The End of Fat People: Goodbye Hostess

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See those things above? Those are chocolate Zingers. I haven’t had one in over two years, but I used to love ‘em, and only got out of the habit of eating them (or any other snack cake) because I spent a year and a half off gluten. I always figured I would, one day, taste them again when I felt like it. That’s what intuitive eating is, right? Knowing that a food will always be there when you want it, so you don’t have to grab it and eat as much of it as possible while you can?

Well, now that Hostess is shutting down very suddenly rather than treat their bakery workers decently, there will be no more Zingers. There also won’t be any more Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, or whatever other snack cakes fatties have been pelted with over the years, all that stuff we carb-snarfing lard-butts supposedly can’t get enough of. Just like that, poof, they’re gone. And of course it’s fatties cleaning out the supermarket shelves of them, and only fatties.

Oh, someone will probably buy the recipes off Hostess, they’re too much of a cash cow (chortle chortle chortle) for that not to happen. But that’ll take a year, at least. In the meantime, that’s an entire year of fatties not getting their favorite snacks, which they all live for! So a year from now everyone should be skinny, right? Since the only difference between fat people and thin people is that thin people know how to control themselves in the presence of snack cakes?

Well, sure…except for the part where I haven’t had a pre-manufactured snack cake in over two years, and my weight is exactly the same as the last time I did. What did I say here? “Screw taxing that stuff, screw it to the wall. You could BAN all those things and I’d still stun you with my ginormitude. I will repeat that for emphasis: You could burn down every fast food restaurant, clear every sweetened or alcoholic beverage off every shelf, sweep all the processed food on earth into a ten-mile bonfire, ban every form of candy, cookies, cake, donuts, muffins, ice cream, you name it, and I would still be a huge freaking child-frightening oxygen-sucking flapping-in-the-breeze Shamu McLardypants.” That was three years ago. I seem to have proven my hypothesis.

But hey, I’m a baker. I’m pretty good at it, although I can’t do any of that fancy, pretty stuff. If I wanted to, I could probably reverse-engineer Zingers, or something pretty danged close. What is it, a chocolate cakelet with fudge icing, with some kind of pasty white stuff injected into the middle? The pasty white stuff is probably the most challenging part of that; using this homemade Twinkie recipe as a guide, beating egg whites for seven minutes to make the filling and poking holes into the freshly baked cakes to squeeze the goop in with a pastry bag is apparently part of the deal. I just don’t know if I want to make, like, an entire pan full of Zingers, do all that work just to get a couple of bites, knowing that a) nobody else I know would eat them besides me, and b) I’d probably explode at least half the cakes trying to squirt the filling in, leaving behind a huge brown and white mess, much of which I’d clean up by licking it off my hands. So I’d probably eat more of them than my stomach wanted, and then my stomach would hate me. My poor stomach has been through enough already, so I’ll pass.

And I’m going to take a wild guess that if someone does buy Hostess’s recipes, they’ll take a pass on Zingers because they’re not all that popular; they’re just Hostess cupcakes in a different shape, right? Except not, because the ratio of cake-to-fudge is different, and the fudge on Zingers is (was) thicker. So I guess those things are going the way of Burry’s Fudgetown cookies, which I loved as a kid because they had those holes in the middle and you could poke your pinky through and get a nice little dot of fudge to lick off before you even started in on the cookie, which you could wear on your pinky for a few minutes before taking a bite. They stopped making those in 1978, when Burry’s went out of business. By then, I hardly noticed, because I was a chronically dieting teenager and Fudgetowns had been off my radar since I was about 12. But one day recently I looked up and said, “Whatever happened to Fudgetowns?”, and found out the whole story. Evidently, though, Dare Cookies (based in Kitchener, Ontario) makes a cookie that looks exactly like them, and they are now available in the U.S. I haven’t tried them yet; in light of recent events, maybe I should, while I still can. After all, how else am I going to maintain my awesome silhouette?

On Being Believed

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As some of you know, I’ve been very much involved with autism self-advocacy and disability rights for the last couple of years. In fact, at the moment, that is what I spend most of my time doing. I go to summits and conferences and protests, I organize meetings, I plan activities, I write essays. And one of the things I can’t fail to notice, when comparing the disability rights movement to FA, is that there actually are things to do in meatspace about disability stuff. Lots of them. Things aren’t perfect by any means; there are still many, many instances of accessibility fail, and when it comes to autism, especially, nonautistic parents of autistic kids often seem to think they understand what it’s like to have our disability better than we do. But I feel like progress is being made, and most people don’t blanch in horror when I tell them what I’m up to in the neurodiversity movement. On paper, at least, “nothing about us without us” is a concept that has traction, even if people don’t always give PWD the seat at the table we’re promised.

