Positive Body Image

Preface: I do not think weight is an indication of health.

It’s important to talk about weight, though. But, it’s not in the way that you think. Someone, one of my friends, actually, questioned my weight last week.

“Why aren’t you thin like one of those cave people, then?” he asked.

I shrugged at him, but I knew the answer.

I LOVE FRUITI should have shouted. I should have said something, anything, to put this person in his place. Why is it his business how much I weigh, anyway? And, secondly, what am I, then? More importantly, why was my first thought an explanation? I don’t have to explain anything to this jerk.

And here, my friends, lies a problem. You see, I’m a huge advocate for positive self-image (particularly body image) for girls and women. I say it all the time: women should not be defined by their appearance or their weight. Unfortunately, my friends, I’m also a huge hypocrite.

This picture really does speak volumes. via Simply Psychology

This picture really does speak volumes.
via Simply Psychology

I have never had positive body image. I was always “overweight,” starting in elementary school. We were very poor, and my parents had no idea what nutrition was. Typical dinners included huge, fatty steaks (because they’re the cheapest), and large bowls of pasta salad (because boxes of pasta are cheap). Dessert was generally an every night thing because boxed chocolate cake was easy to make (and cheap).

Of course, it wasn’t all my parents fault. For several years, all I ate was granny smith apples and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yes, I was a very picky eater. In fact, I used to eat 10 granny smith apples a day (I’m NOT exaggerating, it REALLY was that much).

Kids are cruel. And mean. And vicious. Appearance and weight is certainly a hot topic for people so young. It’s kinda ridiculous. Anyway, I was teased a lot. So, I’ve never had much positive self-image. Whenever I would go to the doctor’s, the doctor would say, “My goodness, you’re just as healthy as a horse!” and then lecture me on needing to lose weight. Sure, weight has negative aspects, but how is it that I’m so “healthy” and apparently “not healthy” at the same time? It’s all very confusing.

Now that I’m almost 26, things look different. I care and don’t care at the same time. Having the approval of my peers in terms of my weight and appearance doesn’t really matter because they’re not the ones deciding my grades or hiring me.

And, I don’t care because I’m healthy. I’m figuring out and feeding my body what it needs to be a successful member of society. Because, isn’t that the point? That I do something with my life, and not end up depressed because people don’t approve of my weight, of all things? Yes, I think that’s a good reason to stop caring what people think of my weight.

The only way to face my fears is head on, right? Since I’m nutritionally sound, who cares about my weight? So, here you go world: here is my scale this morning, after I ate breakfast (yes, I ate and then weighed!):


As Tryion says, “Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.”


Let’s Talk about Research

Recently, I read this article about the paleo diet. (HT: Madwoman with a Laptop)

And, well, I’m kind of upset. Kind of. Why am I upset, you ask?

This person clearly didn’t do their research before posting their “drawback” area (which really surprises me because I see this person is a RD):

Despite the emphasis on very healthy foods, the Paleo diet has a few drawbacks or potential areas for misinterpretation. For one, the diet is heavily reliant on meat, and meat today isn’t as lean as it was thousands of years ago. Domesticated animals are sometimes stuffed with food and given little room to move resulting in fatty cuts of meat. In addition, adopting a diet from ancient times, when the average lifespan was in the 20s, seems less than appealing when one considers the average lifespan of today, which is in large part due to the eradication of nutrient-deficiency thanks to fortified foods and dietary supplements. The Paleo diet falls short on some of these micronutrients, namely calcium and vitamin D.

Hold up. Before I go on, let me say: this person is definitely right about some things. The paleo diet is quite dependent upon meat. However, the paleo diet stresses that you should eat grass-fed, lean meat. In fact, the first thing you should be eating is (dirt cheap) organ meat from (from grass-fed sources). But, there is also a heavy emphasis on eating fish. The Paleo Mom created a list of the best meats to eat, which is very helpful when grocery shopping. It’s not like we eat prime rib every night and call it a day. I mean come on.

Salmon. Image courtesy Today's Parent.

Image courtesy Today’s Parent.

Let’s talk about the second point: eating a diet that fed people who only lived into their 20s. This is a very unfair comparison. We live in a time that emphasizes modern medicine. People used to die from things such as measles, which can now be prevented. You can’t compare modern, scientific times to the paleolithic age. Sure, you could if you never got vaccinated, never used the hospital, and never saw a Western doctor EVER; but, these things are very, very unlikely. The Tylenol that you take when you get the flu to lower your fever never existed thousands of years ago. Humans have taken technology and used it to expand the lifespan of the average person. Even 50 years ago, people were not living as long as they are today. Case in point: this isn’t a good argument, and actually, it’s completely invalid.

