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.