Category Archives: Healthier Eating

Suffer, the Caretakers of the World

(Disclaimer: I am neither a psychologist, nor a mental health professional. The following is solely my personal opinion.)

Are you a caretaker?

No? Doesn’t sound familiar?

What if I asked if you were a people-pleaser? Sound a bit closer to home? No?

Maybe this one might be closer to the mark: nice. Are you nice?

Yes! Yes, of course you are!

You’re nice. Super squishy, sugary, goody-good nice.

You’re nice to everyone, everyone, even when it hurts you to be so. Maybe you patch all that pain over with the idea that being that nice is being a good person. Sacrifice is a sign of goodness. You’re partially right. But, truthfully, being nice should never hurt.

I am a recovering nicey-nice caretaking people-pleaser. Well, honestly, I thought I was a recovering caretaker, but this past week I have been reminded that the road to recovery is long, hard, and covered in pitfalls and backslides.

You see, my in-laws are here for Christmas. Naturally, I want to show them a good time while they are under my care and make sure that we all eat well (because I’m super good at that). I am not trying to impress anyone… Husby and I have been married long enough where I’m no longer worried about that anymore.

So I’m in the kitchen everyday since they’ve been here. Going out of my way to prepare health-filled goodness for us to enjoy together. Veggies are everywhere. Stuff is being made from scratch. I’ve pulled out all the stops and even dug into my recipe trove for ideas.

This could simply be a result of the fact that my kitchen has been über clean since I broke down and got some household help, which makes it easier to get into the kitchen and want to do something because cleaning doesn’t have to happen first. It could also be because going out to eat at 4 people is a bit demanding and expensive (ignoring the fact that lots of restaurants close for the holidays here). Maybe I’m just really prepared this week.

But if I’m really and truly honest with myself, what I know is that this behavior is simply me exercising my caretaking side. Because I never cook like this for myself. Never.

Left to my own devices, I can easily dress up a pack of instant noodles with some frozen (or dried) veggies and a low-sodium bouillon cube instead of the MSG-filled salt-bomb they usually include in the package. Done and done. Even with Husby, meals can be just as simple.

Yet, throw in another couple of folks from wherever, I go full-on Julia Child. It’s been this way as long as I can remember. Even as I’m typing this, I’ve got turkey legs and wings roasting in my oven nested within a mountain of fresh, chopped veggies (loosely following this recipe from Simple Bites here).

Modified sheet pan turkey dinner. I promise the turkey is in there underneath the veggie mountain.

Modified sheet pan turkey dinner. I promise the turkey is in there underneath the veggie mountain.

Sure, it’s natural for me to want to care for those around me that I have affection for by preparing a tasty meal. I believe that this is healthy, loving behavior. But what I’m really talking about here is more than that. What I’m talking about is when being nice and a people-pleaser goes too far. When it becomes a compulsion. This thing can even go as far as becoming something referred to as “caretaker personality disorder.” A great definition of the disorder can be found in this article which I’ve reposted here:

According to [Les] Barbanell, [author of “Removing the Mask of Kindness”] these ‘nice’ people feel unhappy, empty, guilt-ridden, shameful, angry, anxious, afraid of rejection and abandonment and are emotionally and physically exhausted because they are brought up to put the needs of other people ahead of their own. [emphasis mine]

This. This is what I’m talking about. When your need to care for others trumps any need of your own. Being so kind that it hurts you.

According to an article in Psychology Today,

As a caretaker, […] it is your job to please and take care of the [borderline or narcissistic person in your life (usually a family member)] first and foremost. To do this you will have learned to ignore your own needs, adapted to a highly emotional tense and chaotic environment, and become hyper-vigilant to the BP/NP’s emotional reactions. Your job is to do everything that the BP/NP is not willing or able to do, give in to whatever the BP/NP wants, and carefully monitor the family’s image in the community. [emphasis mine]

No, my in-laws qualify neither as borderline nor narcissistic personalities, so this is not about them. They’re lovely people. I’m quite fortunate.

But I believe that through certain, unfortunate circumstances, most anyone can be forced into a narcissistic state where everything they do is focused purely on them, with no regard for those around them. I also believe that if you are subject to this influence by a family member or other guardian figure while in a vulnerable state, such as during adolescence or childhood, you can develop caretaking habits. But I also believe that you do not need to be exposed to such a person in order to develop this habit.

Because caretaking can be a way for you to get people to like you.

And that’s it, that’s the thing there. When you’re fat you’re concerned about getting people to like you.

Because society says that fat people are not worth liking. There’s something wrong with us. Stay away or get fat too. It’s the worst.

