Category Archives: eating disorders

the economic cost of obesity. [video]

This Friday marks one year since I became a mom.

That’s right — my baby boy is turning one.

But something else turns one on Friday — my freakish paranoia about the food industry.

Something about becoming a mom made me extremely fearful of the food that’s available out there; as it stands right now, if I can’t pinpoint exactly where it came from and how it came to be, I don’t want to feed it to my kid.

Because of this, I’m choosing Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and the Green Wise organic section of Publix instead of my used-to-be go-to WalMart. And it’s getting expensive.

Like, really expensive. (Here’s a figure for you — I spent $42 at Publix today on TWO dinners for my family. TWO. Either I’m doing something wrong or healthy, organic, clean food is just that much more pricey.)

A couple weeks ago, Dan and I were out running errands. While out, I remembered that I was out of sandwich-makings, so I asked if we could stop by the nearest grocery store so I could grab some spinach, tomatoes, meat, and hummus.

The neighborhood we were in was a poorer one, but there was a WalMart nearby. So we stopped and went in.

I was so saddened by what I saw.

There was nothing — I repeat — nothing in the grocery section of this lower-income store that wasn’t processed. Nothing. Not a single piece of fruit. Not one vegetable. Nothing. Only boxes and boxes of fatty, sodium-rich, nutrient-free garbage.

And we wonder why America looks the way it does.

This video by Academic Earth illustrates just how much money we, as a country, are putting toward healthy food versus junk food. It was eye-opening but after this trip to WalMart, it also makes a whole lot of sense.

Take a look at the video here.

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mom finds “diet list” in her 7-year-old daughter’s room.

You read that subject line right. According to this post on Mommyish, a mother found a heartbreaking “diet list”, complete with documentation of daily food intake and exercises, on the floor of her 7-year-old daughter’s bedroom.

I can’t even imagine.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about something like this. I’m grateful for that fact, truly, because any time I come across something like this every hope and dream I have about the world in which we live dies just a little bit more.

Sorry for the melodrama but here’s the deal — I have a kid now. Not that this wouldn’t have pissed me off a year ago, but it’s a little different now that I’m a parent. In a moment of fleeting amnesia, I forgot how terrible the world can be sometimes, so I decided to bring a little life into it. So I had a little boy. A little boy who will sit next to little girls in his classes at school. Girls he will talk to and possibly befriend. Or fall in love with. A little boy whose utterances about girls’ appearances could either be encouraging or incredibly damaging.

See, people? Now it’s personal.

Anyway — here’s a picture of the “diyet” list this poor mother found.

diet_list

If you read the article, you’ll find that the mother’s discovery of her 7-year-old’s diet plan sends her into a tailspin of parental questions, as I’m sure would be the case for any warm-blooded parent with a heartbeat and a brain stem — How did my daughter learn about diets? Did she hear this from me? Was it from someone at school? Was it something on TV? 

I’ve only been a parent for 7 and a half months, but I am already wracked with so much mom-guilt it’s not even funny. Guilt because I work full time. Guilt because my son once choked on a piece of carrot that somehow didn’t get pureed enough. Guilt because he’s teething and so nursing isn’t exactly his favorite thing at the moment. The idea that I’m hurting my child in any way causes me paralyzing grief each day; I can’t imagine the pain I’d feel in my gut if I ever knew that my child didn’t like himself and that feeling was somehow tied back to something I said or did.

The reality is that we do live in a broken world, one that puts so much emphasis on our outward appearance that it’s literally (in this case at least) destroying our youth. We can’t get away from airbrushed magazine covers or commercials for diet pills or anti-aging cream. But what we can control are the words that come out of our own mouths.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are capable. You are worth so much more than your skin color or weight or height or eye color or anything gives you credit for. 

Here’s the thing, though. I sincerely doubt this mother ever told her 7-year-old she needed to go on a diet. I also find it highly unlikely that this mother ever uttered anything to her daughter that might suggest she didn’t like her appearance at all. I’m sure this mom doted on her daughter every day like all of us would our own children. So what’s the disconnect?

While it’s extremely important to make sure we say these things to our children (both boys and girls) as well as our friends and family, we’ve got to start with us. The words we say to ourselves are just as important, if not more so. They’re not just heard by us; they’re heard by others. Especially, I’d argue, the littlest ones. The ones we wish couldn’t hear us the most.

