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"Normal" Eating

Friday, November 02, 2012

Maybe I am entirely insane, or maybe I'm on the right track. I'm not sure. I read this when someone was offering advice to another. I really hesitate to quote it and put it back out there, or comment on it. I resist that even just in my private thoughts, because I try to be accepting and respectful of others' processes and discoveries. But that is what I did. Please do not tear this person apart, it's not about that, it's more about exploring facts than the person.

"make dieting a habit. it's not something you're gonna take up for only 6 months, it's a new way of eating. you can never go back to eating what a normal person would eat, because sadly, we chubby people work differently. we store fat too easily. if all a person needs to eat each day is let's say a bowl of spaghetti and 100g yogurt, you're gonna have to eat the spaghetti and only half the yoghurt, so that you can maintain your weight. "

My tumble of thoughts that came after reading this include:

1. If I "go back" to eating what I did before SparkPeople, it may be the norm for mainly unhealthy people, but it is *NOT* normal.

2. I am not on a diet. I definitely changed the way I eat. I changed my diet/nutrition, but I'm not dieting.

3. Back to parsing the word"normal"... I've looked around at what my "normal size" (lifetime of not obese) friends eat, and it doesn't look like what I called normal, either. And when or if they did overindulge, that doesn't mean that it is the norm for their every day life. ...So I'll very happily never go back to eating the way I thought was normal, thanks.

4. Expectations are important. The power of our minds to categorize things is overwhelming. I have a whole blog brewing in the back of my head about defining one's self and how that compares to how others see us and the influence it has on our behavior. It's the "that's not like you" blog. I need to remember to write it down before I forget it.

5. Maybe she was short on time, but that is a really poor example of foods she chose. Let's chalk it up to her being a teenager.

6. I just re-read the entire passage, and wasn't so caught up in the sting of the "chubby", or the worry of misguided advice. There are a couple of valuable concepts in there. It's the bread sandwiched around the part I had taken issue with.

a.) "make dieting a habit. it's not something you're gonna take up for only 6 months, it's a new way of eating."

-Fabulous, we've all been repeating this.

b.) "you can never go back to eating what a normal person would eat"

-See # 1, 2, 3 above. And 4.

c.) "because sadly, we chubby people work differently."

-For me this immediately makes me defensive, probably because inside I feel like I'm being called names, as I was tormented on the playground as a child. For the person who was asking for help and ALREADY feeling like a hopeless, fat failure I don't see how this part would help.

d.) "we store fat too easily."

-Back to expectations. I am not flawed. I'm pretty sure that my body works the way it was supposed to, even if it naturally stores more fat than my sister's body. In the absence of disorders, I believe it's more important to find what is healthy and nutritious to eat than buy into some crap notion that our bodies don't work right because it can't process junk that is called "food" nowadays. When facing Diabetes or other disorders, I still believe that we need to find the balance of nutrients (and maybe medication) that make things work the way they ought to for a full and healthy life.

3.) " if all a person needs to eat each day is let's say a bowl of spaghetti and 100g yogurt, you're gonna have to eat the spaghetti and only half the yoghurt, so that you can maintain your weight. "

-Forget that she's talking about 400 calories for the whole day. I don't think her point was to be accurate, but it's hard for me to read this and not think about that... so.... let's imagine it says "If 2,000 calories is all a person needs to eat each day to maintain their weight at their current activity level, we have to eat even less in order to maintain it."

The jury is still out for me on that assertion. I know there's that study that's been in articles about some kind of metabolic equilibrium after weight loss, and I'm sure that my friends over on "At Goal & Maintaining" group would know way more about this than my simplified thoughts and instincts, but I think it's much more complicated than that. First of all, my activity level waxes and wanes. I'd need to constantly adjust at maintenance just to account for that. And if it's so very specific to what I'm doing month to month, how can you compare two completely different people!?

Eek, I'm late for getting ready for work. I need to jump off my soapbox now. :\
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great blog!

    I'm having a difficult time in maintenance. My body is fighting me tooth and nail to regain the weight it has lost. It wants to return to its obese set point weight. Which will always be higher than an average person who has never been overweight.
    2015 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/19/2012 9:10:17 AM
    I love the way you articulate these important concepts! "Normal" is definitely a key word and what constitutes a "normal diet" that is healthy for our bodies vs. what a typical diet today looks like can be vastly different.

    I think the one of the takeaways from this is that we are all different, and we need to learn (often through much trial and error!) what works for us individually - not only to get our bodies to a healthy weight, but to have healthy, satisfying, full LIVES.

    Great blog and discussion!
    2027 days ago
    This is a great post !
    Although I still have a bit of weight to lose. I am preparing myself for the next phase.
    This is such a great insight.
    Thanks for sharing.
    2027 days ago
    Great thoughts as usual Joce!