But none of that is true. We are awesome people. We are perfect, just as we are today, worthy of love and trust and friendship and care. We are wonderful folk, just like the rest of them.

So when I catch myself defaulting to the caretaking habit I’ve cultivated through my years of learned self-hatred, I remember this: I like me and the feelings that others have about me do not affect that.

Giving every last piece of myself to everyone else is a way to guarantee that there is nothing left for me. And when there’s nothing left for me, there’s nothing more to give, and everyone suffers. Remembering to love myself and take care of myself reminds me that I do not need external validation to be valid or valuable. If someone can care for me by seeing past the veil that is my fat, that person is worth spending my valuable time on. These people are the ones worth getting into the kitchen and whipping up something fantastic for. They like me for me.

So on that note, let me get back to my stove, I’ve got a lemon meringue pie to throw together. Happy holidays!


Like what you read and want more? Join in the conversation by clicking here and start your own journey toward self-love today.


Do More Than Just Survive Your Holidays: Thrive!

I love the holidays and actually want to be sure that I enjoy them. Here’s my take on how to enjoy as well as be healthy(er) during the holidays. No dieting nor deprivation necessary!


How Superior is What’s on Your Plate?

Sunday's Frittata

Dirty or clean? Organic or not? Healthy or junk?
Which labels apply here, do you think?

Warning: I may rant in this post.

Today I’d like to talk about food stigma. Good foods. Bad foods. Healthy foods. Junk foods. Clean foods. Blah blah blah blather.

Do you stigmatize your food? Do you carry with you a mental list of what is good and bad to eat?

How does it make you feel when you eat something from the “bad food” category? I’m sure your answer is a bit like mine used to be, “fantastic, elated, excited, until I realize what I have done and then feel badly about it.” Why is that?

Because of food stigma.

Why do we have to stigmatize our foods? When foods are categorically stigmatized we give them more power over us than they deserve. Eating a slice of chocolate cake should neither ruin your day nor make your day because it’s just food.

Food is here to nourish us, to give us energy, even to heal us. We unnecessarily assign these extra roles to food, giving it the power to fill our empty moments, to pick us up when we feel bad, to love us back and even to emotionally wound us. Food did not ask for this role. We just heaped it on. Why?

Because we need a scapegoat.

Because we don’t want to look the real problems in the face.

Because we’re afraid to be honest.

“What are the actual problems?” you may ask.

The first problem is this: we don’t love, respect, and trust ourselves enough to simply let food be food. We have to make up these rules so that we don’t have to listen to our bodies and our instincts, and simply eat what we need, when we need it. Sometimes our intuition tells us we need a slice of cake, dammit, and that’s just fine. Eat the cake now, enjoy it, and avoid the binge later.

The second problem is this: we sometimes use food as a way to elevate our status. Here I’m talking about the whole deal around how we have assigned value to certain foods. “These vegetables aren’t worth eating unless they’re organic.” “I can’t eat pineapples because they aren’t local.” “I gave up gluten because it’s not clean.” F*** your “clean” food movement. I washed my hands before preparing this cake and nothing fell on the floor. It can rightfully be classified as clean too! Giving status to food is just another way to falsely elevate ourselves above others. Making ourselves feel big by making others small. This is simply sh*tty behavior. What’s on your plate does not make you a better person, though it can help to make you a happier or healthier one.

When we learn that there is no such thing as a bad food (aside from trans fats, because I’m talking about food, not food approximations coming from a laboratory), we can allow ourselves to view all foods as neutral. Removing the stigmas and taking away the taboos allows us to treat food as what it is: fuel. Neutralizing food is the only way we can stop beating ourselves up for eating this or that (which only leads to binging and disordered eating) and go back to the beauty and simplicity of intuitive eating: feeding our bodies what they truly want and need. 

 


Need help de-stigmatizing or healing your relationship to food? Click here to schedule a free Breakthrough Session where we can start you on your way.


This Is Your Real Life

This is my trash can, almost full this morning. As you can see, this gorgeous little organic watermelon went to waste in favor of the quick and easy "bagged" meal underneath it. This is reality.

This is my trash can, almost full this morning (the Trashman cometh). As you can see, this gorgeous little organic watermelon went to waste in favor of the quick and easy “bagged” meal underneath it. This is reality.

Being in an insulated (isolated) environment where someone is basically preparing all of your food for you makes eating healthily dead easy. After my week-long raw fast retreat where I experienced exactly this, I am feeling the challenges of reintegrating into real life.

