Food Freedom

Published March 23, 2012 by sleepydumpling

Well what an exciting day or so I’ve had.  What with my piece being published in The Hoopla, I’ve had a whole lot more attention here, on Twitter and of course in the comments on The Hoopla.  Mostly people are pretty cool, they get just how damaging fat stigma is.  Sadly, many of them experience it themselves, which is always heartbreaking.  Of course, there are always a few who are willfully ignorant who go down the route of “BUT THERE’S AN OBESITY EPIDEMIC AND YOU’RE GONNA DIE FATTY!!” and just will not be swayed otherwise.  I even got my regular hater cropping up there too, how special do I feel to have someone who hates me so much that they go through all of my online accounts and search for clues of my health/eating/lifestyle?

Anyway, the message I keep seeing repeated by those who just don’t get it is that fat people all overeat, we’re lazy and we clearly have no idea to take care of our bodies.  These comments have a definite purpose – they’re designed to make us justify our bodies, our lives, our health and our choices.  The purpose of those comments is to make fat people say “But I eat healthy!!” or “But I’m on a diet!” or something along those lines.  It’s another control mechanism to make us jump when they say so, so that they can feel superior.

But of course – we unconsciously do it.  We don’t talk about the food we eat, or if we do, we justify our eating, making it clear that it has been ages, or we’re eating “good” foods, or whatever.  We’re careful about talking about needing to rest or sleep, always sure to be clear how hard we’ve worked so that it’s clear we’ve “earned” that rest.

Well, I’ve had enough of that shit.  Eating is not unhealthy. Not even for fat people. Nor is sleeping. Every human being must do both.  Nobody, not even fat people, owe anyone an explanation or declaration of their health. It’s irrelevant to almost everything.  Fat people do not have to prove that they are “worthy” of basic human respect and dignity to be allowed to live.  All of us except a very small few are not “addicted to food”, no more than we’re “addicted to breathing”.  We need food, rest and sleep to survive.  Every single one of us.

It’s time to set ourselves free of the need to justify the things we need to do as human beings, particularly eating.  It’s time to set ourselves free of the urge to prove that every morsel we eat is “healthy”. We have to stop letting other people determine what we should and shouldn’t be eating or doing with our own bodies and lives.

So I started tweeting with the hashtag #freefatty earlier today, and urged other people to do the same.

Some of the responses I got back were:

I even decided to tweet a picture of myself eating something that would be labelled “unhealthy”, check it out:

Om nom, lolly snake.

I know, I know, how dare I put anything in my mouth that is not, as Kate Harding would say, Splenda flavoured air!  How dare a fat, Type 2 diabetic eat a lolly!  I tweeted a picture of the piece of birthday cake that I ended up having too, after my boss went and got one for my colleague.  Look:

Happy Birthday Kellie!

It is my colleague Kellie’s birthday, and we wanted to celebrate that.  I think this was raspberry coconut cake, I forgot to ask.  It was made with real butter, eggs and sugar.  I didn’t talk about how “sinful” it was for me to have a piece of birthday cake, I didn’t apologise for joining in the celebration and I didn’t make a comment about how it would go straight to my hips/thighs/waist.  I just accepted a piece like everyone else, wished Kellie a happy birthday and enjoyed a little down time with my team.

And you know what?  Here’s my dinner tonight:

Yup, that’s a real bagel, with real cream cheese (not light), ham and roasted capsicum.  It doesn’t come in a box marked “Lite”, there are no points on it, it’s not powdered and intended to “stave off hunger pangs”.  The bagel is the authentic deal, not low carb or gluten free.  I don’t have to make sure everyone knows I “earned it” because I exercised or had a busy day.  I don’t have to make sure people know it is “diet” or “healthy”.  I don’t have to promise I’ll “be good” tomorrow to justify it for my dinner.  It’s dinner time, I have beautiful fresh, real-deal bagels and fresh fillings, I’m hungry and it tastes good.

None of us have to play those games around food, sleep, rest and health any more.  We don’t.  If someone passes comment, reply “Well lucky I’m eating it and not you then.” or “It’s food, not the anti-Christ, you won’t go to hell.”  Or simply “Please don’t place judgement/comment on my food or my body.”

I am free to eat my dinner, relax and live my life.  And so are you.

