Archive for healthy eating

In which I am thankful for an underappreciated holiday





Yeah! Get excited everybody!

But first, let’s all take a moment to acknowledge that Thanksgiving is kind of a thankless holiday. (See what I did there?) Oh, sure, it’s a pleasant enough diversion between Halloween and Christmas, but it’s not really a top-tier holiday. Everybody’s happy to get a couple of days off work/school/whatever, but you don’t drive around the neighborhood looking at everybody’s Thanksgiving decorations, you know?

But why? What’s so wrong about Thanksgiving? It’s a cool holiday where you meet up with your family and eat a bunch of food and everybody talks about how thankful they are for each other. It’s adorable.

In theory, anyway. In practice you probably spend most of Thanksgiving trying to avoid that racist uncle that keeps telling everyone about how white people “saved” the Native Americans.

It’s like it isn’t Thanksgiving until someone’s offended.


But one of the most surreal things about Thanksgiving for me has always been seeing three generations of women, all worrying about their weight.

Now, it may or may not surprise you to learn that I come from a family of beautiful, sexy ladies. And yet, every year these hawt pieces of booty talk about their diets, or their weight gain, or tell each other, “You look so thin!”

And my basic point here is that recently my grandmother was worried that she was putting on some weight.

My grandmother. Who is ninety-five.

Like, I would hope that around age eighty—at the latest—is when you could finally stop worrying about your weight.

And I would hope that Thanksgiving, a holiday based almost entirely around food, would be the day that you could put aside your weight woes and just tell society to take their rules and expectations and stuff it.

In other news, local woman makes hilarious Thanksgiving pun.

In other news, local woman makes hilarious Thanksgiving pun.


My point here, I guess, is that now is not the time. Thanksgiving is the one day a year when  you’re basically given a free pass to eat what you want, so why not embrace it? It’s a day to stop worrying about whether you have a trim little tummy or slim little hips, and to, instead, embrace the things you do have, like a great butt and some great food and a bunch of great people to share it with (the food, not the butt).

So I am urging everyone out there to not do that thing where you starve yourself through the week before Thanksgiving so that you’re “allowed” to eat what you want. You’re a human being! You’re allowed to eat food! Get pumped about the stuffing and turkey and pies and cakes; get pumped about seeing the people you love (and the ones you…tolerate).

And please, Lord, do NOT talk about your diet. For once, it’s not the time for dieting. It’s the time for that sweet, sweet turkey.

Sorry, I try to avoid putting porn on the blog.

Sorry, I try to avoid putting porn on the blog.


And, during this penultimate blog post, I’d just like to say that I am extremely thankful for all the people out there reading this blog that I’m doing. You guys rock.


Why are Bagels so Great?
In which I ponder how freaking good food is.


Lately I’ve been thinking about bagels.

Namely, I’ve been thinking about how freaking incredible bagels are.

They’re like, so good, guys. You can get them sweet, like blueberry, or savory, like asiago cheese. Even the plainest of bagels is a breakfast fit for a king.

And the true miracle of bagels is that they’re pretty much just boiled bread. That’s the basic process of making a bagel. I mean, I’m not a bagel chef; probably there’s a little more involved. But to my understanding the basic formula for a bagel is: bread + boiled water = bagel

Let’s, for a moment, ponder the intricate miracles of life, and appreciate how we live in a world in which the scientific process of boiling bread (which sounds super gross, let’s be honest) makes something as miraculous and great and beautiful as a bagel.

And don’t even get me started on cream cheese.

I’m talking about this because of that Kate Moss quote, “nothing tastes as great as skinny feels.” Now, I’m not intimately familiar with how “skinny feels,” but boiled bread HAS to taste better than “skinny feels.”

The issue I’m getting at here is that there are a whole host of reasons that I’m body positive and opposed to dieting. Dieting is unhealthy, to the point that being skinny has become an end-all indicator for health. I once, direct quote, heard a girl in one of my classes say, “Well, my doctor says I’m practically diabetic, but I’m still skinny, so…” No. Skinniness is not all that it takes to be healthy. Conversely, fatness is not an automatic indicator of unhealthiness.

Not to mention all of the gender issues at play here. Guys are allowed to be fat without going on dangerous crash diets, but ladies aren’t. I’m not saying that men don’t have body image issues as well.


 Don’t worry dudes, I feel for ya.

