The Big Question: Finger on the Trigger edition

Oh my God. How is it only Wednesday? I barely crawled out of the primordial ooze into my cheersome little Georgina Goodman slippers this morning. Frankly, I’m surprised I’m even wearing a bra (wait…quick fact check. Yes. Continue.)  much less attempting to post with all the wit, cleverness and uh, otherstuffliness that you’ve come to know and expect from a Miss Plumcake Joint.

slippers

Georgina Goodman "Slipper Slipper"

The thing is, I have absolutely no idea WHY I feel like someone locked me in a portapotty filled with angry badgers, I just do.

I think it might have something to do with seeing my nutritionist. Now, I love my nutritionist. She’s 10 pounds of awesome in a five pound bag and if if we didn’t have a patient/client thing happening I would totally take her out for cocktails at some college bar and play “Guess The Social Disease” based solely on each girl’s tramp stamp totally meaningful lower back tattoo. Good times.

Anyhoodle,  my nutritionist believes that PERHAPS going all day without eating anything and then having a big dinner at 10:00 p.m. is not exactly the ideal food model for proper nutrition.  I know, I’m as shocked as you are.  So in an effort to get me to eat during the day and at regular intervals she’s had me keep a food journal.

Did your heart just drop with anxiety?

Mine did.

It brought back pretty much every anxious feeling I had as a chubby young girl subjected to diet fad after diet fad by people whose main goal for me wasn’t health or happiness, but being thin.

I don’t have many food issues now, and I certainly don’t have much in the way of food shame, but handing over my brutally honest food journal –well really my iPhone with all my notes– was an incredibly vulnerable feeling.

I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it.

She wasn’t shaming, but I noticed I was hyper-aware of what she was saying.  She observed that I had a sweet tooth and for a second I felt defensive.  Historically I DON’T have much of a sweet tooth, at least not compared to my brother and my father who could eat sugar from the jar and while the sweets I like are very rich, they aren’t generally super sweet. I wanted to point out that prunes, a square of 90% dark chocolate, a lump of homemade pseudo-marzipan (almonds, salt and honey) and some grapes –while sweet– is all pretty healthful.

And then I caught myself.

Sweets = Bad

If I like sweets then I must like bad things, and what sort of person likes bad things? A BAD PERSON.  Dude. It was vicious. And this all happened in a second AND to someone who has, as I’ve said, a relatively normal, value-neutral relationship with food.

I was raised believing what went into my mouth was a reflection of who I was as a person, and that ain’t necessarily so. What goes into your mouth doesn’t make you a bad person. What comes out of it does. And I don’t mean on Twenty Cent Tequila Night, either.

And then I checked myself.

I may be a bad person (honestly though, if the kid didn’t want me to tell her my coat was made of puppies she shouldn’t have asked) I’m not a bad person because I like sweets.

Today Miss Plumcake wants to know:

What is a food or fat-related anxiety trigger for you, and how do you address it? Where does that trigger come from and if you’re a mother, does it affect how you relate to food with your child?



27 Responses to “The Big Question: Finger on the Trigger edition”

  1. AP March 24, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    Hey! I randomly stumbled upon this site today; really good stuff. I can really relate with the question you pose above; I’ve been a big girl my entire life, and while I eat healthily and exercise there are still things that trigger anxiety. I’ve recently wanted to speak with my primary care physician about a few questions I had concerning my birth control, but I’ve been really hesitant to go to her office because I have bad associations with doctors. When I was a little girl a routine physical would always end up focusing on my weight, and the well-meaning doctor would tell me to lay off cakes and sweet things. I’ve never been a big sweets eater: I’m fat because that’s the way I am. It always made me feel guilty, like I did something horribly wrong, and made me really detest going to the doctor’s office. My current doctor is a wonderful lady who is more interested in healthy eating and exercise habits, instead of weight, but I still get nervous going to the doctor.

    Thank you for sharing the post, it really got me thinking!

  2. enygma March 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

    I used to keep a weekly food journal when I was working out with a trainer. Even though it was embarrassing at first, it helped me realize why I wasn’t losing any weight despite all the hours I put in the gym. I thought I was eating well, but some of my choices were clearly bad and those few things were so laden in sugar and fat that they completely negated everything else I ate that day. There’s something about writing info down and actually looking at it that really clarifies things.

