When you refuse to play the game. OR, why people hate that I don’t eat donuts.

tah-dah pose

Hi! Beautiful donut-hating fatty here. Spoiling all your stereotypes!

I don’t eat donuts.  And some people just HATE that.

Here’s the thing.  I’m a huge fatty.  Morbidly obese by BMI standards.  I hate donuts.

Because of these facts, people really seem to resent me when donuts are brought into the office at work.  Why? Because I don’t like to play along with the game of “Hey, as long as the FATTY has a donut, it clears my conscience for ME to have one (or more)”.

Why don’t I eat something that everyone KNOWS fatties can’t seem to resist?  Well, quite aside from my many years of working summers and evenings at a local Polish bakery and seeing how the things were made; which is quite enough to turn you off of eating them all on its own; it’s because I KNOW that donuts end up making me feel awful.  In fewer than 20 minutes after eating a donut I KNOW it will feel like there is a lead bullet lodged in my digestion.   Unless I am CERTAIN that I am willing to put up with the pain and suffering that eating even those cute little donut “holes” will unerringly cause; I just. don’t. eat them.  End of story.

It isn’t a moral virtue that I somehow manage to “hold back” some ravenous desire to devour the world’s donuts.  I don’t like how they make me feel.  I’ve stopped the roller-coaster train that is weight-loss dieting and so I’ve finally come to terms with this fact: donuts make me feel not-my-best.  They aren’t worth it to me anymore.  In truth, there are quite a few things I no longer eat because the seductive allure of their inherently “sinful” nature has been completely removed in the years since I stopped dieting, making them once again plain old amoral food choices that I choose to avoid due to the way they affect my body’s system.

However, because of this insane world in which we live and its insistence upon diet-talk bonding behaviors; people don’t LIKE when I don’t follow the social rules and join the group-think, declaring myself “so Baaaaad!” and eating the Forbidden Sugar Fruit along with the rest of the hungry hordes.

Listen.  It ISN’T some kind of “Oooo look at me!  I’m so VIRTUOUS!  I’ve got all this WILLPOWER to stay away from those rings of deliciously naughty goodness.”  I’m not trying to get people to ask me how it is I can remain so pure and avoid this world-wide love for the magical donut (or cake, as the case may be, in Catherine Tate’s amusing bit about such diet-bonding behavior).  I just don’t like the little buggers enough for me to want to pay-up, 20 minutes later, via an unhappily clenching stomach and painful waves of indigestion.  It isn’t worth it to me anymore.

And yet, because I won’t lather into a frenzy over the idea that “Someone brought in… donuts!  They’re in the KITCHEN!  You should hurry before there aren’t any LEFT!” I get the distinct and almost hostile feeling that I’m not “doing it right” and therefore denying others their own ability to feel a bond-in-food with everyone over how decadent and naughty we’re all being.

Meanwhile, I just don’t know how I can be more assertive than to assure folks that “No, thanks I don’t want a donut.  I’m sure.  Yes, I’m really sure.  Those things are, I’m sure, very delicious but they make me feel like shit.  Yes, I’m sure I won’t have one. No, not even if YOU have one.   Honestly, I don’t care if you want one!  Eat it!!!!”  Seriously folks, do you need the fatty to join you in your perceived food-sinning in order to feel like it is okay?  As if only if you are eating less than (or as much as?) the largest woman in the room can you feel alright about your food choices???  Is this culture REALLY that bizarre with its food hang-ups?!?!?

I want to ask you: what sort of foods do you avoid eating that get you looked at with disbelief? Do you HATE the crunch of carrots and get raised eyebrows when you avoid them because they are the perfect “diet food” (or were, at any rate, before sugar-fears made them a “naughty diet food”)?  Do you despise the way that cream cheese frosting feels in your mouth and get gasps of surprise when you don’t agree to partake in the wonders of a thus-frosted piece of cake?

