It’s been an opinionated week for me- I know many don’t agree with my opinion. That’s OK. I am SO glad to be learning other viewpoints from readers, and I love to share my thoughts with everyone out there, too. With that being said, this is the last post (for a while) that I’ll share my controversial thoughts…
When my Mom asked what she needed to get for our trip to Philly, I asked what she meant.
“To make it easy for Addie,” she replied.
“Like diapers? I am bringing them.”
“No, like puffs, or those squeeze food packs. What does she eat?”
I offered to make a list so that the morning after we landed there would be some items that Addie likes for breakfast. She usually eats about 2 servings of fruit and 4 ounces of milk around 6:30am. This is the list I made after spending a few days watching what Addie’s newest favorite foods were (mango, watermelon and avocado!). As I wrote the items down I thought man, I’m proud.
I’m not just proud of myself for not giving into drive-thru temptations when she is just SO hungry and upset in the backseat (there is no eating in the car, anyway), I’m pleased that when I do need to stop (because sometimes I do), it’s at a grocery store or convenience store where I grab a banana or sliced fruit. Addie and I pull over and enjoy a snack before we get back on the road and finish our errands for the day. Sometimes, Addie has Cheerios from the cup I keep in the diaper bag because her small voice yelling “YUUUUMMMMMM” from below the shade of the stroller breaks my heart.
I could toot my own horn, pat myself on the back and tell you how awesome I am… but really, I’m a stay at home Mom of one. I won’t say I don’t work, because I work everyday. I have small writing gigs, blog upkeep and all of the insurance appeals I have going on right now makes me wish I could get paid for educating just United Healthcare on the importance of skeletal care for children with dwarfism- but I don’t have to leave Addie to work for a boss. There are days that I run my tongue across the front of my teeth and think huh, I didn’t brush today. That’s OK, I keep toothpaste in the car for finger brushing. Basically, in all of my busy-ness, I don’t have 3 kids and a fulltime job. I have time. What I feed Addie doesn’t make me better, it’s just something that makes me happy. Happy that I haven’t given in when there are so many timses I’ve wanted to split a cheeseburger with her!
I’m proud. I’m proud of Addie for trying new foods, for watching me eat and trying to mimic the use of utensils while simultaneously stealing everything off my plate- from tilapia to black olives. For knowing when she is hungry and asking for food, to waving her hands in the air to signify that she’s all done. For chugging water like it’s going out of style. For drinking all different kinds of milks. For nursing for more than half of her first year of life. I am proud to be her Mom and to have played a part in guiding all of these positive food choices.
Battling food issues for most of my life has taken a toll on me. Not eating disorders per se, but disordered eating. Drinking apple cider vinegar by the cup full, consuming only raw kale for days, drinking Slim Fast shakes three times a day as my only food- those are all things I’ve tried to obtain an image I can’t even describe anymore. I’ve over exercised, burned out, gained a few pounds and done it all again. At my heaviest (not pregnant) I was 160 pounds, and I was miserable. Pregnant, I ate healthfully, but was unable to exercise (as per the doctor), and gained 26 pounds before giving birth. Currently I weigh less than I did before I got pregnant, but it’s not the same weight. It’s not all where it was before, and sometimes that makes me sad.
It all brings me back to food and the idea that I was measured in this life by just the size of my waist. In truth, I try to remind myself daily that I am worth it to eat healthfully and take care of me, without consideration for my size. I fight an internal war to remember it is for health- mine and Addie’s. I never want her to think she isn’t beautiful, because she is. She is stunning. Who am I to teach her to love herself when I have taken steps to starve myself of necessary nutrients and work my body into a wasteland?
I will preface this by saying I AM NOT FAT! I am not skinny, either. I am built to run, lift, and climb. I am not a gatherer, I am a hunter. My body, which I just learned to treat as my temple in the past 3 years, is made to be muscle. I do not lose weight, but transfer the fat pounds to muscle pounds. I’ve been that way most of my life, losing significant weight in response only to extreme diets. So, when I posted THIS article on my Facebook page about a food being released by Dunkin’ Donuts in response to USA Today’s question “delicious/disgusting”, I responded (strongly) with “disgusting”. My response was fueled by more than just the food, but the irresponsibility of the company.
This new release is being touted as a “breakfast” sandwich. I use the word breakfast loosely here because there is nothing about greasy eggs smashed between a glazed donut that speaks to starting your day off with the properly balanced breakfast we, as humans, need. This concoction is not a viable source of any nutrients for any meal. So there it was- this picture mentioning only what the calories are and not the fat content, which really doesn’t matter. Calories for humans are like fuel for your car. Would you put gas into your car that was the same volume but consisted of mostly tar and water- not gas? Probably not. So why put fried eggs and obscene amounts of sugar in your body and try to pass it off as good energy? The image flashed up on my Facebook page stream, with the glaze shining from the sandwich “bread”. Gross my body said, and I shivered. As I posted it to my wall with this caption: This is the definition of ‘disgusting’. Gee, why are Americans so fat? Because they run on Dunkin’.
