Patriarchy Loves a Diet

21 Jul

These are stats from a documentary I watched about the obesity epidemic–that I can no longer remember the title of–sue me.

As a nation, we spend 137 billion on fast food and 60 billion on weight loss products.

Health care costs 147 billion in America.

39 million missed work days.

Whoa.

As I’ve said before–it’s all about calories consumed vs. calories expended.  There is nothing complicated about that.  Half the battle is just knowing where your calorie count is throughout the day, so you can make informed choices.  The other half of the battle–is finding the will-power to execute the CORRECT choices.

As a disclaimer, I have to tell you I have never dieted.  Not a true– trying to lose weight, limit food or only eat certain things, and ramp up the exercise to lose X amount of pounds–diet at any rate.  I think that is just a big money-maker.  Women, especially, are made to feel bad about their body (through media and culture), then presented with some pseudo-science so they can “fix” themselves.  The diets are complicated, rigorous (to keep women busy focusing inward instead of on important world matters), and impractical for long term.  Meaning, women will be forced to try diet trend after diet trend in an attempt to “fix” their body.

Showing people losing or maintaining weight is a simple process is not in the best interests of business or patriarchy.  That’s why it is usually presented as such a huge, work (and money)-intensive undertaking.  If women knew they just had to balance calories in/calories out–which is a cheap, lifelong, simple process, a whole lot of companies lose money.  Besides, I think it’s unhealthy to cut out entire food groups.  Not to mention high maintenance.  Which gets us back to what women spend their time doing.  Patriarchy would rather women are jumping on the latest diet bandwagon, spending loads of cash in order to get thin, and preoccupied with their bodies–it dis-empowers them.

No–no way.  I couldn’t last one day on a typical diet.  I love food.  It may be my favorite thing in the world, even.  And I do not believe in such things as dieting for feminist reasons, and because I think women are too focused on weight.  BUT just as good body image is important, so is good health–and the above stats show this country has a deficit in that.  Here are some tips (as tried by me, a naturally thin, and newly RE-fit person) that will save you calories (and as a bonus, money):

-Always have a healthy snack (wheat thins, dried fruit, a granola bar) in the car.  If you get hungry on the road or tempted by greasy fast food–pop some of your healthy option to take away the hunger pangs and re-direct your mind.  This is especially true for road trips.  Pack a cooler at home, or go to the grocery store before leaving.  You’ll reach the destination faster too, b/c you can just grab a smarter choice snack from the back seat instead of stopping at limited choices with bad food.

-Try never to eat fast food.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten at Mickey D’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, or Carl’s Jr.  Not because I TRY not to go there, or am ethically opposed (I am, but since when does that stop me?) but because I genuinely do not care for the food OR I like just other places better.  There is nothing good about FAST food.  If you MUST eat out–upgrade to bar & grill fare or better.  It’s still not great, but higher quality.

-At restaurants–stick with the appetizers (only!)and share them with your dining companion.  Salads are expensive (sometimes MORE calorie-laden then other choices) and leave me hungry so I make poor choices later.

-I never, never, never have the will-power to control my portions.  At home, use small plates, or load up the plate with produce before squeezing the entree on.  At restaurants ask that they box half of your (giant, over-sized) portion up before even bringing the food to the table.  This ensures you will eat ONLY half–and that you have left-overs that are a full meal.

-Instead of eating ice cream, cake, pies, cookies, and other high-cal foods for dessert–stick fruit in the freezer.  It’s a really yummy treat, plus since it’s frozen it will force you to eat slower and your stomach is more likely to register when it is full.  I’m a dessert person from way back, but frozen grapes, mangos, or bananas are adequate to super-yummy in the evening.

-Watch out for those empty calories!  Attempt to eat foods that will make you full over time instead of drinking your calories, eating salty stuff that leaves you hungry in an hour, or gobbling down a bag of junk.

-Water is boring, but obviously necessary.  To help you WANT to drink it, freeze juice, lemon juice, or those Popsicles that come in the liquid tubes in the ice cube tray.  Plunk a flavor cube in the water for more taste.

-On days you know you will eat too much, go on a run, hike, or exercise vigorously to counter that.  And eat less the next day.

Those are really the only tricks I sometimes remember to use.  I’m blessed with the metabolism of a hummingbird, luckily.  Which I fully realize is a fleeting gift, so I need to try to establish healthy habits for when it expires.  For those that have less stellar metabolisms, and for everyone who wants to improve their health, give my tips a try.

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