  3. Alexis March 24, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    I am very pleased that you included the “if you are a mother” portion of your question, because for me, the only food-related trigger is about how my kid eats. She is only two, so she is a fairly fussy eater as it is, and is loathe to eat her veggies, much to my dismay. But I really believe that kids are better at self-regulating than we are, and if she wants to snarf down a hamburger in three bites one night and barely pick at her broccoli the next, I am okay with that. Other people who feed her are not as relaxed about it, though, and they give me anxiety. My husband really tries to coax her to eat more, and my mom and sister are overly concerned with her passion for meat. It’s all further complicated by the fact that we are really into sustainable, organic yadda yadda yadda stuff and there are times when I have to feed her some crap they are serving at Ikea, for example. And I worry that other people (especially health care workers) will assume that because her mom is fat that she is getting poor nutrition at home (just let them say something to me on that point, though, they will never hear the end of it). Not sure how I manage this, but that’s what gets me!

  4. Di March 24, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    Oh honey — wow. I was all set to think I have no significant issues, that I’m all past that now, but then I remembered that I read this blog every day, that my inner girl is a big girl and always will be, no mater what size I am on the outside, and that the most therapeutic, creative, relaxing thing I do is bake and cook. I love a bit of sugar with good chocolate (not fudge–too sweet). I love bread. I like a fair amount of fruits and veggies, too, sure, but even those are dressed with things I label “bad.” So I totally get it. I feel a tad more virtuous when I eat my bagel or toast plain, with no cream cheese or butter or anything, and I’ve caught myself labeling other people as somehow more decadent or wasteful or uncaring. It’s not very logical or helpful. Also, I lost weight recently because I was sick, and when people tell me I look good, I feel like I cheated because it wasn’t deprivation and the torture of the gym that got me there. Oh crap. Still have issues. I think I’ll go make soup.

  5. ChaChaHeels March 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    I was forced into a couple of starvation diet programs when I was a kid, and again when I was a young adult. They were all very low calorie (500 cals per day) and they all went on for six months or more at a time. I’d go from chubby to skeletal each time, and of course the praises for skeletal were too numerous to list here, and every one of us knows what they are.

    My mother was actually very well versed in making excellent foods, and raised with an abundance of fresh eggs, raw milk and cheeses, a huge variety of meats that her family made into artisanal sausages or stock or any number of incredibly prepared meals you’d normally only find on a very expensive restaurant menu now, made by highly skilled chefs. The starvation diets used to make her shake her head, but they were “what the doctor ordered”, and they did result in weight loss; since this was supposed to be the definition of health, my mother stopped making the food she was raised with, and just made the steamed veggies and fish she was told I needed to eat. So, on 500 calories a day, I’d lose weight until I started to gain it on that amount of food. And you do gain weight on that amount of food, after months of only eating that amount of food.

    Of course, the weight loss you experience is the low blood pressure, hypoglycemic, sugar-crazed weight loss, but it’s weight loss none the less. You don’t really “get” that your body’s actually not well and demonstrating this to you, because you’re too busy being told you’re so healthy by your doctor. But you’re not. Sugar became a huge anxiety food for me, as a result. It kept me from falling down, and I’d eat it because it was the only thing I wanted.

    As a result, refined sugar, white flour, and margarine-y filled stuff is still the food that makes me nervous, particularly when I start to crave it, because I never craved it until losing weight with those starvation diets. You see, I studied up and know that all food cravings occur because of a very real physiological need–they’re not a result of a lack of willpower. Sugar cravings, cravings for those empty carbs in things like bread and crackers–they often signify an underactive thyroid gland that’s struggling to function properly. Among other things.

    Sometimes I keep a food journal or even just notice that I’m eating a lot of sugary foods, and I know I’m not well when that happens.

    Oh, in the end (and after a lot of study, and a bit of experience as a consultant in nutrition), I know my mother was right, and those doctors were wrong. For what it’s worth.

  6. Cedar March 24, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    Mine used to be cholesterol. Remember how they yelled at us about eggs and and eat margarine instead of butter and fake fat cookies? I totally bought into it. (In my defense, both my granddads had just had quadruple by-pass surgery so there was some reason) The crazy town part was that I was in college, on the track/cross country team! I really actually needed to be eating as many calories as I could put away in a sitting. But I never, ever allowed myself a hamburger and fries at the cafeteria line. Bacon and eggs were a special Sunday treat. Frozen yogurt not ice cream. It would take me 45 minutes, three times a day, of solid eating to replace all the calories I was burning because I was trying to do it without consuming actual fats. Idiocy.

    Now, I confess I’ve bought into the anti-corn syrup lobby and I happen to drink a soda I feel guilty all day. Oddly, I don’t feel guilty about the burger that I ate along side the soda any more.