    I do think that those of us (myself included) who have spent a good deal of our lives obese have caused our bodies to operate differently. There is some research beginning to shed light on this:


    However, that being said we are all so very different from each other! There just isn't any "one size fits all" approach...although there are some very useful common denominators to keep in mind as the wise Rock Stars of Maintenance have so graciously shared on the At Goal & Maintenance SparkTeam!

    Each of us are on our own personal journey toward building a healthy and well lifestyle that *works* for ourselves!

    2028 days ago
    I concur!
    I love it when you are on your soapbox cuz you have gud brainz.
    2030 days ago
    These days, I call what I do/eat/believe "maintenance" even though, let's face it, I need to lose another (yes) 75. So be it.

    I think it's kind of "the new normal". The idea of changing for good is, I think, the most important part of this. I have had PLENTY of people asking me - "so, when are ya gonna be done?" And they mean done with watching my food. And I have to break it to them - when I'm being stuck in a hole in the ground, folks. I think that is a huge concept that a lot of people just plain do not get.

    I also kinda like her idea of "that's how our () bodies work." Because we are different. There are, hate to say it, going to be people who can wolf down a pizza every other day, and they are fine. As we get older, their ranks are thinned - they either die of cholesterol-related ailments or they start eating better or all that crap food catches up to them and, surprise, surprise, they end up having to eat like you and me in order to at least run in place.

    The way it was said was not so nice, but the bottom line is, the statement is about our differences. I can be envious of Carol (to throw a name out there - from the nuns) and her size and her habits and all, or I can remember - we are different people. For one thing, I've started out at a far heavier place than she did. Hence our mileage will vary.

    Oops, I've blogged on your blog, but I think the point's been made?
    2030 days ago
  • KITT52
    I do believe we are all different, and I know I gain weight easy, and so do most people who have yo-yo'd most of there lives....
    I am one of the chubby people... I am fine with that....as I use to be one of the morbid obese people....I'll never be skinny and I'm okay with that too....
    but I am healthy and that makes this chubby women very happy......
    2031 days ago
    I know my portions are way too big even when I am eating a plate of vegetables. and I know I pretty much eat my way through the evening. If I could conquer those habits, my weight would drop just fine. It isn't all that complicated to me. I have come to have food be my comforter. It is always available 24/7. I run to it at the slightest negative feeling inside me.

    I will have to fight to change my ways if I want to lose a significant amount of weight. I have done that for years at a time in my life. At age 65, I hope I can do it again. Chris
    2031 days ago
    I appreciate your interest in protecting the author. The written word leaves lot open to interpretation. I too take issue with the "we store fat too easily." I take responsibility for my choices. That's what got me here, not a flawed design.
    2031 days ago
    You are totally right...

    I guess the person who wrote this has many things to learn about his/herself during the journey to be who he/she wants to be. Being "normal" has so many layers for most of us and the definition of "normal" depends on the person/situation/period of time etc.

    I don't know who this person is, but he/she definitely needs support and guidance. Thankfully, SparkPeople is all about these!

    emoticon emoticon
    2032 days ago
    Hang in there.... we're all in this together!
    2032 days ago
    Reality is that our bodies do work a bit differently than the average person. If the the REAL situation is that we have something affecting our bodies weight management functions through diabetes, heart issues, chronic illness, endocrine system problems, or whatever, then as rational adults, if we can adjust our lifestyle to affect that equation. We adjust and take action.

    Ignoring, being offended, or pretending that the facts don't exist won't solve the real situation. For years, I resented that I had to work harder than other people and it paralyzed me from taking action. If we hide or lie to ourselves about the the real situation, then we will get to have our "normal" fat bodies back AND live with all of the negative health conditions that come with a heavy body.

    I am fighting to live in reality. I will take whatever actions needed to turn the real situation toward achievement of my goals. It takes much more effort and attention to the plan than an average person. But that is what is necessary given the situation and I GET to reap the healthy results.
    2032 days ago
    I agree with you. And to be honest, what is normal eating? If I've learned anything about studying nutrition (and I've learned a TON!!) it's the nutrition is a very personal, individual thing. What works for some, won't work for others, what one person likes, another person hates, and what's "normal" for one person, isn't "normal" for another. Each person knows what is best for them... I'd say the only other person who knows would be a registered dietitian, someone who has studied and fully understands how nutrients work in the body and work with a client to ensure they do, too.
    2032 days ago
    I get burned up inside when I hear or see people commenting on how "fat people" eat and move. First of all, I live with a genetically skinny man. He can eat circles around me and the majority of it comes from sugar. He's almost 60 and hasn't fluctuated more than 15 pounds his entire life.