I feel like the opposite is happening in FA; if anything, there’s been backsliding over the last 10 years, and I think I have some idea why. For starters, PWD don’t have all of corporate America driving a giant bulldozer designed to crush us all in the name of ever-increasing profit. There is so much money involved in stigmatizing the fatties that even people who don’t have a cup dipped into their money river are influenced by it. The noise machine never, ever stops. And even most fat people are convinced that they deserve it. I caught some flak a number of years ago when I said fat people were one of the last groups of people who believe almost universally that they’re getting exactly the punishment they deserve, but I still believe it’s true. Sure, people in every stigmatized group have self-esteem and shame issues to deal with, but with fat folks, there’s an extra layer of shame involved, the shame that says my belonging to this group is all my fault, and if I just tried harder, I wouldn’t belong to it. Even though there’s no evidence that more than a handful of people ever do manage to escape it.

But I think there’s something more going on. In practice, I don’t really give much of a crap about Mayor Bloomberg banning sugar-soda servings of more than 16 ounces in restaurants and stadiums; I don’t live in New York any more, don’t really care for most fountain sodas, and drinking a huge cup of the stuff would just turn me into a 100-decibel gasbag anyway. But in theory, I think it sucks, because the framing is that all fatties guzzle sugary soda nonstop and smaller cups will mean smaller asses, QED. In other words, he and his minions never actually bothered talking to fat people to see if we were actually sucking down the Pepsi like mother’s milk in the first place. Talk to us about policies that actually concern us? Why bother, when you can just look at one fat person doing it and extrapolate that we’re all such dingbats that we don’t know how many kazillions of calories that is?

In order for this policy to actually result in lowered weights, several things would have to be established conclusively:

1) Almost all fat people drink lots of sugary drinks.
2) Almost no thin people do.
3) People who do drink more than 16 ounces of sweetened drinks a day would simply stop there if no larger sizes were available; in other words, they wouldn’t instead go for a large milkshake or blended coffee drink (unaffected by the ban), a beer (offered in sizes up to 26 ounces at stadiums), or an extra portion of said drink at full price, or get their soda fix at home where it’s cheaper (since bottled soda from supermarkets is excluded by the ban).
4) People who buy 32- or 64-ounce sweetened drinks always finish every drop all by themselves at a sitting, rather than sharing it with others or saving some for another day (or, gasp, leaving some over).
5) People who are limited to 16 ounces of sugary drinks a day all lose dozens of pounds and keep them off and are “normal weight” forever.

In other words, you have to establish POPPYCOCK. Because none of that is even a little bit true.

Make no mistake, this is ALL about whether fat people can be believed or not. If they actually found us believable, they’d want to talk to us, right? Find out how we actually live, how our bodies actually function and respond to energy intake? It basically comes down to, are we reliable witnesses to our own experiences, or aren’t we? Sadly enough, I believe most people think we’re not. There certainly are plenty of liars out there, of all body types, but whether or not someone is telling the truth should be determined by observed actions, not presumed ones. In other words, believe people when they tell you how they live, unless they give you an undeniable reason not to.

And you know what else? If people do drink that much soda in a day, so what? People do plenty of things that aren’t the healthiest, for themselves or for other people, and sometimes they’re even praised for it. People get oodles of headpats for never missing a day of work even if they’re sick or injured, for sleeping only five or six hours a night, for risking their lives having cosmetic surgery or having deeply tanned skin, for being tyrannical despots to their employees as long as they get results. And I’d way rather someone drink a Double Gulp of Pepsi than get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle (or even ride a bike) in any kind of altered state, or ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Seriously, New York doesn’t have better things to spend money on than the soda police? Like making sure people don’t have to live ten to an apartment to survive? Of course, that would mean they’d have to start listening to and believing poor people, too. And we can’t have that.