What if she heard her mom complaining about her body? What if this woman (who, at this stage in life, is her daughter’s main example for womanhood) offhandedly commented on her lovehandles or something like we all tend to do? And what if this little girl just assumed that’s what life is like for a girl these days? To be unhappy with her body?

Furthermore, what if this little girl was a classmate of Dax’s? And what if she had no idea what a diet was, but when talking to Dax, learned I was on a diet.

“What’s a diet?” she might inquire.

“My mom says she has to eat less food because she’s fat,” he might respond, if he were to repeat anything I’ve ever said around him concerning my own body.

Let’s break this cycle. Let’s start with us. Let’s talk about ourselves positively and encourage others to do the same. Let’s tell our children they are the perfect creations they are. Let’s end this.

Now.

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pop singers don’t eat.

In recent days, Lady Gaga has come into the spotlight for, ahem, “letting herself go” and gain some weight. Media outlets, like they tend to do, have criticized her new “fuller” (I put all these words in quotes because GOOD GOD SHE LOOKS BLOODY NORMAL) figure. To defend herself, she posted a couple pictures of herself online in her underwear with the caption, “Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15.”

 

Now, all of a sudden, people are coming up alongside Gaga to aid her in her new found quest to spread body image positivity and courage.

Yayyyy, right?

Bleh. Yes? I guess? But here’s what pisses me off about the whole thing.

I used to love Lady Gaga. I would dance like a damn fool whenever her songs came on the radio or in the clubs. My husband and I bought her newest record (which was disappointing, honestly) the day it came out. I can’t remember another artist for whom I went out of my way to purchase their stuff on the drop date. (Okay, there’s Hanson, but they don’t count because I buy their stuff BEFORE the drop date. Obviously.) But I stopped supporting her cold turkey recently.

You see, all of you are late to the “Lady Gaga Has An Eating Disorder” Party. We were all invited to that party years ago and I guess no one but me noticed her invitation to it… despite it being on Twitter. 

I stopped supporting Lady Gaga because she tweeted about eating a salad with the hashtag #PopSingersDontEat. It was almost like she was proud of it, like she knew she was “better” than the rest of us for foregoing calories in the name of thinness. I didn’t want to support anyone, ESPECIALLY anyone who women (and girls!) across the globe looked up to, who would publicly advocate such unhealthy behavior.

Because I struggled with an ED, I know that her tweet, and the thought process behind it, had ED written all over it. The desire for validation. The absurdity. The stubbornness. The emptiness. Everything about her tweet SCREAMED, “Help. I have an eating disorder,” but only NOW, when we actually see Lady Gaga give her ED a name, do we feel sorry for her?

Why is it that a tweet that LITERALLY STATES one is refusing food just gets swept under the rug, while a picture that states, in lesser words, I DON’T EAT FOOD actually gets your attention? It’s the same thing! Is it the sheer fact that now, a medical term — anorexia and bulimia — is tied to the behavior? If so, that’s horribly sad, because think of all the people who are currently suffering from eating disorders without diagnoses.

I was one of them. For those of you who know my story, you know I suffered from an eating disorder for TWELVE YEARS before being diagnosed. Twelve. Years.

After Gaga’s original tweet, that’s when we should have been rallying up alongside Gaga for body positivity! We should have tweeted back at her that nothing is worth damaging your body for, especially not thinness. We should have tweeted back at her the truth that she’s fearfully and wonderfully made. But we didn’t.

I didn’t.

Had Twitter been around back in the days I was knee deep eating disorder hell, I’m almost positive I would have tweeted something about how a Pepsi One (yep, throw back) totally counts as a legitimate lunch option. And you know what? I would have secretly hoped that someone, anyone, would tweet back at me, “Please, eat something more than that. You’re beautiful. You deserve to treat yourself better.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m glad Lady Gaga is doing what she’s doing. I think she’s a beautiful woman, inside and out, who, like a lot of us, has been tricked by society to believe that her worth is only skin deep. And I’m not mad at her for doing this all of a sudden. What makes me mad is that THIS IS NOT NEWS. Poor Gaga practically threw a Hail Mary pass on Twitter asking for help and no on caught it. But now, she’s in the end zone doing a dance after rushing for a touchdown in her underwear, and NOW we’re paying attention?

Welcome to the party.

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i’ll have curves with a side of bones, please. hold the cellulite.