The right choices were always easy to make during our retreat due to the fact that we were insulated from the outside world and all the tools (and foods!) were provided for us. I barely even craved other foods. All was made easy: The table was set, the dishes were washed for us, even our beds were made for us. Laundry was as simple as delivering the bag full of dirty, sweaty things to the front desk. We had no requirements save showing up on time and participating as much or as little as we liked. Oh, and speaking German, that was really the hardest part.

But now we’re home. Back to the real world. Back to the mostly empty fridge, the need for doing our own shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry. And now maintaining a raw food diet is a lot more intimidating. No restaurants serve that stuff in my town. There is no delivery service for raw foods. We have to *gasp* prepare it all ourselves! (insert dramatic Hitchcock-esque terror-filled scream)

This is a reason why folks who lose weight using prepared food diets soon gain their lost weight back when finished: they are unprepared for life in the real world where we are tempted by food not only by simply stepping outside, but also by the 30-second spots of vapidity between our favorite shows while we sit safely at home.

The food cues are everywhere and the only way to avoid succumbing is by being prepared.

It’s just that simple.

All of us are armed with the knowledge: that stuff is the easy part. We all know what to eat, when to eat, how and how much to eat. The challenge is the actual doing part.

So we need to be sure that we have what we need around us at all times, ready to go.

Because that’s what last week taught me: if it’s ready and in my face I don’t have the space or opportunity to make some dumb excuse and eat something less than good for me.

Sidenote: Hey, if fast food is something you want to eat, really want to eat, then go ahead and eat it. Do you. I’m not judging. Just do your best to avoid letting unpreparedness or laziness be the reason you’re driving through.

Yes, I know that this kind of healthy raw stuff doesn’t just come out of the box. Yes, I know that’s not realistic. So here’s what we can do: make a date with yourself to get ready. Plan it. Schedule it. Write out your list and go shopping and then come home and do the washing, chopping, blending and dehydrating. Make it a priority, like a doctor’s appointment, because it’s about our health and the two are equivalent. (Matter of fact, one can preclude the other.)

But remember who we’re doing this for: we’re doing this for us. Because we deserve it. All of us. Every day.

Our best bet is to start small and get bigger as our comfort and desire grows. Just do something. Because you love you. And this stuff only makes us better.

What can you do to get started today?


Raw Fast: RESULTS! (cue snare drum)

So last week, as you may know from reading/having read the following posts:

Raw Fast: Day 1
Raw Fast: Day 2
Raw Fast: Day 3
Raw Fast: Day 4
Raw Fast: Day 5
Raw Fast: Day 6
Raw Fast: Day 7

I embarked on a journey of self challenge and discipline, cleverly disguised as a Raw Fast. Of course, I’m sure you’re dying to know how well it worked for me besides the little bits I shared about how I felt, amount of energy, etc. Good thing is that I actually have some hard data to show the improvement! Here it is: the Magic of Raw Foods!

I consider myself a normal eater. I eat whatever I want, within reason, be it fish, meat, fruits, veggies, or treats. I practice intuitive eating, and nothing is taboo.

However, for the week of our Raw Fast retreat, I excluded cooked foods, gluten, lactose, sugar, and all animal products (including honey).

This stark exclusion resulted in a 7kg weight loss (>15 lbs). Interesting as it may seem, I don’t actually feel the weight loss. And, honestly, I think it’s because it’s not my focus. I was interested in the hard and factual health improvements I would experience.

Enter: Dark Field Blood Analysis.

Dark field analysis is a different way for medical professionals, usually naturpaths, to check the current state of our blood, giving clues to how we’re doing overall health-wise. A great video showing how it all works can be found in the first 5 minutes of this video. Online sources, like the Wiki, state that this type of blood analysis is pure quackery. *shrug*

All I have to say is that the pictures below are what I saw:

Dark Field from Day 1

This is my Day 1 dark field blood analysis photo. The greyness and lines of the background, and the clumpiness of the red blood cells (white circles) show that my body is overly acidic.

Dark Field from Day 7

This is the blood analysis photo from Day 7. Here you see no red blood cell (white circle) clumpiness. The lines in the background are gone. The background itself is clearer. Huge difference!

Quackery or no, I saw a marked difference in my blood in one simple week.

So what now?

The experiment is over. I came through to the other side with some new knowledge and a few new practices to help me along my healthy journey. Notably, how my daily movement has not incorporated nearly enough arm strengthening exercises!

Do I intend to become a raw foodist? Probably not. However, I have been turned on to new ideas about how easy it is to add more raw foods into my normal meals. Confession: my dehydrator has been running almost all week. The apartment smells totally food-tastic! Who knew there were so many things you can dehydrate?

Do you have specific questions about my experience? Want more details?

Feel free to ask in the comments or by email: tiana@tianadodson.com


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