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48 comments on “Food Freedom

  • I spent several hours at the Where The Heart Is Festival in Melbourne today, held annually for homeless people and their support workers. Stood in the queue for pancakes then a BBQ Lunch. I had a berry smoothie when I got home and then had a shitload of dim sims with soy sauce. Today is a great day. #freefatty

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you! A few years ago, I started to feel very self-conscious about my weight. At that time, I’d meet my husband for lunch in a lovely little cafe, where he’d sit down to a fried breakfast and I’d have something, baked potato, sometimes chips and something, and I found myself starting to feel as if people were watching me disapprovingly whenever I had the “unhealthy” options. They might not have, but I still felt guilty, horrible in myself, even though I knew I wasn’t that unhealthy. I was walking around a lot and going to regular bellydance classes (which is quite a workout!). And see, there. I’m justifying myself by mentioning the exercise. Must. Stop. Doing. That. I don’t need to. Anyway, what I wanted to say with this was that I realised what was happening, that if I carried on feeling and reacting to what I thought I felt around me, I’d be heading down the path of an eating disorder and I nipped it in the bud there and then. Until that point I foolishly hadn’t twigged that an eating disorder can happen to you at any size.

    So tonight I’m going to my bellydance class purely because it’s great fun and it makes me feel damned good and no other reason. I’m baking a cake for tomorrow. And I’m going to scrape the bowl out – cook’s perks! – and have a decent slice of the finished article tomorrow. Because, dammit, my cakes are good!

    • Alq, I hear you, I really do. I still find myself justifying food, sleep, rest, relaxation. It’s ridiculous, but we’ve had it beaten into us our whole lives that we must, must, must “earn” everything that is not “healthy”.

      Well I say it’s damn unhealthy to be agonising so much over every morsel and every moment of our lives. Let’s get out there and live it!

  • So relateable! I used to be real quick about telling others about my diet/exercise schemes so they’d at least know I wasn’t one of the fatties who didn’t know any better. I even joined in on judging other fat people who dared to eat or wear something in public that in our opinion was only for thin people. Yes, I was a good fatty who knew my place.

    Now I always come down hard on people snarking about other’s food choices. I will not tolerate that anymore. But reading this made me think about how I still offer information about when my last meal was when I eat with others, and that it’s a way to pre-emptively counter any judgement that might arise from what I’m eating. So I’ll just stop doing that now.
    :)

    • I think zero tolerance of intrusion into our lives and our bodies is possibly the only way we’re ever going to crack it Cia. It’s not easy to do, that’s for sure, but every time we pull someone up on it, we take a step. And a bunch of steps will get us where we want to go.

  • This may be my favorite post you have ever written, Kath, & it is absolutely spot-on. Everyone has the right to own his or her own body, to live as he or she chooses, to eat whatever, whenever, to exercise or not, etc. It is a point I have brought up many times in comments over the years, that judging how other people live is not good for anyone to do, how I hate the ‘nanny’ culture around us that says how a person lives is everyone else’s business.

    Fat people & sometimes fat acceptance people can be as bad about this as the general public. I certainly some years ago ago went through my own “I am a better fat person than you are, I exercise more, blah, blah” phase, & more than once got properly slapped for it on Marilyn’s Fat!So? Gabcafe BBS. I have grown a lot & learned a lot. I have come to understand that yes, it is true, fat people can be as fit & healthy as thin people can, most fat people do not live differently than thin people, etc., etc., but, most important, that everyone’s life is his own damn business, everyone’s body is his own property, & that everyone is worthy of dignity, respect, full rights & access in the world, just by being a HUMAN BEING, not because of eating or exercise habits or a certifiable proof of perfect health. Yes, body size is largely genetic, but that is not the reason why we need to end fat stigma. We need to end fat stigma because it is a human rights issue. It doesn’t matter if you are a vegan marathoner or a couch potato who eats pork rinds & Twinkies, or anything in between. Your life is your business & your food intake is nothing of which to be ashamed.

    I just had green tea & Banana Nut cereal bar as a mid-morning snack when I got in from walking home from getting my granddaughter on the bus. For lunch, I plan to have fried chicken, sweet corn, & hot biscuits (the quick bread kind, not cookies.) At some point today, I am sure that a few cookies & likely a Hershey bar with almonds will find their way into my tummy as well..& several more cups of tea, possibly even a Coke with the chicken.