Don’t worry dudes, I feel for ya.


But the disproportionate number of women suffering from eating disorders speaks to the pressure put on young ladies to be skinny above all else.

And dieting is such a weird rejection of the fleshy fun parts of the feminine form. It’s taking a woman with life and culture and thoughts and a body, and it’s reducing her to a number.

And I swear to God, the next person who tries to lecture me about the “cleanse” that they’re doing is gonna get their face cleansed.


Haha. Facial cleanser. I'm hilarious.

Haha. Facial cleanser. I’m hilarious.


And even though there are all of these great reasons (and zillions more) to be against dieting and stuff, the one that I keep coming back to is the simple fact that food tastes so good.

Freaking bagels, for instance. Why are they so good? There’s something so intensely satisfying about them; a morning with a bagel fees like more of a morning somehow, you know?

And I feel this way about most food. People talk a lot about food in terms of family and culture. Like, my Grandmother makes a pecan pie that is freaking amazing, guys. But food, for me, goes maybe even deeper than that.

If I’m sick, then a bread bowl full of chicken noodle soup from Panera is a religious experience. I feel a deep personal connection with every person that delivers my Jimmy John’s sandwich. Every time I eat McDonald’s feels like a tiny victory for my eight-year-old self (who was trapped with an awful mother who wanted her to be healthy for some reason). Calories are some intense carriers of emotion. I know “comfort food” is a clichéd phrase, but it’s so accurate. The right food can turn a day around.

One of my clearest memories is from the time I was around ten or eleven years old. My mom and I had gotten lost on the way to a softball game. We were a half-hour late, and I was really upset. I was crying. I was afraid that I would be kicked off the team, or all the other girls would hate me, or like, the world would explode or something.

And my mom stopped at a gas station to ask for directions, and she bought me a donut and a chocolate milk because I was crying like an idiot and she needed something to stuff in my mouth.

I wish I could express how transformative that donut was. I don’t even like donuts that much, but somehow at that moment it was the exact mixture of sugar and dough and icing that my tiny dejected ten-year-old body needed.

Everything was fine after I ate that donut. The world calmed. We never found the field, but it was all good, because I’d had a donut and a carton of chocolate milk, and they had healed my broken heart.


I’m a simple girl.

I’m a simple girl.


And I think that dieting denies all of that in a really concerning way. Weight is not simple, and food is not simple. Acting like food is just a matter of calories is a denial of how intricately it’s tied to our hearts (and, yes, our arteries). Even ignoring all the other really important reasons that it’s bad, I think one of the worst things dieting tries to do is rob people of these simple pleasures and comforts.


-Rachel Sudbeck

Resources for your body and mind

What most of us don’t figure out until later in our lives is that there are resources to educate ourselves about our bodies and their habits. Recently I’ve taken an interest in researching things about natural eating habits, managing a healthy weight, the woman’s menstrual cycle, etc. I want to share some of the books I’ve encountered with you, so that you may enlighten yourself and your body with some newfound information.

Natural Living: The 21st Century Guide to a Self-Sufficient Lifestyle by Liz Wright

Natural Living

Today, being conscious of what’s happening to the Earth as well as our bodies is something of the norm. So wouldn’t it be nice to have a handbook to guide you on your path to a better lifestyle? Natural Living provides “an in-depth look at the way we live and comprehensive guidance on the crucial changes we can all make.” If you want to learn about all aspects of living in the 21st century, then Liz Wright’s Natural Living gives you the insight you need—whether it’s for gardening, food planning, raising animals, or composting—to get you started. Available at Barnes and Noble.


Eat Pretty: Nutrition for Beauty, Inside and Out by Jolene Hart

Eat Pretty

It’s nothing new to hear that being nutritious is a trend that everyone wants to adopt. Eat Pretty provides readers with a program that “offers a full lifestyle makeover, exploring stress management, hormonal balance, and mindful living. Charts and lists, plus nearly 20 recipes, make for a delicious and infinitely useful package—in the kitchen, at the grocer, and on the go.” Available at Amazon.


Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance by Rosie Molinary

Beautiful You

Do you struggle with self-acceptance? Rosie Molinary encourages readers—no matter their size, age, or ethnicity—to make it a goal to feel better about themselves and work towards that goal while ignoring the implicit negativity of the media. Using realistic techniques in a one-year plan to empower and push women to embrace a healthy self-image and break unwanted habits, “Beautiful You strikes a chord with every woman who has ever faltered in her self-confidence or lost her personal brilliance—and it makes sure she never lets it happen again.” Available at Amazon.


