For such an image conscious society, Americans really can't handle the concept of healthy dieting. Apparently, eating healthy is something that really skinny people (yours truly) can't engage in healthfully. This makes no sense of course; healthy eating should be everyone's domain no matter your natural size. With school resuming, I am once again under extreme scrutiny when it comes to what I do and do not eat. As many of you know, I've been dealing with outlandish accusations of eating disorders for all my life. I'm not going to launch into a defensive diatribe; just suffice it to say that I really don't have a disorder and know my body pretty well. Call it my personal homeostasis.
When I'm home, all is well. I buy my groceries for the week, prepare my meals, and eat them in relative privacy. My roommate has a host of health problems too, so neither of us accidentally tempt each other with junk food. Then I go to work and am surrounded by a staff and students who have real issues with the way I'm eating. Why is she eating so healthy? Is she on a diet to lose weight? This is all the more difficult when very nice people want to share their desserts or candy (Halloween...ugh). When I say no over and over again, I get puzzled looks and probably some suspicions that I'm on a deprivation diet. Sometimes folks even get borderline angry when I absolutely refuse to eat their junk. One coworker of mine actually screamed at me "What's wrong with you? Live a little for crying out loud." He then literally tried to force me to eat potato chips.
So, what to do? I don't like to talk about my health problems at work (being "blind girl" is really just something I'd rather avoid) and especially among folks who probably think my real health problem is anorexia or bulimia. I just eat my meal and go; I don't make snarky comments about their nasty-processed-barely-200-calories-Lean-Cuisine (at least not to their faces...only in the cowardly safety of my blog). These days, I often hide in my classroom; it's really not worth the aggravation and if I keel over dead from food deprivation one day, then "I told you so" will be in order. I also think it's really sad that our society has such a skewed perception of "living healthy"--as if living healthy is only for folks who are currently struggling with weight issues. This makes no sense to me. Even thin people need to live healthily--it's a dangerous myth to believe that skinny people can unload junk into their systems. Case in point: myself. These last few months have taught me that my diet really can have positive/pernicious effects on my health.
On that note, here are some healthy and sugar-free preoccupations for you:
1) Sugar, my sweet enemy, has been on my brain. I discovered a fascinating and informative blog about one person's quest to cut out refined sugar. The blog has helped me stay current on the sugar industry's insidious public relations efforts. I've also picked up some great habits, like using agave as my primary sweetener. Check it out: www.myyearwithout.blogspot.com
2) Remember my obsession over ice cream? Well, I've found a great compromise: Larry and Luna's line of vegan, soy-free, and sugar-free ice cream! It's delicious and creamy and oh-so-good. I love the chocolate coconut and am on the hunt for the cherry flavor. At 5-6 bucks a pop, they are pricey but at least I feel guilt-free about digging in. Warning: there are other brands that offer very similar products, but I know from experience that L&L is the real McCoy.
3) I love Banana Whip. Have you had it? It's a staple at the Jersey Shore; someone had the brilliant idea to take ripe frozen bananas and push them through a Champion Juicer. The result is a frozen, whipped, gooey banana goodness that rivals the richness of ice cream. Nothing is added! Incredible. Apparently, bananas contain a compound that allows it to become glutinous upon whipping. I was able to replicate Banana Whip without a $200 Champion Juicer (though I did perform a quick eBay search...). Get some ultra-ripe bananas, freeze in chunks, and then whip in a food processor with one-two tablespoons of plain yogurt. Whip to a fluffy consistency. This morning, I added some Kashi cereal to the mix for crunch but you can throw in other frozen fruit or top with some dark chocolate and whipped cream for dessert.