Now, onto the point that made me more than a little upset: the paleo diet lacks intake of “micronutrients,” specifically vitamin D and calcium. Well, I have to make a correction. Vitamin D is actually not a micronutrient. It’s a vitamin. Anyway, this claim is so untrue it’s not even funny.

First, let’s address how vitamin D is made in the body. You’ve probably heard that vitamin D is made from exposure to sunlight. Sunlight hits the skin, causes a chemical reaction, and voila! You have vitamin D in your body. Of course, the process is much more complicated than that; but, that’s the main gist.

Sunlight. Image courtesy Network Vitality Center.

Sunlight. It does a body good.
Image courtesy Network Vitality Center.

“But Brittany,” you protest, “if it’s as simple as getting sunlight, how are so many people vitamin D deficient?”

My first suggestion would be to look at how much time you actually spend outside without sunscreen. Of course, this also depends on your skin tone. If you have a lighter skin tone, you probably only need 15-20 minutes of sun exposure a day; darker tones may need a bit more. The second thing to look at is your overall diet. Are you including fish? Fish is the main source of vitamin D in the paleo diet. Of course, if you don’t eat fish, you could supplement for it; but, as stated above, fish is important to add to the diet because it’s an important meat source.

I’ve never supplemented for vitamin D, and I’ve never been deficient.

I started with vitamin D first because it’s important for the micronutrient calcium.

While our bodies can make vitamin D, we can’t make calcium. Calcium has to be absorbed through foods. Vitamin D is the vitamin that allows the body to absorb calcium. So, if you’re vitamin D deficient, you are likely calcium deficient, too. It’s highly recommended that paleos eat sardines because they contain a lot of calcium, but there are a lot of paleos who eat dairy (beep beep, paleo police!), which is a HUGE source of calcium. Yes, it’s true: many, many paleos eat dairy because they tolerate it. That dairy is, of course, grass-fed dairy.

The lesson here: do your research before you post. Provide links with your evidence. Know what you’re talking about. Research is important and imperative.

Another note on research: I’ve been reading Chris Kresser’s quite interesting and informative article about the so-called benefits of supplementing with calcium. He writes:

Yet the evidence that calcium supplementation strengthens the bones and teeth was never strong to begin with, and has grown weaker with new research published in the past few years. A 2012 analysis of NHANES data found that consuming a high intake of calcium beyond the recommended dietary allowance, typically from supplementation, provided no benefit for hip or lumbar vertebral bone mineral density in older adults.

Here’s my thoughts, ladies and gents: do outside research on everything that goes into your body. If it’s published by the government, skip it. If it seems to have an undertone of selling you something, skip it. These people have their own agenda. They have their own companies to think and worry about. They don’t care about you as people; they care about money. Look for independent research. Look for research done by someone who’s not getting paid to sell you something. Research, research, research until you die.

The Dreaded Paleo Perfectionist

For this week’s blog challenge, my group decided to talk about the extremists in our area of blogging.

A perfect definition of "paleo perfectionism."Image courtesy Balanced Bites.

A perfect definition of “paleo perfectionism.”
Image courtesy Balanced Bites.

For paleos, this is the dreaded “paleo perfectionist” (also called “paleo police”).

What’s a paleo perfectionist? Well, I’ll tell you. They think they’re paleo.. and perfect. Yes! That is paleo perfectionism.. Sort of!

A paleo perfectionist is one who thinks that paleo is an all-or-nothing diet. They chastise innocent people on the internet who do not follow paleo 100% of the time. They leave nasty comments on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and blog feeds. It’s almost like they feed off of giving other people negative energy. They will judge you before even getting to know you (by what you eat, of course). If you deviate from the “rules” of paleo, you’re out of the club. Didn’t you know you had to follow paleo 100% of the time?! WELL!? DIDN’T YOU?!

Ecard paleo perfectionistThese paleo perfectionists do not represent a majority of the paleo population, and they certainly do not represent me. The great thing about paleo is that you get to judge what is good for your body. When you ate that strawberry, did it make you feel good? Then by all means, continue to eat them! Did that banana that made you feel sick? Maybe you should leave it out. That is the philosophy of paleo. (Also, here is another great philosophy on paleo treats).

Of course, you will hear paleo described as: legume-free, dairy-free, grain-free, etc. Yes, this is true. Most people do encompass these things.. For a majority of the time. Let’s take me for example. I am not a paleo perfectionist in any way. I don’t police other people expecting them to be paleo day in and day out. I think it’s an unrealistic expectation in the world that we live in for people be paleo in every way, shape, and form. It just doesn’t fit people’s lifestyle to never eat any processed foods. I quite enjoy my goat milk yogurt that comes in a container, thank you, and I think I’ll keep eating it because it’s delicious. In fact, I’m not afraid to admit that just last night I had a gluten-free (not grain-free! gasp!) cookie from a PACKAGE. YES! (Side note: these cookies were amazing, and you should buy them. Additionally, I don’t necessarily think these are 100% processed because there are no preservatives) I ate a processed food. Why? Well, because my dad bought it for me, and I wanted to eat it. So I ate it. And it was delicious. SO THERE. What are you gonna do, scream at me?