Yet, how often does anyone actually respond to such gasps, groans, joking and amazement with the simple, “You know, my choice to eat this, or not, should not affect your ability to enjoy it!  Go on and eat it, happily!”?  I know I don’t think of saying that.  But I’m thinking that I will begin to do so.

I am sick of feeling like somehow my lack of desire in joining folks in their merry Donut-Sin-Party somehow diminishes everyone else’s fun and food enjoyment. I don’t play that game anymore. And maybe saying that simple phrase above could help encourage others to realize that it ISN’T about what is on someone else’s plate or making sure that you’re keeping just a bit less on there than the fatty; it’s about enjoying what you’ve CHOSEN to happily eat from your own plate. Even if that choice happens to be NOT the donut that everyone else is coo-ing over!


Quickly: Fresh tomatos rock my breakfasting world

Fresh tomato sitting in my hand

Fresh, red, ripe!

Well I do have a fun post almost ready for “Thursday Cooking Adventures” but it will go up later today since I forgot to upload my pictures last night.  So instead I will offer up a brief note of praise for the awesomeness of a warm, fresh red tomato sliced onto some crispy-crusted bread (olive oil and rosemary from Shaw’s), with mayo and some seasoned salt and pepper.  What an awesome breakfast!  That, combined with chunks of watermelon from the huge melon-beast that my husband so gleefully attacked a few days ago, made for a very happy April D this morning.

What is your favorite way to start off your work mornings?  Do you skip breakfast in lieu of a cup of some caffeinated pleasure? Does a full meal of some non-traditional breakfast foods need to be your start-up process? What gets your mental motor running each day?

An evening feast Chez April D

Veggie-filled Pasta creation

So many tasty colors!

This past weekend I finally got around to taking some good photos of what I’ve been making with all of our CSA veggies.  This here photo is of the delectable pasta dish I made first.  Bearing in mind that the creation-theory behind it’s development is very much reminiscent of college-life cookery (that is; anything in the fridge can be combined with some pasta sauce and had over pasta); I was still pleasantly satisfied with the results.

One other note of caution as I am about to launch into a daring photographically enhanced tale of recipe creation here: neither Adam nor I knew what Arugula looked like.  We tasted each of the items in the box we received but that one scraggly veggie was a bit bitter so we figured it was something to cook and not eat raw.  So there’s some arugula lettuce in my pasta.  Whatever.  Still tasted good 😉

So, without further ado; the closest thing to a “look how I eat” post you’re likely to ever get from me.

First you start with some CSA Veggies:

First week of CSA veggies

Copious Crispy Deliciousness!

These are the veggies (and fruits) that came in our first batch of weekly goodies.  From left to right, all laid out on my counter, you will see:

  • a bunch of arugula (yeah, didn’t know what this was, only that it was pretty gross to us in it’s raw state)
  • one lovely zucchini
  • a head of tasty lettuce
  • red beets
  • a big bunch of kale (behind the beets)
  • a bag of fresh baby spinach (hiding next to the kitchen aid)
  • a pint of strawberries

The strawberries were the first to go.  Adam D could barely wait for me to wash them up!

Adam D about to lick the strawberries

I'm gonna eat 'cho!

So, next we get all the ingredients ready:

Aside from the veggies we got for the week I wanted to add some onion, garlic and (not pictured here) a can of mushrooms.  So I added those to some kale, arugula, beet greens and that lovely zucchini.

veggies on cutting board

Get ready to go under the knife my pretties!

Next, I clear off the cutting board and chop/dice the garlic cloves and the one onion.  I don’t like huge honkin’ pieces of onion, even when cooked, so I tend to dice things pretty small.

chopped garlic and onions

But I DO like a big honkin' knife...

Prepping the pan:

Next I dropped a drizzle of what has quickly become my most favorite oil ever: Wok oil!  It has a bit of ginger and a bit of garlic-y zing.  Smells wonderful but it also gets hot very quickly so you want to make sure you’re ready to add stuff to the pan pretty soon after adding the oil.

oiled up pan

Lovin' me some Wok Oil

So now you add in those chopped up garlic and onion pieces and get them translucent and delicious smelling.  Add a bit of salt:

chopped onion and garlic in pan

Stir it up!

