Archive for the ‘Diet’ Category

This blog has remained pretty inactive recently. Due mainly to my continuing struggles with my health, both physical and mental.

Short update on those: Some appointments in my health system finally opened up to see a PA for medication- they have no psychiatrist currently and therapists, nurses, and PAs have all been closed to seeing new patients. I sneaked by to see my therapist months back only because I had seen her years before and therefore was able to get categorized as a returning patient. But since I hadn’t seen someone about medications, I was still a new patient and therefore unable to see anyone who prescribed meds. They have started opening that up and now have some availability for current psychotherapy patients to be seen for medications.

Anyways, so depression has been bad and just finally getting to where I can try to see if it’s helped with medications.

Meanwhile my physical health has been total crap. I have been dealing with near constant nausea, that my anti-nausea meds aren’t helping with, fatigue, feeling weak, and sleep problems.

So I have spent my night sitting on my couch watching videos on youtube, mostly ted talks and tedx talks, because when I stand I start shaking and often end up throwing up.

So that is what I was doing when youtube recommended I watch this:

Obviously nutrition is an important aspect of health. Yet sitting here too sick to stand and dealing with debilitating depression watching this my question is- so how do we make good nutrition accessible to people dealing with serious illness?

I mean, I want that answer for myself!

Getting carry out food is sometimes the healthiest option I have but it’s expensive. I now am able to get groceries delivered so that is a huge improvement, as I at least can get the food without having to sacrifice all my spoons on the process. Of course actual food that is not ready to eat or microwavable meals still requires all the work of prepping it. I actually tried recently one of those food delivery services that delivers just the items needed fora few recipes. All you have to do is cook!

… yeah, turns out that “just the cooking” is the part that is hardest for me.

Hell, right now I have some melons I got delivered that I was going to cut up and eat… except even just standing and cutting is difficult for me right now.

Instead of telling people to think more about the choices of what goes into their mouths, I think we need to consider more what is restricting those choices? What makes us choose certain types of foods over others?

And when you start talking about food as medicine, then that means thinking about the specific restrictions that chronically ill people, who rely on medications, have.

Telling me right now that food can be a better treatment for my depression than medications isn’t super helpful. I would love to eat more healthy, fresh, home cooked meals! Almost always my reason for not is because of barriers to that, which are primarily related to being chronically ill.

I can renew my medications online, and my pharmacy actually has free delivery. I don’t even have to have the ability to get to the pharmacy. Then, for pills all I have to do is open a bottle and swallow a pill. No preparation, no cooking, no standing, required. My biggest illness barrier to taking it is not throwing it up. And pharmaceutical companies actually have planned ahead for that for some medications, with many being available in non-pill formats. Besides my inhaled meds for asthma, I personally also have dissolving tablets that can be taken sublingually, and suppositories (gross, but sometimes necessary). Other meds sometimes come in injection forms.

So if nutrition is potentially as effective, or more effective, in treating certain illnesses, how do we make it something that  is accessible for all people with those illnesses? So that the illness isn’t a barrier to accessing the treatment of that illness? Doctors get that my anti-nausea meds can’t be in pill form because you can’t make “not throwing up” the requirement for taking a medication meant to stop me from throwing up. Yet that is what we do when we treat food as medicine. Often the thing we say it can treat is the very thing that makes eating well difficult!

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Comic shows a man and woman getting married. In the first panel the priest asks “Do you promise to love him in sickness and in health?” The bride answers “Yes.” Second panel the priest asks “Do you promise to love him ’till death do you part?” The bride answers “Yes.” Third panel the priest asks “Do you promise to order your OWN fries if you want them, instead of saying you DON’T want fries, then requesting a ‘taste’ of his, and helping yourself to roughly half of them?” Fourth Panel the bride says, “Wha… who wrote these vows?!” The Groom says, “Just answer the question”.

I saw this the other day, shared on a website, and honestly didn’t think too much into it at the time. Yet it’s been stuck in my head a bit since then, bugging me a bit more over time.

The thing that bugs me about this comic strip is that it plays on a pretty common trope- women want something like fries but don’t order them instead eating a large portion of their (typically male) partner’s serving of that food.

