Wholemeal toast x 2, butter. (…honey with a ‘hint of cinnamon’ on one slice)
Corned beef and tomato sandwich (on malted grain), 5-bean salad, side salad.
Rhubarb crumble and custard.
Braised sausages with onions, mashed potato, mashed carrot and swede.
Ice-cream (2 scoops).
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
“The best yoghurt can be cut with a knife” she shared, with a glowing smile…
…she has one of those enthusiastic nods, luring you in with trust and a sense of awe about everything she’s saying. That’s when you KNOW you’ve got a top-notch dietician.
Yesterday’s nutrition session was all about ‘fat’. A huge, HUGE, HUUUUUUGGGGGEEEEE topic with lots of stigma, emotions and fear attached – amongst MOST of us, not just people with Eating Disorders… I feel my brain cells boil like a kettle about how much it gets a ‘bad’ press… but how, with all the mixed messages in the media, and the over-complications about the ‘types’ we should be avoiding/eating, the ONE key thing to remember is:
“DON’T AVOID FAT.”
(…she scribbled in a red whiteboard pen, to wrap up the session)
I’d deffo like to explore ‘fat’ A LOT more in future posts… the main thing I wanted to share with you was the quote at the start, which REALLY made me smile. It makes me ITCH to go travelling country to country, un-earthing, tasting and blogging about other true hearty foods around the world… that do NOT have the stamp of approval from ‘Weight Watchers’ or ‘Special K’ or have ‘under THIS amount of calories’ shining underneath a halo on the packet…foods that AREN’T messed with in a factory, to fit with and put pennies in the pocket of the ‘diet/weight-loss’ industry. The very foods that aren’t just a no-absolutely NOT to Anorexia, but probably also to a lot of people in general, especially in the UK. Underweight, ‘normal’ weight or ‘overweight’ – we’re all confused. But whoever we are, we all NEED fat.
The dietician was referring to the amount of fat in yoghurt, she had discovered was used in Eastern Europe whilst on her travels – comparing the real, thick, creamy, TASTY texture… in comparison to our thin and watery ‘Muller Lights’ and fat-free Greek stuff.
The funny thing was all of us ‘Eating-Disordered’ lot could relate to how since coming into treatment, we didn’t realise how runny, bland, sweet and flavour-less fat-free/low-fat yoghurt really was… until we HAD (Anorexia terrified into a corner) to select ‘thick and creamy’ yoghurt on the meal-plan… of which we now have multiple times a week.
And you might think – oh well that’s obviously because you’re there to ‘gain weight’, so you HAVE to have the full-fat option. That’s where it’s messed up and there’s this whole generalised weight-GAIN or ‘bad’/indulgence attached to the word ‘fat’. It’s not the FOODS that are different to help us do the weight-gain bit… the foods are what we are encouraged to eat as a healthy, balanced diet for LIFE… it’s the QUANTITY of snacks and our monitored activity levels that help us progress to our target weights.
To us brainwashed Brits, it’s like we feel a need to cut out fat where we can, and in the easiest way available to us. Sometimes without knowing, we just think that making the ‘right’ choice is picking ‘fat-free’ over ‘full fat’ if that option is available to us – even if our intention isn’t necessarily to lose weight. So the poor yog-yogs are often a first target. It’s almost like reaching for a ‘full-fat yoghurt’ down a supermarket aisle is offensive to the human eye. You almost need a black balaclava, the ‘Mission Impossible’ music playing in the background and some action-man rolly-polly skills if you dare do the deed – how can we help feeling like we’re making the ‘wrong’ choice when ‘fat-free’ and ‘low-fat’ are dancing in their large fonts, special offers and bright colours, owning the store? It’s like the full-fat stuff are the peasants and paupers of the dairy kingdom… when, really, it should be the other way round.
