Or ‘My Button Keeps Popping off My Pants and other Food Stories’
I am fortunate to have been pretty much the same shape and size my whole adult life but now I have bumped into a bit of a mental hurdle and I’m literally clambering over it to the next dress size up. It hasn’t been a good
dayyear trying to pretend my trousers still fit around my waist.
In talking about what you should not eat – ie dieting – has your body shape ever been compared to a piece of food? For example ‘apple’, ‘pear’, or if you’re VERY unusual, ‘inverted carrot’. I made the last one up – it applies to the skinny male physique, however, men can equally be classified as turnips.
Terribly bad luck if you’re over in the cake category, nobody loves to have a ‘muffin-top’ do they? But at least muffins are kinda cute and tasty! OOH, imagine being shaped like a koeksister (if you are not South African, and sadly don’t know what koeksisters look like, here’s a picture:)
In the past have been poked a few times, ‘you’re so thin!’ I found that slightly disconcerting, I couldn’t help it that I wasn’t keeping any weight and I certainly would not be poking anybody back saying ‘you’re sooo fat!’ Nowadays I think my shape could probably be called ‘broad bean’, not just one bean on it’s own, but a little line of them in the pod. From the front I’m more or less straight (as I said I used to be) but from a different angle I’m full of irregular bumps.
I wouldn’t mind if the bumps that are meant to be bigger are actually bigger than those that are meant to be smaller but sadly my breasts are slowly being out-bumped by my tummy that has been stretched by multiple pregnancies and lack of exercise. But I am fully blaming my tiny bosom size. In fact the word bosom could hardly ever refer to me. As my youngest daughter asked me once, ‘Mummy why have you got no line running down your chest like Mabel* does?’
When I was an impressionable, self conscious teenager, they were referred to as ‘mosquito bites’ by my nearest and dearest. So you see, I have no pride in my top deck area, only disdain and for that reason, I NEVER make remarks about my three girls’ body shapes that is in anyway disparaging.
It’s all in your jeans?
But the truth is, although I’m approaching middle age and am spreading a bit around the middle, I am just plain lucky with my shape – it’s all in my jeans apparently (?). They say you grow to become the shape you inherit and it’s very little to do with your diet or exercise regime. (Unless you are eating platefuls designed for more than one person at a time while lying on the couch – honestly you need to be a little sensible and self-examining and hence I will be upping my fitness programme and not taking that extra biscuit anymore).
That doesn’t give me any excuse not to take care of my body though, tempting as it is to say that I can’t help the body I was born with, I can still make wise choices in how best to eat and exercise. So when it comes to wisdom and food, where does that leave us in this modern world of food fads and changing diets? It seems every few months a new book is being marketed on the way we ought to be eating. What bothers me is how self-absorbed these diets all seem to make us, we seem to be spending so much time and money on eating the healthiest foods that we’ve lost any focus on the rest of the world out there who struggle everyday to get enough food together to feed their families.
The sad reality of food poverty
I grew up in South Africa where approximately 14 million people are living below the bread line and are only too thankful to have anything to eat. It would the worst form of insult to suggest to them that ‘organic/paleo/xyz free’ is the healthiest way to eat.
Last April we went back to visit family in South Africa, and while traversing this vast country, we stopped off in a one horse town where the poor horse was too weak to be of any use – there were a few scraggly goats wandering the main road. Three small boys, the age of my own kids, dressed in rags you or I would have thrown away five years ago, came to me begging for food. They were shuffling in their weakness and I gave them the left over picnic we hadn’t eaten which they carefully shared amongst themselves. I cried afterwards when we drove away, I was upset by the injustice in our world where there is such an imbalance of resources as well as so much suffering for the poor. How have we become so obsessed with food in the West that we spend billions on wasting it while billions of our brothers and sisters are dying for lack of it? I resolved then to always travel with food to give away.
Back home in our neat and pristine European environment I can’t help but wonder. It is one thing to have to eat certain foods for serious health reasons – like illness or allergy – but perLEASE, why is the space allocated to the ‘gluten free’ section in the supermarket FAR larger than the percentage of people in the world who actually are allergic to gluten? Is this just a fad, making money for the supermarket?!! Are all our faddish diets putting too much emphasis on trying to achieve an unattainable goal of bodily perfection? Would it not be healthier to acknowledge that there is no perfect diet out there and our bodies will never be perfect no matter what we eat?
I think it’s time for a health change in our culture, we need to be healthy in our exercise and eating HABITS. How about we obsessed less about what we eat, spend less time eating for a start and spend more time acting on helping others who need to eat?
If you are passionate about helping alleviate poverty and are looking for a charity to support Tearfund is a professionally run agency with over forty years of experience who work in impoverished areas through supporting and equipping local communities. How about asking for an alternative gift from your family for your significant occasions this year? You could suggest they buy a goat or some chickens that will help another family across the world.
Find out more about it here:
*Not her real name