take up much space on this generous planet.  It is heartbreaking to witness this.

Having been touched by the lives of so many amazing, intelligent, gorgeous, creative, warm, gentle, caring and funny individuals who have been broken in this battle of self and body, these are some things I wish would receive front page headlines:  Bodies change, contours soften, bellies round, babies fill, bloat happens, hunger informs, weight is not absolute, judgmental words injure, beauty shines, food nourishes, wisdom evolves, body protects, hormones ebb and flow, pleasure is permissible, fat is often just a feeling in one’s head and restriction revolts.

If you are living this, put down the staunch resistance, begin the surrender and trust your inner feminine voice.  Please know you are all so beautiful and you possess that which really matters.  Take a moment to put your hand on your heart and belly and send love to yourself.  Take a deep slow breath and be thankful to your body.  Send a healing thought out to other women, because I assure you, you are so not alone.  Hold the daughters and ask to be held.  Reclaim your place.  Change the internal tapes.  Know there are many paths to healing available.  The world needs everything you have to offer.

Any sharings will be welcomed and respected.

In love and health, Elyn  

my plate

Haiku:

Deep scarlet red beets

 Reveal your sweetness to me

 Slip out of your skins  

By Elyn

Dietary Haiku

japanese maple

Image by cskk via Flickr

Here are a few things that happened in my nutritional life this past week. First, I had a client come into my office bummed out about being fat. She sat down and immediately pointed to different parts of her body that she deemed fat. Of utmost disgust were her arms and her big belly. They definitely had to go. She quieted a little as she said she didn’t mind being big in the thighs and butt, and she thinks her hubby actually likes her like that. I asked about her eating habits. A number of issues presented, including the fact that her husband is incarcerated.

I asked how she felt about my making some suggestions. Without skipping a beat, she replied that she would think it was none of my business and I should leave her alone. Despite her distress, she was not ready for change–a common human experience. Most often I find some traction, but I did not try too hard in this instance and gave her space. (She did eventually come back and see me again.)

Next, my very own brother, in a comment on my last post, “Diet for a Small Caterpillar” informed me that only a small percentage of people actually care about nutrition. I wanted to protest, but he is my big brother and he does seem to know about a lot of things.

And, then, like the very next day, the United States Government, without giving me very much notice, obliterated the Food Pyramid and issued the newest expression of the most up to date dietary guidelines–the USDA My Plate.

Briefly, here is my initial response to the Plate. Though I appreciate the challenge and consider it an improvement, its teaching concept has been around for a while now, so I am surprised it is being touted as something unique and innovative. While hailed for its message to eat more fruits and vegetables, I think that is also old news. It is overly simplistic as our national food icon. It does not realistically relate to how people eat breakfast and lunch, and is not relevant to how many even eat dinner. It does not align with most cultural cuisines and supposes a basic meat and potatoes dietary structure. My dinner plate rarely resembles it. It evades many deeper nutritional questions about protein, dairy, fats and digestion. Disconcertingly, right under the plate it says “Balancing Calories: Enjoy your food but eat less.” This makes a broad assumption about all eaters and ignores the serious issues of those who may need to eat more for various reasons.

Essentially, this model has convinced me that it is time to abandon such efforts. If what my brother says is true, that few people even care; or as my client suggests, that not everyone wants to hear it, why do we keep trying to promote this short shelf life, stale message with such a stagnant image. Maybe it is time to try something new to spread meaningful dietary practice.

I sometimes enjoy a line of iced teas from a Japanese company called Ito En. On their bottles, they offer a nice little haiku. The bottle I have now says: ten heron heads blow as pampas grass in the morning fog. Lovely, even though it doesn’t stick to the 5–7–5 traditional haiku structure. Perhaps that’s because the tea is distributed in Brooklyn–who knows. Anyway, I am thinking that we should develop haikus with various themes to promote nutritional messages with greater nuance. Or, perhaps it would be more American to create some jingles. This could give employ to many creative artists, and I am sure their output would be funnier or more beautiful than anything produced by our governmental agencies. Michael Pollan’s missive, Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants, could be turned into a catchy dance number.

Just as I was about to declare the week a washout, one other thing happened. On Friday, I was at one of the three schools where I work. It was my last visit before summer vacation. I prepared a little healthy snack for the kids I had met with during the year and called them down individually to say good-bye. The message I try to instill in these young children is that they each have an amazing and wonderful body. They are all smart enough to choose to care for their body in various ways and can make many decisions for themselves about what and how they choose to eat.

In this closing session, I asked these adorable nine to thirteen-year-olds, what have they been paying attention to based on things we had previously talked about. Without explanation, they each understood this vague question and all had at least a small answer. Some had big impressive answers. My dimming faith was ignited once again. So, maybe this is the relevant dietary inquiry–What are we paying attention to? There is a lot to choose from in this crazy nutty nutrition world.

What message would inspire you or what do you think we need to hear? Is the truth of the matter that our governments’ policies are incongruent with appropriate dietary promotion or our personal experience as eaters? What are you paying attention to?

Please allow yourself a creative moment to pen your own dietary haiku or jingle and send it along. Let’s see what emerges.

In health, Elyn

Related Posts: Your Pyramid; Diet for a Small Caterpillar; Accepting Haikus