posted by meowser
You’ve been up since 5 a.m. You just slogged through 10 hours of work and 2 hours of commuting, then a couple of after-work errands and if anyone even so much as utters the word “exercise” in your presence you swear you’re gonna sit on ’em after you’ve been running around all day, even if most of the “running” has been done in a seated position. But you’ll settle for sitting on the couch and eating that bucket of KFC on your front seat. Chicken, starch, starch, starch, soda, pie, and not a green veggie to be found anywhere. Maybe there’s fruit in the pie tonight, maybe not. But soda, oh, you bet, and not that diet crap either. As much as you want — hey, that chicken is salty, and the gravy on those mashed potatoes just sticks to the roof of your mouth without a couple slugs of Dr. Pepper. You know beer is healthier for you, but come on, it just doesn’t go with KFC.* No cooking, no more responsibilities, just pure vegging out in front of the tube until it’s time for bed. Ahhhhh.
And this is pretty much your daily routine, except that on weekends there’s more driving around for errands and hauling stuff back and forth from the car to the house. The very idea of vegetables makes you want to hurl; after all, your parents “made” you gag down broccoli and peas when you were little even though you hated them, and you swore you’d never touch another green vegetable once you were out of their house and you never have. And while fruit is okay with you, you guess, most of the fresh fruit that’s available where you live really sucks, and honestly, you’d rather have pie. Especially Key Lime. Hey, that has citrus in it, right? Screw all those noseynoses, that’s how you eat, and they can bite their toenails for dessert if they don’t like it.
Are you practicing HAES?
My short answer: Yes, you are.
My longer answer: Nobody would even be ASKING that question if you were thin and doing the exact same thing. Especially if you were a man. Men are allowed to eat guy food and eschew veggies, so why not you?**
Has Meowser totally lost her mind?, you may well ask. I thought Health At Every Size meant you LOVED broccoli! LOVED to exercise! LOVED to do fantastically creative veganish things in your kitchen even after a full day of work! Those KFC eaters who don’t do produce or yoga are BAD! Even if I’m one of them! Right?
No, sorry. I hate to break the news to you, but you too are practicing HAES if this is anything like your daily routine. Why? Because mental health is health too. And you know better than anyone else what you need to do to get through the insanity of a stressful and busy day, week, month, life. Certainly you know better than someone who doesn’t know you at all.
Far be it from me to look down on the donutarians*** among us. Most of you work harder and have far more responsibilities by orders of magnitude than I ever will. Lemme tell you something. I work 35 hours a week and telecommute, don’t have kids, don’t have sick parents or an infirm partner to take care of, and my boyfriend is about as low-maintenance a human being as exists in the world. Not to mention that I am surrounded by blessings like Trader Joe’s and farmer’s markets and even a nice yard to grow veggies in, with the world’s (or at least, America’s) greatest topsoil.
The reason I don’t get all stage 2 smug about it is because it was not always like that for me. I remember the killer commutes, the sick partners, the stressful-to-the-breaking point, dread-going-home living situations, the bosses from hell. And I ate like shit then, relatively speaking. I don’t know of anyone who was working in the places I was working at then who lived anything like a “healthy lifestyle,” whatever the hell that means. Vending machine food? No exercise? Hell, yeah, and I was a health fiend compared to some of my chain-smoking, hard-drinking colleagues, who often expressed amazement that I would snack on things like sugar snap peas at my desk when I got bored with the Snackwells sandwich cookies in the machines.
For all the blather about people with Bad Lifestyle Habits being a drain on society, my best anecdata tells me precisely the opposite is true. It’s the people who work like dogs and don’t get paid squat or get any respect from the yups who have these Bad Lifestyle Habits, for the most part. The ones without whose unpaid and underpaid labor society would fall to pieces, they’re the ones who most need their “vices” to get by. The yups with their cushy jobs where they can come and go as they please and don’t ever have to worry about being written up for a lengthy potty break might not like the idea of the busboy in their favorite bar or their pool cleaner or nail technician having a beer belly, reeking of smoke, and/or covered with donut crumbs, but they’d like it even less if they had to bus their own tables, clean their own pools, and do their own nails.
(C. had a fabulously succinct reaction when I told him once of a certain Big-Ass National Company’s plans to surcharge employees who failed to meet company guidelines for things like weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure: “I assume that policy doesn’t apply to their top executives.” Goddess, but I love him.)
And no, I’m not saying that the veggie and yoga lovers are all a bunch of overvalued snotnoses who have no idea how spoiled they are. I’m not talking about individuals, necessarily, I’m talking about the entire concept of “healthy lifestyle” as we currently understand it being a construct of the upper classes and a function of the greater mobility and greater flexibility they have with their time. You do need a certain amount of privilege to be able to pull it off even if you’re perfectly nice and respectful about others who don’t have the same privilege.
I may be broker than broker than broke, but I too have a certain amount of privilege. I have the privilege of taking a nap and going to the bathroom whenever the hell I feel like it, I have the privilege of taking a beautiful afternoon off and going to the farmer’s market, and nobody’s going to “write me up” for any of it. For that matter, I have the privilege of having the damn farmer’s markets around in the first place with all their fabulous and shockingly affordable locally grown produce. It shouldn’t come as a great surprise to anyone that I actually would rather have fresh fruit for dessert most of the time, especially in the summer when the fruit here just RULES.
But, you might ask, “What if I have that privilege, too, and I’d still rather have the KFC and the pie? What if I’m not overworked, just lazy? Am I practicing HAES too?” Yeah, I say you are. If your body is asking you for that, if it’s what your soul craves at its very core, there’s probably a good reason for it, and you know better than anyone else what you need. If you really have an aversion to vegetables or exercise, for Maude’s sake don’t force yourself to do them. They will not help you. (Please do, next time you have a minute in a bookstore or library, pick up Barry Glassner’s The Gospel of Food and glance at the study on the very first page, a mindblower that suggests that people who eat stuff they don’t like don’t absorb much in the way of essential nutrients from it.)
You’re not getting loaded on crank and driving a semi backwards down the Ventura Freeway, okay? You are not endangering anyone else (no humans, anyway). It’s just a bucket of damn chicken, and it’s perfectly legal. Take your vitamins if deficiencies concern you. (I myself choke down enough B vitamins and C every day to power a frickin’ Navy SEAL unit, although more so for mental function than physical.) If they don’t, fuck it. Seriously.
Look, during the Great Depression people ate bread and gravy every day for a decade because that’s all there was to eat. Many of those people are still alive and kicking today, at 80-plus. There is no magic Healthy Eating Formula that guarantees you’ll live to be 93 and die peacefully in your sleep without ever getting Really Fucking Sick (TM) or even Not Really Fucking Sick But Pretty Fucking Pharmaceutically Dependent Anyway (TM). There is only what makes you feel and function your best right now, and borrowing someone else’s “health” regime is like borrowing their underwear, frankly. Maybe it’ll be a perfect fit, but probably not.
And yeah, you’re allowed to have other priorities besides being Perfectly Healtheee. Many of our greatest artists, musicians, leaders have, for centuries. Why not you?
*Three bottles of microbrew = health equivalent of 6 ounces of soda.
** If you’re a fat guy who actually cares enough to read this, for all intents and purposes you’re a girl, so this applies to you, too.
***If you’ve eaten six Krispy Kremes at a sitting more than once in the last six months, that’s you.