  7. TropicalChrome March 24, 2010 at 5:50 pm #

    My trigger is any time I’m told I CAN’T eat, like fasting for bloodwork. Even if I’m really not hungry, even if I know I routinely don’t eat for that length of time, the minute I know that I CAN’T I get anxious and upset and keep having thoughts of “oh no, I can never eat what I want again”, around and around in vicious and illogical circles.

    Food diaries are another, since I was put on my first “write down everything you eat and then at the end of the day we’ll assess how GOOD you were” diet at age 8. Even now sometimes it’s hard to remember that my worth as a human being is not even loosely correlated with what or how much I eat.

    Food issues? I haz them, even though they’re lots better than they used to be.

  8. ananas March 24, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    My best friend is a recovering anorexic, and for so long, I spent a lot of time being really angry at any talk about weight loss, or skipping meals, or “oh i can’t eat that”. This isn’t a bad behavior most of the time– as long as I’m not being rude– but it does mean that sometimes I snap at people who actually have a valid reason for not wanting to eat something, or lose weight. I know this about myself, and try to catch myself.

  9. Plumcake March 24, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    Alexis, have you seen this article?

    Baby Fat Might Not Be So Cute After All

  10. Plumcake March 24, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    I don’t tend to feel virtuous or not virtuous depending on what I eat, Di, but I DO love your sentence “my inner girl is a big girl and always will be, no mater what size I am on the outside” because I think it speaks to so many of the folks who read and love and share on this blog but aren’t big, aren’t girls or aren’t either. We’re all big girls on the inside.

  11. Mrs. Hendricks March 24, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    I really appreciated this post. I share the same anxiety that Tropical Chrome has, but lately (well, over the past several months, anyway) I’ve realized in a non-shaming way that I’m an anxious eater. I feel anxious about just about anything, and to calm myself down, I eat. Most people I know would be surprised to know that I’m anxious. I cover it pretty well, except for eating to calm it down. I’m trying to pay attention to that, and trying to take a very disinterested stance in order not to trigger more anxiety or shame. Just the thought of a food diary can make me a wreck, but I did do one for a couple of weeks last summer and was stunned. I had no idea how many calories I usually take in on an average day. But again, I’m not going to get into the good/bad of it. I’m just trying to observe myself and see how much information I can glean from that loving, gentle observation.

  12. Lauren March 24, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    I have always been a healthier eater and spent a decade as an ovo-lacto vegetarian. I have been seeing a dietitian who sounds a lot like your nutritionist. She is very nice and quite possibly the perkiest person ever to exist on the earth. With her help, I have lost almost 55 lbs and have also discovered that I am vitamin-d deficient (which doesn’t help regarding how much you want to exercise and how good you feel after exercising). I am not a big exerciser; I suck at anything physical including badminton and pool, and I only like to hike on flat, level, flower covered paths in moderation.
    I have perfect blood pressure, great cholesterol levels, and my second toe is not longer than my big toe (which seems to be a more normal looking abnormality).

    I have so much anxiety regarding food/weight/health care professionals because of the infertility issues my husband and I have experienced over the past six years. In seeking an answer as to why we are not becoming pregnant, we discovered that I am insulin resistant..and I am being treated for that, but the bulk of the problem, we have found is a hubby issue. At first they thought that we could do IUI (intrauterine insemination) which came with a weight limit that I had to meet. Then after I met and surpassed that goal, we are finding out that his issue is severe enough to require IVF (in-vitro). In order to have an IVF treatment, I have to meet a new weight goal (I am hovering between 19-20 lbs away from the weight requirement). At first they told me it was because of anesthetics and safety measures, but I have a colonoscopy scheduled soon for an unrelated issue and they are more than willing to put me under for the procedure. All of these doctors and nurses have had poor attitudes and could certainly use a lesson in patient care and understanding. I can understand wanting a person to be healthy, but I read before in one of your posts that BMI takes a lot into account. Parenting skills are not included. If I was 600lbs and wanted a gastric bypass they would put me under in a heartbeat, film it, and probably put it on TLC.
    Think of all of the things that are running through my head…things that might stand between me and becoming a mother. Is that cookie worth it? Maybe if I skip dinner I can lose another pound before my next appointment. And after everything…I either get what I want IVF works and I gain it all back and them some…although, there would be a few upsides =)…or it doesn’t work at all.

  13. Plumcake March 24, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    Lauren, I’m vitamin D deficient too, I’ve got the Rx stuff and of course, topless sunbathing with no sunscreen on the tum. Works like wonders (watch out for helicopters though). Best luck on getting all knocked up!

