Health Versus Weight

As long as I have the scanner out, here’s a look at my latest attempt to improve my lousy winter immunity.  Last time I saw the doctor, she looked in my mouth, my ears and my eyes and said “you’ve been dieting.”

Now, mind you I have not “dieted” a day in my life.  I have often been accused of dieting, though, as well as of having an eating disorder.  The fact is, I have a genetic tendency towards being underweight.  It is one of the reasons the wind blows right through me in the winter and I get month-long plagues when others are having 3-day sniffles.

But something that occurred to me some years ago is that just because I don’t try to lose weight doesn’t mean I don’t have a body that looks and acts like a perpetually dieting body.  It also happens that I do have some irregular–though not intentionally so–eating habits.  I’m someone who forgets to eat breakfast and/or lunch, then wonders why I feel awful at 3 o’clock, remembers I haven’t eaten, grabs a fistful of cashews or a cheese stick and runs out the door again to pick up the kids from school.

It’s sort of ridiculous that I eat like this when I feed my kids so well.  Because I do.  I started them on organic formula that I had to order by the case because at the time our town had no retail source for it.  I proceeded to home-make their baby food out of locally grown organic arugula and other such healthy delights and I used to keep a checklist of their diets to make sure they got everything they needed daily.  I now have that checklist in my subconscious and can tell you at any given moment what they have had a lot of and what they could use now, in about 3-day nutrition cycles.  It’s not obsessive, it’s incorporated into my basic childcare rhythms now like a sense of when Selina last used the potty and ought to try to use it again is in the back of my potty-training mind.

But for myself, I have no such sense.  My body just screams “sugar!” or “protein” at me when I dip too low and I hit my head all Homer Simpson style and rush to the freezer for a defrostable snack.  So, realizing that while I am certainly not dieting, my doctor is nevertheless onto something, I made the chart above, ran off 6 months worth of it and have been trying to monitor my nutrition roughly by the food pyramid.

As you can see, it’s the fruits and vegetables that are a struggle.  I have a bizzaro allergy to raw vegetation and therefore can’t share an apple or banana with the kids without risking anaphylactic shock.  So while I keep a constant supply of whole fruits in the bottom of the fridge and dole them out to Nat and Selina a couple of times a day, I can’t do the same for myself.

I’ve been trying to drink more orange juice, grab a handful of raisins with my cashews now and then (“dried” = not raw), sprinkle frozen spinach (“frozen” = not raw) on my frozen pizza (the way I do for the kids–why not for myself???) and otherwise beef up my fruit/vegetable intake.  But I find that cheese is the easiest and most dominant item in my diet.  Not so good for a person with chronic sinus infection troubles.

Another thing I’ve noticed since doing this is just how awful empty calories are.  There are no records of the junk food I have eaten on that sheet up there, but if you see a day that’s entirely devoid of whole grain or any fruit and vegetables at all, it was probably the day I have donuts for breakfast, rather than multi-grain cereal with frozen blueberries.

This is all just to say that there is no danger of me ever becoming obese, and yet my health is awful.  I am probably ill for roughly 70% of the winter most years.  Sometimes, I’m in bed flat on my back for two weeks, but mostly I am walking around hacking and sniffling and feeling exhausted.  Guess what?  Skinny does not equal healthy. And I am weary of hearing how it does.  For more on this, see my latest post at BlogHer.

7 responses to “Health Versus Weight

  1. You might want to check your link there–I get a “you don’t have permission to see this page” error, and your Blogher profile page shows your Nat’l Adoption Month post as your most recent.

  2. Which is to say, I’m looking forward to reading it!

    I did have an eating disorder, in college and grad school, and in many ways I still have that eating disorder voice in the back of my head, although it doesn’t drive my behavior. The juxtaposition of that past and Curious Girl’s medical/eating issues has not always been easy for me.

    It’s interesting what you see when you start tracking something so specifically? (it was a feeding chart that demonstrated so clearly CG’s problems, so I have a fondness for this technique.) I hope your efforts get you just a little bit healthier in this cold-and-flu season.

  3. Oh shucks, you’re right. I guess it isn’t live yet. The link should work later today.
    I know more women than not who self-identify as having had an eating disorder and most often, still feel they fight it daily. Seems like a pandemic to me.

  4. The link is live now!

  5. My husband, and his mother and sister, are what I call congenitally scrawney, and eat a lot of cheese! I was jelous for a while, and then I realized that having weight that goes up and down at least gives me some indicator of how what I’m eating is affecting my body. Good for you, for trying to figure out how to take better care of yourself!

  6. That list is a great idea. I have a pretty good sense about what is good for me to eat, but since the 3 members of my family have different food needs and I’m kinda weary of cooking for all of us, I have not done well with supplying myself with said good stuff.

    One cookbook I *really* like for ideas is the Self Healing Cookbook, by Katrina Turner. It calls itself a primer on Macrobiotics, but while it is flavored by that it’s just a lot of general good stuff – not dogmatic Macro prescriptions. Seems like you might enjoy it too.

  7. Sounds like a good lead, Emma. I appreciate the nutrition info in a lot of books that I wouldn’t necessarily live by, in terms of a hard-core diet ideology. I learned to feed the kids from Super Baby Food, which, in many ways is an absolutely ridiculous book, but if you can read through the nonsense for the excellent basic information, you can get what you need in spades.

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