Gluten free cookie. Sorry for the terrible photography: this was never meant to be seen by anyone else!

Gluten free cookie. Sorry for the terrible photography: this was never meant to be seen by anyone else!

I would say that I am in tune with my body, and I put science behind it. I don’t say, “well, I’m gonna eat that lamb heart tonight, because it is DARNNNN tasty!” Lamb heart isn’t actually that bad, but I eat lamb heart because it’s nutritious for my body. Offal is the most nutritiously dense meat you can eat, so I eat it.

There’s a general 80/20 rule to paleo: most people eat paleo 80% of the time, 20% not paleo. Of course, this doesn’t mean going to Taco Bell once a week because Taco Bell isn’t even food; I’m convinced it’s cardboard or something. Anyway, you’d just be adding a whole bunch of chemicals to your body that shouldn’t be there, and obviously that is very bad. 20% maybe means you have a gluten-free cookie once a week, or something.

So, what’s the lesson of the day? Back off, paleo perfectionists. Stop policing people. We don’t care what you think of our diet or our lives. We don’t care if something isn’t paleo. We just want to do something that makes our bodies feel good. We want to heal our insides and our outsides. We want you to leave us alone. And not just paleos, so do those “annoying vegans“! And don’t even get me started on any nutrition police. Let us be us.

P.S. the electronic device you’re currently using to look at this site? Totally not paleo 😉

Nutrition Label Shmabel

If you haven’t heard, the FDA is changing the nutrition label that you find on packaged products.

FINALLY! Right?! ‘Cause I’ve been waiting 20 years for this to happen. Oh wait, no I haven’t.

Well, why haven’t I? Because who actually reads nutrition labels, really? I see people all the time in the grocery store (which is one of my favorite places to hang out, just so you know) pick up items off the shelf and dump them in their cart. No questions asked, no label scrutinized.

When I was younger, I didn’t bother with reading labels either. Because.. Well, let’s face it: I liked what I liked. I was young. I didn’t care what was in it. If it was delicious, I ate it. I never had a nutrition class in high school, so why would I bother looking at the label? I didn’t know what it meant anyway. 50% of my daily intake of fat? Okay. Sounds good and delicious: I’ll take that one, please!

So, let’s look at the new label. Some changes they’ve made (and some commentary):

New nutrition label by the FDA Image courtesy fda.gov

New nutrition label by the FDA
Image courtesy fda.gov

  • Larger font for total calories: alright, I guess, not that people seem to take this into high consideration.
  • Requirement for showing added sugars: this is one change I approve of 2,000%!
  • Removing the calories from fat info: sure, this one is alright. I doubt anyone was looking at it before, so why not?
  • Moving percentages into the left column: I think this looks particularly tacky. Are they trying to scare people with the “large” numbers? If people didn’t see it before, they probably didn’t look at food labels.
  • Serving sizes based on what people actually eat: I’m on the fence about this change, but I’ll address it later.
  • Removing vitamin A & C percentages: good move, these are found in everything. They were never really needed.
  • Adding vitamin D & potassium: vitamin D is certainly important, but I’m not seeing the advantage of potassium. Potassium is in a lot of foods, so maybe someone can enlighten me on why this change was implemented.

The biggest and most positive change being made is addressing whether there are any added sugars. I want to know how many added sugars are in something and so should you. Those “natural flavors” aren’t actually so natural, and they are really, really bad for you. Why?

Natural vs added sugars Image courtesty boostjuice.com.au

Natural vs added sugars
Image courtesy boostjuice.com.au

Read up, people: a study on the effects of sugar. Yes it’s true. A Cambridge University study has found that it’s not that saturated fat killing you, but rather the lovely sugar people add to everything. It has been impossible to get an accurate depiction of just how many sugars are natural (milk and fruit sugars) and how many come from added sugars in processed products. How is the average person supposed to know the difference between these two distinctive types of sugars when the ingredients label is nothing but scientific jargon, anyway? They can’t, and this is why it needs to change.

In regards to changing the serving size to reflect American portions: I have a hard time with this. The standard serving size for a juice drink, for example, is 8 ounces (one cup). However, the new “standard size” is actually 12 ounces, and this will be reflected on the label. The change will allow people to accurately see how many calories they are actually consuming.. Or will they? Because who knows if they’ll even care about the nutrition label.