A Tale of Two Lifestyles (in One Body)

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Long, long ago, in a galaxy (or, at least, a state) far, far away, I was married. My husband adored fast food — his eating philosophy was summed up by saying, “What I want is to drive up, point to a picture of something, say, ‘I want that,’ and have them hand it to me.” He wasn’t much for cooking, and had a serious aversion to washing dishes and other domestic tasks. (Not that there weren’t some legitimate reasons for all of this, which I’ll get to in a minute.) We were usually flat broke and overdrawn, and I was constantly stressed out and exhausted from working and running around trying to prevent our phone bill and such from being shut off and moving to yet another new apartment, and wasn’t up to doing all the cooking and cleaning night after night — so either we ate fast food, or nuked something, a lot more often than I would have liked. I drank a lot of soda, and ate a lot of stuff from convenience stores, and there was not a whole lot of goody-goody whole-grain organic-veggie goodness in my life at all. I got exercise here and there, but it wasn’t very consistent.

Fast-forward about 10 to 15 years. I’m now divorced and living with a domestic partner, and my life is as stable and healthy as it has ever been. I cook lots, eat lots of fiber and very little packaged or fast food, have discovered a whole slew of nutritious grains since quitting gluten for a year (my intolerance seems to have been of the temporary variety, about which more later), avidly attend farmer’s markets and shop for organics at the fabulous local chain New Seasons, and exercise about twice as much as I did in the old days. And there’s a lot less stress, for many reasons, not least of which is that I understand my own disabilities now and have learned to work with them rather than against them, and my partner actually demands very little of me, readily cleans up after meals and takes on many of the domestic tasks I have always sucked at. My soda and juice consumption has declined drastically also, and I sleep much better.

Now, given all this, would you guess I weighed more when I was married, or more now?

Since you guyz are so smart, you probably would guess what most people would not: I’m fatter now. By a lot. You see, I wasn’t taking Remeron then. Also, I’m getting old. Makes a difference.

Am I healthier now? I don’t know. I certainly feel much better mentally, and my stomach is a much happier place. But I don’t even know if there’s any such thing as “good health,” only the current presence or absence of diagnosis or symptomatology. Clinicians can miss your diagnosis entirely, and disease process can be happening even if you don’t feel or see a thing. Your car is highly likely to do some funny shit when your mileage hits the six-figure mark, and it could happen long before that, no matter how industrious you are about changing the oil and getting tuneups and rotating tires. And if you don’t have the money even to do that sort of basic maintenance, it greatly increases the likelihood of something going kablooey. Bodies are like that, too.

This is why I want to rip out what little is left on my scalp when people try to make health and weight all about choices and behaviors. Sure, I could have made the choice to get divorced sooner rather than later. Heck, I could have made the choice to stay single. It’s easy to say that now that I’m not living in a pit of longing and loneliness for someone, anyone, to love me, like I was before I met my XH. But truthfully, I was kind of a mess when I met him. I was always tired. I never had much energy or focus. I was always depressed and anxious. I was constantly dragging the undiagnosed aspie barge behind me, feeling like all I did was to try to get people to like me and to fit in someplace, and all I did was fail. I had to work my ass off every single minute to try to understand things that nonautistic people picked up by osmosis, and even then I never quite got there. Was all that my fault? I think not. So I don’t think “2012 me” is entitled to lecture “2002 me” from on high, and neither is anyone else.

As for my XH, as blood-curdling as his eating habits no doubt sound to the Fresher, Localer, and More Sustainable than Thou crowd, even this turned out to have some basis in biology. You see, he had undiagnosed disabilities, too, among them fibromyalgia and hereditary hemochromatosis, both of which put him in constant pain and completely drained his energy. If you’re not rich, it can be extremely difficult to get whatever health issues you have properly diagnosed, let alone treated; his HHC was discovered by a fluke by an emergency room doctor who correctly played a hunch when ordering some lab tests. Otherwise, he might be dead from cirrhosis now, despite drinking a lot less alcohol than the average man. How are you supposed to cook when even sitting at a table cutting up veggies wears you out? How are you supposed to sort out your food cravings when your blood is overloaded with iron and nobody tells you?

And not only that, as I discovered on my own food journey, your brain often rejects certain foods that are allegedly “good for you” because of previous bad reactions. IANAD, but my completely unscientific hunch is that the reason I was having all that trouble with wheat was because my gallbladder removal was a shock to my digestive tract; that it persisted many months longer than it should have could easily be chalked up to my Sooooper Sensitive System. (I was tested extensively for celiac and other digestive diseases by both scope and blood, all negative.) I still have problems digesting whole wheat and oats, but I have plenty of sorghum, amaranth, quinoa, and brown rice in me to keep things moving. Raw or undercooked vegetables can still be a problem, as can certain fruits, and cow’s milk is still not a happy food, although I can tolerate very small amounts with some Lactaid now. But I would not have responded well to people telling me this was all in my head, or some other nonsense. The reactions were real.