Add in the mushrooms and a touch/sprinkle more of that crunchy kosher salt.

mushrooms in the pan

Love fresh 'shrooms but canned are always there and cheap.

Now here’s where we start adding some awesomely vibrant color to the pan with that bright green zucchini:

adding zuchinni to the pan

Look at that delicious green shine!

and then the chopped beet greens:

red beets in the pan

Look at the bright red! Like a tasty pan of Christmas!

Next I added the bit which would be optional; the ground hamburger.  Once all those bright veggies have had a minute or two to saute I push them all to the sides of the pan to free up the center for the meat.  Or, if you’re not trying to save on dishes for your poor dish-washing hubby; you could put the veggies into a bowl and do the meat all alone.

now add the beef

Oh! THERE'S the beef...

As you can see I put another liberal sprinkle of kosher salt on there to get the meaty flavor out there.  Once the meat is browned up well I stir it into all the veggies that were resting on the sides (or if they were in a bowl; add those babies back in).  Next we put in the remaining greens.  Some of the leafier bits of the beet greens, the chopped arugula and the chopped up kale:

add the greenery

So there's not much arugula in there at least!

Now if I had had any tomatoes on hand this next step would have me adding four or five of those all diced up.  Instead I had a handy can of four cheese tomato sauce and used that to get a nice red sauce:

adding in the tomato sauce

Getting the "red" in red sauce

Once all of that is well mixed it looks amazing and smells incredible:

sauce all mixed up

I can SMELL the flavor!

The last step is getting that tasty and incredibly meaty (in both actual meat and hearty veggies) sauce onto the pasta of your choice; adding some parm or other cheese if desired (Adam D does NOT desire; so no cheese on his):

plated meal

Plate it up folks!

That night we choose to finish it all off with a few slices of store-bought rosemary & garlic bread and salads made with: the CSA lettuce, beet greens, black olives, croutons and some feta (for me); iceberg lettuce and beet greens (for Adam D):

greens in bowls

A bit of Italian dressing kicked these salads off marvelously!

So there you have it.  One evening’s dinner Chez D.  Home of two folks learning about some very New To Us veggies and enjoying the journey.

We’re still thinking the arugula tasted better in the sauce than it would have in our salads though!

Call out for Recipes: Beets!

Fresh Beets photo courtesy of Flickr User: FotdawgWell I just got a note that our CSA will be starting a week early!  I’m very excited at the thought of fresh strawberries, arugula and spinach which will be a part of this first installment.  However, I have no idea what to do with the coming beets.  The only thing I’ve ever used beets for is making horseradish for Easter.

So this is a call-out for any of you lovely folks who cook with such “bizarre” ingredients as fresh beets to lay it on me: what’s the best way to eat them?

Feel free to pipe up if you’ve tried them and hate them but really I’m hoping for at least a few tried and loved recipes to be able to test since I’ll have these guys.  Here’s to branching out my culinary horizons!

So, just who am I trying to impress anyway?

So here’s the thing.  I have a follow-up appointment next Monday with my Gastroenterologist.  For the past couple of weeks, and certainly since the reminder call yesterday, I’ve been doing that oh-so-fun thing in my mind where I try to walk through all the possible scenarios which could come up during the usually stressful time with a doctor (or nurse practitioner in this case); as though doing this has ever really prepared me to do more than freeze like a deer in headlights anyways when the actual discussions occur.  And I can FEEL myself getting stressed.  I envision scenarios of everything from tense discussions, polite chats, dramatic sessions of wailing and gnashing teeth… everything possible.

