Mah-Belleh should from now be the fun name I give to My Belly. That beautiful place where the foods I eat are processed and turned into the nutrients my body needs to run. But what is IN Mah-Belleh lately? I’ve gotten many trollish comments to the effect lately that if I merely COUNTED what I put into my mouth (and thereby my beautiful large belly); then I would *poof* no longer be Fat! (Huh, wow. Count Calories?? No one has EVER in the history of EVAH mentioned that this might lead to some impermanent weight loss. And I haven’t actually DONE exactly that for over 20 of my almost 29 years of life only to watch it fail over and over…)
But, seriously? I don’t care WHAT size you are, or to what arbitrarily chosen Goal Weight you hope to get. Counting Calories? Is Freaking Boring. Do you know someone who counts calories? ARE you someone counting calories? Do you find yourself reciting lists to yourself or anyone around you who hasn’t already run screaming from your endless vocal litanies of what you already have and therefore still can Eat in any given day? How many “points” or “grams” or “calories” you have left in the day: has this ever been your defining Mantra, the numbers (along with that scale weight) by which you measure every moment of every day of your life?? It was mine for a long. Long. LOOOONG time. (Yet “huh” still Fat….)
Put in another twist of verbiage, have you ever known a person who is Counting Calories who WASN’T ready at a moment’s notice to inform you of every calorie in your own lunch, their lunch and the next 5 meals they hope to fit into the week?? Did you ever know, or have you ever been, a person trying to lose weight via Counting Calories who did NOT become completely and totally OB-freaking-SESSED with what/when/where the next meal was going to be? (And how many calories it would have?) It is crazy-making!! Both for yourself/the dieter and those forced to listen.
Understand please that the above mini-rant about Calorie Counting does not in any way mean I’m open to suggestions about how “No really, it isn’t about the Calories; it’s really all about the Grams of Carbs, Number of Fruits, Ounces of Protein, Portions of Omega-3, etc that make you Fat!” I am happy to let you live your own little Counting life if you so desire. Count it up. If you feel that knowing how many ounces of fiber, adjusted for the number of carbs and Calories, will lead you to the path of Thin Privilege; then by all means who am I to pop your bubble? But honestly, I’ve BEEN done those paths (MANY of them, MANY times). They do not lead to permanent Thin-i-tude for this here woman. NO, not even when I did it all “Right” and kept at it, DESPITE plateauing or re-gaining weight (all while still dutifully counting and REDUCING intake/INCREASING activity levels). So you can take your “Duh, knowing what goes in your mouth/belly will Make You Thin(ner)!!” trope somewhere else; I have NO interest in hearing it/debating it. There IS no debate as far as I’m concerned. You’re granted, by means of being a thinking human being, the right to choose what is right for you when it comes to deciding if you want to “Diet” or not and neither choice makes you a “Bad Person”. But please remember that I am also granted this SAME right; not a right moderated by a need to fit into a socially accepted size/shape/level of beauty or youth first; but an inherent RIGHT.
As to the intent of this post, I wanted to let you know what IS in Mah-Belleh now. Since I’ve been tested/treated for what boils down to that ambiguously labelled “IBS” I have had to work on tweaking my own personal food intake in interesting experimental ways; trying to find that Perfect Combination which will keep my stomach happy with me. It has and likely will continue to be an interesting food journey to find out WHAT makes my stomach rebel and what makes it purr like the happy nutrition-engine it should be. Because you see it isn’t as easy as we’d all wish it would be to cast aside years (or decades) of dieting mentality and say “Eat what you want! Your body will tell you what it likes/wants/needs! Tah-dah!” Yeah. Except after 20-some years of crushing my own body’s mental spirit, I don’t think IT even knew anymore how to tell me what to give it!