When people have a bad food encounter, it will put them off that food, or at least that presentation of said food; that may be less likely to happen if they already have a history of liking it, but more bad experiences than good will tip the balance. If a mealy apple, a bruised banana, a bowl of mushy brown rice, or some broccoli that goes down funny is their first (or most recent) encounter with that food, it can be difficult to get them to try it again. And in some cases, maybe if they did try it again, they would still have an unpleasant reaction, because Bodies Are Weird (TM). The point is, it’s not someone else’s call to make, unless they’ve actually been asked for help — and even then, there’s always something about another person you can’t possibly know.

Can You Hate My Condition, and Not Hate Me?

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Recently, former Mets catcher Gary Carter passed away from a malignant brain tumor at the age of 57, and a lot of the commentary I saw on the subject came down to (or sometimes, was actually stated directly) as, “Cancer sucks.” In other words, “Cancer sucks because it took the life of this person, who we really liked.” They didn’t mean “people with cancer suck,” did they? Quite the opposite, because Gary Carter would still have been Gary Carter without his having to experience glioblastoma multiforme, and we’d have gotten to experience a lot more Gary Carter without it. And frankly, glioblastoma multiforme is something I do not want. It is something I do not want anyone I remotely care about ever to have. I don’t even want most people I dislike to ever have to have it. It is a truly monstrous, painful illness that is almost always fatal, with a treatment course that can only be described as pure torture, which must be undertaken for the person who has it to have even the remotest chance of survival.

In other words, it ain’t fat. Or, for that matter, autism.

You see, nobody actually dies of being fat or autistic. Really. Either condition can possibly exacerbate other conditions, but that’s not the same thing as direct cause. And neither of those conditions, in and of themselves, causes anywhere near the difficulty that is caused by people believing the world would be a better place without those of us who have them. Does that mean all our difficulties are socially constructed? Perhaps not. But we won’t actually know what’s socially constructed and what isn’t until people are willing to make room for us.

Landon Bryce recently wrote a powerful piece for the Autcast site called If You Hate Autism, You Hate Autistic People. It got me thinking: where is the line to be drawn on hating that certain conditions exist, versus hating people who have them? As I’ve said before, although I realize that other people who have experienced major depression don’t necessarily feel the way I do, I don’t think my life has been enriched in any way by it. I’d be thrilled to death if you could just snip out the part of my brain that hates me, so that I’d never have to think about it again. That is, if you could do it without leaving an even bigger mess behind. So far, nobody knows how to do that, so I rely on the Evil Brain Drugs of Doom to keep it quiet.

And that’s just it. Regardless of what the condition is that’s being discussed, whether it’s something benign-but-vexing like IBS, or something people are irrationally boogedy-scared of like autism or “obesity,” or something that’s actually potentially life-threatening, like 50-or-higher-Beck-score major depressive disorder, here are the questions I’d want to ask myself about it:

1) Do I feel that this condition is something I’d be well rid of?
2) If the answer to 1) is “yes”:
A) Can I fix it without breaking something else?
i) If the answer to A) is “no” for me personally, regardless of whether someone else with that same condition could do so, what price will I pay for the thing I break?
ii) Is the thing I’m (potentially) breaking less important to me than the thing I’m (potentially) fixing?
B) Am I saying “yes” mostly because it’s actually a drag on my functionality, or mostly because other people disapprove of it?
C) Does my “yes” mean I’m required to go to any possible length to try to fix it, over and over and over again, just so people around me can be more comfortable?
3) If I can’t definitively answer “yes” to 1):
A) If I could fix just the aspects of it that cause me the most functional difficulty, without breaking something else, would I be satisfied with that?
B) What are my limits on what I’ll do to achieve that? (And yes, I’m allowed to have them!)

It seems to me that questions 2 and 3 are not being taken seriously in this world. And I want to do whatever I can do to fix that — without breaking something else, of course.

And if question number 1 returns a definitive “no,” regardless of the condition, then that’s the end of that.