If you want fries, just order your own fries, right?

Why is it apparently so common for women to not just order their own fries?

I feel pretty sure the issue is mostly related to pressure women feel to not be seen ordering too much food or the “wrong” kinds of food. That is the part that bugs me. Makes me mad actually. That we worry, that there is any cause to worry, about being judged if we did just order what we want.

Which to be clear- I order what I want when I eat out. Still, I can certainly relate to worrying about being judged for ordering what I want. Especially because of my size, but also certainly because I’m a woman. Because femininity is associated with daintiness and being small- and so we should be eating small, dainty portions right? Or better yet just not eating those foods at all because food is for some reason very gendered in our society! Burgers and fries? Those are guy foods. Women should order a salad. There is also this social image of women as dieters, where in it almost feels like an expectation that women be dieting, and trying to eat better (and less). Even if we don’t, how normal is it to preface such things with comments about how bad we are being for eating this or ordering that? It’s not the slightest big out of place to hear “I really should get the salad but that burger just looks so good!” To the point that it starts to feel like a social obligation to make it clear we know we aren’t supposed to be eating the burger and fries.

I certainly fall into this. Especially because I do tend to eat a lot in one sitting, particularly since I practice intermittent fasting. When I eat out at a restaurant, that’s often the only meal I eat that day, so yeah, it’s going to be big. It’s just common sense it will be bigger than someone for whom that is one of 3 (or more) meals they eat that day. Because of that I do find myself thinking “I really want to order this, but what are the people I’m with/the server going to think of me ordering that much?” I think more often than not these days I end up at “well fuck what they think, I’m ordering the food I want”, but it’s also pretty clear that this is something a lot of women, myself included, struggle with thinking. I also find myself making comments about it sometimes, like I need to acknowledge to someone that I know it’s a lot of food, or even apologize for that. I remember for instance going to a Coney Island restaurant with a friend who was visiting from out of state, who had never been to a Coney before. Looking at the menu, I really wanted a chili dog. I also really wanted a greek salad. And also chili cheese fries. So what did I order? All of the above. (Also ate all of the above plus half of a big dessert dish split with my friend after. And it was good.) I also remember making some comment to my friend essentially apologizing and saying that I was about to order a whole lot of food for myself.  Which is of course completely ridiculous. I don’t need to apologize to my friend because I’m eating a  lot of food. If I want to eat it, I don’t need to justify it, or apologize for it to someone else.

I suspect though that this is the underlying reason why it is, according to popular culture at least, so common for women to say they don’t want something like fries, and then eat part of their partners. This eliminates some judgement about what the woman orders for herself- not just from her partner, but the (often imagined) judgement from other random people, as well as from herself. “I’m bad for eating this” isn’t just something people say far too often, but also something far too common for women to feel. Yes, we want the fries, but we have years of programming telling us we are bad if we give in and order them or eat them. So you don’t order them, you just eat a few of your partner’s, which maybe ends up being more than a few because damn it you did actually really want the fries.

So, I absolutely agree that if you want fries, go ahead and order fries for yourself! But also, while we laugh about this phenomena of women who won’t order their own fries, why don’t we also consider what we are doing as a culture to make women feel bad for ordering fries?

(Also, I have some frozen fries in my freezer that I am definitely thinking of digging out and cooking later tonight thanks to this post! lol.)

So I’ve posted before here about the problems with judging poor people for eating “unhealthy” foods. I was thinking about one particular aspect of the ways that eating healthy foods can cost more, in this case not so much in terms of money but time.

I am getting sick of people who suggest that cooking at home totally doesn’t take any longer than fast food.

Bullshit.

Starting backwards in the process, one part I think no one ever seems to consider is clean up. When people talk about how quickly they can make a homemade meal, they pretty much never include the time to clean up. Which in my experience, takes a lot longer.

If I run out and buy fast food, I am using nothing that requires cleaning up. Now counter or stovetops that need to be wiped down after cooking. No cutting boards, knives, pots or pans. And no plates or silverware to eat with.

