I've had time to think. About me, my recovery, my not-so-distant job. My upcoming stint as a student. And so on.
I think. And think and think and think.
I see the research on dieting, the latest article by science writer Gina Kolata for the New York Times: Genes Take Charge, and Diets Fall by the Wayside.
I also see this equally interesting article: Thin People May be Fat Inside.
Basically, the last article says that BMI is not a reliable indicator of the amount of body fat you have. Well, duh. I have no doubt that people will still say its a reliable judge of overweight. So if you're thin, you're fat. And if you're fat, you're STILL fat. So we may as well start loving our inner fat person because it seems we all have them.
There's also blazing headlines about teaching parents to "intervene" with their "overweight" children and teach them "healthy lifestyles." Education, unbiased education, is good. Playtime is good. Exercise is supposed to be fun. Veggies can taste good. So can chocolate. Enjoy them both.
The thing is: if obesity and consequently body size are indeed related to genetics, then why do we need interventions for the problem?
It doesn't make sense.
In light of all of this (overwhelming) research that says genes not only determine your height and shoe size but also your weight, why do health professionals continue to diet??? Right. It's healthy. In my anorexic days, whereupon I lunched on cottage cheese, consumed one curd at a time, people called me 'healthy.' They said I was so good because I exercised so much. I was destroying myself. I had a mental illness that compelled me to starve myself. If I was schizophrenic, I wouldn't be lauded for being able to hear such a wide array of voices. Or if I was diabetic, the fact that I could pee out sugar and ketones*- damn! That's a neat trick, Carrie!
It's sick that our culture elevates a mental illness as strength. Those who fail at dieting have no willpower. Therefore, someone who is on an extreme diet HAS willpower. And in America, willpower means a lot. It means you are successful, you are strong, you will go far. Head west, young (wo)man!
The other thing that bugs me is this: dieting is such a part of our culture, its how so many women seem to connect with each other. Biggest compliment: you've lost weight! You look great! (Translation: you sure looked like shit when you were heavier!) And when you don't participate, when you make the continual choice not to, you lose out on a lot. That, I'm realizing, was the worst part of the work/diet situation. It was messed up on many levels, but the hardest part was the loss of social connections with people who could have potentially been my friends. Dieting takes over your brain, holds it hostage. You can't think of anything else. It's like a cult, as author Sharlene Hesse-Biber points out in her book "Am I Thin Enough Yet?" A cult that might turn into anorexia, who will then demand that you drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid.
It will, of course, have to be sugar-free Kool-Aid. No extra calories.
*Ketones are also a sign that the body is starving and digesting fat for fuel- ketones are the metabolic byproduct. Obviously, I found the 'starvation' section of my biochem lecture quite interesting. Le sigh.