Is It Really OK to Eat Whatever You Want?

Nothing to proveFirst a couple of  quick updates then we’ll get to today’s blog:

NAAFA has responded to the widespread concern about their most recent newsletter.  I’ve added my e-mail exchange with Peggy Howell to the original post. There is still time to send them your thoughts.

The Biggest Loser petition is getting more attention and I was approached by the doctor who is in charge of the kids on the show to have a phone call later this week, I’ll keep you updated.

Now for today’s blog:

I received a comment today that I wanted to answer here.  Though I have no idea the intention of the commenter, the comment itself could be extremely triggering – it includes concern trolling, and food policing, etc.  I you want to avoid the triggering language (and nobody would blame you!), you can skip the block quote and items in italics and still understand the blog.   Here is the original comment:

I agree that it seems that dieting (in a weight loss sense- but not in an eating to manage a health condition sense) serves no purpose in the newsletter. These would be better circulated via a group for the appropriate condition/situation involved of the individuals’ choosing.

I think there’s a problem with saying that its okay to eat whatever you like because you have, or should have, the freedom to choose.
Firstly, for some people, their food choices will cause weight loss for them. This could be because of health issues but it could be to move more easily or just because their previous eating pattern was so exaggerated. I sometimes feel that with HAES that this is seen as a less valid or taboo outcome and its okay to eat anything so long as it DOESN’T actively contribute to weight loss.

Secondly, what about the extremes of those ‘feeder’ women who are eating with, or without, the encouragement of others to eat so much food, regardless of their nutritional needs, to weight gain at both alarming speed and to alarming weights where they are deliberately self harming and making themselves physically dependant upon others for emotional reasons. Does standing by and going ‘its your choice’ make us accepting or implicate us in not questioning a toxic lifestyle which could be averted?

Can it truly be said that everyone’s entitled to eat whatever they want to eat? Even if the outcome is harmful to themselves or others?

I’m playing devil’s advocate but at the moment the statement on choice seems a bit too broad. But maybe I’m wrong? I don’t know.

I’ll answer all the questions here but let me start with this:

Yes, it is absolutely, positively, definitely, without a doubt, is the Pope Catholic, really ok to eat whatever we want.  Period.  Ok, let’s dive in to the comment.

Firstly, for some people, their food choices will cause weight loss for them. This could be because of health issues but it could be to move more easily or just because their previous eating pattern was so exaggerated. I sometimes feel that with HAES that this is seen as a less valid or taboo outcome and its okay to eat anything so long as it DOESN’T actively contribute to weight loss.

I can’t speak for anyone but me, but my understanding of HAES is that I make choices based on my health goals and my personal situation and allow my body weight to settle where it will.  So while people may gain weight, lose weight, or stay the same following changes in food choices, body size is not a focus or a goal.  Also, weight loss is no guarantee of moving more easily – I would request that you take great care not to confuse body size with things like fitness, mobility etc.  People of all sizes have various levels of fitness, mobilities etc. for lots of reasons, and that’s all ok.

Secondly, what about the extremes of those ‘feeder’ women who are eating with, or without, the encouragement of others to eat so much food, regardless of their nutritional needs, to weight gain at both alarming speed and to alarming weights where they are deliberately self harming and making themselves physically dependant upon others for emotional reasons. Does standing by and going ‘its your choice’ make us accepting or implicate us in not questioning a toxic lifestyle which could be averted?

It sounds like you are mixing up a bunch of different situations here.  In general I would say that it’s not our job to police the personal behavior of consenting adults, and that in the circumstance where someone becomes dependent, that is between them and their caregiver unless one or both of them asks for assistance.  I don’t generally think it’s for us to decide if someone’s lifestyle is “toxic”. (In specific you’ll have to make the decision whether you think it’s your place to intervene in any given situation.) I’m not venturing a guess as to this specific commenter’s intention but I think that this type of statement is often used to hide fat bigotry, since so often the person asking the question is only worried about fat people eating, as if people of all sizes don’t engage in behaviors that the person thinks are “unhealthy” or “toxic.”   That’s not to say that people of all sizes don’t have to deal with concern trolls, they certainly do.  I’m just pointing out that, as in the above comment,  often the person isn’t concerned with us intervening in the lives of people who, for example, don’t get enough sleep.  Their concern seems to be triggered by a specific body size and fed by stereotypes, myths and an over-exaggerated idea of their role in the lives of others.

Can it truly be said that everyone’s entitled to eat whatever they want to eat? Even if the outcome is harmful to themselves or others?

Yes.  Yes, yes, yes, yes, hell yes, fuck yes, damn skippy yes.  What other people eat and whether or not it is “harmful” is not our business. People should have access to true, unbiased, non-politicized information about food, they should have access to the foods that they choose to eat.  Then they get to make whatever choices they want within their personal situation. For many people their food choices are out of reach financially, but that’s a whole other blog.  As far as “harming others” goes,  unless a person is simultaneously eating a turkey leg and beating someone else with it, then the effect of their eating on others would be pretty difficult for us to judge even if it was our business – which I would argue is is not. The “they are costing me tax dollars” argument doesn’t hold up, and making determinations about someone’s situation is, as previous mentioned, a very difficult thing to do. I feel strongly that, since I don’t want someone else telling me what to eat and how to live, I should take a pass on telling other people what to eat and how to live.

