Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Feeding Your Family
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared recipes, stories, and advice about food and eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
A year ago, Sam and I gave up grains. In June, I recorded this video blog about our decision and my hesitance to talk about it, and I'm finally sharing it here.
Here's the too long; didn't watch summary for you:
|Whee! I'm not eating grains!|
And I'm still fat and happy!
And obesity. And here's where I get uncomfortable as a blogger and as a still-fat person who's very much concerned with promoting size acceptance and various truths, among them:
- Fat people can be healthy. Thin people can be unhealthy. Weight, in fact, is not a very good predictor at all of health, despite our culture's oh-noes hand-wringing over The Obesity Epidemic™.
- Fat people, even if they are unhealthy, are allowed to be fat. It's no one else's business. No, don't throw arguments about health insurance premiums and blah blah blah. Fat people can eat what they want and look how they want. That's just how it is.
- Being fat is not immoral. I'm shocked I have to state this.
- Diets do not work. Not for something like 97% of people, not long term (as in past a few years, or even less). Let me repeat that: Diets do not work. "Lifestyle changes" do not work. "Everything in moderation" does not work. "Portion control" does not work. Exercising more doesn't work. Fat people stay fat people, overwhelmingly. The data support this conclusion, no matter what anecdotal evidence or hopes and dreams people present as fact. To be brutally clear, diets are worse than ineffective — they make people fatter. After a diet, weight regain is, statistically, higher than before. And yet whenever someone is fat, all anyone can recommend is trying to lose weight.
So here's me, being a fat person, and a realistic person who's read all those studies about how pursuing weight loss is pointless, and yet I also was at a time a year ago where I wanted to be a little less fat. And when I lost about 30 pounds, effortlessly, after giving up grains, I have to admit I was gratified.
Now, since then, no further progress down the scale has been made. I guess my body kind of likes being the plus size it is. (I've been round about my current weight for the past decade or so, barring pregnancies and the postpartum lack of weight loss after Alrik's birth.) But I still believe so strongly in the health benefits of not eating grains that Sam and I are continuing to stick with this eating style (a sort of paleo / primal / low-carb hybrid), and we'd love it if our kids came along, but they are not there yet.
If I talk about my weight loss, then, I do so under the shadow of knowing (a) statistically speaking, and considering my own personal history, it's likely fleeting; (b) it can be triggering for people who struggle with weight issues of their own, because mainstream conversations about weight loss are very black & white with fat = yuck and thin = yum; (c) I'm still considered obese. So some people will think "Good for you!" (but why? I didn't count calories; I'm not hungry; I'm not even exercising right now) and some others will think, "Ugh, lose some more." When, truly, I love myself; I've learned self-acceptance over the past several years, and it's a beautiful thing. And I never want to unload a heap of you-shouldn't-accept-yourself on anyone, inadvertently or not. Weight is a thorny subject, for sure.
My questions in the video are along these lines:
How does a person talk about a way of eating she finds beneficial — and that also, incidentally, led to (some) weight loss — without having the conversation revolve around that? Is it possible to discuss new eating habits without contributing to our culture of fat shaming?
This post and video aren't meant to debate the merits of eating grain-free and light on carbs and sugars (or, as another route, only traditionally grown and prepared grains) — that would have to be a separate post, if I even have it in me. For the moment, I'll refer you to some resources I've found helpful, including those mentioned in the video:
- Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes — I loved this book, though it is really, really dense and long, so be forewarned. I gobbled up all the links to research and came away reeling with shock and anger at the duplicity and sheer and willful ignorance of the scientific community in collusion with the government (or is it the other way around?) to sell us all on the lie that eating low fat (i.e., high carb) is the panacea for all our ills … when really it's the freaking other way around. Grr. Really compelling book with a lot of historical comparisons of people who ate grain-free or grain-light and then switched to grain-heavy and what sorts of illnesses followed. This isn't a "diet" book, but that's one reason I liked it.
- Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, by Gary Taubes — This is the shortened, layman's version of the former book. If you want the same information condensed, reach for this instead! The title and cover are obviously trying to sell copies, but this, too, is not a diet book, per se.
- Refuse to Regain!: 12 Tough Rules to Maintain the Body You've Earned!, by Barbara Berkeley — This is the first book I read on the subject. It's a little odd in that it's aimed at weight-loss maintainers, but it explained succinctly and in an understandable manner the way our body's fat storage system can be overridden by excessive carb intake in people who are prone to that.
- The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet, by Robb Wolf — I read several paleo and low-carb diet books, and most of them turned me off or had noticeable flaws, but I really enjoyed this one. Robb's sense of humor is engaging, the facts are laid out clearly and in simple language, and there's not the overriding tone of "lose weight to be acceptable" you often get in diet books.
- "Why Grains Are Unhealthy" at Mark's Daily Apple
- "The Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar & Type 2 Diabetes (and you’ll understand it)" at Mark's Daily Apple
- "How Grains Are Killing You Slowly" at Wellness Mama — an outline of some of the evidence
- What Causes Weight Gain? What I Believe Today at Refuse to Regain — an imbalance in the body's fuel storage system
- "The Paleo Diet Works" at RobbWolf.com — an overview of what the paleo diet is exactly
Articles about being fat and paleo
- "Dear America, get over your fat phobia." at Paleo Parents — Stacy lost over 100 pounds and has kept it off for 3 years eating a paleo diet — and she still gets smack talk from people telling her she's not worthy of representing paleo. Enough already. Related from Paleo Parents:
- "Paleo Women are Phat" at Ancestralize Me! — a reasonable justification for why some paleo women do not get "lean and mean"
- Mark's Daily Apple — inspirational and informational
- Paleo Parents — if you want some camaraderie from a paleo family
- The Paleo Mom — same!