Hopefully these books will enlighten you and give you a little bit more information on feeling positive and maintaing a healthy life.

Brittany Eldridge

Will the real slim shading please stand up?

Every Girl is Beautiful Photo


It’s no secret that I am my mother’s daughter. We have similar facial features, the same hair color, same attitude, and same body frame.  It’s always a common joke in my family to poke and prod at our bodies because we have no meat on our bones, as if we’re a couple of Thanksgiving turkeys on display. But the truth is that it seems as though the older I get, the more my family seems to notice that I’m skinny, or more importantly, underweight.

My doctor of fifteen years has always tried to push me to eat more than three meals a day just so I can put on a few extra pounds. But I found that more and more I was eating foods with a high fat and grease content in the hopes that it would give me the boost I needed, but instead the weight didn’t stick. And I would just be left feeling gross and empty.

From the time I was fifteen until I turned nineteen I felt guilty about being skinny. I felt like something was wrong with me. How could I not when every time I would see a relative they would ask if I was ever going to put any meat on my bones and if I still ate like a bird? (Many times I wanted to correct them and say that birds eat quite a bit of food even for their small sizes.) There were even times when people in high school would ask me if I was anorexic because I “just kind of seem a little sick…”

But who were they to make me feel a way I didn’t want to? It took some time, but I finally realized that I could be happy with the body I have. Instead of eating all those fatty foods, I started to balance what I was eating by making sure my body was getting the vitamins and other things it needed. For a while I took an iron supplement to get myself away from borderline anemia. It helped with the pale skin and sickly look that everyone thought I had. I also started to take a daily vitamin, and I made sure to drink water and eat the best that I could.

It took a couple of years, but now—at almost twenty-one—I am maintaining a healthy weight for my age and height: I weigh approximately 120 pounds, and I feel good. There is no longer any guilt or question about whether or not I’m underweight. I can look in the mirror and smile at myself, and to me that’s a victory. Of course my family still says I’m too skinny, but I think they do that now just to give me a hard time.

I think it’s important for people to be proud of what they have: you’re the one who has to live in your body so I recommend making it a home.

Brittany Eldridge


View from the Quarterlife


A little over a week ago, I turned 25.

Wow. That sounds… old.

When I was a teenager, I never thought much about what exactly 25 would look like.

I had plans.

I had goals.

I (generally) knew what I wanted my life to be like.

In the grand scheme of things, however, I didn’t think of 25 as a particularly exciting birthday. It wasn’t a sweet sixteen. It wasn’t 18 and the transition to adulthood. It wasn’t exciting like 21.

Nonetheless, there were parts of 25 to look forward to. I grew up hearing the oft-touted fact that the human brain doesn’t finish developing until age 25. That always struck me as kind of odd. We have to make so many important decisions before age 25. We have to decide if we’re going to go to college. If the answer is yes, we have to decide where to go to school and what to study. Once we’re finished, we’re launched into “the real world” and have to find a way to support ourselves.

That’s a lot of stuff. All these decisions we make determine the trajectory of our lives.

I’ve spent some time pondering all these big decisions I’ve made, wondering if I made the right choice. That’s too big a question to answer, though. I had to come at it from a different angle.

I’ve spent 25 years crafting myself as a person. I have habits and values. I have things I care about. I know what’s important.

I asked myself this question: all these things considered, am I the person I would have hoped to have been?

If the answer was no, the question became: how I can I change that?

This is what I’ve been writing about these past few months. 15-year-old me would hate to see 25-year-old me struggling with the same issues with self-confidence. Ten to fifteen years is a long time to dislike what you see in the mirror.

It’s no way to live.

That recognition, however powerful, was only the start of a long process. I’m still working on loving myself and what I see in the mirror. Changing my habits has helped tremendously. I feel more in control of my feelings, habits and actions. Knowing I’m the one behind the wheel, so to speak, gives me a sense of confidence I never expected.

It’s still hard, though.

Some days I just don’t feel good about myself. I don’t feel prepared to face the world. I’m too inside my head to really be comfortable around other people.

That’s when I have to stop myself. I can’t control how other people view me, but I can control how I view myself. I can control how I react to things.