My policy is to let people make their own decisions, and don’t cry for me well-meaning concern troll.

Our Biggest Loser campaign is picking up steam!  Please consider signing the petition to keep kids off The Biggest Loser and re-posting it, remember this is a show whose contestants admit to dehydrating themselves to the point of urinating blood, participating in disordered eating, and admit that their trainers insist they ignore the advice of dieticians and doctors so that they can lose weight to win money.  Are these seriously the role models we want for kids?  The readers of this blog have accomplished a lot of things this year.  Let’s keep pushing on this and see what we can get done.

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Published in: on December 31, 2012 at 1:19 pm  Comments (70)  

70 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “Can it truly be said that everyone’s entitled to eat whatever they want to eat? Even if the outcome is harmful to themselves or others?”

    How about, “Can it truly be said that everyone’s entitled to drink whatever they want to drink? Even if the outcome is harmful to themselves and others?”

    Why yes, anyone over the age of 21 can get smashed at a bar or at home and potentially hurt others, and they’ve got the freedom to be an alcoholic their entire lives and hurt themselves with liver cirrhosis. The government and the public in general aren’t shoving diets-from-alcohol down everyone’s throats, are they? There isn’t a War on Alcoholics is there? These people can (and do) KILL others when they drink and drive, and yet there’s a bigger problem with people who have larger bodies. Does anyone else find this strange?

    • This is a brilliant analogy!

    • “The government and the public in general aren’t shoving diets-from-alcohol down everyone’s throats, are they? There isn’t a War on Alcoholics is there? These people can (and do) KILL others when they drink and drive, and yet there’s a bigger problem with people who have larger bodies. Does anyone else find this strange?”

      Exactly! Drunk drivers kill more people than fat drivers, right?

      Unless maybe we’re talking drunk fat drivers, IDEK.

  2. As someone that suffers from chronic pain, weight loss or gain isn’t a factor. I can gain or loss weight due to stress, change in diet (what I eat, not because I’m trying to lose weight) or change in amount of exercise I get. I have emotional issues and exercise often helps me reduce my stress. Back to the chronic pain issue, I can suffer from a lot of pain at either end of my weight range or have little or no pain at either end. Twenty-five, even thirty pounds, isn’t a factor. Flexibility, emotional stress, physical strength and many other things are factor.

  3. “I’m just pointing out that, as in the above comment, often the person isn’t concerned with us intervening in the lives of people who, for example, don’t get enough sleep. Their concern seems to be triggered by a specific body size and fed by stereotypes, myths and an over-exaggerated idea of their role in the lives of others.”

    THIS X 1000. Why is body size or weight an acceptable place for an “intervention,” when so many other habits are not?? You nailed it and I love you for it, Ragen. Thank you.

    • People tend to intervene when the behavior is especially destructive, e.g., narcotic use, alcoholism, anorexia. Actually, regarding intervention, drug users suffer from it the most. At least no one has ever gone to jail for being an anorexic.

      I wonder why the commenter discussed feeders, but not anorexics.

      • Where I do agree wholly with your post I must point something out about some people and families.

        My mom’s family runs ramped with anorexia, narcotic abuse, alcoholism, smokers and other not so pleasant addictions. Now those people have the choice to live their lives they way they want to and they are clearly destroying themselves and their bodies.

        Where I the fat one in the group, have had many ‘interventions’ about my weight because I am the one destroying myself. At this last one I sat their let them weep for my health and go on and on about how I am killing myself, and in the end I turned around and said ‘you want to weep? Go ahead but do it for your own lives that you are destroying and not the only healthy one in this room.”

        Most families sweep everything but fat people under the rug and pretend it isn’t there. Because of you can ignore it, it means it isn’t real.

        Also I have a feeling the commenter didn’t mention anorexia, because in this day and age, it is accepted as “normal” in which it should never be accepted.

