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I <3 Eating

This feels like my fast talking, but its a pretty big realization for me!

I’m 24 hours into a 48 hour fast, being bombarded with ads, posts, reels, etc with FOOD. Freaking food. Delicious food. Desserts, pasta, soups, roasts, dumplings, even ramen.

Its American culture; eat!

Click to view this awesome infographic larger! Laan, S. (2022, June 24). Portion sizes around the world. Infographics Archive. Retrieved October 2, 2022, from https://www.infographicsarchive.com/infographic-serving-sizes-around-the-world/

Ok lets really talk about this because its bugging the crap out of me. One of the biggest changes I had to make with my intermittent fasting routine was portion size. Next was frequency of eating, but first thing I had to tackle was wanting to eat “all the things” and a lot of it. American portion sizes are enormous to say the absolute least. Check out the startling comparisons in this infographic –>

I have several friends, who, in another lifetime would be professional chefs (if it wasn’t for capitalism and having to maintain insufferable employment to survive). I can’t imagine being so talented in the kitchen and feeling capable of successfully breaking negative food habits. Now, I’m not terrible. In fact, I think I’m a pretty decent cook. But I’ve been cooking for one for so long that my skills leave me less than motivated to cook at all. I cook the “meal for an army” size and then eat leftovers for the week rather than tempting myself to overeat because I made something different every day.

Now, don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying I don’t deserve to nourish myself, or don’t deserve to eat delicious things. I just know my level of willpower is not as impressive as I’d hope.

I’ve spent over 30 years on earth enjoying food whenever and however I please. Until I hit my 30’s, simply the *enjoyment* was what mattered. It was basically my understanding and “energy” that all I had to do was not feel guilty, and I could basically enjoy what I wanted. My metabolism/body/insulin resistance/hormones … whatever you’d like to label the issue or issues, changed. I have never been an overeater in the binge/purge sense. I just really like food. But my body hit a wall with what I could eat and how much I could eat! I bet you’re shaking your head, especially if you’re also in your 30’s or older. It runs you over like a truck barreling around a blind corner. One day you’re enjoying a coffee and donut, lunch, a snack, a carb-heavy dinner, the next day you’re wondering why you feel like garbage and you’re gaining weight at an unreasonable pace.

So maybe you started exercising. Cutting down on carbs. Maybe you even paid for a nutrition plan (like I did) and a fitness plan (like I did) and it works for a little! Yay you’ve lost some weight, you feel a little stronger. And then it stops. So you juggle things around; you still feel good, but the weight loss has stalled and you’re definitely not at a comfortable weight yet

— Men, just keep on scrolling, because the chances that you can relate are so slim. This seems to be almost an AFAB issue, and I’ve already argued with a man who insists diet & exercise are the ObViOuS and singular solution to the weight issue this week. —

ANYWAY! Things stalled. You did all the right things and they didn’t work like they’re supposed to magically work. So you just go back to all the delicious foods and “regular” portions.

Now this is the point where I read The Obesity Code and realized that first of all, throughout all of this, my refined carbohydrate intake and sugar (real or fake) intake have both been unhinged. Was it bad? No! Precisely why I didn’t even think anything of it. Everything fit within my macros and calorie counts. When I started adjusting things according to the book and my coach’s guidance, I realized just how absurd American eating habits are.

Portion sizes are astronomical. We are encouraged to literally eat 5-6 times a day. We slap a few weak vegetables on our plate each week and call it a day. I could keep going but I imagine you know that our eating habits are absolutely wild in this country. My biggest revelation and my motivation for this particular post has to do with portion size, though.

I just freaking love to eat. Food is f****ing GOOD. Sweet, salty, savory, complex, spicy, I love it. Its the experience of eating, savoring the flavors, especially enjoying it with friends and loved ones. The smells, the textures, all of it. I will bet you can relate. Many centuries ago, famine was a genuine and frequent risk; our ancestors imbedded famine-busting tactics on our DNA. Most of which includes enjoy food, take advantage of what’s available to you, and don’t waste it. I bet most of us also grew up in “Clean Plate Club” households, too. We were always encouraged (often demanded) to clean our plates regardless of how we feel. So combine the Clean Plate Club mentality with our carefully encoded anti-famine DNA and we have a recipe for disaster when we’re constantly surrounded by abundant, delicious food.

Quite possibly my greatest frustration with any length of fasting is that I just crave the comfort, feel, smell, taste (etc etc etc) of FOOD. The mental battle I wage is astounding. The logic of the situation is that I’m not even genuinely hungry. I’m looking for a fix. And there we have it. My brain whacks that dopamine buzzer like its on Family Feud and it doesn’t care if it knows the answer. Meanwhile Steve Harvey (me) is rolling his eyes because he know full well I don’t actually need whatever my brain is having a tantrum over.

None of this is to say I’m ignoring when I’m genuinely hungry. There have been days when I planned to do a longer fast but I stopped. I have to listen to how I feel – sometimes its a mental battle I’m not able to wage that day, sometimes I feel faint and its definitely time to get a good re-feeding period in regardless of my plan. But its 100% possible to make it through safe fasting lengths.