Well, readers. I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news.

The good news is that it seems as though the outrage against society’s “thin ideal” is finally being recognized. Magazine photo editors have finally gotten the message and have stopped Photoshopping images of women down to impossibly skinny frames.

The bad news is that instead of Photoshopping women to look skinnier, now editors are adding fake curves. According to the lovely ladies at Beauty Redefined, curvy is the new skinny, but only in places curves are “allowed.”

Sigh. SO CLOSE, YOU GUYS. SO CLOSE AND YET, SO FAR.

Seriously, people? The problem isn’t that images of women have been manipulated to look thin. The problem is that images of women (and men, for that matter) are being manipulated at all. I’ve been dying for magazine photo editors to get this through their heads and with this new revelation, I feel like I’ve spent the better part of my life begging my parents for a puppy, and they just finally agreed to get me one. Only they came home with a beat up Pound Puppy they found at the local Goodwill and hoped it would pass.

And so. Here we are again singing the same song reinforcing the idea that one body type is better than all the others. Where it used to be impossibly skinny, now it’s impossibly curvy; that is, thin all over except where curves are acceptable (boobs and butt, essentially).

As someone who falls in the “curvy” category (or plus-sized, if you can believe it) I’ve always wished that I could have this exact body type — thin everywhere, but with killer boobs and a butt. But even when I was starving myself into misery, I still had the body type I do: curvy, even in the spots where it’s not acceptable (bigger arms, bigger thighs, and so on). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with another girl about how we wish we could switch body parts with each other so we could fit the ideal.

ME: Ugh, I hate how big my boobs are. I wish I was skinny all over like you.

FRIEND: Whatever! I wish I had your shape and actually looked the way a woman is supposed to look!

ME: But we’re all ‘supposed to be’ skinny like you.

FRIEND: Yeah, but with big boobs like you!

I wasn’t born knowing that there is a “right” way to look and a “wrong” way to look. I was taught it from a very young age. Sadly, I was also taught that, thanks to Photoshop in the media, the “right” way to look is also the “impossible” way to look.

Either it’s being so skinny that you’d have to have most of your rib cage removed…

 

Or it’s extremely curvy, but only in the places that curves are accepted.

And if you don’t look like this? Well, it’s no one’s fault but your own because you’re the only one not working hard enough.

To learn more about this stupid new trend in Photoshopping, click here to read the article by Beauty Redefined.

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eat your heart out, girlfriend!

The days and weeks are all blurring together. I can’t remember the last time I wore real clothes or left the house. (Sunday? Was it Sunday? I think it was Sunday.) But each and every moment I spend with my little boy (even the screamy ones, though I have to admit, at a lesser extent) is precious. And hey, who cares, right? I have Netflix to keep me company.

EXCEPT WHEN THE INTERNET AT OUR APARTMENT DIES AND THEN I DON’T. [sobsobsob]

What did new moms do back in the 80s, huh? No Internet? No Netflix? HOW DID THEY SURVIVE?

The first time our Internet died (it’s been dodgy for the better part of a week) I was pretty cheerful about it. “OH! My baby loves to hear my voice,” I thought, “so I’ll read to him. Oh, and BONUS! I have to read all these ‘new mom’ books anyway so why don’t I read THOSE to him and kill two birds? MAN, I’M A GENIUS!”

So I picked up The Girlfriends’ Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood by Vicki Iovine and started reading it to my newborn. I actually finished it in about two days. And bless my son, he was so entertained, even though I could tell he didn’t give two hoots about the subject matter. (I can hear his little thoughts now: “Breast pads? Post-natal incontinence? Mommy, why do I need to know about these things?”)

I really liked Iovine’s first book, The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancyso when a friend of mine loaned me Iovine’s book on motherhood I was really excited to read it. For the most part, it did for me what Pregnancy did — told everything about motherhood to me straight, even the not-so-happy parts. I love Iovine’s “no nonsense” take on all the crazy bizarre things that happen to women during and after they gestate. I was all about to give The First Year of Motherhood my hearty approval until I came to a chapter entitled

I Want My Old Body Back!