    • Thank you Patsy. I think FA people just want to break down stereotypes, and they fall into the good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy easily. I also think that so many of us have so much damage done in our pasts it is easy for us to slip back into that thinking, trying to “prove” we’re worthy.

      So long as we keep standing our ground in our right to live our lives without censure or judgement from others over our eating, health and what we do with our bodies.

  • Yesterday I had a gorgeous seafood risotto for lunch. Mmmm… risotto. It came with heaps of delicious salad with a fabulous cilantro vinaigrette. Washed it down with a cool, clear glass of water that made me happy.

    Later on, I got hit with killer cramps and couldn’t straighten up long enough to cook dinner. So Mr. Twistie made ‘potato surprise.’ That’s one of our seat of the pants meals that we always keep ingredients for on hand for those times when dinner is a matter of punting as hard as you can. So, skillet of fried frozen potatoes, onion, chopped up chicken apple sausage, and a really, really thick layer of sharp cheddar cheese later, I was fed and better able to cope with what my body was doing.

    I would eat both meals again anytime.

    Oh, and that cake? Looks delectable. I so need to bake a cake. It’s been too long.

    • Ooh, risotto, yum! I’m personally a big fan of blue cheese risotto.

      Potato surprise sounds like a great “concoction”, I’ll have to remember that one.

      The cake wasn’t bad. I’m not a big cake fan, but those ones from the Shingle Inn are made with good raw ingredients, butter, egg, sugar etc, so they’re much tastier than most store bought cakes.

  • UGG! I am pregnant and have type 2 diabetes so every week I have nurses calling me asking me what I’ve eaten and how much I exercise and what my blood sugar is… it makes me feel terrible! if my numbers aren’t what they “should” be or I’m not eating exactly as they’d like, I get a lecture! It sucks! It’s like being a kid again! or being in weight watchers or OA (neither of which worked for me in the long term…) I need to reframe my thinking somehow so that I don’t feel like I am justifying every bite I take (I’m pregnant for goodness sake) especially since my numbers are in a very acceptable range. I have to remember that I am still in charge, that I am choosing to participate in this process with my doctors or I will start to feel like a rebellious child and eat worse. I wish they would just trust me to take care of this. The weekly call basically says that they don’t trust me to take care of myself. bleh… sorry for the rant. Obviously this is a topic I need to look into more in my life! thank you for writing it!

    • Allison you have all the attention on your body at the moment as a woman don’t you? I hope you can stand up and tell those who are sticking their noses in to your business to BACK OFF and demand that you are treated as a competent adult.

      And rant away hon!

  • I just recently found your blog and I´ve been reading all the older posts. I´m learning a lot from you. I´m a noob at fat acceptance, I still weigh myself everyday and all, but it feels great to hear that we can all be happy right now, with the bodies we´ve got.

    I´m sooo glad to see a fatty conquer her own freedom! You truly inspire me and I wish you all the best. You certanly deserve it.

    • Cecilia, you will get there. It takes time, sometimes you’ll take a few steps backwards, but keep immersing yourself in fat positivity and you’ll find things only get better and easier.

  • All of the above comments – so pithy! Alas, all that cake talk is making me wildly hungry, but it’s Lent & so I must abstain. (I’ve a box of Sees chocolate truffles buried in the freezer for Easter Sunday dessert – can’t wait).

    Yes, many of us attempt to justify what we eat, and I call “bullshit!” on that. Thin people generally don’t give explanations for that burger-and-chips lunch and neither should we.
    What we eat is indeed private, as are our exercise (or lack of same) strategies, how much we sleep, etc.

    Years ago, I formulated what seems the perfect method for deciding what to eat:
    1. Can I afford to buy it? 2. Will it taste good? 3. Will it satisfy my appetite? and 4: Does it NOT promote weight loss? Any food meeting those criteria is fair game, like the lunch I’ll have on this Lenten Friday: scrumptious fish & chips from the Original Farmers Market here in Los Angeles…if I can fight my way through the mobs of Brit expats ( thin AND fat) who want to eat the same thing.

  • Another brave post-no surprise here. I’m not going to ask WHY it feels so transgressive to publicly enjoy food as a fatty, but it still kind of boggles my mind anyway. Just finished a lovely fried egg sammy with roasted red peppers and some super sweet tangerines. Fully expect to find something sweet and yummy later this evening.
    And will enjoy it a bit extra!