  14. Plumcake March 24, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    Mrs Hendricks, TropicalChrome, I’m totally the same way. As soon as you tell me I CAN’T eat something I freak out and all I can think about is food. Never mind my major nutritional problem is that I go too long without eating at a time. Those deprivation triggers are a son of a bitch.

  15. Nerfmobile March 24, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    Lauren, some IVF clinics have weight limits and some do not. I am definitely plus-sized (currently wearing a 22) but my clinic was willing to treat me at my weight. It hasn’t worked for us so far, alas, but I still have hope. If you have other clinics available to you, you might wish to investigate their requirements.

  16. JenniferP March 24, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    I have a hard time keeping regular mealtimes and having a routine – so I often go without food for a long time and then eat a huge meal, which can’t be good. I started my blog in order to document what I eat in a celebratory and creative way, but is started with a strange conversation with a doctor- she simply couldn’t believe that I didn’t binge on chips and ice cream in the middle of the night.

    My mom put me on a 1,000 calorie/day diet when I was a teenager (it was her way of bonding, she was on the diet too). I danced, played 3 sports, ran for fun, and was a healthy, muscular size 10-12 with giant speed-skater thighs – which were seen as a sign that “too much exercise made me fat.” The diet was horrible, and I started to sneak food and binge on sweets and fat whenever I could because I was starving.

    As an adult I tried Weight Watchers a few times. I rigorously tracked my “points.” And what I found was that a) most days I ate well-within my points without having to worry about it, b) I wasn’t losing weight, and c) thinking about it all the time made me feel crazy and restricted, and I would make sure to eat every point I was “allowed” whether I wanted that brownie or not – “Weight Watchers SAYS I CAN HAVE THIS.”

    The biggest trigger I watch out for now is over-justifying to myself or others – “I can have this because I didn’t have any lunch.” Well, probably not – I should just eat lunch next time and it doesn’t justify crazy dinners, and why am I apologizing for my food?

  17. Melissa March 24, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    My trigger is portion. It doesn’t matter if it’s nothing but spinach, zuccini, and alfalfa sprouts or all the way to ice cream. My habbit is to taste a spoon of everything, find what I like and then get seconds of that (portion size can be tiny or a glom). The problem is that I’m the fat girl in a generation of coat hangers in my family. Ugh. And the killer for me is that all those size 4s will eat half a taco and say how stuffed they are. And then I get to hear them go on about how fat they are. I mean really, duct tape three of those heifers together and you’ve got me – so pretty please with opposum sprinkles on top shut the hell up.

    And just for the record – no food makes you a bad person. If I hear one more woman get that damn hushed tone and smile like she just lifted a Yurman ring from Neiman’s and say she was so bad because she had a cookie I’mma go banana sandwiches on her narrow, a-symmetrical ass.

    I’m just saying…

  18. barbara March 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    Gah, I know exactly what you mean. I have food issues; probably due to a history of an eating disorder. I think I’ve mostly recovered from that and have a much healthier attitude to food but I feel very guilty when I eat junk food. I usually make good food choices when I’m at home, but I work long (12 hour) night shifts. We don’t have a cafeteria open nights at my hospital.

    We do have the “snack cart” that goes to various floors at specific times. There is usually some real food, but mostly chips and giant salad-plate sized cookies and so on. The real food is pretty expensive, and usually stale/old. So if I forget my lunch or didn’t plan well enough to bring one I end up foraging; and more often than I want to admit it’s a bag of chips and/or a cookie. I feel oddly guilty and defensive about these horrible “meals”. I catch myself trying to hide them so my coworkers don’t see my horrible choices! God forbid they judge my poor planning and unhealthy eating habits!

  19. KESW March 25, 2010 at 12:17 am #

    I get anxious about not having eaten enough green things, and enjoying bread and cheese too much. I also will not “feel hungry” for hours at a time, but start getting depressed and anxious instead, and when my body very logically prompts me to eat and feel better, I start to moan about how I’m “seeking comfort in food” and the woe-is-me cycle continues. That comes from my mother, as well as the question “Are you hungry or just bored?” whenever I wanted a snack. She’s obese and while I didn’t have much problem staying at a good size for me (until post-baby, argh), I always felt pressure from her to not repeat her mistakes.

    As for parenting, right now the only thing I feed my daughter comes out of my boobs, and she can have as much of that as she wants. However, I’m concerned about when she is big enough, trying to get her to love vegetables without feeling guilty — her father’s family is big into butter, salt, pepper, and cheese sauce on veggies and I admit that my distaste for that can get judgy at times.

