Tag Archive | processed food

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”, an annual report on the national state of obesity. Apparently, obesity rates are increasing in sixteen states, but, good news, there were fewer than twenty states with increasing rates. My state of 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!

Then, there was a 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 an 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 drunk too much or would not have had the patience for my crazy curls? Didn’t everyone drink and smoke, even in pregnancy, back then? It took a while for people to understand the dangers of cigarettes, and 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.

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 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 seem 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.

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In love and health, Elyn

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John Lennon’s My Plate

My Plate Haiku

Deep scarlet red beets

Reveal your sweetness to me

Slip out of your skins.

by Elyn

morose meals and human bites

Former U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, with...

Eleanor Roosevelt Image via Wikipedia

I am pretty certain that McDonald’s is purposely trying to get my goat. They know I have not cared for them for a really long time. It goes way back. Firstly, I never liked that red and yellow color combination. I find it jarring and it reminds me of a bad mix of mustard and ketchup. Then, there was the whole clown thing. As a child, Bozo viscerally upset me. When McDonald’s fashioned Ronald after Bozo it was like a recurring nightmare. I was confronted repeatedly by the image I thought I had successfully avoided by outgrowing children’s programming. I am sensitive that way. On top of this, I think their restaurants smell bad.

I recall in high school coming home after eating at McDonald’s, climbing into my mom’s bed not feeling great, and deciding to become a vegetarian. I can’t swear the two events occurred simultaneously, but I carry a strong association between them.

Then of course, as a whole foods advocate, nutritionist, and mother, there was no way I could find love in my heart for this child-seducing fast-food corporate giant. I did my best to be the David to this Goliath, but the Happy Meal made me lay down my slingshot. By that point, not only were kids enchanted, but the parents were as well, and I felt defeated.

Still, I was shocked recently when driving down a local highway. I came upon a McDonald’s billboard displaying a gargantuan coffee drink, with a Marge Simpson hairdo-sized topping of whip cream styled with a Mark of Zorro chocolate signature. The huge letters said, ” Chocolate Drizzle is a Right, Not a Topping”.

Since they know I don’t watch much television and therefore might miss their commercials–what better way to get in my face than with a billboard. So what if I tell my clients that  McDonald’s will not pay for their medical bills and medications should they develop nutrition-related health problems. Or, that I do use their bathrooms on occasion. This still seems like an overblown, petty and morally bereft response to our personal tiff.

Is this subliminal or just plain out seductive and manipulative advertising? Or is it downright obnoxious? I get that this is just advertising and that companies rely on it to promote their products. I do watch Mad Men–on Netflix. But to be raising chocolate drizzle to the status of a right in a world where many are denied their true ones is indecent. This assumption about simple entitlements overshadows and ignores the sanctity of our real human rights which according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights refers to matters such as life, liberty, security of person, freedom from servitude, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. They extend to include a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and their family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care, and necessary social services. Drizzle does not make the list.

Am I being too sensitive again? Should I lighten up? From where I sit, there are more important rights to assure than drizzle. Here are some examples of things I see that may make me a tad jaded. One day last week I had five clients. Cumulatively they weighed 1,576 pounds. Individually they weighed 382, 366, 284, 292 and 252 pounds. The 252 pounds belonged to an 11-year-old boy with early signs of diabetes and other distressing diet-related health problems.

One morning this week I saw three clients right in a row. They ranged in age from 35 to 48 and were on 17 prescriptions between them–mainly for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, reflux, and pain–lots of pain. I am tempted to list them. They make for an interesting mix of consonants and vowels. Later, I saw a woman who described a recent McDonald’s meal to me which consisted of 1800 calories.

On a daily basis, I speak with people without kitchen tables, homes, jobs, beds, medical insurance, sufficient medical care–and adequate food. I see kids who can’t go out and play in their neighborhoods and who might not graduate high school.

So, don’t go there with me McDonald’s, asserting that chocolate drizzle is a right. You know that drizzle is not a right but a chemical mixture of corn syrup, dextrose, water, sugar, glycerin, hydrogenated coconut oil, cocoa, food starch-modified, nonfat milk, natural and artificial flavors, salt, gellan gum, disodium phosphate, potassium sorbate, soy lecithin, and artificial flavors. And that it sits atop beverages that contain up to 390 calories and 59 grams or 15 teaspoons of sugar. More importantly, you know that the billions you have to spend on advertising can cover up that bad smell especially when money is tight and food comforts.

When the inequities have been evened out, when health care is guaranteed for all, when the growing of healthy food is more supported by our government and made available and affordable, when rights are not confused with privileges and when corporations are held responsible for their actions–then McDonald’s and I can end our feud and sit and have a conversation. Maybe we can meet at my office.

Eleanor Roosevelt, who worked tirelessly to establish the Universal Declaration of Human Rights wrote, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home–so close and so small that they cannot be soon on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood they live in; the school or college they attend; the factory, farm, or office where they work. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Let’s not belittle this beautiful description of what really matters.

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn


My Plate Haiku

Are we what we eat

Or do we eat what we are

Are they the same thing?  by Julie