Whole foods Image courtesy berkeleyside.com

Whole foods
Image courtesy berkeleyside.com

The answer to all of this is to eat whole foods. Stick to something without a box. The label becomes obsolete and useless once you start doing so. In addition, you can ditch counting calories. Why waste your time with that? The body thrives on whole foods, so you won’t even need to worry about it (unless you’re taking the opportunity to eat 3 or 4 bags of grapes).

What do you think of the label changes?

Sunday Soapbox – Eating Out

I went out to dinner Thursday night. I. Went. Out. To. Dinner. Why is that such a big deal? Well, I’m here to tell you why: it’s terrible, for a person with multiple food allergies/sensitivities, to eat out. It’s almost downright impossible.

To understand this post, a little bit about gluten: gluten is proteins found in wheat endosperm. It is found in wheat flour, but it is also present in many other types of grains because of cross-breeding. Grains refer to harvested seeds. This lists includes but is not limited to: corn, oats, and rice. Those with a gluten allergy can usually (safely) eat grains that do not contain gluten. Since harvesting grains is a relatively new technology, paleos do not eat any grains.

When I gave up eating grains, my body changed. I lost *some* weight (though, people who haven’t seen me for a year look at me and go “OMG, you lost weight, wtf?!?!” but really it’s just “puffiness” that has disappeared from my body), and I respond severely to eating grains. About an hour after I’ve eaten grains, my stomach begins to swell. If I’ve eaten gluten, pain ensues. Terrible pain. And I cry. A lot, because that’s how much it hurts. For hours I lay in bed. In the fetal position. In pain. The pain doesn’t happen when I (occasionally) eat other grains. Obviously, now I can tell when I have eaten gluten because of the terrible reaction. It wasn’t always this way, of course. My stomach used to swell, and I used to think nothing of it. “I probably just ate too much again, oh silly me,” I would say to myself.

“What does this have to do with eating out?!?!!!” you’re wondering.

It’s nearly impossible for someone, especially a celiac, to eat out.

It’s nearly impossible because everything has gluten in it. EVERYTHING. And if it doesn’t have gluten in it, it’s most certain it will have gluten on it.

Side note: soy is another very common ingredient in foods. People with gluten sensitivities tend to avoid soy because it is generally grown in crop rotation with wheat. Of course, paleos avoid soy because it’s actually a legume, but that’s a different story.

I ate at Red Robin Thursday night. Actually, surprisingly, I was really impressed with this place. Our waitress was amazing; generally, we never get good waiters/waitresses. But! You know what was even more amazing?! As soon as she saw I had the food sensitivity book, she said to me, “I see you have the food sensitivity booklet. Whatever your food allergy is, we will do our best to take care of it.” IJWEIWJEHRK. REALLY? No place EVER says that to me. It’s a first. As a matter of fact, they cooked my burger on a separate part of the grill so that it wouldn’t mix with any of the food cooked with flour. I even heard they have a separate fryer for their fries (so that they don’t fry floured foods with the fries). AND!$#! my waitress warned me to get my fries without their seasoning because it might contain gluten (it’s not listed as an ingredient, though, so I’m not sure it does, or why seasoning would have flour in it). See what I mean about it being in EVERYTHING?

Not only was I super impressed with the way they handled my allergy, but their food was AAAAHMAZING! No really, though. It was very good. To start off the meal – yes, start off – Charlie (my boyfriend) and I split a salted caramel milkshake topped with pink salt. I could have died and gone to heaven. If I could only bring one thing with me to a stranded island, it would be this milkshake. It’s that good.


Salted Caramel Milkshake at Red Robin
Image courtesy of http://www.seattlesouthside.com

There is nothing better than salty and sweet. It was smooth, a little tangy, and deliciously salty sweet. The consistency was perfect in my mouth. Next, the burger tasted really good. They wrapped my burger in lettuce. It was juicy, well put together, and had just the right amount of “stuff” on top of it. Even better, I got something called a “pig out style” on my burger, where they top your burger with bacon, and they top that with bacon aioli. Could it get any better? So much of my favorite food: bacon. It sounds like it would detract from tasting the rest of the burger, but it didn’t. I think I salivated even after I was done eating it. Their lettuce wrapping skills need some work, though. The sweet potato fries served with the fries were pretty good (yes, sweet potatoes ARE paleo – they are a root vegetable). I mean, they were kind of plain, but let’s face it: you can’t do much with fries when you can’t use the seasoning that is supposed to go on them (which might contain gluten, remember?).

It’s incredibly difficult to eat out because most places don’t cater to people with food allergies/sensitivities. I usually have to stick to places like Elevation Burger (the absolute BEST place to get lettuce wrapped burgers) and Nandos Peri Peri (a chicken restaurant) – two of my favorite places to go. It’s exciting to have another place to eat, especially since Red Robin is quite affordable!