        • Wow…I’m sorry. :( I suppose with my extended family, I lucked out. We don’t discuss ANYTHING personal, except perhaps privately (one-on-one) and quietly. In some ways the silence might not be the healthiest thing, but at least it means weight is never discussed. Also, until very recently, no one’s eating was ever policed. The very recent change is that my cousin decided to berate her 4-year-old son on Christmas when he said he was full before his plate was clean, telling him that there’s no way he’s full, and that he couldn’t open presents unless he finished everything. Meanwhile, he sat there in tears, saying that his tummy hurt and he couldn’t eat anymore. Then she went on to tell us how he’s started to find candy, stash it, and then binge on it. I’ve babysat him before, and he showed almost complete indifference to candy, even though there was tons that was easily accessible to him. Now, because of advice from her new boyfriend (her husband divorced her last year, which has contributed to this mess), the candy is not easily accessible…which is OK, parents are not required to provide their children with unlimited access to candy. But clearly, something is not working here. :( Everyone sat there in stony, uncomfortable silence while she berated him. Eventually, I had the guts to quietly mention that he was indifferent to candy whenever I’ve babysat him. Then I sneakily asked, “Do you think he’s lost the ability to eat intuitively?” I was hoping she would ask me about intuitive eating, but instead she said, “No, it’s just a power struggle. It’s [Ex-husband’s] fault.” There’s this idea in our family that we shouldn’t criticize or offend each other, but apparently it doesn’t apply when the family member is a child. :( So now we have to figure out if we should criticize this cousin (she DOES NOT take criticism well–she confided before that it was like being stabbed in the heart), in order to protect her child. It’s something we’ve been discussing behind her back since Christmas, and the general consensus is that approaching her won’t be productive, so we shouldn’t try. If this was something she was doing to herself, I wouldn’t say anything. But I feel that her behavior toward her son is abusive. Maybe I’m being over-dramatic–he’s not being smacked around or told he’s a worthless piece of shit. But angrily forcing a child to eat when he is already feeling pain or discomfort just seems awful.

          Sorry, this comment wasn’t supposed to be about my cousin food-policing her son but it has been really bothering me!

          • If it is bothering you let it out! There is no same in that, and I know how you feel with people food policing children

            My one aunt does that too her sons all the time. Now these boys are 16 and 13 years old, they fear her if they don’t eat everything which has lead the 13 year old to start a whole binge and purge take on food. It is very sad to see this happening.

            I have never really liked any of my extended family besides a few cousins, an aunt and my grandpa, and for my father’s side well they are a bunch o’ hypocrites that I never talk to anyway so they just aren’t family.

            • Thank you, letting it out did help. :) Regarding your aunt and her 13 year old, that is exactly what I’m concerned about–that controlling a child’s food intake, whether it’s restricting portion size or forcing a child to eat too much, will result in disordered eating. If my cousin is not exaggerating (which she sometimes does) and her son is indeed binge-eating candy, then I think it’s because of her excessive control over his eating.

              Besides the fact that he might develop an eating disorder, forcing a child to eat until he feels discomfort or pain seems just as cruel as forcing a child to go hungry.

              I’m glad that there are some people in your extended family that you like. :) Sometimes family can be tricky. I’ve never had any huge problems with my extended family, which I think is unusual (many of my friends have family members that they refuse to talk to). This one cousin that I’ve been talking about sometimes acts in ways that seem overbearing, dramatic, and manipulative, but after talking to my psychologist about her, he suspects that she might have borderline personality disorder (BPD), and is just really desperate for love and afraid of being abandoned. Her behavior during her divorce definitely backs this up. So, even though I sometimes feel drained after interacting with her, I care about her and still want to maintain some sort of relationship with her. It would be nice if she would meet with a therapist and find out if she does, indeed, have BPD, and then get help from there. But I don’t think there’s a way to suggest that she get help (or that she might have BPD) without really crushing her (and causing her to LOATHE the person who gave the suggestion). She just thinks she’s a unique person who sometimes gets depressed. She’s said stuff like, “The people who love me accept me despite my craziness.” That’s fine and dandy–we won’t stop loving her. But I wish she would take into consideration how draining it is to sometimes interact with her and walk on eggshells, and get help because SHE loves US. Of course, I don’t know if she realizes that it’s draining to interact with her. And how can anyone tell her without completely devastating her? Whenever she starts to feel people pull away because they are overwhelmed, she will desperately reach out, saying things like, “I feel like everyone in the world hates me right now.” Then we have to reassure her that we don’t hate her, and we are too afraid to add on, “…but sometimes your behavior is emotionally draining.” Her husband left her because he was overwhelmed, but even that didn’t motivate her to get help, because she thinks he left because he’s the shittiest person in the world. He joined the military and she’s even wished he would die overseas. I think she suspects that there’s something about her behavior that causes people to pull away, but it’s too painful to fully recognize it and get help.

              • People with BPD (my late mother included) usually will *never* get help, because they’re not the ones with the problem; it’s *everyone else* who’s crazy/hard to deal with/draining/etc..

                And those who do get help love being in therapy, because part of BPD is narcissism, and they *love* anything that focuses on themselves and their lives.

                • I think that that characterization of people with BPD is unfair. From what I’ve read/seen about BPD, a lot of people with the disorder are just as overwhelmed as the people they interact with. They are perceived as being manipulative, but are actually just desperate. Once they get to a point where they recognize that they need help, they will work with a therapist not because they are narcissistic, but because they desperately want to get off the emotional rollercoaster that they’ve been riding on their whole lives.

                  I actually used to quietly resent and despise my cousin, but after reading about BPD and watching a short YouTube documentary about it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=967Ckat7f98) I’ve started to interpret her behavior differently. Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s not still draining. :(

                  • Well, my mother was… quite the character. So YMMV, LOL.