Cravings-cues mixed up with “No, don’t eat that, it will really upset the stomach!” all the time for me (and sometimes still do, thought it is much better). Moving away from structured diets of “You eat this now. No, not that. Yes. Even if it makes you nauseous/crampy/have to race to the bathroom with Dire Distress pushing against your abdomen…” has meant that I had/have a LOT of experimenting to go through. Because knowing intellectually that certain foods must be more caustic to your system than others is a wide-world of different from actually testing and Finding OUT what those items actually ARE. And trust me…the testing really does suck. There is nothing quite like trying to make it through a normal work day, only to find out that having orange juice for breakfast or eating a donut brought in by co-workers has COMPLETELY wreaked your digestion…sending you to the bathroom over and over with an overall icky feeling and pointedly distressed set of bowels. Ugg. Sometimes all I can think as I squirm through a painful day of “Yeah, can’t eat THAT again” is: Intuitive Eating BLOWS! But then there are beautiful days as well; when I forget for up a HOURS that I usually am acutely aware of just how far away the nearest bathroom might be “just in case” and things just go smoothly. Those days I can’t help but think: I NEVER felt this good on ANY of the various Diets I was on. Intuitive Eating ROCKS!
The important reflection for me here is that this testing of my own has in general really been paying off. I have learned of many items that I am far better off avoiding if I really don’t want to spend the day in digestion-agony (and likely the next 2-3 days as my systems struggles to re-set itself). I’ve learned that eating anything processed into a sugary pastry/confection and sold in a grocery store contains fillers/additives or just STUFF that makes me feel awful. So, in a way that was never as easy when I tried to avoid it because a diet said I “Shouldn’t”: I just don’t eat it. Simple. My body can’t process it without me feeling ill; so I just find myself lacking any desire to eat it. If I do get a craving for a donut (kitten-loving baby-flavoured of course!) I have to mentally and seriously weigh if that urge is going to mean I am willing to sit through the following hours/days of physical torment for the momentary pleasure. Usually I’m not up for the trade off. And yet sometimes I still am and I deal with my choices (because, remember, they are MY choices, not YOURS or someone else’s to make).
And, for those about to think that of course I’ve just been learning about “Bad Foods” that my body rejects (which “of course” means I must be Fat because I’ve done nothing in life but eat these “naughty” items, and in excess); think again. I’ve also learned that things like simple tomatoes send me for a whirl. Love them…but have to deal with bodily discomfort any time I eat them (if I decide they are worth it!)
It has been a really tough thing, learning to Listen to my body and finding out if we even can speak the same language anymore after spending so long with my fingers in my ears, drowning out its pitiful cries for attention. Perhaps my body, as I built a Dieting Tower in homage to Thinness, striving to reach it at any means available, had been on the path to its own Babel situation; if I hadn’t stopped to pay attention, maybe I was going to lose all ability to speak with/understand my own body at all even if I did finally decide I wanted to. Yet I’ve been lucky. I’ve been learning. I’m STILL learning…and likely will be for a long time, perhaps forever, as I try new foods, new activities and listen to find out how my own body responds.
So, today I have some honeydew melon and deliciously buttered fruity English Muffins in Mah-Belleh. And have had a pleasant start to the day with now bodily distress. Lunch will hold some baked chicken breast and rice pilaf filled with broccoli. I have some sharp cheddar, a bit of chocolate pudding, and a clementine as snacks if desired. Dinner is as yet undetermined since I’m heading to see a friend’s performance in an Improv show in New Hampshire.
In testing my own body’s responses to food stimuli I’ve been adjusting to what it can and can-not deal with. Some of those results mesh with what anyone will tell you should be part (or not) of a Healthy Diet. Some do NOT. We are all unique as human individuals. Each of our bodies process things differently. My Perfect Foods will not likely match entirely with your OWN learned definitions of Perfect (remember that saying “One Size does not Fit All? It applies to food as well: One Menu does not Fit All). That is part of what makes this entire process both incredibly frustrating and profoundly fascinating at the same time.
The important part for me is that Mah-Belleh and I are again on speaking terms. We still have arguments, but I could see us becoming large (heh) friends in the future as we work together to find out what does and doesn’t work for US. And in the end, that’s what matters most. Doing so has lead to weight stabilization but, best of all, a far more symbiotic understanding about what best allows for my body to function and still satisfies my hunger.
So I ask YOU: What’s in YOUR-Belleh? Are you on speaking terms? Or are you both turned away, back to back, hands stuffed in your ears, ignoring each other in the hopes that doing-so will lead to society-approved body thinness? The choice remains yours however, no matter how you choose to communicate (or not) with your own personal Belleh.