But really, it’s up to the person who has that condition to decide that. If you love and respect me, then let me tell you which is which. If I have something that’s truly imminently life-threatening, it’s certainly understandable to hate this thing that could take me away from you, and I probably won’t be all that happy about it myself. If I have something that causes me hideous pain, I can understand you hating this thing that makes me suffer, and I can’t blame you there either; I am terrible at handling pain. I’m pretty sure Gary Carter, wherever he is, doesn’t mind people saying that cancer sucks, I’ll bet he wasn’t too fond of it, either. But he probably would have a problem with people saying he should have tried every woo-woo treatment in the world to try to get rid of it.

Who Gets To Eat What They Love? (Hint: Not Women)

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Let me make one thing perfectly clear. Dairy-related digestive iss-yews notwithstanding, I absolutely loathe cream cheese. I despise pimentos. Mayonnaise rivals ipecac syrup for me in the anti-emetic department. So suffice it to say that Paula Deen’s recipes, for the most part, do not appeal to me at all. I do make a GF/CF version of her cornbread dressing, though, and it rules. I just swap out Earth Balance for the butter and use gluten-free breadstuffs, and also use mushrooms, onion greens, and chestnuts in lieu of the celery and white onion. Yummers.

But you see, I am fat. Fatter than Paula Deen, even. A lot fatter than her, in fact. I’m never supposed to eat that stuff. Ever. At all. Not even for a holiday treat. I shouldn’t even think about it, lest I incur some sort of phantom pancreatic stressor solely from imagining the taste. Paula and I, and maybe you if you are female and have any visible flesh whatsoever, are supposed to pick at salads full of rubber bands with the merest hint of olive oil and lemon while sipping Diet Coke like good girls, day after day after day, even on our birthdays, because if we don’t, we will be punished. We will not have earned the ultimate Upper-Class Good Girl Prize of getting to live to be 100 years old with no health problems whatsoever, which would have been ours if only we had no hipster-disapproved vices of any kind. (Alcohol, coffee, and marijuana don’t count as vices in Hipster Land, not even in mass quantities.) Uh huh. You betcha. Because thin people in their 60s never, ever get type 2 diabetes. Nope, not ever.

For all anyone knows who doesn’t watch her eat every single meal, Ms. Deen does eat more rubber band salads than chicken-fried steaks. But it doesn’t matter. She might as well eat a pound of batter-fried butter cubes every day and wash it down with a gallon of Pepsi laced with a quart of cherry syrup, because that’s what everyone wants to believe she eats. Only bad, bad people get this bad, bad disease, and if you are a woman and you indulge in high-fat goodies and you’re any heftier than, say, Alison Brie, oh boy are you bad. It’s a notion with about as much basis in science as “step on a crack, break your mother’s back” (or for that matter, “don’t drink or wear miniskirts and you’ll never get raped”), and yet, people fall for it. They want to believe. It never ceases to astonish me how quickly certain hipster atheists (regardless of gender) morph instantly into finger-waggling church ladies the minute food gets mentioned. Drink like a man, fuck like a man, oh fuck yes…but never, ever, ever eat like a man. Unless you’re very, very thin — and even then, you’d better watch that intake, missy. Youthful metabolism doesn’t last forever, you know.

There’s a young chef in Portland by the name of Gabriel Rucker. He founded a couple of fancy-schmancy restaurants here in town that I’ve never been to, that specialize in things like maple ice cream with bacon and foie gras brulee and cauliflower crepes with Mornay sauce. People drool at the very mention of his food. The New York frigging Times can’t get enough of him, and they’re 3000 miles away! You don’t go to one his restaurants expecting diet food; they’d laugh in your face. And nobody ever accuses Gabriel Rucker of leading people down the primrose path to pancreatic destruction. Hasn’t happened once. You see, Gabriel Rucker is a man, and he’s thin. Nobody gives a shit if he eats that kind of stuff for every meal; in fact, nobody would ever think to ask him if he does. (I’m guessing no celebrity chef eats stuff all that fancy for every single meal; the cleanup alone would be a massive headache.) And if he announced he had T2d tomorrow, do you think there’d be the over-the-top outrage we see about Deen? Hah. Oh, and also, Gabriel Rucker cooks mostly for rich people. That probably has more than a little to do with it.

