Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

DETOX: Day 14 - Liquid Lunches

Behold! My lovely breakfast. Day 14 of my detox was the second of two days where I consumed only liquids. Above is my breakfast of cider mixed with water. Also consumed were lots and lots of water and tea, and carrot juice for snacks. For lunch was a green "superfood" drink made of every green thing you can think of-spinach, broccoli, wheat grass, spirulina, etc.-squooshed into a bottle. Dinner was a big bowl of vegetable broth and miso, pictured below.

I actually managed to get through the day without ever feeling hungry and I think I maintained a decent enough calorie count and range of different types of foods and nutrients. But in a weird conjunction of events, I also watched an HBO documentary called "Thin," which was about anorexic/bulimic women and I have to admit it made me feel a little weird about this whole thing.

I could write a novel about all of the thoughts and issues it brought up during the day for me, but I will start by saying that there's a fascinating discussion of the whole thing on Television Without Pity that brings up a lot of the general issues, thoughts and questions that arise based on the show.

It was really sad/scary to watch, especially during a time when I myself am on kind of an extreme eating regimen. While I am not anywhere near capable of having an eating disorder of that extremity, it still was a little disquieting to see echoes of myself and other relatively healthy women I know in the very ill and disturbed women on the screen.

One woman, who was very tiny and thin, when describing how she viewed herself and her body talked about herself as "short and stocky." She would never see herself as thin or attractive because she had set in her mind an image of herself as a stocky person, which was undesirable to her. And ... that could be me talking. Or almost any woman I know. The way she spoke about her body and how she perceived it was not so different from the way that I and most of my female friends talk about our own bodies and how we perceive them.

I am hard-pressed to think of a single female friend of mine who does not have some problem or insecurity with her body and weight. As I run through all of us in my mind I can think of a discussion or several discussions with every single woman about physical things we do not like about ourselves. According to us, we are pretty much a collection of big butts, big thighs, big foreheads, big arms and big feet. And the thing is, I have some seriously beautiful friends so I have to imagine this is pretty typical, and not just because we happen to be a bunch of dogs.

Even my love of food and cooking has a flip side, which is that the fascination in many senses developed out of a circumstance where for the past several years not a day has gone by that is not overshadowed by thoughts of health and weight control and maintaining a certain level of physical attractiveness. It's hard not to think of all the time spent on what I was going to eat, how I was going to eat it, what amount of exercise would need to be done to offset what I was eating, what I should and should not put on or in my body and how I could solve various perceived imperfections in the way I look, and to think that I could have instead used that time to something amazing or something charitable or something otherwise productive and useful to the world, but instead all of that time was spent on my own issues about my body and the way it looks.

It's not a heartening thought. But then again, I think of those girls in the documentary and about how that is not just a significant part of their lives, it is their entire life. I think of how they all seemed to know that they were killing themselves and to think that was a more acceptable outcome than gaining weight. I think of how every mealtime was a torture for them. I remember the way one woman featured was so happy at her birthday celebration, and then they gave her a cupcake and she looked at it like it was made of broken glass and her whole day was ruined by having to eat it.

And I have to feel fortunate, because although I am not perfect, at least I like being alive and I can live with myself the way I am, even if it doesn't always make me happy. I can go out with my friends and enjoy being with them and talking and laughing over food and drinks. I am very fortunate that although I spent this day eating no solid foods, I will eat tomorrow and will be happy to do so, and in a week I will be able to eat a big fat slice of pizza and enjoy every bite of it without pain or remorse. And I hope someday the women I watched in that documentary can do so as well, although sadly, judging my the updates at the end of the show, none of them ever will.


i dig.

said by chicopants at 7:47 PM Delete

amen, sister. i also don't know a single woman who is completely satisfied with her body.

i don't want to default to blaming the media, but it's all their fault. i'd like to see how men would react to a bombardment of imagery featuring six-pack abs and sculpted calves and full heads of hair.

seems like it's already starting to happen, especially here in los angeles, with more men getting cosmetic surgery. i've ever heard of people taking their dogs in for a little nip and tuck.

ultimately, i think all these types who search for physical perfection will form their own subspecies of human, where they can mate and socialize and marvel at each other's artificial parts. but i guess that exists already -- it's called Hollywood.

too bad the lightbulbs are all on them instead of on us healthy girls eating pizza.

said by Milla at 10:26 AM Delete

Heh. This post and milla's comment made me remember a recent "incident" where Kate Winslet was videotaped telling skinny girls in general to "Go eat a hamburger".

