attack_laurel (attack_laurel) wrote,

It is definitely not nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of low-fat, sugar-free food, Hamlet.

I am a package and tins user when it comes to cooking, I admit it. One of the main reasons is that we're usually busy and/or not hungry at the same time (that would be me - I have days when I don't want to eat dinner), and so fresh food tends to go bad if I'm not careful. So, most of our veggies are frozen (very few veggies survive the commercial canning process well enough to be used in anything but soup), and a lot of our protein comes in cans. I also use lots of mixes, primarily because when I'm working gluten-free, it's easier to start with a mix and experiment.

Oh, okay. I like working from packages. I'm a heathen. But I make a mean pasta sauce from a bottled sauce base.

Which is all to say that yesterday I made one of my occasional trips to Whole Foods (known in our house as "Holy God, did you see those prices?!"), to stock up on some GF stuff I know they have, and to help me get back on the mostly GF diet that has served me well in the past, but fell badly by the wayside during the whole Lyrica fiasco (when those really gooey doughnuts and pastries became utterly irresistible, likewise pizza of all kinds, but especially cheese-stuffed crust). Their GF bread selection is pitiful, though, so I need to go to my local (and much better for the economy) Roots Market(Clarksville, MD - awesome, awesome local health food and organic store, but a bit more out of my way than the Silver Spring Whole Foods).

(Got enough parends there, Laura? Clearly not.)


Sorry, I can't help myself - I write like I talk. This is why, if there is a joke or a funny story to be told, I let Bob tell it, because I either forget or get wrong the salient parts, and add in way too many asides. Anyway, back to food.

Whole Foods had a lovely boneless lamb roast, and not madly expensive, so I got that, some red-skinned new potatoes, and some redcurrant jelly to make a nice dinner this Saturday while we're at the farm, since it's been months since we had some sort of special anniversary dinner, and we have a number of things to celebrate (why confine the festivities to just one anniversary, is my philosophy), and we're within a month or so of the SCA event where we both discovered we liked each other, so lamb with redcurrant jelly gravy it is.

I also got some really big artichokes - and this was actually the starting point of my rambling. I love artichokes; they're play food of the highest order, they're simple as blazes to cook (boil until the stem end is soft, and the bottom leaves pull away easily), and if you get good ones, they're really tasty (get firm, tightly closed globes; once they're loose and open, they're too fibrous to be good). I think the best ones I ever got in my life came from Ukrops, but the ones I got yesterday were pretty good, with meaty leaves, a nice taste, and a firm, large heart. When I was a kid, we'd get artichokes every now and then, and we dipped the leaves in melted butter - but Bob introduced me to Hollandaise sauce.

Oh, hollandaise - oh, oh, oh, you delicious, creamy angel, you. I can make hollandaise from scratch (I can also make cheese sauce, bearnaise, and a fabulous mayonnaise from scratch), but the eggs have to be really really fresh, so I admit it, I keep packages of hollandaise mix in the house. The best brand I've found is Knorr's, which includes wheat starch, so it's not the best, but my GF intolerance is actually pretty tolerant of small amounts of gluten, so I don't worry about a sauce I use maybe once every three months or so.

Hollandaise from a package isn't quite as good as the real thing, but as long as you ignore their "low-fat" suggestions, you can make it taste pretty awesome. I use a small can of evaporated milk, with just enough water added to bring it to one cup (very rich - do not drink this unless you like drinking half and half), and for God's sake, use real butter and not margarine, which will give you a very odd undertaste. This makes a very rich sauce, but as long as you're not eating it every day, it's really not a big deal.

Besides - artichokes have lots of fiber, so it all balances out.

Shhhh - don't wreck my fantasy.

Honestly, after going through more than a year of eating diet stuff from packages when I was on Jenny Craig (even though it was over ten years ago, I am still scarred by the memory of their three bean salad), I am of the opinion that if you won't give yourself the good stuff ever, you're much more likely to binge - the serotonin rush from the flavour of hollandaise (especially homemade, but even packaged if it's made properly) is an essential part of one's well-being.

I honestly think that people binge eat because they're seeking that natural high that really delicious well made food gives. This is why dreadful things like fat-free cupcakes (ugh, why bother?) are eaten by the package (and actually sometimes marketed as "you can eat the whole package!", even though a load more sugar is added to make up for the rubbery taste, and they're not any lower in calories - I'm telling you, those people are eeeeeeeeevil). One cupcake, two, or even the whole box/plate can't give a person the rush that just one really good properly baked and frosted cupcake produces, so people eat more and more, as their brains and bodies are subconsciously waiting for that feeling that never comes when you eat (alien, altered beyond recognition) cardboard food.

Couple this lack of joy with the pushed idea that you ARE NEVER ALLOWED TO EAT ANYTHING FATTENING AGAIN, EVER, (the premise of most "lifestyle changes" that are really just disguised low-fat diet plans) (no cupcakes for you!), and I think binges are inevitable. One could hardly expect anything else - the need to be satisfied is so much more complex than simply a full stomach. Refusing to acknowledge the complexity of appetite and reducing it to "eat our diet food!" keeps diet companies in business, but they're not in it to help us, they're in it to make themselves money (and they do make it, hand over fist). Consider this - if we all actually could successfully lose weight, they'd be out of business, and there's a lot of money to be made off fat people shamed and morally reviled by society. If people actually admitted how complex the weight question really was, they'd pitch those diet-mongers out on their ears, and start actually looking at the issue instead of fat-shaming.