During my relationship with Anorexia, yoghurt wasn’t even a yoghurt. It was a liquid number. It was the reassurance of the calories on the packet, or of the flashing grams on the kitchen scales. Just like an apple was… a measuring of tuna… jelly…biscuits… anything. I guess it didn’t even matter what type of ‘food’ entered my tummy, at the end of the day all the digits had to come together to be ‘cashed up’. The taste didn’t matter so much… it was the numbers that had to be ‘right’… I was a qualified mathematician/scientist in my own imaginary way. Constantly working in my laboratory (brain) mixing chemicals, planning new formulas (working out what strange combination of foods would make a meal on ‘target’)…
“Will this one satisfy Anorexia today?”
All in all… just to go to bed feeling at ‘peace’.
We all know what lies that is! My point was going to be, even ‘out there’ when I’ve restored my weight and am making progress with recovery… there will still always be this quest and battle for finding a sense of ‘peace’… even when it comes down to simply choosing a yoghurt.
Being faced, in a supermarket with so many choices of yoghurt – the same flavour/brand even, but in both ‘full-fat’ and ‘fat-free’ options… you almost fall for the ‘easier’ (even though confusing) sense of ‘peace’ with society because of what everyone else is doing and telling you to do – by picking the ‘fat-free’ option. It’s almost the ‘get out of jail free’ card in the dairy world, which actually has no value to play with.
Being true to myself and my OWN values, I know deep down that my way of feeling at ‘peace’ would be always to choose the full-fat option. Of everything. The original, fat = flavour… knowing that it’s not the TYPE of foods I should be manipulating/avoiding, but the AMOUNTS of them being something I can control. Ideally I’d like (and will strive for) a diet for life that does not have the fat purposely sucked out of it. Again, the stuff that sells because of these reassuring ‘numbers’ we cling on to…
…maybe we cling onto the numbers because they seem so ‘certain’ and ‘sure’ when life sometimes doesn’t feel that way. What empowers me in another way, is to think that actually buying and relying on these foods that do proudly shine off their ‘calories’ in an angelic-like fashion, is actually me being OUT of control… and it’s me being controlled by business men and women sat in the thrones of the diet and weight-loss industry. And also by the upsetting, brainwashed beliefs held about ‘fat’ – JUST as if not MORE important than protein, carbohydrate, water, vitamins and minerals.
How I CAN be in control, is by eating EVERYTHING in balanced amounts.
So thinking back to the first ‘thick and creamy’ yoghurt I was given to eat at the Eating Disorder Unit… I genuinely felt personally attacked by just that food description. Seeing it written on the lid, it felt like I’d been given a detention slip at school for doing nothing wrong. I didn’t understand why I had to be ‘punished’ to put fat into my body in something as simple as a yoghurt that you could buy so commonly and freely without fat. If you can buy them without then what was the ‘point’ of eating one with fat in?
When I was struggling to complete the ‘half-portions’ of food when I was first admitted here, it self like self-harm to even take a few mouse-licks off the creamy yoghurt-dipped spoon. All that kept playing on repeat was “well everyone else is out there buying and perfectly living off fat-free yoghurts – THAT’S normal, this is NOT normal. What have you done that’s so special to deserve THIS”… which I guess goes to show, when you have an Eating Disorder it is so much harder to justify eating a very much NORMAL full-fat yoghurt, when ‘fat-free’ in the rest of the world has basically become the new ‘normal’.
Since that first spoon-dip nearly 3 months ago, and after many, many, many, many, MANY yoghurts later… (black cherry being the fave) no fat sucked out of them… I’m lucky, I guess, to be in the position to say that this is my new ‘normal’. This IS what normal should be, and still is. I’m glad I’ve been rescued from the scary diet-confused, fearful world in a way… and been put, temporarily into this ‘safe’ bubble to confront all the foods that are very much, apparently normal (even though they are tasty, they contain fat and are advertised as ‘indulgent’)… so that I can go out there with my re-charged nutritional armour, and hopefully a better-built emotional shield, into a world of dietary-confused explosives.
Finishing on a brighter note, this now new realisation that ‘fat-free’/’low-fat’ are no longer options to me… exploring the yoghurt aisle in Asda when I first start self-catering and choosing/preparing my own food again… seems quite exciting!!
Any ‘proper yog’ recommendations/personal faves, feel free to fire them my way… 🙂