Part of what got me thinking of this is being able to cook at home and still keep up with all my dishes right now since school is over. Because when I get busy, I am more inclined to order or pick up food, or just eat frozen foods that I can heat up and eat in the container, and the issue for me is less often the time and effort to cook the food than the time and effort required for all the clean up after.

Even when food doesn’t require cooking if it requires any preparation that typically means something that needs to be cleaned, such as a cutting board and a knife.

I also feel like people tend to underestimate how long it takes to prepare meals from start to finish, at least the folks who claim “I can make a whole healthy meal in just 10 minutes”. Even recipes that estimate prep and cook time I feel like often underestimate the prep time…. or I just am really slow at cutting things up, though even if that’s the case it just goes to show that how long something takes you doesn’t mean that’s how long it would take anyone.

And I get underestimating how long it takes. I do that all the time. I never realize how long a lot of things I do take until I’m actually in a time crunch and suddenly like “how on earth does it take more than 2 minutes to run downstairs and get clothes from the laundry and put the clothes from the washer into the dryer?” It feels like it takes no time at all to me, but when I actually look at a clock, it’s a lot longer than I thought.

I imagine the same is often true for prep time in cooking for many people.

And there is definitely a degree of “you can’t assume how it works for you is the same for everyone”. When it comes to cooking time for foods, a lot of foods you can set and do something else for awhile. Of course I have no timer in my kitchen and am bad at setting one of my phone for food so I often leave food and forget about it until it’s burnt. Or I have something in the oven and I’m up every 5 minutes to check on it (in which case I’m not super productive in what I’m doing between checking on it) and often I check on it and it’s not quite done and then check again and it’s burnt, because apparently it was much closer to done than I thought. Even still, I’m not terrible at this and a lot of food I can leave to cook and do other things while it’s cooking. This is not the case for everyone. I’ve known people who said they had to be in the kitchen the whole time they were cooking something or they would always forget about it and burn it. That makes cooking more time and effort intensive if you can’t multitask at the same time.

And then even more time if you don’t already have the food at home to prepare and need to run to the store to get it.

This probably sounds like making a big deal out of a minor issue, until you are living in poverty and exhausted at the end of a long ass day, and you have the choice of picking up some cheap fast food at one of the many fast food places nearby or cooking at home.

*and I really mean many. ever been to Detroit? I’m still shocked a lot of the time at how many fast food places there are around all the time, and I’ve live in or very near Detroit most of my life (23 years by my count). And many of them are even 24 hour unlike the far fewer grocery stores. Access to fast food around here is much easier than access to groceries.

And the fact that fast food often makes more sense for poor folks because not just of the cost but the time and effort when you are already exhausted from the stresses of poverty is a serious public health issue. One that we should be putting in real effort toward fixing, primarily by working to end poverty. Pretending poor people are just too stupid to realize that cooking at home is just as cheap, fast, and easy is not only not true, it’s not helping anything.

I want to talk about something that has been bothering me and that is the moralizing of eating. Not food (that is a different issue), but eating itself. This comes up in terms of the “why are you eating?” pieces of advice around identifying if you are hungry or bored or stressed or sad or eating for any reason other than physical hunger. And let me be clear that I have no problem with this topic or advice on understanding why we eat or crave certain things in and of itself.  What bothers me is simply when this is treated as if we all have some moral imperative to only eat when physically hungry. That it is some sort of sin to eat for any other reason. And that, I do disagree with.

I am all about understanding our relationships with food, understanding why we eat, why we crave certain things, and just all around being better in touch with our bodies and minds. I talked before in my post on intuitive eating that I tend to crave sugary drinks if I get dehydrated and that is really just me being dehydrated and what I really need is water (though I could get this through either plain water or other drinks). Along a similar line I’m all about understanding why I am hungry or craving any particular thing at that time. I think the more in touch we are with our bodies and minds the messages they send us the better off we are.

I also believe very strongly in my life in prioritizing what my time, energy, and mental focus. And I’ve talked a lot here before about how fitness is not my top priority in life, and neither is eating or my body size or any of that.