If you restrict satisfaction and make it "forbidden" (i.e., morally reprehensible, incorporating the ridiculous idea that appetite control is magically linked to goodness), then when you "fall off the wagon" (or, more truthfully, when your brain and body can't take the abuse any more), you're guaranteed to binge, because the setup of diets is that this is the one time you'll get to eat everything you want. Dieting is put forward as never eating anything high-calorie ever again - especially now, with the aforementioned "lifestyle changes" being the big new thing in the diet industry - and the mechanics of bingeing are such that you won't even taste most of the food you eat. Food restriction, therefore, hits you from two directions at once; you deprive your brain of the serotonin that makes you happy, and you don't actually get real satisfaction from eating when you finally snap and can't take steamed broccoli and despair any longer, because you're stuffing the food in like it's going to be snatched out of your hands if you can't eat it all fast enough.

(This is actually a tactic suggested by fat-shamers. Take the food away from those greedy, greedy pigs! Shame them, humiliate them, tell them that if they were good people, they'd be thin by now! To be honest, when I was faced with that, I binged like there was no tomorrow.)

Seems counterproductive to me.

Even gluten free things need to be delicious to eat; I'll skip the things that don't give me palate satisfaction. "Eat to live" is not enough for me - I want food to be as much pleasure as anything else, since life is too short to eat bad food (and fuck you, Puritans and Victorians - you're responsible for a lot of social ills in this country, and you should be ashamed). In fact, the best diet advice I ever got was fom someone who is naturally very thin - never dieted in her life: Eat only what tastes wonderful to you, and stop as soon as you can't taste it fully any more. The mechanics of this are as such - most people accept a level of blandness in their food, because they think of food as something to stop you being hungry, and nothing more (in our fat-phobic culture, is anyone surprised by that?); indeed, if you dare admit that you love food, the self-appointed Food Police will try and make you feel that you're committing a terrible trangression against moral standards. Ironically, when you refuse to accept anything less than delicious, you'll not only be a lot more careful about what you eat, you'll actually stop eating sooner, because your serotonin will be triggered more quickly, and you'll feel fuller (and so much happier!).

This doesn't mean you are required to mainline Twinkies - that's the tactic of the food shamers, who claim (falsely) that practicing anything but a severely restricted diet will result in people eating like out of control vacuum cleaners (scare tactics to keep people on useless diets) - but if you don't say to yourself "I am never allowed to eat Twinkies, because they are just fat and sugar, and they are bad for me", you'll find yourself a lot more likely to eat one, instead of a box of six. Permission to eat creates a safe space for exploring your appetite - space that is not available in a diet obsessed society that actually puts a moral value on different foods (the sheer effrontery at people thinking they can police what other people eat makes me insane, and assigning a higher moral value to salad is such a stupid idea, I don't even know where to begin).  

Initially what happens with permission to eat is yes, people overeat. This happens for a very short time, and for a number of reasons, not least that people at first don't quite believe that they aren't going to have that right to eat anything taken away from them, so they'd better eat it all now (this is the binge mentality at work - and is a direct effect of the tactics of the diet industry). As they start to feel more confident that food won't be taken away, this urge relaxes, and normal patterned eating starts to happen. There's also the speed factor - as a nation, we eat too fast to actually tell when we're full, and because of that, we also have no idea of how much food we need to be satisfied.  This is not the same as keeping rigid portion sizes - everyone is different, and the one-size-fits-all nature of portion control plays right back into the idea of restricted eating, which we're trying to get away from.

Most people simply don't know the difference between full and satisfied - two very different things, that portion control and restricted eating refuse to acknowledge (and leads to bingeing, since the need to be satisfied is very strong, but the diet industry and its supporters have cast it as a Bad Guy, thereby setting dieters up to fail). Personally, I found that seeking satisfaction instead of fullness made a real difference in my eating habits, and it slowly changed my attitude to food*. I still struggle with body image, but I refuse to eat things that don't taste good just because someone has said they're "good for you!". In other words, I like spinach, but sometimes I want an artichoke with hollandaise dipping sauce, and making that perfectly normal desire into a moral failing is crazy. It's food, not a felony.

Or I could just be a shill for Fat Satan. Your choice.

Mmmmm, hollandaise. With butter.

Mmmmmm, butter.

*As always, YMMV (for instance, I do best with a fairly high amount of sugar in my diet, and I'm happiest when that sugar doesn't come from corn (cane sugar FTW), but my diet would be very bad for pre-and diabetic people). Bodies are remarkably individual in their needs, and what works for one person has no guarantee of working for someone else. As long as you're healthy, nothing else matters, including dress size, BMI, or weight.**

**Note: Starvation dieting is not healthy.***

***Nor is yo-yo dieting.
Tags: cooking, cupcakes, diet, food, humour, rant
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