Mostly I remain filled with trepidation because this doctor (again, NP), with whom I had previously had the best of visits and consults, showed a very skewed understanding of nutrition the last time I visited when I asked her about my having (not really) gained 50 pounds over a year.  I have since called her office, as suggested in comments to my previous post, to let them know (and to update my charts) that I did NOT gain such weight.  In fact I am wearing today clothing which I was wearing MORE than a year ago.  I know the medications she has me on does list “nightmares” as a side-effect.  Thus far all I’ve gotten have been utterly bizarre dreams, no nightmares, but I can perhaps chalk up that “I’ve gained 50 pounds!” thought to such mind-muddling effects.

Where am I going with this ramble?  Basically I’ve also been having conversations in my head and rationalizing, discussing, batting back opposition, etc, all regarding what I anticipate or rather, what I worriedly fear, will be the discussion at hand when I arrive for this follow-up appointment:


Impressive, most impressive. But you are not a "Skinny" yet...

Nurse Practitioner Who Thinks Half an English Muffin is a Large Breakfast: Well I see you’ve Not Lost/Gained More weight since our last visit.  Why do you think this is?

Me: Buh… well I’m actually fitting into all of my clothing since before last year so I feel, especially considering the vast improvements in my digestion-ary health since I’ve started this regime of medication and increased fiber, that I am doing very well.

NP: You have Not Lost/Gained More weight.  What are you eating?  Are you exercising enough?

Annnd this is where my mind spirals off into the various ways to respond; the strongest of which being something like:

Me: Why is it necessarily something I’ve “Done Wrong”? I swim for an hour on Tues/Thurs, and do an hour plus of bellydancing on Fridays!  I’m a “Good Fatty”!  Well, I mean I’ve missed a month of swimming with Spring finals and these Homebuyer Education classes the hubby and I have been taking the last two weeks.  But I’ve “Been Good”…. though not that you’ll believe me anyways so what’s the point in trying….

And yet every time my mind tries to foster this defensive diatribe to the NP of my inner-monologuing discussions; I get to this point in my rant and find myself thinking, “Wait, what the hell?  I’ve been blogging about Fat Acceptance for like 2 years now.  I’ve been finding peace with my body and my habits, knowing that a huge part of Health is MENTAL health and yet I STILL find myself falling into these trope-filled mental traps of trying to excuse away my “condition of fatness” as emphatically NOT a result of poor habits, but simply a happenstance.”  What the hell April D? What has happened to all these months (even years) of working on accepting that size is NOT a reflection of Morality? Where did all of your “I don’t have to apologize or justify my body to ANYONE” fervor go?

After reading the most recent set of very thoughtful and empowering posts lately regarding the downfalls of such Good/Bad Fatty dichotomies, I am even more ashamed at the way my mind keeps turning over “justifications” for my body.  Fuck that.  As I’ve written before, there is no set of Health Behaviors that ANY person should have to stumble through in order to earn the right to live in this world. From my own posting “mouth”:

Because no matter how hard you may push yourself to prove you’re not One of THOSE Fatties; you’ll be told you’re a liar or, at best, be seen as Still a Work in Progress.

Even more importantly though is this thought: No one has to prove they are Doing Everything Right Yet Failing in order to deserve the exact same respect as others who Do follow proscribed dictates of Healthy Living (whether you take that to mean Diets to Lose Weight or HAES or anything in between).

I think my huge fear is that I am going to be judged based on perceptions of what common knowledge dictates to be the Results of Behaviors. I don’t need to lie to my dentist to make her think I’m somehow flossing every day in order to somehow improve her opinion of me because she already Knows by Looking that I’ve been neglecting the habit. I didn’t need to inflate the hours I spent practicing trumpet to my music teacher, he Knew by Listening that I had been neglecting the habit.  Yet, when it comes to the doctors and having that same sort of scenario play out I can feel the injustice of it all; knowing that even though I DO maintain those habits; I will still be Known by Looking; that I will be judged as a Result, and not trusted to know and thereby describe my actual habits.