  • How I wish I didn’t have to justify every single part of my life, including what and how I eat & the exercise I do. It’s so fucking exhausting and they don’t believe me anyway. :(

  • Awesome post, Kath! And while it sucks you’re getting the usual crap over in the comments at The Hoopla, I have to say it warms my heart how you and others are just not taking their bullying.

  • OMG this is SUCH a good idea. I really wanted to talk with other people in the FA movement about food, because it’s a fraught topic for me.

    The first is savory pies. I didn’t eat one today but they’re very dear to me so allow me to discuss. I love pastry crust. I think it’s the ideal vehicle for lots of different things. I know in the UK and Australia they’re big but here we have chicken pot pie, and that’s about it. I love pies with steak and mushrooms or onions with some gravy on top. I totally can understand why they call food like that comfort food because when I eat one I feel great.

    The other one is related and even more important–French fries (AKA chips but the warm kind, you know?). Seriously, fries get such a bum rap. In so many places the world over, people turn to fried potatoes in various forms as a very filling, comforting, energizing food. And yet it seems like in today’s environment of obesity hysteria, fries are nearly always mentioned as a slur. They’re mentioned to impune people’s character by association or as an example of junk food. Well, too bad–fries’ service to humanity hasn’t gone unnoticed by me. I love fries with ketchup, dressings, and flavored mayos (garlic aioli, anyone?). The flavor gels so well with many different things, and they really can fill out different meals. If I were king of food land, I would give fries a knight/damehood.

    Btw, that piece of cake looks SO good. I don’t usually like cake because often they’re just kind of spongy and bland but that looks delicious. I love raspberry! Anyway, great post. Thanks.

  • When I was a “normal”-sized person and binge eater, I also thought that anyone fatter than me (which was a lot of people at the time) must be eating way more than me, like literally non-stop eating all day, the highest calorie food possible (because it would have to be more than whatever my binges were doing for me), which seemed unfathomable (now I know that’s because it is). The calories-in, calories-out “exact” equation is basically accepted as fact in the general public I wish there were a way to eradicate this myth, because I think it’s a a huge hurdle in the fight against fat stigma. I wish it weren’t (and that no one cared how much anyone else ate), but having been on the other side of this one, I think it would be helpful to fight it.

  • Totally agree, except for the bagel. The bagel in your picture is an erzatz, puffy piece of bread masquerading as a bagel. The best bagels in the world come from Montreal in Canada!

    P.S. Loved your Hoopla piece!

    • Umm, no it is not Newme – it is very much a real bagel, made locally by the ONLY real bagel makers I can find in the country. I am NOT ignorant to the ways of the bagel.

  • I just wanted to state that I love your blog. You are an amazing person in every possible way. You are both empowering and inspiring. Kudos to you and your mother for making you. Here is one female that you have had a positive effect on because of your musings.

    Keep up the excellent work. :)

  • it seems that food truly resonates with us in so many ways. There is for sure the society judgements and morals, combine that with family and friends and top it off with our own jumbled up mess of ideas unless we have a good dose of “Kath” to provide some much needed perspective. Studying dietetics is a head ‘f’ in this area I must say and this kind of talk is what we are meant to be being trained in. Some of us are rebelling and making comments here and there to question that nonsense. My challenge is to navigate this journey and minimise the ongoing self-doubt and second guessing that goes on in my head in the process. This was a good help to that.
    My breakfast this morning was salmon with ratatouille veg on toast with butter (yes butter). It was fresh, fresh fresh pumpkin bread and I had 3 peices. I haven’t had bread in ages because we tend to not get along but this morning I didn’t care I wanted some and it made my meal seem complete and I was and am now happy :)

  • At first I felt myself arguing with you in my head while reading this post. I then realised that it was years of conditioning that I need to justify myself and my weight to others. This post has actually made a huge impact on me because I realise that I have very toxic thinking even though I thought I was being positive.

    It also made me realise how toxic my mother is for me and my relation with food. I know this seems like a tangent but this post created a link to me in how I interact with food as an obese person and my mother’s discussion, constant, of eating food healthily and losing weight. It is something I have often had thrown in my face, even though she is also obese, she kind of uses her wanting to lose weight as a weapon against my self esteem. That had not occurred to me before this post. That discussions about how I eat and she eats ends up being about a justification for my current physical state. The fact is that my physical state is not due to my current eating regime but due to previous years of depression and physical incapacitation due to birth trauma. My weight has very little to do with what I eat. My health has very little to do with what I have eaten also. So now I am questioning why I am always feeling like everything must be low-fat, low sugar and justifiable to myself, but more importantly, my mother.