- Refuse to Regain — Barbara Berkeley's blog on weight-loss maintaining, with helpful articles on the science and efficacy of primarian eating (her term)
- RobbWolf.com — a lot of testimonials and success stories, if you believe in such things…
- Everyday Paleo — recipes, podcasts, and more
- Wellness Mama — general healthy, natural, green family living from a primal perspective
- "These are the Fat FAQs" at Love Live Grow — soak in this Q&A, and read the (heavily) linked research if you question the conclusions
- "21 Things to Stop Saying Unless You Hate Fat People" at Love Live Grow — good reminders, all. I just love the way Issa spells things out! Poke around on her site for more goodies.
- "Diets don't work, but…" at Shapely Prose — on the myths we tell ourselves to ignore the salient fact staring us in the face: "Diets do not lead to permanent weight loss for the vast majority of people."
- "Minnesota Starvation Experiment" at Wikipedia — diet (as in, restricting calories) = starvation; your body does not know the difference. Watch what happens.
- "Proposed" at Shakesville — "I would like to put forth the radical notion that, if a fat person is fat by choice, it's okay."
- "Calories In/Calories Out? Science Says No" at Dances With Fat — debunking the law of thermodynamics as it would (not) apply to people's bodies
- "When does it stop becoming a paradox?" at Junkfood Science — part of a fascinating series on "obesity paradoxes" in which being overweight is shown to be protective rather than the reverse
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon November 12 with all the carnival links.)
- Nut Free Desserts for the Holidays — Becky at Crafty Garden Mama will be talking about navigating the holidays with peanut allergies in the family.
- Making Peace with My Picky Eater — Once upon a time, there was a boy who would try anything. And then he turned 3. Thus began the dinner chronicles at Dionna at Code Name: Mama's house.
- Foodie Morphed by Motherhood — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis reflects on the changes of her family's food culture since becoming a mother, and shares a snapshot of their current food rhythm.
- Introducing First Foods — Wondering what your little one should take a bite of first? That Mama Gretchen explains baby-led weaning/baby self-feeding and answers a number of questions that may come to mind!
- Feeding Your Family — Coconut Oil!!! — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama is a coconut oil devotee. In this post, she shares her favorite ways to include coconut oil in her family's diet as well as why she feels it is important to do so.
- We Thank the Earth for its Food! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle spends hours in the kitchen each day trying to make medicine in the form of food.
- Focusing on Healthy, Gluten-Free Foods for My Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares what her family is doing to eat healthily along with her recipe for gluten-free peanut butter oat bran muffins.
- Intolerance — sustainablemum laments the misunderstanding surrounding food intolerances.
- Don't Let Food Sensitivities Ruin Your Holidays! — Rachel, the Titus 2 Homemaker, talks about ways to enjoy the holidays even if you wrestle with food sensitivities.
- Losing grains, keeping empathy: Paleo and fat acceptance — Lauren at Hobo Mama vlogs about her family's decision to cut grains to improve health — and hopes she can retain her position as a proponent of size acceptance even as she loses weight.
- Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness.
- Extended Family Dinners — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about sharing family dinners with housemates and why it works for her.
- Five Suggestions for Eating Healthy During the Holidays — No need to feel powerless when it comes to our highly sugared/processed food culture during the holidays &emdash; Andrea at It Takes Time offers tips to stay on track.
- How to feed your family — no food required! — Jessica at JessicaCary.com is kind of obsessed with food. But, lately she's realized there's more to nourishment than what she cooks up in the kitchen.
- Food as family medicine: living gluten-free and beyond — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama sticks to her gluten-free guns but sees room for improvement in her pursuit of a real-food family table.
- Feeding My Family — Challenges and Growth — Susan at Together Walking shares what has been most challenging about feeding her two kids and how she has grown in the kitchen since becoming a mother.
- How I Lost 75 Lbs — What I Eat & My Top 5 Tips — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how she and her family became healthy, happy and active.
- The Weight of Motherhood — Revolution Momma at Raising a Revolution rethinks her relationship with food after struggling with post-pregnancy weight gain.
- Geek Food: Pumpkin Pasties — While Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy and family might have food sensitivities, their geekery knows no limits. So, when faced with a desire to recreate Pumpkin Pasties from Harry Potter, they do not shy away!
- Pumpkin Harvest Muffins — This summer Mama is Inspired and family grew pumpkins, and this autumn they are baking scrumptious, healthy muffins out of those pumpkins.
- Reintroducing Meat to the Vegetarian Tummy — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares some of the considerations she explored before transitioning from a vegetarian diet to reintroducing meat as a protein source and a few tips on making it an easy one.
- Thanksgiving Meal, Thankful? — Jorje of Momma Jorje has never felt terribly thankful for Thanksgiving itself. Perhaps that could change if she's a little more invested?
- 5 Ways to Use Healing Bone Broth — It's that time of year again, when unpleasant little bugs make their way into our homes. For Megan of The Boho Mama, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, homemade stock or bone broth is a natural remedy.