A few people responded to my post with laughs, mention of fair/carnival food or that it looks like something to try once… and some people thought that I was referring to them being “disgusting”. Someone even emailed me explaining their story. My heart fell. I never once thought they were gross, disgusting or anything of the sort. I looked at my post again and again and it struck me: as I was putting down a company, I was also putting down thousands of people who DO NOT eat “bad” foods and are still battling weight. This was never my intention.
There are people in my life who battle weight, image, obesity and weight related medical issues- I am no stranger to food related concerns, myself. As I reread my wording I recall having to split our food cost between two open lines of credit- often, we struggle about what we can and cannot afford. What products we need to get organic for Addie (the dirty dozen) and what we can buy for ourselves that is cheap. But cheap food is not always good food. Foods like this “breakfast sandwich” are an example of that. I wish we could afford Whole Foods, where as many can afford Dunkin’, and while I do not think there is a fault here or that anyone should be censored, I do believe products like this are irresponsibly placed on the market by large companies.
Food is an important part of life. We base much of our lives around it, and I am no different. Much of my morning is spent cleaning the kitchen during Addie’s morning nap. This is followed by checking what protein is thawing in the fridge, and what veggies would go well with it. I then choose what carbohydrate we will have- rice, pasta, or just serve on a bed of greens (we LOVE kale!). I make sure the place mats are clean, a silver ring surrounding a monogrammed cloth napkin and the table cloth not too spotted or stained- a perfect table ready for family dinner (whenever Dave gets home, we eat!). I make sure there is thawed breastmilk for Addie as her pre-bed snack. Then I prepare Addie’s lunch so it’s warm when she wakes up. As she eats I finish cleaning and eat a little something with her. We spend the afternoon playing, running errands, sitting in the park and when the afternoon nap rolls around, I once again find myself in the kitchen cleaning up from lunch and preparing dinner (followed by a run on the treadmill or watching a documentary on Netflix while doing squats with a 12 pound ball). Once Addie wakes up, we are back in the kitchen for dinner #1 (Addie eats a serving of veggies during family dinner with us) where Addie eats a protein, dairy (usually some cheese), veggies and sometimes a carb. I make sure she gets water with every meal- which she readily gulps. After she is done she plays on the floor with the fridge magnets while I cook dinner (or with my MIL while I run a few miles outside). Usually we listen to a record (we are a very musical family) and dance a bit, too.
I think you get the point: we live in the kitchen.
I do not blame anyone for being overweight, not even the person who is- Life has a way of getting away from all of us, and I don’t think that humans were made to all be one shape or size. My argument, if you want to call it that, is that companies have a responsibility to the consumer to produce safe products, and they’re not. Large companies are mass producing food products cheap (unlike organic foods which cost above and beyond what most people can afford), and then advertising to us (the consumer) on billboards, in magazines, via commercials on radio and television, pop ups on the internet. We are bombarded with cheese product, milk product, pre-made, pre-cooked, easy, fast, only 99¢… you get the point. I know the point of our market is to make money, but we lean to the side of immoral practices when foods like this are produced as more than just a treat and something that is pushed to be a reasonable breakfast choice sold by a company that people are supposed to “run on”. Even the healthy choices are hard on the heart. Their turkey sausage sandwich, for instance, has more calories than this new glazed donut sandwich! I cannot live on fat and empty calories- I cannot function properly and it makes me sleepy and sick. It’s just not what humans were designed to survive on.
Food is something we use to celebrate, mourn and most importantly: live. It’s also addicting. I cannot imagine being addicted to something that is needed to survive. If you are addicted to food, no matter how bad your addiction is, you cannot ever give it up. It’s an addiction that can kill you if you over indulge in it, and if you give it up altogether. Food is not heroin, alcohol, it’s not even comparable to an addiction to sex.
While I am proud of my daughter for all the good food habits she has and so blessed to be married to a man who works himself to exhaustion to provide the cleanest foods for our family, I am also happy that I have the control to not bring unhealthy foods into our home. If it’s not here, I don’t eat it- that’s the rule. But that’s not how it is for so many families, and it’s not that easy for most. I truly believe that putting foods like this sandwich out en masse, is immoral and to many it’s like selling crack through a drive-thru for cheap, and expecting an addict to just be able to say “no”. Many health issues related to food addiction are fueled by the drive-thru phenomenon that seems to only be growing and expanding (with our waist lines) each year. Many of these new products are terrible and not seasonal (like eggnog, which I am SO glad I cannot get all year), or those sugar-rich (thus calorie laden) sweet teas. This sandwich is intended to be served all year ’round to tempt passerby. It’s not just a special on one restaurant’s menu or something specific at a local fair. It’s (after the test market) something that will be available on every corner. Every company has the right to produce what they want (to the extent of the law of course), but as my opinion (on my blog) I think selling this sandwich is irresponsible.
I apologize to anyone who felt I was passing judgement on them. I only judge Dallas Cowboy and New Jersey Devils’ fans (sorry, I’m a Philly girl). I hope that companies, specifically Dunkin’ Donuts and other “restaurants” that rely heavily on their drive-thru business, take into consideration their market: Americans. We deserve better. Eat the sandwich, or don’t. I couldn’t care less what someone else eats… I just hope we all know when to say “no”. I’m pulling for the company to do well by offering better choices than this!