                    Plus, people differ. *shrugs*

                    • Yeah, people definitely differ. But from what I understand, the stigma associated with BPD (i.e., that people with it are manipulative, narcissistic) can be harmful, because it makes the diagnosis more devastating, and then the person who was diagnosed might resist the diagnosis and treatment.

                • Oops, my final reply got chopped off. I will start a new comment at the bottom of the page.

              • An aunt of my cousin’s (the 13 year old) has that, she was told that she got treatment or she wasn’t allowed to see any of the kids.

                I am gonna issue the same thing to my family when I have kids, I don’t want them around people like that and learning that abuse of one’s self or a substance is perfectly fine and “normal”, at the same time I also have no problem cutting contact with them and never seeing them again as well.

                My aunt forces them to eat everything on their plate despite it, being painful or they end up vomiting later on. So when it has been just the three of us (the 16 and 13 year olds and myself) I tell them “eat until you are satisfied, if you have some left on your plate, I will pack it up and put it in the fridge for later.” The 13 year old actually cried when I said that for the first time.

                As for your cousin, if she really is doing that, she and her son need help, before this becomes a huge problem that is swept under the rug. I am currently working on helping my cousin’s see food in a different light and stand up to their mom, have you thought of helping her so out in that way?

                • Have you thought about calling in children’s services? That is absolutely child abuse. You can make the call anonymously.

                  • Helena, I have. They looked into it and found no evidience of abuse. So in other words she cleans up her act when they show up, pretends nothing is wrong and sends them on their way, and the main problem is they show up when the kids are in school and nerver think to pop in on say a weekend.

                    I am not making excuses I have just dealt with the province and their so called child protection operation. I used to babysit kids that lived in a drug house, it wasn’t until I called the police and tipped them off about drugs being possible being sold from the house were the children taken away.

                    • I understand. I know how frustrating that is. Everything scheduled so mom and dad can fake it. *sigh* I’m glad that you called. HUGELY. Even if nothing came of it.

                • I really do feel that if my cousin keeps this up, her 4-year-old is eventually going to figure out that vomiting makes his painfully over-stuffed tummy feel better. I think I really do need to talk to my cousin about this. I’m going to try to work out a script, then call her on her day off, make sure there’s no major calamity she’s dealing with, and then try to talk to her. But I’m totally prepared for her to villainize me, or try to rationalize what happened on Christmas or make out like I misinterpreted the whole thing. :(

          • “I’ve babysat him before, and he showed almost complete indifference to candy, even though there was tons that was easily accessible to him.”

            When I was a kid, I was allowed to have candy whenever I asked for it.

            And as an adult, I eat candy… gosh, *maybe* once every few months? I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had candy this past year.

            Making a food forbidden makes it more desirable.

            “Everyone sat there in stony, uncomfortable silence while she berated him.”

            That’s emotional abuse. That kid is going to develop serious food issues if she doesn’t knock that stuff off NOW.

            • I also felt that her behavior toward him was abusive. I think I am going to have to discuss this with her, even if it temporarily devastates her and causes her to hate me. I just need to be able to gauge how stable/happy she is before I confront her, because she does not take criticism well and has a history of suicidal behavior.

              • I feel bad for that poor kid. I know what a nightmare it is living with a BPD mother.

                And I feel bad for you and the rest of the family, because dealing with her truly is like walking on eggshells.

            • …And I agree about how making something forbidden makes it more desirable. I was rarely allowed candy or snack foods as a child, and as a result I would gorge on them whenever I went to my grandma’s house. Now that I am an adult and have the money and independence to access candy, chips, etc., I rarely desire them (except for dark or bittersweet chocolate :) ).

              • Exactly! It’s the allure of the forbidden!

                She’s making candy the most desirable thing ever, so if he really *is* hiding it and binging on it, it’s really not surprising.

        • “Most families sweep everything but fat people under the rug and pretend it isn’t there.”

          Many dysfunctional families pick one family member to be the “scapegoat” who gets blamed for the family’s problems/shamed for his/her own. That way they can all pat themselves on the back for being so normal and together, unlike The Scapegoat.

          Looks like they’ve found their scapegoat. :(

          • To them yes they may have, and everytime they attempt something I end up just rolling my eyes and am bored to death.

            This last time they pushed too far and I did let all of them have it. Should I have lost my temper? Probably not, but it did feel good and they have now shut up about my weight and how I am “destroying” myself by being fat.

        • This is actually in response to your comment about people with BPD, but I bumped it out because of the way this blog sets up comments.

          The thing is that BPD is just like any other issue/disease/disorder – each person is affected in unique ways. Some people will be as you described, some will be as kittenmommy described. There’s room on the spectrum for both experiences.

          • “The thing is that BPD is just like any other issue/disease/disorder – each person is affected in unique ways. Some people will be as you described, some will be as kittenmommy described. There’s room on the spectrum for both experiences.”

            Yep!

          • Yes, I’m sure two people with BPD can be very different. I just think we need to be careful about making negative generalizations, because they might not be true, and also some of the people who read this blog could have BPD.