Even though I’ve already made peace with the new body I have, I wouldn’t mind being able to wear my pre-pregnancy jeans again (mostly because I’m cheap and the thought of me buying new pants makes my wallet cry). So I read on. Because this book is written from the point of view of my “girlfriend”, I expected good ol’ Vicki to tell me, “Hey, girl, it’s okay. You’ll get your old body back naturally and healthily. No worries, girl. For now, focus on nourishing that babe!” Because that’s what I’d tell any of my girlfriends.

I’ve decided that, based on this chapter, Vicki is not my girlfriend. Check out some excerpts:

Eat Only One Meal a Day. Relax, I didn’t say eat once a day. In fact, I think you should eat several times a day, but only once should you sit down and tuck into those three-coursers that were so much fun during pregnancy…

To avoid feeling cranky and deprived, always include a food that my Scottish friends call “fuller”: you know, something that makes you feel full and satisfied. A light pasta, roasted potatoes, rice or a piece of bread are all good “fuller”.

At least once a week, make a big pot of soup to eat at those other times when your body thinks it needs another meal.

You know what that sounds like? That sounds like an eating disorder to me.

When I was knee-deep in disordered eating, those are the kinds of thoughts I’d have: “To avoid feeling deprived, I’ll do X. To trick my body into thinking it doesn’t need more food, I’ll do Y.”

WHAT?

You know what’s happening when your body “feels” deprived or “think it needs another meal”?

YOU ARE DEPRIVED AND PROBABLY SHOULD EAT ANOTHER MEAL.

For the past week or so, I haven’t been able to eat but one meal a day. Because my baby boy loves me so much (let’s go with that as the reason) he won’t let me put him down. So while Dan is away at work all day, I am literally doing nothing but holding, rocking, and nursing my baby. Even if he is as comatose as someone who is actually in a coma, the second I lay him in his bassinet he wakes up and screams bloody murder. Therefore, when my husband gets home, I practically throw our child at him so I can eat something.

You know what that’s done to me? Nothing good for my figure, that’s for sure. And what’s more, I believe it’s diminishing my milk supply.

At the end of the chapter, Iovine kind of comes back around to say that even though your body will never be the same again, the new you is a “better” you. But I feel like limiting myself to one meal a day is doing nothing to make me better. From what I can tell, it’s making me worse. I’m crankier, more tired (if that’s even possible), and my baby is feeling the effects at mealtime.

So tonight, Dan and I made an agreement that he couldn’t leave in the morning until I had a for real breakfast. Like, with protein and stuff. So that even if I have to wait until he gets home to eat again, at least I’m not starting out on E.

In related news, I’m still jiggly and boy do I WORK IT.

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why are we rooting for someone like don draper?

I’ve gotten a lot of gifts as a new mom. Nipple cream, breast pads, gift cards, onesies… but if I had to pick one thing all new moms should have it would be  this:

Netflix.

If I have done one thing pretty much constantly since giving birth, it’s breastfeed. But if I’ve done two things pretty much constantly, it’s breastfeed and watch things on Netflix. Every new mom should be gifted a subscription to Netflix streaming. (Nipple cream, too.)

Currently, I’m about halfway through the second season of Mad Men. I’d never seen it before because we never had AMC, and a large majority of my friends are really into it, so I felt like I was left out of some exclusive club.

But not anymore! Several years later, I’m finally at the party, y’all. Will someone take my coat and hand me a cig?

I know what you’re thinking: Lindsay is going to blog about all the horrible, misogynist themes of the show. How predictable.

Well, the joke’s on you! That’s not what I’m going to blog about! That’s too easy. While it’s true that, based on the content of the show, women must have been treated pretty poorly in the 60s (and evidently all married men screwed around on their wives, most likely because Internet porn wasn’t invented yet) that’s not why I’m blogging about Mad Men. 

I guess I have to give props to the show because it makes me feel things I don’t want to feel. It makes me uneasy. It makes me question things. I’ve sent out a handful of texts and tweets over the past few days asking real, honest questions about why in the hell are we rooting for Don Draper? 

Being that I’m only a season and a half deep in this thing, I’m not entirely sure why we want to pull for a protagonist that lies, steals, and cheats his way through life. But so far, this is what I gather.

Don is running from a supremely dark past. And, I’d argue, a lot of us have that in common with him.

Even though it feels like I’m the only person on the planet who hadn’t seen Mad Men, maybe there are other people out there who have yet to get into this series. So I won’t spoil anything for all two of you out there. But I will say this: as bleak and twisted as you think your past is, I guarantee you that Don Draper’s is far worse.