Because of this thought and fear, I’ve been trying to fit in more swimming these past two weeks, trying to squeeze 30 minutes in between working and then racing home to grab Adam D and head off to those Tues/Thurs home buyer classes.  It feels frantic.  And it feels somehow obligatory.  Which makes it feel like work and no longer fun.  And that is totally NOT what I wanted when I first started and fell in love with the swimming and dancing activities.  They aren’t supposed to be drudgery taken on like mandatory gerbil-wheel hours at the gym; done for the sake of Being Healthy.  They are supposed to be my Fun Times, which make me feel good.  Yet at the same time, as Monday approaches, I still find myself anticipating that cold judgment of “well obviously you’re not Doing Enough to maintain Health (and by Health we mean Thinness)” and I’m getting this twitchy need to Defend Myself against such imagined accusations*.  But so freaking what??  I shouldn’t be HAVING these thoughts that I must INCREASE my swimming, do more, burn more, sweat more, make my body less than it is, in order to… what exactly?  Impress my doctor that I’m Doing Things Right??  She isn’t going to believe me anyways since I’m very Obviously Fat and therefore a Liar.

This is the rambling place my jumbled mind has been lately.  Sifting through my thoughts regarding the un-merits of trying to even FIT myself into a Good/Bad paradigm which only serves to perpetuate the idea that Fat needs to be justified and is only Acceptable if it is fought against constantly.  Trying NOT to fear that this NP who really, aside from responding to concerns that I myself brought up last time, hasn’t BEEN derogatory towards me in any way.  I’m trying to fit all of these ideas into my belief that even if I never took a swim, never could afford or find the desire to belly dance, ate nothing but those stereotypical “naughty realm” foodstuffs it STILL isn’t anyone’s business but my own.  I need to re-affirm that when someone is considering making comments on or judging a body they need to ask one simple question: “Hmm, is it MY body?”  If the answer is “No, it is not.” then you do NOT get to comment or judge.  Simple, right?  No one owns anyone else actions done simply to Impress Them Much.

Basically, I need to wrap my brain one more around the knowledge that I am not on this Earth to Impress You.  I am my own person, and I will be whoever I damn well please, in whatever damn sized body I have, with whatever level of Healthy Habits I choose to have or not have, without a need to justify my life or habits to anyone, so deal with it.  I am about Body Acceptance.  And I think it is time I took a moment here again to remember that this starts first and foremost with my own; and then moves on to everyone else’s; no matter the habits maintained or not.  By mentally whipping myself into such a panic over the amount of swimming I am or am not getting in anticipation of having to defend my health’s honor in front of my NP on Monday, I am doing all bodies a disservice because I am implying that somehow I can only deserve this body if I’ve taken all the prerequisite steps laid out before me to change it.  And that, my friends, is the very bullshit that I started this blog to pry apart and scatter to the four winds.

As Snarky’s Machine very recently posted:

Marginalized groups must work to resist the tendency to devalue or bristle over any member whose actions might be viewed as “making the rest of us look bad”. The work to end all forms of oppression does not involve policing group members to ensure they are “on message”.

I do no one any favors if I go in Monday and try to illuminate all the ways that I don’t make fatties look bad.  I do not need to somehow prove or impress upon my NP that I am “on message” or “fighting the good fight”.  After all, that’s not what I’ve been about for over 2 years and there is certainly no reason for me to fall back into those traps at this point.  Thanks for the chance to… suss that out via a very long-winded blog post!

*I wonder if they would even take place if I refused being weighed at all.  I mean very obviously they didn’t NEED my weight since they hadn’t measured it at my very first visit.  Is it difficult to raise a stink and not be weighed??

On hating foods

Well I just finished a great belly dance recital this Sunday but since I don’t have pictures ready to share yet I’ll hold off on raving about that (aside from saying here that it was awesome!).  What I wanted to touch on was the intriguing topic of Hated Foods.  I came across a list of 10 supposedly* “Most unloved foods“.