    • I just have to add that yes, in our culture people have become comfortable intervening when someone is fat, even though being fat is not a self-destructive behavior. That said, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times people have told me (patronizingly) that I need to make sure to get more sleep (I suffer from insomnia periodically). I’m sure that I look really exhausted after getting only two hours of sleep, but don’t they think I realize I’m exhausted, and WISH DESPERATELY that I had gotten more sleep? I know people who tell me this mean well, and they probably can’t fathom the fact that some people can climb into bed, and be completely exhausted, but not fall asleep for hours. But sometimes I feel like responding, “WOW!! That’s such a good idea. I never thought of that! Your advice will revolutionize my life.”

  4. I really appreciate this post as well as the post regarding the recent NAAFA newsletter. I think this is an important issue for the HAES® community, and I know it is an important issue for me as a HAES® registered dietitian. Not only do we come in all shapes and sizes, but from a biochemical standpoint we are not identical as well. Although we all need certain nutrients, it appears the balance of these needed by an individual differs from person to person, even for people with similar health issues. And of course, our tastes and food preferences vary greatly. Also, nutrition science is changing all the time and there will always be controversy. So, in my view it is extremely important that all HAES® organizations are very clear regarding not making nutrition recommendations or endorsing specific eating styles. The official principle is “promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure”.

  5. The title of this blog omits “OK to Whom”?

    What’s OK for me to eat, from the point of view of me and my doc whom I’ve enlisted in trying to manage my health, may be very very different from what’s OK for me to eat from the POV of a nosy buttinsky, aka concern troll.

    In the former case, as I choose to manage my blood sugar, it is not OK in my own opinion and my doc’s, for me to eat many simple carbohydrates. Except when my BG goes too low and I need them to stay alive.

    In the latter case, the opinion of anyone else (not invited by me onto my support team) on whether I luxuriate in doughnuts or munch on celery or anything in between is unwelcome and totally inappropriate.

    My food choices, whether for health or pleasure, whether hungry or not, are only the business of myself and those (if any) I choose to ask for specific support. Everyone else — butt the fuck out!

    The OKness of any food choice can only be made by the consumer of that food. To everyone else, there’s nothing not OK for others to eat.

    Except, perhaps, for children? Not at all clear on this. I know putting kids on diets is BAD BAD BAD! But how much of a role do the adults in their lives have in offering them a wide range of choices, and then backing off and respecting their choices, as opposed to guiding them? Food for thought, and perhaps another post?

  6. OK I’m a little bummed. It was just another troll in disguise. I was kinda hoping it was a letter from someone like me. See, I do ok with eating whatever I want and embracing me… as long as I don’t start noticing myself gaining more and more weight. When that happens…which is predictably going to around the holidays…. and which just HAPPENS to coincide with about a billion messages telling me that to LOSE WEIGHT should totally be my new year resolution…. then I start to panic. My mind knows that I’m being ridiculous…. but my emotions don’t. All those voices… of the mean girls in school… of hateful ex-boyfriends who knew that was the way to hurt me most…of well meaning adults who didn’t want me to suffer the humiliation and abuses they had…. they all get a lot louder in my head. That’s when I start to question… is it REALLY ok? Is it ok if I outgrow my clothes and can’t really afford to replace them all? Is it ok if it means that I cry myself to sleep? And I look at it and think… why? WHY do I feel that way? I KNOW I’m more than my weight. What the hell is it that I’m so afraid of….that I think being fat means THIS and THIS is scary? I have a feeling that even if I DID lose weight… I would STILL be asking this SAME QUESTION. Maybe the question SHOULD be why is it ok to eat whatever you want if you’re thin, but not if you’re fat…. but the question I ask is still… is it really ok…. because it’s kinda scary to me still… and sometimes I’m able to let go and just enjoy….but other times, I’m still afraid that it’s not ok…. and I can’t.

    • Oh Heart, I’m sending you all the support, hugs, and love I can right now. Yes, it’s okay to eat what you wish. Is there any way you can find support in your area?

      If not, rest assured that the rest of us in the FA community are here for you. We’ll do what we can.

    • Me, too, heart. I understand. All I can say is to keep coming here and keep reading. Eventually things will begin to change in your heart and mind. <3

    • I’m so sorry that your experiences with others have been so negative. I definitely understand where you’re coming from – I come a from a thin-obsessed family and it’s so, so hard to shake that ‘if I gain weight it is bad and mysterious bad things will happen.’

      The one thing that has helped me is to look at it this way – If I put fuel into my body, and I move around and get some cardio a few times a week, then whatever body I have from those things is the body I’m meant to have. none of this ‘if I starve myself another week, I’ll lose 5 more pounds.’ If I have to starve myself, work out several times a week or do some sort of weird food-policing on myself, than clearly that is NOT the way my body is supposed to look.

      You absolutely are more than your weight. And you’re right – there’s something seriously wrong with a society that tells us a thin person can eat a big mac and it’s cute, but if a fat person does it, it’s bad. There’s something wrong with a society that can’t see that favoring one size over another is just as bad as favoring one skin color or one eye color over another – it’s all stuff we really don’t have control over. We’re working on fixing that, but until we get through to the thick-heads, all we can do is love and value ourselves and one another.

