Saturday, October 20, 2007

5 Things You Should Never Say

We've talked about the kind of corporeal self-loathing that's become institutionalized in American culture, especially among women. We've promised to try to love our own bodies. (Right?) Now let's take all that a step further and think about the kinds of things we say to one another about the way we and other people look.

Here's my vote for 5 things you should never, ever say to anyone. No matter how thin or fat s/he is. No matter how much you really want to. Because not one of these comments is helpful, and some are harmful--to you if not to the other person involved.

1. You look great! While there's nothing wrong with a sincere compliment, this is typically not sincere. It's usually code, meaning either You look great, you've lost some weight! or You look great even though you're still fat! Try, instead, something specific, like I love your hair like that. Better yet, skip the comments on other people's appearance and find something more interesting to talk about.

2. I never eat X. Maybe you're a vegetarian who hasn't eaten meat in 20 years. Maybe you're allergic to chocolate. Or maybe you're caught up in the good food/bad food syndrome, where the demon du jour is carbs or fat or whatever. My advice: Keep your food tics to yourself. Better yet, get over them. Learn to love your body and respect the fuel that keeps it going.

3. I guess you got the thin genes! This comment was actually directed to my daughter by a salesperson. I was the one shopping; I'd just come out of the dressing room with an outfit on. My daughter had recently been diagnosed with anorexia and was emaciated and awful looking; she was with me that day because she was too anxious to be home alone. This salesperson managed to insult both of us with one comment. I haven't shopped in that store (which used to be one of my favorites) since.

4. Aren't you worried about your health? Translation: You should damn well be worried about your health, you fatso. Given what we know about the tenuous to nonexistent relationship between weight and health (see Sandy Szwarc's righteous columns, Paul Campos' writings, Gina Kolata's book, and other up-to-date treatments of this subject), this comment is outdated and ineffective. And just plain cruel.

5. I wish I had a little anorexia! Do I need to tell you why this is a stupid, cruel thing to say? I don't think so. You realized that the minute it came out of your mouth.

Now that you've developed your inner editor, here's one thing you can always say: I love you. Repeat as needed.

Friday, October 19, 2007

National Love Your Body Day

In honor of National Love Your Body Day, I want to remind my readers to take the "I Love My Body" pledge.

Then check out the Love Your Body show.

Then do something fun for your body today--take a walk, eat some chocolate, go dancing,sunbathe (well, not if you live in Wisconsin). Be kind to your body and yourself. Doctor Harriet's orders.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Attention chocoholics

According to this study, there are two kinds of people in the world (metabolically speaking): chocolate lovers and those who are (can it be?) indifferent to chocolate's virtues.

The idea behind the study, frankly, smacks a bit of Big Brother:

This study by Swiss and British scientists breaks new ground in a rapidly emerging field that may eventually classify individuals on the basis of their metabolic type, or metabotype, which can ultimately be used to design healthier diets that are customized to an individual's needs.

I'm not sure I want to go there, or anywhere where someone is going to design a "healthier" diet just for me. Been there, done that (Weight Watchers, 1974).

Still, if it included chocolate, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. . . .

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bet you won't see any mainstream news stories about this

And by "this" I'm referring to the results of the biggest clinical trial of healthy eating ever, as reported by Sandy Szwarc over at Junkfood Science. We're talking about part one of the Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial, which posted results like these:

• Healthy eating had no effects on rates of cardiovascular disease.
• Healthy eating had no effects on rates of breast or colorectal cancers.
• Women who followed a "healthy (lower-fat) diet did not wind up thinner.
• Women who didn't "watch what they ate" and ate more fat and calories didn't wind up fatter.

Did you read any news stories about this? Me neither.

Results from Part II are about to come out. I can't wait to not read those, too.

Stick it to Ed (musically)

One of the great pleasures of the NEDA conference for me was meeting Jenni Schaefer, author of the book Life Without Ed. Jenni is a courageous and articulate advocate for all those who have struggled with eating disorders.

And she also happens to be a pretty rockin' songwriter, too! Her new single CD is called, what else, "Life Without Ed," and it's inspiring listening. Have a listen here. It's very cool.

Do your Monday morning best for mental health parity

This just in from the Eating Disorders Coalition:

"Thank you for all your unified effort in supporting the passage of mental health parity! We are close to victory in the House of Representatives— to pass H.R. 1424, the “Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act”. This bill would require health plans to cover eating disorders and has made it out of 2 committees and the subcommittee of Energy and Commerce. The last step in order for the bill to go to the floor for a vote is to get moved out of the Energy & Commerce Full Committee. That mark-up is scheduled for next Tuesday, October 16th. We need your action on this!

If your Representative is a member of that Committee, please call him/her on Monday morning to urge a “YES” vote on the bill, and a “NO” vote on all weakening amendments!"

And here's the list of representatives on that crucial committee. If yours is on there, please give him or her a call. The EDC has even written a suggested script for you to say when you do call: "“I’m calling to ask the Congressman/woman to VOTE FOR H.R. 1424 on Tuesday in the Energy & Commerce Committee, and to VOTE AGAINST all amendments to substitute weaker language. Americans deserve the same mental health parity protections that members of Congress enjoy, for all mental and addictive disorders, not just the ones health plans choose to cover.”

Go forth and help make policy. And parity.


John D. Dingell (MI), Chairman

Ratio: 31-26
Henry A. Waxman, CA Joe Barton, TX, Ranking Member
Edward J. Markey, MA Ralph M. Hall, TX
Rick Boucher, VA J. Dennis Hastert, IL
Edolphus Towns, NY Fred Upton, MI
Frank Pallone, Jr., NJ Cliff Stearns, FL
Bart Gordon, TN Nathan Deal, GA
Bobby L. Rush, IL Ed Whitfield, KY
Anna G. Eshoo, CA Barbara Cubin, WY
Bart Stupak, MI John Shimkus, IL
Eliot L. Engel, NY Heather Wilson, NM
Albert R. Wynn, MD John Shadegg, AZ
Gene Green, TX Charles W. "Chip" Pickering, MS
Diana DeGette, CO, Vice Chair Vito Fossella, NY
Lois Capps, CA Steve Buyer, IN
Mike Doyle, PA George Radanovich, CA
Jane Harman, CA Joseph R. Pitts, PA
Tom Allen, ME Mary Bono, CA
Jan Schakowsky, IL Greg Walden, OR
Hilda L. Solis, CA Lee Terry, NE
Charles A. Gonzalez, TX Mike Ferguson, NJ
Jay Inslee, WA Mike Rogers, MI
Tammy Baldwin, WI Sue Myrick, NC
Mike Ross, AR John Sullivan, OK
Darlene Hooley, OR Tim Murphy, PA
Anthony D. Weiner, NY Michael C. Burgess, TX
Jim Matheson, UT Marsha Blackburn, TN
G. K. Butterfield, NC
Charlie Melancon, LA
John Barrow, GA
Baron P. Hill, IN