I don’t generally advocate ‘diets’. Dieting has kinda become synonymous with ‘deny yourself every form of food-and-sloth-based happiness you have ever known, for the rest of your life, in return for a distant future of thin-bodied happiness’. Having never been thin, I personally find the idea of Hell being the universe’s largest fossil-fuel consumer easier to swallow.
That being said, a year ago I went through one of the scariest times in my life. I was 440lbs, eating about 3000 calories a day, and starving to death.
Yes, you read that correctly. The irony is nearly crushing.
While my normal diet (the real definition, i.e., the list of stuff you personally find acceptable/palatable to eat) wasn’t what you’d call healthy, it wasn’t lacking in nutrients, either. Plus, my OBGYN had had me on a prenatal vitamin regimen for the 6 months prior to us discovering that all my measurable vitamin/mineral/nutrient levels were dangerously low.
My hair fell out by the brushful. My face was gaunt, my eyes sunken and dull. My fingernails split off in layers. I was milligrams away from being admitted to the hospital indefinitely. It wasn’t pretty.
At first, the doctors thought I had hypochlorhydria – a condition where your stomach doesn’t produce enough acid to break down the food you eat. Then they thought I had Celiac disease – a gluten allergy that causes your small intestine to stop absorbing everything (even nutrients) in an effort to not pick up even more gluten. I didn’t have either of those horrible conditions, thankfully (though my heart goes out to those thousands who do suffer from them), and being morbidly obese literally saved my life since my body had lots of raw energy stored in my fat – it only had to cannibalize itself for vitamins and minerals. Before we ever could identify what was going on, my levels came back up into the low-normal range.
Having survived a gypsy-starvation-curse (Thinner, anyone? O.o) and having become intimately familiar with all the side effects of starvation, traditional dieting is hard for me. To those in the know, when you do any of the traditional diets, what happens? Oh, that’s right – your hair falls out, your face gets drawn, your eyes get sunken, your nails flake away. That’s because any time you plan to ‘eat less and exercise more’, you are starving yourself.
No, I’m not taking that back. That’s the actual choice you are making when you diet – if you don’t like that, I’m sorry; but it’s true.
Now, I’m not saying that you should never want to lose weight (or put weight on) – what I AM saying is that if you are looking to change your body’s size by ±30lbs you need to work on that under a doctor’s close supervision. When you are endeavoring to make that big a change to your mortal-interface-operating-system, you need a good programmer handy at all times.
But what about when you love your body just like it is? And then, oh, say, the holidays roll around – and EVERY. SINGLE. EVENT. centers around food? I’m not just talking about the obvious Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas trifecta, oh no.
What about all the champagne/apple cider on New Year’s Eve? That ain’t calorie free, my friend. Or the 3 costume parties the week before Halloween? Your parents, your in-laws, and your best friend are all throwing one, you know. Or the Thanksgiving-sized-spread your husband insists you make the week before Thanksgiving, since you’ll be with extended family and “it’s just not the same”? Or the Thanksgiving-sized-spread you have to make the week after Thanksgiving as a peace offering to all your local friends, since they found out about the one you did two weeks prior, that they missed? What about your office Christmas party? And then your spouse’s office’s Christmas party? And then your church/coven/drumcircle’s Yuletide extravaganza? If you’ve got school-aged kids, your also need to figure on at least 3 additional parties per child in this jam-packed quarter.
At some point, even the most hardy Fat Girl looks around frantically, crying, “Dude, seriously, I physically can’t eat another bite!”
All the above has been a preamble into this – the calorie cuts I make, that I like, that work for me – especially at this time of year. These keep me svelte, muchachos, svelte and lithe, as I eat cheesecakes and pork rinds.
Diet soda: This includes calorie-free/reduced calorie beverages of all kinds (Ryan can’t do diet soda at all, but he digs unsweetened iced tea ::blech::). I used to laugh endlessly at the fat guy in drive-thru who insisted on ordering a #3 biggie-sized with a diet. Seriously dude, you’re not fooling anyone – just spring for the full sugar Coke at this point, alright? Then one day it dawned on me that my large beverage contained 68% as many calories as my Double Baconator. Which meant that I could get a diet, eat 1.5 burgers, and end up consuming less calories total. Yeah. So you can laugh at me all you want, I’m always gonna order the low/no-cal beverage.
Fat Free Sour Cream/Cottage Cheese: I actually prefer the flavor and texture of the fat free kinds. Fat free sour cream is a little tangier and less watery, in my opinion, and I find that fat free cottage cheese curds are more firm (which I like). I use ff sour cream with full fat mayo when making dressing, and I love ff cottage cheese on buttered toast. Yum!
Walden Farms® Caramel Fruit Dip/Original BBQ Sauce: These people are crazy. They make a whole line of everything-free dressing/mayo/syrup/jam/dips. Yes, everything free – no calories, no sugar, no fat; it’s black magic, I tell ya. Most of the stuff is so-so (pretty darn great for “diet food”, but I’d never eat it if I could get my hands on the real thing) but these two items I eat as “real food” on a regular basis. Dipping sliced apples in their caramel is better than any other caramel dip on the market, and a little goes a long way. When we have steaks, I use the bbq sauce as steak sauce – divine!
Parkay®/I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Butter® Spray: I know what you’re thinking – how can someone who loathes margarine as much as Jena possible prefer fake-butter-flavored-salty-water to the real thing? Easy, my friend. After a certain point, adding more butter to certain items (specifically rice and veggies) DOES NOT increase the butter flavor. All it does is increase the greasiness, which actually reduces the overall butteriness of the dish as a whole. But butter-flavored spray uses very little oil and a whole lot of artificial butteriness. End result? Rice and/or veggies that taste like they grew in a pot of butter, with no overwhelming oiliness.
Salad Dressing on the Side: I love ranch. Especially homemade ranch. That being said, if and when I eat a salad, I want to taste the salad. When I make salad at home, I toss it thoroughly to lightly and evenly coat everything in dressing. When I go out, I always order my dressing on the side and just dip the tines of my fork into it before each bite. This means I end up eating about 2 tsp of dressing on a big salad. Which means I TOTALLY deserve cheesecake for dessert.
Remember, it’s perfectly acceptable for any Fat Girl to avoid unnecessary calories – no one will take your Fat Girl Card away from you. If you like it, eat it, even if the whole world agrees that it’s a healthy snack. I like celery & peanut butter, which is a very balanced snack, and I like cucumber ‘chips’ & ranch dip more than potato chips (which I can’t have anyway). I don’t eat them because they’re healthy, I eat them because they taste great. Healthiness is just a bonus =)