    • Eating intuitively can be really scary at first. Sometimes people think that if they give themselves permission to eat what they want, they will never stop eating or gaining weight. But then many people find that the opposite is true–the obsession over food or the desire to binge disappear. But even if the binge eating does not disappear, I don’t think that restricting food is ever the way to treat it (I have a friend who is being treated for binge eating by a psychologist, and restricting food is NOT part of the treatment–in fact she was instructed not to go on any sort of diet). But of course, you are not talking about binge eating–you are talking about enjoying food. I think sometimes people mix them up. I used to think that when I was really hungry and ate a lot, I was binge eating, and I needed to somehow correct that behavior. When I told a psychologist about my “problem,” he asked what I ate during a “binge,” and when I told him, he said, “That’s not a binge. It just sounds like you were really hungry.”

    • I am totally struggling with this myself! Since giving up dieting, I now weigh more than ever. And I am not comfortable at this weight at all. So what do I do? When Medifast sounded good, I realized I need a smack upside the head…I wish I had answers, All I have is a hug…

      • Hi Susie,

        I’m so sorry that you’re going through this and I definitely have a hug for you. If you don’t mind I’d like to talk about this in a full blog in the next few days, would that be ok?

        ~Ragen

        ________________________________

        • Of course! I’ve been struggling and would love to hear your thoughts.

  7. You know, I have a good friend who recently took up the actually toxic habit of smoking. She hemmed and hawed a lot before telling me and prefaced it with “I know you’ll be mad at me.”

    Funny thing, I wasn’t mad at her. In fact, I told her that. I said that she was an adult and informed about the potential consequences, and it was HER CHOICE WHAT SHE PUT IN HER BODY, not mine.

    Had she asked my opinion before she started, well, I would have said it wasn’t something I would recommend. And if she comes to my house, she has to smoke outside because I need a smoke-free environment. But those lungs are hers, not mine. I don’t get to tell her what to put in them.

    By the same token, if someone asks me whether eating a particular thing is a good idea or not, I’ll give my opinion freely, BECAUSE IT’S BEEN REQUESTED. If they don’t ask, it’s not my business. And, as Deborah Kauffmann noted above, different bodies react differently to the same things. My body adores leafy greens and plenty of potatoes. Another body might not be able to function properly on those fuels. Some people need more food than others to keep going, depending on their activity levels and metabolism. I’m not going to tell someone else they aren’t allowed to eat more than I do because this is all I need to get through the day.

    Not my body? Not my choice. And it only becomes my business if it is made my business.

  8. There is a chapter in my book “Fat Sex: The Naked Truth” on feederism which I think is really enlightening (not because I wrote it, because the person who I interviewed has very interesting things to say). I was discouraged from including it because it’s such a controversial topic in the SA community. (NAAFA has a policy against the practice). But I don’t always listen to what I am told. It turns out that someone who virtually started the SA community says it the best discussion of feederism he has read. I don’t know if you would agree, but I was flattered. Anyhow, my point is, if you want to read some more about it from the perspective of someone involved with the lifestyle (to be specific, he is a “gainer” because that is the term gay men use, but it’s the same difference). The chapter is called “French Double Doors: Accommodating the Hips of the Aristocracy.” Peace out, and happy new year.

    Rebecca

  9. Oh, and just as an aside, congrats to Ragen for a million views to this blog in 2012. That’s fantastic, impressive, and all the good stuff.

  10. Eating whatever or however you want is OK, in that sense that I don’t think there is a way of eating that makes a person “bad” (although many societies think that cannibalism is immoral). However, sometimes we do intervene when someone’s behavior regarding food is extremely destructive (i.e., anorexia nervosa). I don’t know enough about feederism (is it force-feeding, or just enjoying food?) to say if it’s destructive. Even if it’s force-feeding, it seems that it wouldn’t be as self-destructive as anorexia. But if it is, perhaps that’s why the commenter brought it up. If he/she did have good intentions with the comment, anorexia would have served better as an example. Can we actually say that anorexia nervosa is OK? An anorexic is OK, but can we say that the behavior or disease is OK? What do we mean by “OK”? Is “OK” a moral judgment?

    • These are definitely tricky questions. The reason that I made a split between my general advice and suggesting that in specific people need to decide when to intervene is for these situations. I do not think that it’s a good idea for strangers to make assumptions about the situations of strangers. However, if you are aware that someone close to you is having issues with an eating disorder, or that their feederism is something more than a personal choice with which they are happy then you may decide to intervene – just like if they were having issues with depression or another area of their lives. I do not know of any general advice that can cover these situations because people are different, relationships are different and eating disorders are tricky to deal with and though I have some experience with them I am not a professional in the field by any means so I think you have to take it on a case by case basis. I do think that we should fight to make sure that affordable assistance is readily available to people dealing with eating disorders.

      ~Ragen

      ________________________________

      • Yeah, you’re right–it really is too complicated to give general advice. Thanks for elaborating–I think I was tired, and my brain sort of skipped over the part in your post where you differentiated between the general and the specific.