I’m getting to think the most radical statement a woman can possibly make these days is, “I eat what I love, as much as I want, and if anyone doesn’t like how I look because of it, they can sit and spin.” Saying “I enjoy inviting entire football teams in with their pet ocelots for a nightly gang-bang with fire rings and crotchless asbestos suits” will be a total yawn by comparison. Look, I do think there are legitimate moral issues surrounding Deen’s endorsement of a diabetes drug. If you want to argue the ethics of celebrity pharmaceutical endorsements, I can’t really object; all of them make me a little queasy. If you want to argue that non-insulin treatments for diabetes have limited efficacy — hey, we can talk about that too. Interesting and compelling arguments can be made either way. But those are separate issues from whether or not she was obligated to open her medical file and her pantry to the whole world, and put a Webcam on herself every time she sat down to eat, the very second she was diagnosed. She was not. Period.

And you know what? Even if she was, and still is, on the fried-butter-and-cherry-Pepsi diet, and even if her health would have been perfect if she’d been a good girl and eaten like she was told, maybe she’d rather not live to be 100 years old if it means office product salads and aspartame for every goddamn meal. Me, I don’t like the taste of rubber bands any more than I like pimentos. Pass the gluten-free skillet-fried pie, please.

Fat Fat Haters

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Last week, as I’m sure most of you know, Tara Parker-Pope of the New York Times did a piece called “The Fat Trap,” which was both about the virtual impossibility of significant weight loss (at least without literally making it a full-time job) — and in the end, also about Ms. Parker-Pope revealing, for the first time, that she herself is a fat person and deeply ashamed of it, and promising to do better. Like Ragen says here, even though it doesn’t make any sense.

I actually felt bad for TPP reading this story. I mean, here’s a woman with a job ten million other writers would kill for, and her size (estimated by her to be 60-plus pounds “overweight,” though it’s not clear how she defines that) has never interfered with her health in any way — and yet instead of making her date wear his dinner when he makes some snide remark about her body, she’s ashamed of herself instead. That is some fupped-up cultural programming here, folks. Here’s research, right here in your face, saying that almost nobody can do this, and the few who do don’t seem particularly happy about what they have to sacrifice to maintain it…yet you hate yourself for not being able to do it anyway, and will fall out the window with that Superman cape on again and again, hoping for a strong enough breeze? Yeesh.

But this week, TPP published a follow-up to that story, in which she tackles readers’ questions about the original article. And now, actually, I’m kind of pissed. One question reads, in part:

A Slate article on your piece argues that the mentality of these people “resembles the symptoms of an eating disorder.” They suggested that our fat problem is not obesity but that we encourage people to adopt an eating-disorder mentality to fight obesity. How would you respond to this?

To which TPP replies:

I think if a person had epilepsy and needed to adopt a very regimented diet to control that disease, nobody would accuse them of having an eating disorder.

AARGH AARGH AAAAAARGH NO NO NO NO BARF NOOOOOOOOOO.

Okay, now that we’re done with the onomatopoeia portion of our presentation…while I’m just some dumbass fatty who works in healthcare, and hence shouldn’t have to give freebies to a frigging New York Times health writer who probably makes more in a year than I will for the entire rest of my life, let’s talk about ketogenic diets for seizures for a moment, K? To begin with, this is a treatment of last resort for refractory epilepsy, almost always used on children with this condition, rarely adults. Refractory means it has not responded to any other treatment — medications, biofeedback, yoga, therapeutic nose-picking, whatever. (I’ll give those of you unfamiliar with my sense of humor a moment to Google “therapeutic nose-picking” and see if it actually exists.) The reason it’s a treatment of last resort is that you have to be monitored like a hawk by doctors and dietitians in order to go on it, and since it’s basically Atkins cranked up to 13 (with way more fat), eating any food away from home other than brown-bag is pretty much an impossibility.

In other words, this is an experimental treatment for epilepsy. Nobody treats you like a self-destructive lazybutt if you get (or your kid gets) a diagnosis of epilepsy and you don’t immediately start preparing pitchers of bacon fat to drink. Nobody thinks you’re a failure and not trying hard enough if you still have seizures while you’re on it. Nobody calls you a liar and in denial if you’d rather keep trying new meds to see if there’s one that won’t make you forget your own name or require 20 hours of sleep every day. Nobody worth listening to for half a second, anyway. You are allowed not to want to do this, not to want to even consider this, because it is a giant, huge, unremitting pain in the gazongas. (Probably literally; in the deathless words of Buffpuff in the old Shapely Prose comments, “you don’t shit for a week” when you eat like this.)