While I found myself nodding along with a few of the choices of foods that are not appealing, at least to me, I also found it curious that the text dissecting each of these items mentioned over and over that they really were good and should just be given a chance!  After all, gourmands love them!  People far more in the know than YOU dear reader have tasted liver, brussels sprouts, lima beans, hard-boiled eggs and LOVED them so obviously if you don’t like them you just Haven’t Had Them Right. And they have so many nutrients/they’re good for you!  Or something to that effect.  Perhaps the wording in that fluffy blog piece isn’t quite so harsh as that but I think the tone did dig this up for me; this idea that if you don’t like eating something (particularly if, heaven forbid, it happens to be a socially accepted “Good Food” like a vegetable); then inevitably you will encounter groups of people in a huff for your “choice” of not liking what is, to them, obviously a delicious delicacy.

Now I’m not knocking the idea of trying foods you’re ambivalent about if someone spouts off a favorite recipe, if you feel like doing that.  Heck even if you happen to hate brussels sprouts and someone raves about how they are fabulous cooked in loads of butter and spices or something and you’re intrigued enough to try those bitter little bastards yet again; have at it.  But I don’t think ANYONE should ever feel obligated to humoring the zealous food likes of other people in order to somehow prove that you are, indeed, capable of knowing what your own personal taste buds do not find appealing.  Because you know what?  Your tastes are unique, individual, suited to you and you alone.  Sure, many of us may overlap on things we enjoy eating but there is no universally enjoyed food in the world.  Not everyone loves chocolate (my brother can’t stand it).  Pizza isn’t a god-send to every palate.  Romaine lettuce with a smattering of black olives, crumbled feta and Italian dressing isn’t a mouth-wateringly delicious venture across the globe.  Not even gourmands all agree on what makes the absolutely BEST dish.  Not everyone will like, love or even hate the same exact ranges of foods.  We are all different and that is what makes cooking (for me at least) such a fun challenge!  This is, of course, the same thing that makes feeding a family potentially the same (though less fun) challenge.

My rambling point though is that food is not a universal experience.  Personal fooding preferences, cultured through years or decades of food experiences, will never prove to be exactly the same between any two individuals.  I may have decided that I really do NOT like Brussels sprouts.  I know my own body.  I’ve tasted the little blighters.  And if you have that PERFECT RECIPE for making them fantabulous to your own palate then great for you!  Enjoy them!  I don’t care to try them again and you shouldn’t feel it as some sort of personal slight that I don’t wish to try.  I simply know my own likes and dislikes and you know, sometimes you know when to walk away from a food you don’t like.  You are allowed to do that.  Walk away.  Turn aside the offers to prepare for you the Wonderous Version of your hated foods.  Decline that thousandth offer to listen to someone extol the virtues of that hated food and just WHY you should love those Brussels sprouts or that dark chocolate. Yes, even if it is considered to be Really Nutritious and Good For You. Because it is YOUR BODY.  YOUR LIFE.  You choose.  Even on something that should be so simple and yet gets policed so heartily by those around us who Just Want the Best for Us.  But you have the right to hate certain foods.  Really, you do.

It is a privilege, to be sure, to have the luxury of doing something with the knowledge of your food likes/dislikes though and I fully acknowledge it.  It is no good to sit here saying “Yeah, go ahead and hate on those lima beans” if indeed those are the item you’re able to get in bulk in any given week during the grocery week and have to spend your meals choking down those saw-dusty little buggers just to get in some greenery.  I’ve spent many a year growing up and doing just that.  But this issue of access and ability to express your dislike for any particular foods by choosing not to buy/eat them is perhaps a topic for another post.  Feel free to poke at it in comments though where I also ask you to feel free to share those foods you personally simply can’t STAND.  Me?  I will be a happy April if I never again have to experience: Brussels sprouts, lima beans, sweet and sour chicken, foie gras.  But I LOVE getting my taste buds wrapped around that above mentioned crispy romaine salad, pizza with a thin crispy crust and extra cheese, hard boiled eggs, and dark chocolate.

*The testing methods for coming up with these 10 are not listed anywhere.