This hasn’t been a cure-all, but it has helped. I’d encourage anyone to consider this as a way to battle issues with body image. Think about all the time you’ve wasted worrying about your body. Hasn’t it been long enough?

—Lauren Bunch

The AMA piles on the hate, forgetting that “obese” people can be healthy

Two week ago, the American Medical Association (AMA) declared that obesity is a disease.

They did this even though the AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health “said that obesity should not be considered a disease mainly because the measure usually used to define obesity, the body mass index [BMI], is simplistic and flawed.”

Not only is the AMA’s decision problematic because the BMI scale is unreliable, it’s also problematic because obesity in and of itself is not a disease. Though obesity is a condition that can be associated with diseases such as high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease, there are plenty of obese people (myself included) who are healthy.

In fact, according to Abigail C. Saguy, an Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at UCLA“more than half of ‘overweight’ and almost one third of ‘obese’ people” are healthy.

Not only that, “almost one quarter of ‘normal weight’ people” are unhealthy.”

You may be wondering how someone can be “obese” and still be healthier than some people who are not overweight.

Dr. Saguy says, “One explanation for this discrepancy is that physical fitness and/or nutrition—rather than weight per se—may be what really matters. Several studies have shown that physically fit ‘obese’ individuals have lower incidence of heart disease and mortality from all causes than do sedentary people of ‘normal’ weight.”

So what does that mean?

It means that we can’t use weight to determine health.

Instead, we need to look at physical activity and eating habits, which are what really determine health.

But it also means we have got to stop judging a person’s health based on how they look. That’s going to be hard to do because it’s easy to assume that if a person is overweight or obese, then they have poor eating habits or don’t exercise. But that’s simply not always the case, which is why so many of those people—remember we’re talking about 33% of obese people and 50% of overweight people—are still healthy.

This is a point that hits close to home for me since I fall in that 33% of people who are technically obese but still healthy (with low blood pressure, low cholesterol, a low resting heart rate, and a very active lifestyle).

Moreover, I fear that if Americans don’t learn to understand that being overweight does not equal being unhealthy, they will continue to use dangerous dieting techniques to drop pounds fast. And these diets almost always lead to weight gain—and more health problems—in the long run.

Sadly, the AMA’s decision to classify obesity as a disease is only going to cause more people to feel pressured to lose weight and diet, which is why it’s no surprise that some critics fear this classification “could lead to more reliance on costly drugs and surgery rather than lifestyle changes” and that it’s possible the AMA did this to help pharmaceutical companies sell anti-obesity drugs, two of which were introduced this year. “Some people might [also] be overtreated because their BMI was above a line designating them as having a disease, even though they were healthy.”

And how could this classification not lead to these kinds of problems? If someone says that being obese means you’re diseased, it’s perfectly normal to say, How can I be cured?

Which is why calling obesity a disease is incredibly dangerous and irresponsible.

Let them eat fruit!

Recently I heard a professional in the health industry say that people who are trying to lose weight should cut back on fruit.

Not ice cream or brownies or chips or soda.

But fruit.

Weight Watchers used to give the same advice. In one of my first posts on I Will Not Diet (back in April of 2009), I talked about what was wrong with Weight Watchers don’t-eat-too-much-fruit approach, and I stand by those words today: “there should be NO limit on the amount of fruits and vegetables people allow themselves to eat, and any ‘diet’ that tells you to cut back on them is, by definition, unhealthy.”

Since then Weight Watchers has changed their stance on fruit.

They now define fruit as a “free” food and tell their members to eat as much of it as they want. As they explained in 2010 when the change occurred, “Fifteen years ago we said a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. If you ate 100 calories of butter or 100 calories of chicken, it was all the same. Now, we know that is not the case, in terms of how hard the body has to work to make that energy available. And even more important is that where that energy comes from affects feelings of hunger and fullness.”


100 calories of butter is not the same as 100 calories of chicken.

And 100 calories of fruit is not the same as 100 calories of cake.

Moreover, most Americans don’t get enough fruit and vegetables as it is, so the idea that anyone would encourage us to consider eating even less fruit is simply bewildering to me.

We need to be eating more fruit, not less.

How much fruit should we at a day? About three or four pieces given that we’re supposed to have 5-7 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle to get in those 5-7 servings of fruit and vegetables every day and almost never get there. But I still try.