And not only that, no one is expected to remain on this diet indefinitely. Every couple of years, people who are on it are tapered off — again, under close medical supervision — for a few months’ rest. You know what happens if you’re on a low-carb diet for weight loss and you go off of it for a few months? That’s right, every single pound comes back and brings friends with it. It’s like you never did anything at all, and you’ll be treated as if you haven’t.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting fed up to the teeth with fat people who still think it’s our civic duty to sacrifice every moment of our lives to become as thin as possible, especially if they are media stars with megaphones loud enough to hear on every planet. It’s not about what TPP eats or doesn’t eat, or weighs or doesn’t weigh; I don’t give a rat’s toenail clippings about that. If Gary Taubes or whoever really likes eating super-low-carb, if they feel great doing it, if it’s worth it to them — fine. Taubes has claimed to eat no carbs at all, not even vegetables or fruit, because they make him gain weight. Hey, more cherries for me, then. Let him and the other meat-heads have all the five-pound T-bones they want, even for breakfast.

But how you talk about your diet equates very nicely with how you feel about other fat people. Do you actually expect, or at least hope, that all fat people will follow your example? I’ve rarely met a public dieter who didn’t (killer exception: Debra Sapp-Yarwood), though I’m sure there are a few private dieters who don’t make it a topic of conversation. Do you actually think it’s realistic that none of us will touch another carb of any kind for the rest of our lives? Do you actually think it’s sustainable to keep doing hours of aerobics every single day, forever, no matter how sick or how much in pain we are or what else is going on in our lives? (“Sorry, I know you’re on your deathbed, but I really can’t miss my gym time.”) Do you actually — even secretly, in the very pit of your heart — think people are fools not to give up their friends, their hobbies, anything that could possibly interfere with the job of serious weight loss and lifelong maintenance? Then you are an asshole, and I don’t care what you weigh, you are not on my side.

To be fair, I can’t imagine that Tara Parker-Pope would have her plum media job if she didn’t parrot the party line about weight. Gina Kolata can question it if she wants; she’s thin, nobody thinks she’s just looking for an excuse to shove donut holes up her nose. (Not that I can imagine why anyone who’s not on Atkins thinks that sounds like fun, but whatevs.) That boor of a date of hers, in a way, was making a very salient point: people expect someone with her job to be thin, as if she could just flip a switch and make it happen, just will all those fat cells to disappear if she’s smart enough. I’m actually kind of surprised to find out she’s not thin myself, given some of the things she’s said about weight before.

But that just makes this all the more of a letdown. What’s it going to take for us all to be on our own sides? To say, “I deserve a life too, and I’m not going to devote the time that’s pissing away rapidly on the hourglass to counting every single thing I put in my mouth, and sweating it all off for hours, and bargaining with myself about whether I can have a single bite of something when I’m shaking from hypoglycemia, and drinking enough water before bed so I can fall asleep with my stomach full, and hoping I don’t have to wake up to pee because then I’ll be hungry again”? Maybe that’s “a life” for some people. But it will never, ever be one for me.

Sometimes an Apple is Never a Banana

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

Oh, uh…hai. Yep, I still exist. I just haven’t posted because I’ve been monumentally busy offline with some disability-rights stuff, and I’ve had to work overtime, and also..well, you know how when you haven’t called someone in a very very long time it makes you more hesitant to call them, because…well, where do you start?

But I just read something that made me say, “Okay, start here.” It was a story about a 375-pound prisoner who was granted a reprieve by a judge of one day for every pound lost, and needless to say, GIANT TW on the entire thing, but the gist of it was that the man lost 25 pounds in 20 days, which shocked even the judge, and that situation was just a big rusty nail on which to hang a bunch of fattypanic and diabeeetus catastrophization on. You know, the US TV networks. That’s what they do.

And then there was this:

According to an August 2011 report, if every obese person decreased his or her body mass index by just 1 percent (a loss of 2 pounds for a 200-pound adult), as many as 2.4 million diabetes cases, 1.7 million cases of heart disease and stroke and 127,000 cancer cases could be prevented.

Okay, that’s one of those “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof” situations, is it not? All I have to lose is two measly pounds, and I’ll live forever? Why didn’t they say so? All I have to do is stop taking my stomach medicine and start going doody eight times a day again, and…well, okay, maybe not that. Maybe I could start blowing my nose harder after I sneeze? Yeah, that sounds a lot easier.