This means, that sometimes what I’m eating or why I’m eating is not my priority at that time. And I for one am done feeling ashamed of that. I stress eat sometimes. And I know that it’s because of stress, but it also takes energy and some mental focus to go through the “I just want cookies because I’m stressed, I’m not actually hungry” and resist eating the cookies. No, not a lot of energy or mental focus,  but when I’m rushing against a deadline to get a paper done, or proposal submitted on time, or anything else like that, my priority for all my energy and mental focus is on getting that done as well as possible on time. And that means, no, I’m not going to commit the mental resources to avoiding munching on some cookies while I do it. Because at the end of the day, not eating cookies is not that important to me. I don’t really give a damn if sometimes I eat cookies when I’m stressed. I do not think that is a moral failing, a character flaw, or some sort of sin.

And if eating some “junk food” when I’m stressed about getting something important done for a deadline is the reason I’m fat, I still don’t give a fuck. I’m still ok with the fact that I ate those cookies and I’m still ok with being fat.

Intuitive Eating

Posted: March 10, 2015 in Diet
Tags: ,

[Image says: One zen student said, “my teacher is the best. He can go days without eating.:” The second said, “My teacher has so much self-control, he can go days without sleep.” The third said, “My teacher is so wise that he eats when he’s hungry and sleeps when he’s tired.”

I was first introduced to intuitive eating by a therapist as something she recommended for treating (in conjunction with therapy and other skills) disordered eating behaviors. It’s also very common I’ve found among practitioners of HAES.

I would not say that I practice intuitive eating myself (kind of counter I think to tracking macros), but still I was thinking about the topic.

Intuitive eating, as I understand it (and I certainly am not claiming to be any kind of expert) is about being in touch with your body and it’s needs and acting on that. A lot of people talk about this in terms of trusting your body.

I hear a lot of criticisms of this, that basically amount to a belief that it’s ridiculous to think we can trust our bodies. That our bodies are terrible at saying what they need or don’t and thus we have to force out bodies to fit how we think they should work regardless of the messages your body is sending.

The thing that got my thinking about this is my experience with my health conditions and the way I act around it. I was thinking about my diet/what I eat. When I’m lifting I tend to track what I eat- I want to make sure I get enough to eat and that I am getting enough of the right things (mainly enough protein), because I want to build muscle. This is where I do not practice any form of intuitive eating and I would not trust my body to tell me how much protein it needs to build muscle.

But during times when I am not working out much due to being ill I don’t really make sure I’m tracking what I eat, but I’m also not eating much. Shockingly, I simply don’t feel hungry enough to eat a lot of food when I’m not as active. So naturally, the less active I am the less I tend to eat.

There are other limitations to “trusting one’s body” I think. For example, I know that if I let myself get dehydrated I will start craving pop or juice- any kind of sugary drink, when really water meets what I need just as well. On the other hand, this really does fit perfectly with intuitive eating, as it has been described to me, because it is about understanding your body and the messages it is sending. Learning that when I start craving sugary drinks it means I’m getting dehydrated. this applies to all messages about food and hunger our bodies send.

It also reminds me of another conversation I had recently about letting go of recommendations/rules about how we are “supposed” to eat. Intuitive eating and listening to your body’s signals isn’t just about listening to when your body sends signals of hunger, but also when it doesn’t.

I’ve mentioned before practicing intermittent fasting. A large part of this is because it fits well with my own natural inclinations. I spent a lot of time in my life forcing myself to eating breakfast even if I wasn’t hungry because of being told that you need to eat breakfast, and a big breakfast, even if you don’t feel hungry, because if you don’t then you will end up eating more total because later on you will be so hungry you will eat too much. Just like you are “supposed” to eat 6 or so small meals a day instead of big ones. Neither of these ever worked for me. I was no less hungry in the evening for eating big breakfasts, and eating small means 6 times a day just gave me 6 times a day I felt like I couldn’t eat until I was full.

Intermittent fasting works much better to me. It fits what works for my body. I’m not typically hungry first thing in the morning. And a lot of the time I get busy with whatever I have going on, it’s not till dinner time that I get around to eating. And I would much rather eat one large meal for dinner where I can eat until I am actually full, than eat a bunch of small meals.

