Dieting, Body Image, and Stay Out of my Business

“Are you going to eat all that?”

I was sitting at a table in the teachers’ lounge, my lunch spread out before me. There was a sandwich, a red apple, carrot sticks and a glass of juice, maybe a chocolate or two.

Why was the teacher I barely knew commenting on my lunch? How was it any of his business? 

I patted my large belly and said, “I’m eating for two.”

I’ve never worried much about food or calories. I’m tall, and weight hasn’t been much of an issue with me, except when pregnant. I only dieted once in my life, as a freshman in college getting ready for spring break in Florida where I’d have to put on a swim suit.

Weight comes and goes. I am now in that period of my life where I keep three sizes of clothing. One year I’m the biggest size, the next year, after giving up wine, I’m much smaller. The third year I’m the middle size. It’s a guessing game where I’ll be next year.

Being pregnant gives a woman some leeway as to how much she weighs. With the first pregnancy, I gained almost fifty pounds, too much I know, but I produced one smart baby.  Now she’s pregnant and obviously not going to do what I did.

Last night at chorus, I fell apart when the director played a Karen Carpenter song.  Wait! How does this tie in to today’s topic of weight?  Because the singer, with the most buttery voice ever, died of heart failure at 32 years old. Her heart stopped because she was grossly underweight. Karen Carpenter died of anorexia.

Anorexia is the number one killer of all the mental diseases.  Anorexia, restricting food intake, happens most frequently in females, and usually at a young age. One of my Girl Scouts suffered from it in middle school. Others get it in high school or college.

Bulimia is not the same thing. That’s eating too much (bingeing), then making yourself puke it up. Dentists say it’s hard on your teeth, all that stomach acid in your mouth.

I remember my mom dieting a lot. My brother-in-law used to do the Atkins Diet, eating only meat and no carbs. He would drop a ton of weight, and then gain it all back when he resumed drinking wine and eating starchy foods like potatoes, corn, and carrots.

Apparently, I have spoken badly about my body in front of my kids.  They tell me the negative stuff I have said. I learned it from my mother, who was never happy about her weight (she learned if from her mother). It’s kind of late to retrain myself to say positive stuff about my body. It sounds like bragging to me. “I’m so tall and thin! Look at my long beautiful arms!”

I have called them gorllla arms, since long-sleeved clothing becomes three quarter length clothing unless I buy in the men’s department (and I have).

Clearly, it was a mistake to use ape-y words. One of my children is 6 feet, 4 inches, tall and troubled by that much height.  Being tall is wonderful in many ways. But buying off the rack at a department store is not one of them.

Now that I’ve veered off topic again, let me bring it back by staying this: it’s none of anyone’s business what I eat or don’t eat.  Never judge a pregnant woman, or any woman, for that matter.

Or a man.

Or a child.

Oh, okay, go ahead and judge your dog. He won’t know what you’re saying anyway.

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