In Defense of Food

4 Aug

(title ripped off from Michael Pollan, who I reviewed here)

When I started this blog, I made a conscious decision not to turn it into a weight loss blog, even though its something I struggle with on a daily basis.  I did this on purpose – I didn’t want to be one of “those” people who talked about food and calories all the time.  In reality, I didn’t want to think about it any more than I already do.

If you know me in real life, or from the Interwebs (which I’m sure 90% of you do), you know that in 2003, at 5’0” and 172 pounds, I joined Weight Watchers.  You know this because I met many of you through weightwatchers.com.  In two-ish years, I lost 64 pounds, making me a Weight Watchers Success Story and earning me an all expense paid trip to the big NYC for Lychee Martinis (not expenses paid) and a day at a photo shoot eating Cosi and chatting about points.

From the day I joined Weight Watchers, I became an obsessed woman.  Every thought I had was about food, points, and healthy guidelines.  Even now, having slipped back up a few, er fifteen, pounds, I still obsess.  I can just push the bad obsesses into to the dark recesses of my mind a bit better than I did before.

The reason I bring this up now is because J & I spent the day at the beach and a cookout together this weekend, and had an hour, semi-buzzed (me, not my DD, J) ride home.  We started talking about people and food, and I categorized the entire population of regular-meal-eating people into three categories:

1 – People who eat whatever they want and are truly happy.  These people can weigh 100 pounds or 400 pounds, but their one common thread is that they are happy.  They can not eat for four days or stuff themselves silly at Old Country Buffet and still love themselves.

2 – The obsessives.  People who count calories, points, carbs, etc, to be in control and to (hopefully) keep their weight in control.

3 – Everyone else.  These are the majority of the world’s food eating population.   These are the people who inhale an order of nachos and four beers, followed by a Quarter Pounder, and stay up all night feeling guilty and plotting ways to work it off, or make it up to themselves.  They get up the next morning, run 3 miles, drink coffee for breakfast, have the Taco Salad Bar with all the fixins for lunch, say eff it, and start all over again.

How do I know #3 so well?   That’s me to a T.  In fact, I’m writing this after 4 beers and a half-ish order of nachos.  The Quarter Pounder depends on how much J loves me when he gets me at the train station in an hour.  I know 1 & 2 well because I’ve been all three.  I was the fat kid who would eat what the other side of #1 ate, but gain weight while they stayed trim.  I was #2 on Weight Watchers, and still revert back to that at times.

But you know what?  I like #3.  I like food.  I love food.  And I love unhealthy food.  I do love me some fresh mango and a giant salad bar, don’t get me wrong.  But what I really love is pizza.  And nachos.  And beer.

There are people who stress eat. They have a bad day at the office and gobble up a whole pizza when they get home.  I had a piss-poor, miserably depressing work September (thank you Lehman Brothers).  I didn’t eat for 10 hours, then hit Cosi with a vengeance.  People emotional eat.  I had a really bad breakup Senior year of college.  I cried for hours, and refused to eat: until 4 pm the next day (about 20 hours after the breakup), when a roommate and I went through the drive in at Wendy’s and ordered one of everything on the menu.  She apologetically explained to the cashier “We’ve had a break-up,” and I screeched “We’re on a break!” and drowned my sorrows in Frosty.

The past year and a half or so, I’ve tried to get my weight down to where it was before.  J claims that was too skinny, yet I know I wasn’t comfortable then in a bikini, so it was not skinny enough (my warped self image may be discussed in later blogs, or in the privacy of therapy).  My biggest problem is the one I discussed above:  I love food.  Good, bad, greasy, gross, cheap, expensive – I love it.  There is nothing too gross for me.  Ponderosa buffet?  My idea of a dream date.  Bacon explosion?  Heaven.  I love sitting with J on the deck with a glass of wine and a pile of cheese and crackers.  I love cheezits, calzones and beer on the beach with my BFFs.  Going out to dinner on my parents?  Score!  Bring on the calamari.  Kettle Corn and Sixteen and Pregnant?  Yes, please!

Which brings me to the the social aspect of food.  Sure, you can bring cherries to the beach while everyone works their way through three pounds of Cheezits, but when group grocery shopping for cookout fare, so you really want to be the one sneaking carrots in the cart instead of chips?  Maybe you do, and, if so, the more power to you.  You’re probably the skinny side of #1, the one who craves salad and poached fish.  The one who says “That’s too rich/salty/creamy/fatty/delicious for me.”

To that I say — Good for you.  I aim to be there in life one day.  Until I can figure out how to get there, I’ll be at the Taco Bell drive thru.  Don’t worry, I’ll run the Double Decker supreme off in the morning.  Three miles should cover it.  It will be okay, there’s lettuce on it.

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5 Responses to “In Defense of Food”

  1. Lauren McGrail August 4, 2009 at 8:19 pm #

    I hope you don’t mind me commenting on here but I enjoyed the read… you have me debating who I am – food wise that is…. hope you’re enjoying your summer and your nachos and pizza and beer!

  2. Julie August 4, 2009 at 8:52 pm #

    Thanks Lauren! Comment as much as you’d like — I love getting comments! 🙂

  3. J. Koslow August 5, 2009 at 6:03 am #

    Julie… Your blog is great, truly a gifted a writer. This was a particularly interesting post. Trying to figure out which category I would be in is fun… I’d say teetering close to #3 but I do make a conscious effort to watch what I am eating, not so far as to count calories but realizing that fresh goes a lot further than processed. I miss all of you guys… good luck on your continued journey, I’ll be reading

    Best

  4. Mare August 6, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

    I’ve been trying to place myself as well. I’m going w/ 2.5.

  5. Julie August 6, 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    Thanks Jesse! I like to eat more fresh food too, but it can be tough. I don’t think Dels & Olneyville System fall into that category! If I was the rich housewife I dream of being one day, I’d spend my days at Whole Foods and make fabulous home cooked meals every night. Or sit on my ass and eat bon-bons all day, I haven’t decided yet.

    No, Mare, you’re a ten! 🙂

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