    • “Even if it’s force-feeding, it seems that it wouldn’t be as self-destructive as anorexia.”

      You *do* know how foie gras is made, right?

      I’m OK with people making choices about their own bodies, and it seems that (by definition!) *force* feeding isn’t the person’s (or animal’s) choice!

      • Yes, I thought of foie gras, but didn’t want to bring that up, because I don’t think that something that extreme usually happens with humans. It possible that people who force themselves to eat could end up with fatty liver disease (like the ducks), but it still seems like anorexia is more life-threatening.

        I do think that people can force themselves to eat, just as they can force themselves to stay awake or hold in their pee. Those are all choices.

        • “I do think that people can force themselves to eat, just as they can force themselves to stay awake or hold in their pee. Those are all choices.”

          Yes. But “*force*-feeding” implies feeding by force, which is not a choice. That’s different from forcing *oneself* to eat (IMO).

          • What if someone gives someone else permission to force them to do (or not do) something? (E.g., Odysseus tied to the mast so that he wouldn’t jump in after the Sirens.) :)

            • There’s a thin line here, I think.

              If being “forced” to eat is part of the fantasy, then it’s not *really* force, is it?

  11. [Note: though it’s not intended, this comment could be triggering for diet talk and Need-based eating as opposed to permission-based eating] As a professional in this field, as a RD and Certified Diabetes Educator, I couldn’t agree more whole-heartedly, particularly in defense of anyone eating any foods they choose! Besides the focus you took (it’s their right!) I’ll add that there is no evidence that a particular style of intake is inherently “good” or healthy–if intake matches need. So the impact of a low carb or a high carb, a high fat or a low fat diet is irrelevant with respect to weight change–when comparing calorically equivalent diets. Essentially, we all need to learn that there are no good vs bad foods. Rather, when you learn to give yourself permission to eat what you want, (and eat it in public and truly enjoy it!) you’ll be less likely to overeat on these very foods, thinking it’s “now or never”.
    That said, if you are diabetic, for instance, there is a need not to eliminate sweets or carb-rich foods, but to include an amount that supports good blood sugar control–together with activity and medication,if needed. Same could be said for other conditions as well.

    • Thanks for your comment Lori, I absolutely agree with you on permission-based eating. I do want to make sure that we’re clear that “matching intake to need” and “less likely to overeat” can definitely be triggering to those who are recovering from dieting. I would also suggest that we avoid the word “need’ when talking about food choices. There are many choices when it comes to living with diabetes or other health conditions – including the choice not to “manage” them. Different choices have different consequences for different people but the choices are valid nonetheless.

      ~Ragen

    • Lori, thank you for saying it so well.

  12. “As far as “harming others” goes, unless a person is simultaneously eating a turkey leg and beating someone else with it, then the effect of their eating on others…” Yeah, this is why I love you!

  13. This is by far the best size activism blog I’ve come across. A lot of other size activism blogs really contradict themselves when it comes to things. I enjoyed this and I feel I should copya nd plaster it all over the country so people can get the true understanding of it all.

    I have knee issues. They crack, crackle and pop when I bend or squat. I can’t even sit on the the bed, kneel or do any activity that requires that kind of labor without a little constant pain. My knee issue didn’t start because of my weight gain or because I’m fat, I’ve always had problems with my knees. I remember being a little girl in the 5 grade and playing on the plyground getting up with the other kids and hearing my knees pop. It’s just when I engage in physical activity or exercise they give me problems, my weight has nothing to do with it, because it doesn’t prohibit me from “wanting/choosing” to be active , so I doubt me eating certain foods and gaining weight should trigger people to start assuming. I really dislike the way people shame larger individuals because of their fat bigotry and prejudice. I have stumbled across blogs where there are plus size women who are vegan, and people still say “Well it’s not what she’s eating it’s her low impact exercise that’s not making her lose weight” at first it was “Well it’s because she’s eating the wrong foods, which is it? It’s like those people feel they aren’t going to be healthy to them if they aren’t visually “skinny” by their standards. It’s so annoying and as years progress it seems like nothing is being done about fat prejudice, it seems to be getting worse. Then to turn around and hear people say “Omg you can eat anything and you still don’t gain any weight, you’re so lucky”. Why is that okay? How come skinny people can be assumed to be lucky for not gaining weight after consuming food that’s supposedly bad for you? But fat people ae bombarded with thos false consern about our lives if we eat whatever we want. Is it about health or is it about the discrimination against large bodies.

    And as a African American woman please don’t buy the myth about our community embracing larger bodies moreso than others. I am a African American woman who is plus size and when I tell you our kind isn’t liked our kind isn’t liked around these parts. I see and hear it everyday the bashing of larger people by my community especially women.

  14. *sigh* As I’ve said many many MANY times before – Just because I eat anything I want doesn’t mean that I eat everything in sight!! Fat people have likes and dislikes, just like thin people. We also have limits and standards. What’s wrong with people??!!

