March 9th, 2009

bitstrips

A little splurge

Today I had a very specific craving: cold soba (buckwheat) noodles with peanut sauce. boyziggy and I have made a peanut butter spirals recipe for friends and family on numerous occasions to rave reviews, but that wasn't specifically what I wanted. I found just the recipe in one of my vegan cookbooks, and cooked it up along with a package of soba noodles that had been sitting in the cupboard since who knows when.

It was so good. I stared at the puddle of high-fat peanut sauce leftover in my bowl, debating whether to rinse it out into the sink or mop it up with a piece of bread. My tastebuds won out and I did the latter. But I felt guilty about it. I had to put the leftovers away really fast before I ate any more. Fortunately in a few minutes I was no longer hungry. The "wait ten minutes" rule has saved me from consuming countless calories over the last few months.

The above might seem like a ridiculous dilemma over a few grams of fat, but this is what millions of dieting women (and men) deal with every day. I don't like to think that I'm on a diet; I'm following a lowfat mostly-vegan diet, but I'm not super-strict about it, and I plan to stay with it indefinitely. I was reading someone's post on the McDougall forums about how it was easy for him to stick to his diet because he eats virtually the same thing every day. Then today I started watching Ruby, a show about a woman who started out weighing nearly 500 pounds, and in the first episode you see her picking up her week's meals from a nutritionist who makes her promise to eat only that food and nothing else.

I don't want to be that restrictive. I like variety, I like to cook, and I like occasional splurges. The exercise should help even out the bumps when I eat too much fat. But I still feel I need to be mindful of my food intake at all times. Being vegetarian for primarily ethical and environmental reasons definitely helps, but there are still plenty of high-fat vegan treats I need to minimize or avoid. Having a lot less money to spend on pre-packaged foods and restaurant meals should also help in that regard.
askew neutral

More thoughts on obesity

So I'm sitting here watching a marathon of the nine episodes of Ruby I bought with a gift card from the iTunes store. As I mentioned in my previous entry, this is a show about a woman who weighs nearly 500 pounds. In one episode, after she's lost about 60 pounds, a siren goes off indicating that a tornado has been sighted (this is in Savannah, Georgia). She ushers her teenaged nephew, his friend, and her two small dogs into the bathtub, which she says is the safest place in the house to be during a tornado. Meanwhile she stays in the hallway, because she is much too large to fit in the bathtub. Afterward her young friend expresses concern, and she realizes that she could actually die in such a situation because of her weight.

I was nearly in tears watching this. I got frustrated and angry too, as angry as I've been since watching a New Year's Day marathon of programs about people who each weighed over 700 pounds. When Ruby was complaining about how she hated the prepackaged meal plan she had been eating every day for four months, I just wanted to grab her and say "Come with me, honey, I will make you pasta, potatoes, burritos, French toast, pancakes... and you will lose weight and be satisfied!" But of course she's on the standard pre-diabetic plan and is eating things like tiny portions of eggs and chicken which are never going to satisfy her. Her doctor just says she has to suck it up and stick with it, because her life is at stake.

I really want to do something to combat obesity, but I'm not sure what. I'm not talking about people who want to lose a few vanity pounds, I'm talking about people with several hundred pounds of extra fat on their frames. Yes, we can make seats wider and make other accommodations, but too far in that direction and we'll end up like the people on the WALL-E spaceship.

I've started looking into what it would take to become a registered dietitian, which might give my words more weight (so to speak). But I am hampered by several factors. For one, I have a very weak science background; I would need to take remedial courses in biology and chemistry before I could even be accepted into such a program. For another, vegan diets are not looked upon kindly in nutritional programs or the medical profession in general. And finally, I would have very little support for this career from my current friends and family. I can count the number of strict vegetarian friends I have on the fingers of one hand, and hardly anyone I know is vegan.

I know I might offend some people talking about this subject, but I really don't want to be quiet about it any longer. There comes a point where extra weight is not just about aesthetics. I'm not about to go tell everyone who weighs more than the BMI tables or whatever recommend that they have to lose weight. But for those who want to lose weight, and have been struggling unsuccessfully to do so with hunger-inducing diets and risky surgeries, I want to find a way to tell them that there is another option.