I’m not saying this is the one right way to eat. Rather, I’m saying that I think we need to let go of the idea that there is one right way to eat. If eating small meals throughout the day works for you, go for it. I think most people do need to get better in touch with their bodies though. I know a lot of people who talk about how if they don’t eat for too long they don’t feel well, and so they do well eating small meals more frequently. That’s great! They are doing what works for their body and makes them feel good. I feel good listening to my body’s signals though where I wait until I’m hungry, even when that means going long periods between eating. Pay attention to what makes you feel healthiest, and go with that over any stupid “rules” about what is supposed to be best.

So on facebook the other day this article was shared on my feed titled Why Judging People for Buying Unhealthy Food is Classist. I wanted to comment a bit more on this topic because people who say that it’s not expensive to eat healthy and that poverty is no excuse annoy me so much.

For a little background, if you don’t already know this about me, I’m a social worker in the metro-Detroit area. I’ve worked with a number of non profits in this area and others, and have done community organizing work in Detroit and other poor areas across Michigan. All my personal and work experience has been in Michigan. I have some of my own experiences I draw from regarding poverty and food, but the vast majority actually comes from work experience.

First two points that  I originally was going to put at the end, but really need to be emphasized:

Poor People Deserve Little Luxuries/Enjoyments As Well

Being poor is bad enough, it is absolutely unfair and cruel to expect anyone to live based purely based on survival with no regard for enjoyment. Maybe that means having cable, maybe it means getting some candy, a cake, or some other food they don’t NEED but want at the store. Someone who is poor, including those using SNAP, have just as much right to buy some foods for enjoyment over pure survival needs as those who are not poor.

Mind Your Own Damn Business!

Really, everything else could be ended with this. You have no right to know all about poor people’s lives and choices just because they are poor. They owe you no explanation for every choice they make. And it is classist from the start to think their choices are any of your business to pick apart and judge just because they are poor.

So with those two points covered, let’s still move on to the issue of whether it is cheaper to eat healthy foods.

What is Healthy?

So right away one problem we need to acknowledge to start with regarding judging poor people for buying “unhealthy” foods and insisting that eating “healthy” is cheap is that “unhealthy” and “healthy” foods are not well defined and will vary a lot from person to person. I’ve written a bit before on issues of “what is healthy” (and a bit here). One thing that stands out to me is that for “healthy” homecooked meals on the cheap there is often a reliance on boxed pasta- it makes sense, it’s cheap for the number of calories and how filling it is, and you can do a number of things with it, and include smaller amounts of veggies and meat. For me though, my first thought for pasta is “so many carbs!” I think I eat pretty healthy. What I eat is primarily fresh vegetables, dairy, and meat (mainly chicken breasts or bacon)- and that is relatively expensive. Especially the meat. I actually eat less meat than I should to hit my protein goals but it’s too expensive to eat too much of. Plus none of this keeps long, so I have to deal with going to the store more often and risk wasting food from spoiling if I overpurchase- both of which increase the cost, or potential cost, of these foods.

Also important to keep in mind that even if you consider a food healthy, a healthy diet needs variety. Lentils are a cheap healthy food that gets brought up often, besides some issues I will go into more detail on soon, there is also the “who wants to eat lentils everyday?”, and also that eating the same one food day in and day out is not healthy. A healthy diet needs variety. And there is context to consider for “healthy”- take for example a parent living in poverty, feeding their kids lentils is certainly not healthy if the kids won’t eat them. Kids need to eat, so healthy is going to have to be within what the kids will eat, and also it’s not cost effective to buy and prepare food that is going to end up going uneaten.

The line between what is “healthy” and what is “unhealthy” for foods is not as clear cut as many like to pretend it is.

Food Cost and Availability Varies by Location

The subtitle here really sums it up, and applies most to judging people over distances for how they spend money on food. What you can purchase at your local grocery store for a certain price is not what all people can purchase from their closest grocery store for that price. This is especially important because people living in poverty often live in areas very different than people at higher incomes. And as contradictory as  it seems, groceries are frequently more expensive in poor areas! (Especially in food deserts because stores can cash in on lack of options.)