  15. Can it truly be said that everyone’s entitled to eat whatever they want to eat? Even if the outcome is harmful to themselves or others?

    Eating whatever you want is harmful is a scientifically invalid statement. Unless you have a peanut allergy and insist on going to eat out at Thai food places all the time without telling them of your allergy, or unless you insist on eating mouldy bread or truly tainted or contaminated foods, then eating whatever you want is not the same as getting smashed on alcohol. There are not any data to support the concept that food (any type/any quantity) is harmful to anyone except in the two examples I have just given.

    • “There are not any data to support the concept that food (any type/any quantity) is harmful to anyone except in the two examples I have just given.”

      Well, no, I don’t think people with diabetes should be eating big bowls of rock candy for dinner.

      There *are* some instances where avoiding certain foods for health reasons is perfectly valid.

  16. Ha, interesting discussion. Another problem is protecting the right NOT to eat (or drink). People have made some awful assumptions about my eating based on my size. I remember having lunch with a colleague and she couldn’t finish her meal. She shoved her plate in my direction and said, “you’ll finish it, won’t you”. In front of other people. I was so mortified.

    It would be so great if everybody could mind their own business.

  17. This is a thank-you to this active FA/HAES community that regularly comments on this blog. The thanks is because yesterday the temperature dropped quite low and I had to reach for my big winter coat. I noticed I was having some low level anxiety and couldn’t figure out why at first. As I slipped into my coat and did it up, it came to me. Every season in the past, when I had to reach deep into my closet, I was never sure if the clothes would fit or not. But 2 years running now, i have changed seasons without having to purchase a new wardrobe. I eat what I want when I want and exercise when it works for me and no weight fluctuation. This is wonderful for me. I am fat-clothes for fat people are expensive and for 2 years I have stayed the same fat. Not smaller fat, not larger fat, just the same fat. There was a time that this would have caused some major depression, now it is a cause for rejoicing. Thank-you for all who visit and comment here, you have unknowingly supported me in this journey-Happy New Year.

  18. Eating whatever you want isn’t eating everything. I have a rather small appetite much of the time. So eating what I want could be two cookies or an apple. It could be a large salad with lots of different veggies. It’s food I like that likes me. I have IBS and there are lots of foods that upset my stomach. I try not to eat those. Eating whatever you want is eating the food that you like in the amount that is comfortable for you.

  19. Okay, I was plenty pissed at that commenter for all the usual reasons, but then he mentioned “those feeder women” (um, there are feeder men, too, dude – and probably nonbinary-gendered feeders, also).
    DUDE, IT’S A SEXUAL FETISH/KINK, NOT A FORM OF “SELF-HARM.” THAT’S BULLSHIT. IS B.D.S.M. A FORM OF DOMESTIC ABUSE (OR SELF-HARM)? NO, IT IS NOT. IT’S A SEXUAL ACTIVITY/LIFESTYLE BETWEEN TWO CONSENTING ADULTS.
    Speaking as a fat woman with a fat appreciation kink (I don’t do the extreme feeder lifestyle, but I don’t judge anyone who does), I can’t handle concern-trolling AND kink-shaming at once, especially since my kink is the one that it sometimes seems everyone loves to hate.

  20. “I think there’s a problem with saying that its okay to eat whatever you like because you have, or should have, the freedom to choose.”

    Um, no. Everyone gets to eat what they want, and it’s no one’s business.

    I *do* think there are some foods that *no one* should eat, *ever*. I think pink slime should be banned because… well, I’m sure I don’t have to explain all the problems with pink slime, right?

    But otherwise? Have at it! Your body, your business.

  21. Kittenmommy: Yeah, people definitely differ. But from what I understand, the stigma associated with BPD (i.e., that people with it are manipulative, narcissistic) can be harmful, because it makes the diagnosis more devastating, and then the person who was diagnosed might resist the diagnosis and treatment (BTW, although BPD was considered to be untreatable in the past, it can now be treated successfully).

    • “(BTW, although BPD was considered to be untreatable in the past, it can now be treated successfully).”

      Color me skeptical.

      As I understand it, the person actually has to *believe* s/he has a problem, and many people with BPD refuse to do this. Like I said, they tend to blame everyone else around them.

      It’s really not a fun thing to live with, believe me.

      • Yes, understanding that one has a problem, and accepting that one needs help, might be a big obstacle for many people with BPD. This is sort of the big issue with my cousin. I’d like to believe it’s not hopeless. I do think that if the diagnosis didn’t come with so much stigma, people would be more likely to get help. I’d be interested to see what you thought after looking at the documentary that I linked to above ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=967Ckat7f98). It is 50 minutes long, so I understand if you don’t have the time, but I thought it was very interesting.

        • I don’t have the time to watch it now (we’re away visiting my MIL), but I’ll definitely take a look at it when we get home! Thanks for linking it! :D

  22. Feederism is extreme behavior. The majority of larger people are not feeders. However, we get stereotyped as if all of us are constantly stuffing our faces. I find this rather offensive. I feel like the commenter was really grasping at straws.


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