Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mental health update - week 1 of being home

So I haven't given up on this blog! I had every intention of continuing to blog when I went home over the winter break but I was eating so frequently that I constantly forgot to take pictures.

When I left Vancouver I was finishing up a 7-day gluten-free, sugar-free diet and weighed 132lb. I had been at that weight for a while. While it is still 10+lb over my goal weight, it was a mentally ok place for me to be knowing how close it was to the 120s.

Well the first few days upon getting home, I tried SO HARD to hold on to my old ways of eating. I wouldn't eat the breakfasts that my mom made and ate things such as non-fat yogurt, fruits, raw vegetables during the day. I keep my home in Vancouver relatively free of temptations. I have almost zero snacks except for some candy and individually wrapped dark chocolate. But my home in Winnipeg is like a fat kid's wet dream. There was an entire pantry full of cookies, chocolate, dried fruits, and goodies from China which I grew up on as well as ice cream, cakes, and pies in the fridge. It was sort of putting a recovering alcoholic in a bar unsupervised. All day long, I would think and dream about the foods in the cupboard and fridge while munching on my carrots and orange peppers. I should've known that it was a recipe for DISASTER.

I managed to scrape by the first two days, but by day 3 I started to binge late at night. Not a lot at first, but a couple squares of dark chocolate the first night led to half a bar of milk chocolate the next led to half a box of cookies the next, etc etc. The next morning I would be so angry at myself that I wouldn't eat anything but my raw veggies again = cue vicious cycle. All the meanwhile, I was so AFRAID of being criticized by people for my eating habits, especially my parents and immediate family, who are SO ACCUSTOMED TO verbally expressing their opinions about my body. I took this REALLY hard the first few days, which is what triggered the emotional binging in the first place. Every time someone called me fat made me more scared to 'publicly eat' anything but safe 'diet foods' and more prone to keeping a stash of goodies in my bedside drawer.

The Chinese culture also has a hypocritical tendency where people offer things other than their true intention. A Chinese person will never eat the last piece of food on a plate, will always offer to pay for the bill, (even when you've made it clear it's on you) will politely rebuff your attempts at flattery, ("oh, this old shirt? I've had it for ages") and will cook delicious, massive family sized feasts for 3 people while expecting their 'overweight' daughter to eat very, very little. When I first returned home, I cried when my mom offered me a piece of pie and then proceeded to take back her offer when I accepted, stating that it would be better for me to wait until I was thinner.

The North American culture is polite. The North American culture understands eating disorders, body image issues, and social pressure to stay thin. The "fat" word in North American culture is akin to a swear word. Even when so many people make fun of fat people behind their backs and laugh at the 200+lb girl walking down the street sipping a frapp w/ whip about how nutritionally uninformed she is, they would never call anyone FAT to their face. It's verbal abuse, it's culturally taboo, and it's just down right mean. An overweight person is the elephant in the room. Everyone, including her, knows that she is overweight, but no one dares address it.

Well if there was an elephant in a room of Chinese people, they would shoot it, sell the tusks, and then eat the remainder. My parents' generation does not understand binge eating disorder, or anorexia, or any kind of disorders associated with food. The phrase 'you're too fat, stop eating so much' is used as frequently as "want some more rice?" in my household. The first time my mom called me fat this winter break, I yelled at her and said, "You are wrong! I have a perfectly healthy BMI for my age and height!" and then proceeded to show her a BMI graph. It was equivalent to showing a cat the Mona Lisa, it's not impressed nor does it give a f*ck.

The thing is, for as intensive as the 50000 character Chinese language is, there isn't a word for "chubby", for "overweight", for "big-boned", and all the other words North Americans use in place of the dreaded f word. In the Chinese language, there is one - and that translates to fat. You are either fat, or you are not. To my parents and relatives, I was 'average Tracy' to them my whole life. Anytime I gained a couple of pounds and it showed in my cheeks, I became "above-average Tracy" and got referred to by the f-word. The thing is, it never bothered me, never triggered any BED tendencies until I consciously started to 'diet', started caring about how many grams of fiber are in an averaged sized apple (3g), started caring about the Omega-3 content of salmon vs tuna, and started caring about metabolic rates, glycemic indices, and learned the meaning of ketosis.

The irony of the situation is that for the past 4 months, I have kept this food blog to keep myself accountable for what I ate and to make my daily diet visible for others. Instead of a witty one-liner tag line, my blog description should really be, "HEY YOU LOOK HOW HEALTHY I AM! I AM INFORMED ABOUT MY FOOD CHOICES AND AM TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITIES TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT. YOU CAN'T CRITICIZE ME FOR DOING THINGS WRONG OR NOT GETTING RESULTS BECAUSE I AM VERY SCIENTIFICALLY INFORMED." I made sure that people close to me could view my blog, if they tried to criticize my food choices I would refer them to this link. Well, my parents and relatives don't give a rat's ass about my macro-nutrient balance or calorie intake, I showed my mom the blog and she said, "you eat too much fruits, stop eating fruit and you'll lose weight." I told my uncle about how I keep myself hydrated during the day and his response, "Americans drink too much water which is why they're fat, I don't drink any water and look how skinny I am! if you stopped drinking water, I guarantee you will lose weight." How do you argue with people who have that kind of logic? Needless to say, the eating part of the first week was AWFUL.

(This post has gotten way too long and I need to go to school, part 2 later tonight)

1 comment:

  1. I like the way you compared chinese culture and north american culture. it's really true! your family is so critical. tbh, my family (including extended) isn't as intense in hurtful comments as yours. =(. I'm glad that you're back in van and can decide what you eat for yourself now :D:D
    mISS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!