This especially goes for those who brag about how little they spend on groceries who are saving by having a vegetable garden (which is great if you have the time and resources too, but you need to acknowledge the cost of that, the time for it, and that not all people have the ability to supplement groceries with growing their own food).

It’s More than Just The Cost of Food

The article linked in the beginning addresses this- it’s not just about how much the food costs, it’s also access, time and cost to purchase (transportation to the store), time to prepare the food, cost to prepare the food, and access to means to prepare the food. People who have never lived in these conditions take these things for granted, but these are not givens for all people.

Grocery Stores:

Let’s start with access to stores, cost to get to them, and time to get to them. If you are not already familiar with food deserts, you should do some reading on them. These are areas that do not have ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service approximately 23.5 million people live in food deserts.  Detroit, for example, until relatively recently did not have any national chain grocery stores within the city. This recently changed and there is now a meijer at 8 mile and woodward and a whole foods in midtown. If you aren’t familiar with Detroit, chances are that sounds better than it is to you, since most people don’t realize how large the city of Detroit is.

An image of Detroit's relative size showing you can fit San Francisco, Boston, and Manhattan within the city of Detroit (proper, not metro area), which I added approximate location of Whole Foods and Meijer onto (the red polygons).

An image of Detroit’s relative size showing you can fit San Francisco, Boston, and Manhattan within the city of Detroit (proper, not metro area), which I added approximate location of Whole Foods and Meijer onto (the red polygons).

Prior to this there were of course local grocery stores, but just having access to a close grocery store does not mean access to fresh, healthy foods. I’ve been in stores years back in Detroit that sold rotten produce, spoiled meat and dairy products, and would even change expiration dates on those foods to try to sell them after they spoiled. People who lived near these stores would not shop at local stores for anything other than canned goods. Anything else people have to travel out of their area for, and speaking personally I don’t remember ever grocery shopping in Detroit as a kid- we always drove outside the city for grocery. I shop in Detroit now, at the previously mentioned meijer. But on the topic of not assuming your situation is everyone’s- many people are still shocked to learn the meijer in Detroit closes everyday at 11pm. It is the only meijer I know of that does, all others are open 24 hrs. So there is a meijer in Detroit now, but it also has more limited availability than those in the suburbs. Even with changes including (but not limited to) these two chain stores opening in the city, there are still many people who have to travel significant distances to a grocery store.
If I were really accurate when talking about my grocery budget I would be including not only the cost of the foods, but also the cost of my car and gas to get to the store. And the time it takes me to make food would include the time it takes (averaged out for what I can get during a trip) for getting to the store and back. For those who do not have a car, then it’s the cost and time of travelling by bus. Having a car is a huge benefit for access to groceries. I can travel further for groceries if need be than someone who does not have a car, it doesn’t take me as long, and I can fit more groceries in my car than if I was carrying them to and from bus stops and had to carry them on a bus. And in places like Detroit, public transportation is not reliable. It can take a long time to travel short distances, the longer the travel time the more it limits what you can purchase, and you need to work around bus schedules which is harder depending on your work hours. I looked up a hypothetical of how long it might take me from a particular area to a grocery store and the time given was so ridiculous I could bike that distance faster, and I have biked to the grocery store before (not in metro-Detroit), but that ignores whether or not someone has a bicycle, if they are already taking the bus for some other reason (like going straight from work to the store to home) such that changing transportation methods adds time, if they have a disability that makes them unable to ride a bike that distance, and lastly but very importantly, if they would have to go through areas that are not safe to walk or bike trough if they did that. Some folks think I’m crazy for the areas I walk and run, and for the community organizing work I’ve done in Detroit (that involved among other things going into communities, talking to people, and getting chummy with local gang members!), but contrary to the opinions of some folks I don’t just ignore safety issues. But I use some common sense (or street smarts might be a better way of phrasing it) to assess relative safety, and there are areas I will avoid for safety reasons- top of that list is places where all the houses are abandoned. Which is like every street around some areas of Detroit.

When you can just get in a car and drive to a local grocery store and pick up groceries, that is a huge privilege a lot of people do not have, and that is often overlooked when people talk about how cheap eating healthy is.