    Thank you for such an insightful post. It has given me much food for thought.

    • Our families can be some of the most damaging people in our lives when it come to our bodies and our health. We have to learn to unpack that and not carry it around with us.

      Just an aside – I prefer we don’t use the word “obese” here to refer to fat people – it is a pathologisation of our bodies that is not accurate. We are not diseased or sick, we are simply fat.

  • Shallow comment alert: you look so badass with that snake hanging out of your gob :-)

    Now excuse me while I go eat some butterscotch ice cream for dinner followed by a garden salad (pregnant lady needs cucumber much?)

    Yep, living the obese life #fuckyeah #freefatty

    Xxx

  • Your soooo kol and fun and crazy I like you. You cheer me up when I feel society pushing me down because of the unacceptance of my weight which is BMI 52 which puts me in the obessity arena, I get sad because they do not look beyond the physical appearence and see the real me which is kind,generous,friendly, passionate,enthusiastic,and many more…society forgets I already beat myself up about it as it is, I dont need their help,now just trying to live and be happy with me and dont care what anyone says-hoopla!!!

  • I was giving up posting on blogs for Lent, but I am home feeling crappy (throwing up all night will do that) and God says to be good to ourselves, so in memory of the lovely roast lamb that was last night’s dinner (the first lamb we have had in years, literally years, it was on sale at more than 60 percent off so we could finally buy some!) I will now celebrate food.

    I went on vacation for a week last week, going from my little island town to the bright lights of the mainland. And I can count the number of food-related anxiety moments for that entire week on one hand. I feel like hopping up and down squealing, “I’m CURED! I’m CURED!”

    A random list of things that I discovered:

    *If you want good plain family-style dining at reasonable prices (for Alaska), go to the Caribou Inn in Homer or Soldotna. The Soldotna branch serves breakfast all day. We spent 8 hours on the road, some of it going through a literally trackless wilderness, so we needed food that wouldn’t send us on what my husband calls “a run for the Border.” Their food isn’t spicy or super-rich, but it isn’t bland either, know what I mean? Omelets, pancakes, French toast, nicely seasoned breakfast potatoes, fluffy hash browns that weren’t greasy at all . . . we sampled from one another’s plates, washed it down with water (because I don’t care whether kids aren’t supposed to get buzzy from sweet drinks, mine do, and three kids on a sugar crash in a car that is going through a mountain pass on a road with six-foot snow berms on both sides is a little picture of Hell), and were pleasantly not-hungry without getting queasy on the road. On the way back, I tried the German-style string beans, which were simmered with onions and cubes of bacon until they looked wrinkly and not-good, but my oh my were they good! And they weren’t greasy either.

    *The overnight ferries on the Alaska Marine Highway have darn good cooks. If you aren’t seasick, that is. If the breakfast special is “Raisin Bran French toast,” grab it. It’s just whole-wheat cinnamon raisin bread done as French toast. What a simple and brilliant idea!

    *Red Robin is extremely expensive, but their fries are the best I have ever had, hands down. Watch out for the desserts. It took all five of us to finish one serving of their mile-high mud pie, which is made from at least five scoops of ice cream plus cookie crumbs etc. So order one dessert per table, or maybe two, unless it’s something you can box for later.

    *We ordered two. Ooops. Luckily the apple fritters (they call them something else, but they are very good apple fritters) were crisp, not greasy, so even though I forgot to request a to-go box I could wrap them in a napkin and take them out. And I just realized that I did not once think about what anybody else might think seeing the fat woman putting food in her coat pocket.

    *I decided to try something that I would never try at home, so I got the lengua burrito from the local Mexican place on our last night. Wow, beef tongue is good. At home I would have to buy a whole tongue and skin it myself, which squicks me out, but it’s really tasty. On the other hand, my husband’s crispy duck from the Chinese place was nothing to write home about. Maybe he didn’t get a good one?

    *Pellegrino Limonata is the lemonade I have been looking for all my life. It’s not cloying and it actually satisfies thirst.

    *I love fresh strawberries and I want to marry them.

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