Today, I accidentally hurt my child for the first time. Not bad, mind you. But it happened. While he was nursing, I accidentally drug my fingernail across his nose. No blood was drawn. No mark was even left. But it made him stop feeding so he could scream. It made me so sad. And, because I’m about 3 weeks postpartum and still constantly chugging a deadly hormone cocktail, I started panicking over the future counseling bills I’d be footing for him to work out his mommy issues. But this instance reminded me that once people are outside of the womb, they are exposed to all kinds of awful things. Pain. Disappointment. Lies. Sadness. Things we might want to run from later.

I am not without those things.

I spoke with my brother on the phone today. We talked about some things that I’m running from at present. Feeling at one with Mr. Draper, which is a bit unsettling, it gave me something to think about.

How do we take the best from our past experiences and leave the rest in the dust?

My eating disorder being a part of my past is definitely bad. It’s embarrassing, sad, and damaging. But it is also good — it reminds me that I was able to overcome something that had such a strong hold on me. It being a part of my past gives me hope for the future.

I don’t know that Don can say the same thing about his past, but I can only hope that as the seasons progress, he lands at that conclusion. (I’m not all that hopeful of that, to be honest, but no spoilers anyway!)

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postpartum body image.

Let’s call this blog post a victory lap, shall we?

At two weeks postpartum, I’m in a very awkward stage as far as my body goes. I can’t fit into my pre-pregnancy pants yet, but my maternity pants are just a bit too baggy. Similarly, the number on the scale is considerably smaller than it was two weeks ago, but it’s still one that I’ve only ever seen since becoming pregnant.

The Lindsay from several years ago would probably be crippled by depression over this. She would most likely be missing out on all the wonderful blessings surrounding her newborn boy because she’d be too concerned about dropping the baby weight as fast as possible. And she’d definitely be completely inconsolable over her ridiculous new bra size. (For the record, I still have no idea what my actual bra size is. Thanks, nursing sports bras! You’re the best!)

But no. Not anymore.

I’d argue that, if anything, pregnancy has taken my body image and radically transformed it into something magnificent. Sure, my midsection is as soft as a pile of bread dough and is decorated by a couple of new stripes. And maybe I’m not entirely sure what “size” I am anymore. And let’s not get started on what my BMI says about me at present.

BUT…

As completely cliche as it sounds, I’ve never loved my body more than I do right now. Here’s why:

1. my body built a life.

Every time I look at my son — my beautiful, perfect, angelic son — I am in complete awe. My body is the instrument God used to create my sweet baby boy. It’s a true miracle, really.

2. my body sustains that life.

All I have to do in order to make sure my baby is fed is stick him to my boob. Bam. Fed.

(Also, to drive this point home, watch Jim Gaffigan’s stand up special called “Mr. Universe”. It’s on Netflix.)

3. i’ve never felt more loved.

Okay, so maybe it’s true that my two-week-old baby doesn’t really give a crap whether or not I have horns, so long as I feed him every two hours and change his diaper as needed. BUT BUT BUT it’s really nice to feel so loved, no matter what my body looks like. My son couldn’t care less if I ever lose the baby weight — or grow horns — he just wants me to be near.

4. for the first time in my life, i’m letting myself be loved.

Not just by my son, but by my husband and my friends and my family, too. For the first time since I can remember, I’m consciously letting myself be loved, without asking “why” or “how” or anything, just because I am me. Not because I look a certain way — because that “certain way” is definitely NOT what I look like right now, and I might never again — but because I simply am. Because I am a wife. Because I am Mommy. Because I am a friend. Because I am family. I am loved and that’s the end of that.

In today’s society, I think that too much pressure is put on new moms to get back to their pre-pregnancy form as soon as possible. What with celebrities like Beyonce gracing the front covers of magazines mere weeks after giving birth, it’s easy for new moms to feel insecure about their so-called ravaged bodies. But as for me, someone who has a past that is pock-marked by disordered eating, I refuse to fall victim to that.

There is nothing — I repeat, nothing – in this world that I have done that holds a candle to carrying my healthy, perfect, wonderful baby boy to term and giving birth to him. Nothing. And if I’m a bit pudgy and stretch-marky afterward? Let it be. I couldn’t be more proud of my body and the miracles it is capable of.

Put that in your beauty-obsessed pipe and smoke it.

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