  20. cadpig March 25, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    I don’t have a food issue, it’s my mouth gosh darn it and I’ll put whatever the hell I want into it… BOOZE is my kryptonite.

    Why yes I will have a double rum and coke… Oh 6 oz glasses for red wine…no problem. Will that jaggerbomb require something nicer to smooth out the taste in my mouth??? Why yes it will…make it a G & T darling.

    Booze… sooo good and yet so dangerous!

  21. Plumcake March 25, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    Cadpig, you know how I love a tipple or twelve, but if you think you might have too much of a fondness for the stuff, do yourself a favor and dry out for a while.

  22. jojo.k March 25, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    @Cedar – You aren’t far off on the HFCS.
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-fructose-corn-syrup/AN01588
    and the new Princeton study http://lifehacker.com/5500870/high+fructose-corn-syrup-prompts-considerably-more-weight-gain-than-sugar
    indicate we should be concerned.

    @ Plummie and Cadpig – I look at my dry spells as being fiscally conservative moves. When I go back to my libations I’m more sensitive, and therefore require less to enjoy myself. I win on the decreased intake and expense.

    My trigger with food is when other people comment on my eating. ‘Are you sure you need that?’, no, but I want it, and I’m a grown up, so I get to decide.
    ‘Are you done?’ with the tone that I should be. Did I put my fork down? No I’m not done. Step off or loose a hand.
    Be neurotic about your own eating, but leave mine alone, thank you very much.

  23. La Petite Acadienne March 25, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    My trigger is the “it’s not fair” mentality. I don’t THINK that I eat particularly badly. My diet is pretty average, I’d say. For the most part, it’s three healthy meals, and a couple of cookies after supper. On Monday nights the husband and I will open up a bag of chips while we watch Chuck. But I see friends who eat pretty much the same as I do, but they’re thin. Well, thinner than I am.

    So then the resentment and sense of entitlement sets in. The “it’s not fair that so-and-so can eat that and not gain weight.” This tends to happen when I’m trying really hard to watch what I’m eating, and have not been able to “treat” myself as often as I’d like. I see a friend eating a burger, or chocolate, or chips, or french fries, and get pissy and envious. This soon results in thoughts of “I should be able to eat that stuff too!” And then I do. And I then beat myself up for sabotaging myself like that.

  24. Sid March 26, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    I have a GREAT relationship with food. If I am hungry and want the food, I will eat the food. The thing that gets me all nutso is when I hear other women talking about how “this chocolate cake/cheese/wevs” is SO BAD and they’re just “off the diet” for now. And I have a really, really, REALLY hard time not being an annoying twit and saying, “It is NOT bad. It is chocolate/cheese/wevs and it is delicious. You are beautiful and beautiful people don’t diet. So shut up about your stupid diet and let’s get down to loving this chocolate/cheese/wevs.”

    It’s especially triggery with my mom. She’s trying to be more self-accepting, but in her mind food is still BAD and she is still FAT and that makes her BAD. Then pointing out that she is good and food is good somehow becomes counter-productive. Around me, she’s started demurring that she only wants to lose “the weight” so that there is less pressure on her legs, but as this is usually after she talks about how ugly and fat and old she is, I don’t believe her. *sigh*

    My beautiful mother. If anyone said the things about her that she says about herself, I would beat that douchebag into the GROUND.

  25. Kath March 27, 2010 at 12:40 am #

    I seem to have gone from anxiety issues to anger issues these days. I used to react with anxiety to the triggers, but I notice that anger is the emotion that sparks off now.

    I dunno, I struggle with a few things. People smaller than me (which is most people, I’m a Super Fatty) bitching about how fat they are in my company. Other people commenting on what I am or am not eating. Those that are eating or not eating in a disordered fashion anywhere in my company (don’t get me started on my colleague with her Opti-slim-fast whatever they are shakes almost weeping as I sit opposite her eating a chicken salad.) These are some of the things that I can feel my anger boiling up about when they happen.

    I’m learning. I’m working on it. One foot in front of the other.

  26. Mac April 6, 2010 at 2:09 am #

    I have those exact GG shoes in pearl white. Love them BUT the little weighted cords in the back keeps undoing and dragging on the ground, which can be annoying. Did you buy them?

  27. Plumcake April 6, 2010 at 2:25 am #

    Mac, yes, I have them in a pearl mint green. I ended up double knotting the little elasticated strings, otherwise they flop out and will eventually kill me.