    We eat the same meals, he eats 1 and a half to two times the amount I do. He gets the carbs, I stick to protein and veggies. He has his coffee with a quarter cup of sugar in each cup. He drinks gallons of gatorade and sodas a day. He eats entire packages of cookies each day.

    I have thin women friends who I see snarfing down cake and cookies, slurping up mac and cheese and generally eating pretty "normal" for our society. They just look at me like I'm doing pennance with my salads and protein.

    I have a feeling it's not that we don't get fat because we overeat, it's that to support the fat on our bodies, OUR BODIES tell us to overeat. The chicken and egg syndrome. Gary Taubes explains it well. Something in our metabolism switched to stocking away fat and then our bodies responded by compelling us to eat more and move less to keep that safety net of fat.

    You can't tell me that all these "normal" people I see day in and out don't eat the junk food, workout hours a day like we are led to believe. The ones who do watch their diet somewhat and might walk a bit or do a few workouts at the gym. How many do you know who have never had to fight obesity count every single flipping calorie? Every day???

    We are too hard on ourselves because we have such a low opinion of ourselves and view our habits as slovenly. We just eat more calories than the "normal weight" do. We move less because it's harder to move overweight bodies. It takes hard work, incredibly hard work, to reverse this. No on who has fought a major weight loss truly understands.

    Those that have only had to lose 15-25 pounds have no idea the committment it takes to drop 100+ pounds. They have no clue the frustrations of being obese of any variety. It's easy to pass judgement the other way when all you have to do is control your intake and work out a lot for a few months. When you have months and years of this kind of deprivation (and it is, no matter how you paint it), it's at times a nightmare of historic proportions.

    Learning to live at the "normal" weight mean you can never let your guard down ever again. You will have to constantly keep focused on your weight and maintaining. At some point in time you hope the changes will be automatic.

    I hate to be so depressing but it's reality, not sugar coated walk in the park. We love the motivational stories and all, but we also know how easy it is to go right back to where we were with no effort. I wish there was a cut and dried way to be successful. There isn't. Losing the weight, by comparison, is easier than keeping it off.

    And finally, everyone on the planet does do emotional eating, celebratory eating, mad eating, happy eating. We're human!!!!!!!!!!! Show me the average person out there that doesn't do this and I'll show you a former dieter who is placarding their overcoming the sinful flesh like a martyr. Get real about things.

    It's about moderation in all things. You might binge over a breakup or a fight, or a sudden life change. You do it for a meal, a day..not a week or month. You move on. You aim to eat healthy 90% of the time or 75% of the time and be happy you are. You move your body every day beyond normal routines and enjoy your life, no matter what size you are.

    We are more than our scales, we are more than our fat percentage, we are valuable human beings who defy being catagorized by labels.
    2032 days ago
  • DAVIS_6311
    emoticon emoticon
    2032 days ago
  • THOMS1
    emoticon Liked your blog. emoticon
    2032 days ago
    In my experience, so many of these definitive pronouncements about how any one MUST eat, come from people who either have lost about 10% of the weight they want to, or are at the bottom of healthy BMI, trying to lose more.
    Normal eating, hmmm, normal for whom? Actually, I went back to normal eating if by that you mean the portion sizes and kinds of food I ate when I was a healthy weight teen and adult. Sounds like from the other points, that is not what she means at all. She means you will always have to suffer by eating on a tiny portion of what you really need to be satisfied. I think not. Who wants to live with the attitude: I am always starving, I never eat anything I want, I have managed to alienate my friends and family but by God I am thin! If that were the reality of maintaining weight loss, I would rather be obese.
    Not sure about chubby people being different. My husband has been chubby since age 4 when he had his activity restricted by an injury for over a year. He lost weight in Navy boot camp but was constantly sick. So maybe someone who has been heavy a long time, can't get quite as thin as someone who has never been heavy. Even so, he has lost 30 pounds since we married and 5 more pounds in the last month.
    2032 days ago
  • MARTY728
    I love the blog! emoticon

    I am making a lifestyle change!

    emoticon emoticon
    2032 days ago
    2032 days ago
    Wow, Joce I love your point that what we were eating before wasn't "normal", if it had been then we wouldn't be obese. I think with exercise and healthy eating we can change our bodies to be more efficient, further disproving those fallacies about overweight people.

    For me the biggest issue that I will face for the rest of my life will not be how much fat I store or having to eat less than the average person, but keeping food as nutrition and not using it to fill other needs in my life. I don't think our life long battle is a merely a physical difference than average people but our mental state has to be constantly kept in check.

    Thanks for sharing this!
    2032 days ago
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