Still, I couldn’t help but follow the link back to this alleged study that said any weight loss at all, by any possible means, is the difference between deathly sick and lifetime well. (Warning on more TW, plus video opens automatically at the link.) And then followed another link within that story (same warnings apply). And wouldn’t you know it, it’s just more sub-Wagnerian opera about how we’re “projected” to all be fat and diabetic by the year 2030, using about the same methodology which “projects,” in the deathless words of Paul Campos, “that within a few generations Olympic sprinters will be running at speeds that will hurl them into low Earth orbit and everyone in America will have a plasma TV seventeen miles wide.”

In other words, they don’t actually have any data, it’s just more OMG WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE IF WE DON’T STOP EATING sillyshit, the likes of which I’ve learned how to screen out because I’d rather not have to add an antihypertensive to my already burdensome drug cocktail. But I actually followed yet another link to the CDC page that made these “projections,” and this passage leaped out at me like Alan Arkin in Wait Until Dark:

One in 10 U.S. adults has diabetes now. The prevalence is expected to rise sharply over the next 40 years due to an aging population more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, increases in minority groups that are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, and people with diabetes living longer, according to CDC projections published in the journal Population Health Metrics. Because the study factored in aging, minority populations and lifespan, the projections are higher than previous estimates.

Do you see what I see? People with diabetes are living longer. Yeah, isn’t the whole reason they wave DIABETES DIABETES DIABETES DOOM DOOM DOOM LOSE THE WEIGHT ALL OF IT RIGHT NAO NAO NAO FATASS at us all day, every day, because this is an allegedly deadly disease that will first turn us into people with disabilities (which nobody wants to be, of course, because Disability = Tragedy), and then kill us dead before we can get to our children’s college graduations? What are you saying, that’s not happening anymore? Because it’s being diagnosed and managed earlier and only a small percentage of diabetes patients actually experience major comorbidities before they’re very old, at which point they might actually die of something else first? It’s now more like osteoporosis or hypothyroidism, something old people commonly get but is extremely manageable? Well, gosh, that’s not exactly setting my ass on fire to get down to Jenny Craig right away, is it? Surely ABC can’t have that.

I mean, seriously. Is anyone in the Paid Media, or any of the Upper-Class Twits they interview almost exclusively about these matters, paying attention to what’s going on out there? People are losing their jobs left and right and not getting new ones, like ever. Kids are graduating from college with more debt than they’d have to go into to buy a condo, and they’re not getting jobs that actually use their educations, like ever. Those of us who DO have jobs are being worked to fucking death and having our compensation slashed and basically being treated like sled dogs at Iditarod only less intelligent, and we have no recourse because once we lose those jobs we won’t ever get new ones. Like ever. Think that’s going to fuck up our health some, Upper-Class Twits? And if you really want to decrease the costs of diabetes, how about negotiating drug prices like every other industrialized country, so we don’t have to smuggle our insulin down from Canada if we lose our employee-sponsored health insurance? How about limiting the compensation insurance executives can pull down, so that it’s not in the multi-globillions? The poor babies will just have to settle for the $10,000 bottle of wine they have on hand, instead of dispatching an assistant in the Airbus to go pick up a different bottle from the wine cellar at the Amagansett house and bring it back to Antibes because the one they have doesn’t go spectacularly well with abalone. Awwwwww.

Think about it, though. I’m pretty sure the people who run the US government would love nothing more than if at least half the nonaffluent people in this country would just die already. There aren’t enough jobs to go around and never will be, the social safety net is in tatters, they just don’t know how we’re gonna keep all us useless eaters alive for the next 20 years, diabetes or no diabetes. Our dropping dead would make things infinitely easier for them. So if one more potential death sentence gets eliminated, how are they going to manage that?

Today’s type 2 diabetes is not yesterday’s type 2 diabetes. Not only was yesterday’s diabetes rarely diagnosed before the end stages, when gangrene and retinopathy and such had already set in, but they keep ratcheting the definition down all the time; I’ve even seen some doctors recommend a maximum HbA1c of no more than 5. (Mine is 5.7, and I’ve never had a fasting sugar over 92, ever.) So it’s apples to bananas again. It’s as if they managed to increase the average lifespan of prostate-having persons to age 90, then started yowling because the rate of prostate cancer was skyrocketing. Well, no freaking poopie it is! But did you see the AVERAGE LIFESPAN OF 90 part? Really, folks, we should be so lucky that we’ll all be 85-year-old diabetics one day.

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