Having a Kitchen:

You also have to take into account having a kitchen and appliances or not. The article mentions a woman who is homeless who has no access to a kitchen- this is one of many possible reasons someone may not! Even people who have homes do not always have kitchens at all, or basic appliances like refrigerators or stoves. I previously worked with a non-profit that provided donated fridges and stoves to low income people who didn’t have them- the waiting list for those items was massive and donations do not keep up with the need. Eating healthy without those things is very hard, and again, something many people take for granted having access to.

And just like the real cost of my groceries includes transportation to get them it also includes the part of my utilities that goes toward these appliances. I’ve also known people who had a stove and fridge but didn’t run them because it was cheaper for them to save the electricity of having those hooked up and running and just eat fast food. Whether or not the food from the store is cheaper, if it’s too expensive to have the fridge and stove to store and prepare the food, it doesn’t really matter that much.

The Problem of Solutions Created by People Unfamiliar with the Problem

The article addresses this.

Even organizations designed to help frequently get it wrong. I worked for an anti-hunger organization whose pricing was so out of touch that I — while employed by them — was unable to afford to make their recipes regularly.

In fact, I decided to do a challenge where I ate only their recipes for a week. These recipes were marketed to low-income families as cost effective ways to eat healthier. A week’s worth of groceries (for two people) for this challenge cost $150. My partner and I had previously been spending about $25 a week because that’s what we could afford.

Most people who are not actually having to survive on these low budgets don’t really realize what it’s like. And then when you have people not living it creating the advice, it doesn’t match up.

Of course there is also the problem in here that people working non-profits are paid such pitiful wages that many workers rely on the same services and programs their clients do to get by! Not entirely on topic of this post, but people should be paid enough to afford more than a little over $100/month for groceries for two people. (Even SNAP for one person when I received it was $200/month, and my current grocery costs for just myself are well more than that even.)

Stop Thinking Poor People Are Just Too Stupid To Know Their Own Lives

One of the themes running throughout all of this is the underlying issue of people assuming they know better about circumstances they are not living in that the people who are. Which is also based on the stereotype that poor people are stupid and can’t be trusted to make logical decisions about their lives. People are very quick to jump to the conclusion that poor people just lack their knowledge of the better options out there, rather than jumping to the conclusion that maybe there are factors they (as someone not living in the situation) simply aren’t aware of.

I just thought of this today as I was browsing the internet and stumbled across some tips on weight loss that says how you need to hide away unhealthy foods so they won’t tempt you.

And as I read that I glance across my living room at 9 bags of Halloween candy just laying out. Anyone want to guess how much of that candy I have eaten today? Well the answer is none. And honestly I have no desire to eat any right now. I had some on Halloween night after I realized I was not getting near enough trick or treaters to need it all. (I got 3 btw. 3 kids total all night.) But I haven’t had any since.

And this isn’t an attempt at bragging. Certainly not about my massive will power. Actually my point is will power has nothing to do with it. Because I have no problems eating candy now and then.

And that’s the key. Because if I want some candy, I will go eat some goddamn candy. The result? I don’t feel the overwhelming urge to rush over and start shoveling as much candy as possible into my face.

On the other hand, I remember days past of dieting when I did need to hide or get rid of Halloween candy to avoid eating it because my self-control was not that great.

It’s like when you try not to think about a white bear. What do you end up thinking about? A white bear!

This has long been my experience with dieting. As soon as thing are “bad” and off limits, all I can think about eating is those things. Yet oddly, when not off limits and I allow myself to eat those foods if I want them, I don’t think about or crave them so much.

The only real exception to that I will say is beverages. I still try to avoid drinking sugary drinks and the only way I can ever successfully avoid craving them is by making sure I drink enough water- because my main “craving” there is just dehydration, but if I let myself get actually dehydrated I find myself craving sugary drinks instead of water. But if I keep myself well hydrated with water, I don’t really crave them the same way.

Which is why my current approach to diet is centered around trying to make sure I eat foods that are nourishing (and ideally high in protein- still struggle immensely with that though), and drinking enough water to stay well hydrated. It’s about what my body needs to have, not what I think it or have been told it shouldn’t.