As a guy, I feel the need to defend my gender, albeit in a backhanded sort of way. While the media certainly has brainwashed a number of us into expecting an unreasonable degree of "physical perfection" in our wimminfolk, a sizable percentage of the male population has rebelled against the airbrushed caricatures of female pulchritude offered by Hollywood and corporate advertising in favor a more natural beauty. Hence, the sharp rise over the past two decade in the popularity of - ahem! - *uncomfortable whisper* amateur porn.

But this issue isn't really about men, since homosexual women also suffer from eating disorders. It's about how the media's attempts to pander and sell to men using sexual images have infected the mindset of women, causing them to become dissatisfied with their own bodies. KT makes some really great points in this article.

To all you pizza-loving women out there, I've always thought that a woman is at her most beautiful when really enjoying something; whether that it be food, sex, friends, or life.

- Chubbypanda

said by Chubbypanda at 4:03 PM Delete

true dat, chubbypanda. we chicks are in charge of determining our self-image and need to continue the revolt against these prescribed norms of beauty by learning how to be fully comfortable and happy with our own skin. no one has to live here but us, and it'd be nice if we could enjoy it (and believe that others would enjoy it, too).

still, it'd be nice to have more prominent role models help usher in the revolution.

said by Milla at 4:21 PM Delete

I love you guys. My readers/friends are such smarties.

I want to make it clear that I do not blame "men" as a gender for any of this, since most of the men I know prefer women who are intelligent and witty over any particular physical attributes they may have. And as far as I know, even on s strictly physical level, real men prefer a wide variety of looks in females and not one sort of body type/coloring/etc.

I think that the media is once again to blame, and not just women, but men as well should be upset by this, as the media not only puts forth these images, but it also perpetuates the idea that men prefer women to look a certain way by (1) assuming that they do and pandering to it and also portraying men that way, and (2) providing a forum for men who do think their opinion about how women should look matters (by this I mean certain radio shows where the host and guests critique women based on these sterotypical ideas about how they should look), and (3) magazines deciding on arbitrary rules for what men want to see in a woman and only hiring models who fit the arbitrary rule of the day, rather than using a variety of looks.

If I were a man I would be offended that the people who made these decisions were assuming I was such a cretin and would also be a little annoyed at them for passing on the idea that I was some kind of shallow misogynist based only on my gender.

I mean, don't men get offended by those stupid "man rules," commercials and stuff too? If you go by advertising, one would believe that women are almost never pretty or thin enough and men are mostly stupid meatheads. I think everyone should be offended.

Also, as an aside, one of the most frightening things to note in the discussion I linked to, was the fact that we are so used to images of terribly thin women on television that many people who watched the documentary caught themselves thinking "they don't look that skinny." And then kind of shuddered that they thought that. These girls weighed between 80-90 pounds. But it was true. They didn't look that different from many women normally on TV.

said by KT at 4:25 PM Delete

We're all our own worst critics. Milla, trsut me we guys are already bombarded with ads. It sucks. But then I go walk to the Farmer's Market and eat a piece of yummy bread.

said by Garrett at 7:29 PM Delete

I have a mental policy...bodies are relative, and everyone looks better naked (than, for instance, in a bathing suit).
you guys gotta check this little video out - -
I think it's so good I gotta share:)

said by chicopants at 11:46 PM Delete

agreed on all points, guys. i know that men, like women, respond to all different shapes, sizes and flavors. i am a decidedly curvy girl and my enlightened boyfriend would not have it any other way. i didn't mean to imply that all men were neanderthals and that the whole gender is responsible for perpetuating this standard, because i know that is not true. the media are to blame, certainly, hollywood in particular.

i would, however, like to see more objectification of men, if only to increase understanding of the topic and level the playing field. that would bring about more equality to the matter, and help men understand why we sometimes feel inadequate and awkward even when they find us beautiful. but it seems like that is already happening, for better or worse. and it does seem like our pets will be next.

said by Milla at 3:24 PM Delete

I can't pretend to speak for all men, but I certainly have my own issues with weight an appearance. I suspect I am not the only one. Perhaps male folk are better at hiding these issues, or they manifest themselves differently.

One differing factor is "height", one of the big male issues, IMO, can't be acquired, while "skinny," which is obviously the frontrunning female body issue, supposedly can be.

In college, the last time I was actively looking for female companionship, these feelings were especially acute. I suppose long-term coupling took the edge off a bit. But, ultimately, a lot of us with penises look inward or in the mirror and don't like what we see either. I don't blame society, I blame people.

I hate people. Present company excluded of course.

said by Anonymous at 2:11 PM Delete

I am not surprised to hear this at all. As far as I know there are actually more males than one would think who suffer from eating disorders for various reasons, many of them actually sports related.

I think more of them fly under the radar than women because the people who normally might catch it don't know to look for it. Especially if it's someone who's otherwise athletic or active.

Yeah, basically, people suck.

said by KT at 2:54 PM Delete

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