And the less fruit we eat, the more we crave other sweets, sweets that are not as healthy or filling as fruit is.

So why would anyone advocate eating less fruit?

Because it’s a quick way to drop a pound or two, a quick way to see results on the scale. Cut out fruit for a week, and you probably will lose a few pounds. But will you be healthier? No way. Will the weight come back? Probably. And then some.

This is just another example of why health—not weight loss—has to be the goal.

In sickness and in health

I have been sick for twelve days now. Twelve days.

That’s a long time to feel like crap.

Oddly what I miss more than anything—besides feeling good—is working out. I dragged myself kicking and screaming back to boot camp tonight and coughed and hacked my way through 45 minutes of squats and burpees at about 60% effort.

Even though it was really hard to get there, it felt amazing to be moving again. And after five minutes of exercise, I immediately felt better.

This made me think about how difficult it must be for people who don’t exercise on a regular basis to get started.

I know how hard it is for me to get back to working out after a long break—it feels rather overwhelming—so I can imagine that it feels completely insurmountable for people who have never exercised outside of gym class.

But here’s the thing: once you start doing it, it’s like anything else… You get addicted to it. You need it. You feel unhappy without it. Which is exactly how I’ve been feeling these past twelve days.

It seems like this post should end with a silly positive reinforcement for people who don’t exercise… like You can do it! or Just give exercise a try! But honestly I’m not feeling it probably because my head has been pounding for a week and a half. Honestly what I really think is: if you can do it, why wouldn’t you?

Send your good karma my way… I need it!

It’s that time of the semester when everything starts to unravel…

I haven’t worked out since Tuesday…

Of course, that means I’ve picked up a few pounds because other people can sit on the couch for months with no consequences, but if I do it for two days, my body melts into the sofa…

I’ve been mainlining soda like the junkie I am…

I haven’t cooked any food all week…

I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since—I don’t know—August…

I actually graded three of the wrong papers this week (so not kidding)…

I ate Chinese food—yes, things are that bad…

And, finally, I’ve been spending every minute I’m not on campus in my pajama pants.

Listen, I don’t mean to sound fatalistic. I’m a firm believer that when we fall off the wagon, it’s best not to beat ourselves up, and, instead, it’s healthier to just try to do better the next time.

But at times like these I feel like I’m spiraling out of control and am not sure when I’ll be able to regain some balance in my life. At tines like these, I have to wonder why we let ourselves experience so much unhappiness.

I’ve got too much going on Friday and Saturday, but I’m really really really hoping that Sunday I can get my shit back together. If you believe in the power of prayer, please keep your fingers crossed for me!

Moderation is Key…a guest post by Amy Neal

Here’s something that’s been rolling around in my head for a few days: What’s happened to moderation? Specifically, moderation in the way we eat.

Don’t get me wrong… I think healthy eating is important (although I often don’t do enough of it), but I can’t help but wonder what extreme eating habits will do to our thought processes in the long run.

Let me give you an example:

One day last week, I packed pretzel sticks in my daughter’s school lunch to go along with her wheat bread sandwich, apple, and water.

Nothing crazy unhealthy in that lunch, right?

But kids were begging her to share her pretzels because their mothers “don’t buy that kind of stuff.”

Pretzels?!  Really?

I don’t consider pretzels “health food,”  but I do think they are certainly a better alternative than something like Funyuns or Cool Ranch Doritos (not to mention a much better alternative when it comes to good breath for the rest of the day!).

My point here is not how good or bad pretzel sticks or any other foods are.  My point is this… when we totally deny ourselves or our kids anything—pretzels, cookies, soft drinks, chocolate cake, etc.—are we teaching anything about self-control or moderation?

I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to be able to control themselves and not go hog wild when the opportunity arises to drink a Coke or eat a piece of candy.  I want them to understand that eating a cookie is okay, but eating six cookies at a time is not.  I don’t want them to sit at the lunch table at school and beg other kids for some of their food because I “don’t buy that kind of stuff.”

And if they do beg for other people’s food at least let it be something good like a homemade chocolate chip cookie—not pretzel sticks, for crying out loud!

I guess ultimately what this all boils down to for me is that having self-control is important in all facets of life, and hopefully learning how to apply it to what we eat will carry over to the rest of our lives.

AMY NEAL is a 30-something, coffee loving, sun-seeking stay-at-home mother of three who is married to her high school sweetheart and lives in small town America.
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