Now that you know you aren’t alone, that the challenge to intermittently fast effectively can be daunting, and that we all have our battles, do you think you’re better prepared to take control of your health too?

In the next few posts, I’ll talk more about battling Dopamine Demons and the purpose of intermittently fasting without breaking your fast!

-Love, Light and Health! ~ Jess

An EXCELLENT book! (I may receive a small commission for referring you to this listing)
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Some “Rules” are Meant to be Broken

Recently, I was made aware that a local school district is using the juvenile novel Rules as required reading for the third grade classes to raise awareness about autism. Of course, being the advocate and mom that I am, I needed to get a copy and find out why there was such an uproar. People were posting horrifying snippets from the book that are anything but tolerant, accepting or aware.

“I study the hair on the top of his head. How can his outside look so normal and his inside be so broken? Like an apple, perfect on the outside, but mushy brown at the first bite.”

Rules, by Cynthia Lord

This is the protagonist, Catherine, referring to her eight-year-old autistic brother. Her brother is not severely autistic, by any stretch. He speaks clearly, can tell time and do higher functioning math than I certainly can, functions fairly normally, but enjoys many of the quirky things that most kids on the spectrum enjoy – repetition, stimming, routine.

Rules by Cynthia Lord is an eloquently written book, with beautiful, flowing imagery. Its brought to life by a vibrant, talented twelve-year-old, Catherine. My impression within just a few pages was that she is very bitter young woman. She’s expected to take on a lot of responsibility with a younger sibling who requires a lot of attention and understanding. The responsibility of a child on the spectrum can be daunting for a grown adult, hence why we witnessed atrocities with “different” children being abandoned for so many decades prior.

Several passages through the book disturbed me, as a mom of a quirky little guy. However, I do give Lord credit for some passages that I related to, deeply. Moments where you see the unbridled beauty of the autistic mind; moments where you don’t think you could possibly ever understand how he’s thinking; moments where you just want to take it all away, and just have “normal.” There’s so much about my son that would still be him without the hinderance of developmental delays. If I took away his inability to understand others and express himself, he would still be Nicholas, he’d just struggle a lot less day to day. He’d still be my quirky goofball, sensitive, hilarious, adorable.

Through David’s occupational therapy (OT) sessions, Catherine happens to meet a young man named Jason (I’m making some assumptions on his age – she guesses he’s older than her, but its never stated), presumably with cerebral palsy. Its never clarified why he’s in a wheelchair or needs his communication book, but he’s clearly “different.” Catherine has a hard time embracing it. She’s definitely embarrassed to have befriended this delightful young man, and it arises several times during the book. She makes efforts to conceal how David and Jason “are,” as though they’re defective. I am pleased to say that by the end of the book, she seems to make peace with both David and Jason being different, but the end is barely the tip of that iceberg.

However, my biggest concern is that all but the last few pages are her utterly bitter, angry, pre-teen angst combined with overwhelming responsibility, and a major lack of awareness and understanding, coming from Catherine and the kids in the neighborhood. Instead of spending the majority of the book “normalizing” or heck, just accepting the not-normal, the book spent almost the entire length avoiding the topic. Instead of Catherine stepping up and making it “ok” to be different, she literally spends all but the last few pages being deeply embarrassed by both boys. A neighborhood boy is downright cruel to David and then proceeds to attempt to influence Catherine’s new neighbor to do the same. Fortunately, the new neighbor, Kristi, has her own issues with her parents being separated, and is bewildered by David enough to not form a clear opinion on the topic. She is the most flexible character in the book, knowing she’d like to make friends, but also clearly destined to be one of the popular girls, once school starts again in the fall, regardless. Kristi seems to be open minded but not given guidance on how to approach David or Jason.

This is an important part that Lord failed to capitalize on, in my opinion. So much of her story was focused on how the parents were truly failing both kids that she took no time developing the tolerance and acceptance lesson that could have been threaded through the entire book. There is no sequel that I am aware of – another major missed opportunity. By the end of the book, Catherine had developed an “it’s OK” attitude, but it took nearly 200 pages for her to arrive there. Her father finally stepped up to take care of her brother in the last few pages. She finally enjoyed her friendship with Jason without feeling embarrassed that he’s in a wheelchair or different. She was finally thinking positively about her brother. But these are all missed opportunities to teach and learn true acceptance.

Lord’s writing style is beautiful, to be perfectly honest. I would enjoy reading just about anything by her, even as an adult. It took me back to my childhood, when I consumed books voraciously, and lived vicariously through characters who had exciting, interesting lives. I’m disappointed in her overall message of the book, as I feel she could have done a more extensive job, but in general, not a horrible book. I am, however concerned that school districts are trying to use this book for any type of awareness or acceptance, because I feel it desperately misses the mark. This might be excellent for someone who is experiencing autism from Catherine’s perspective, but it will hardly be helpful for someone who is experiencing it from a distance and already doesn’t know how to relate!

Let me hear what you think! Have you read this book?

Much Love

~ Jess