Thursday, 4 April 2013

Fat Woman and the infinite capacity for evil

Fat Woman often tells Thin Husband that there is no morality attached to food. Nothing makes steam come out of Fat Woman's ears like someone saying how good they were because they ate this or didn't eat that. Fat Woman finds such people boring, self-involved and often on the verge of an eating disorder. Fat Woman wants to tell these people how good she is because ate the whole cake and didn't bring any to tempt them. That is on a good day. On a bad day Fat Woman wants to tell them that if they want to be considered good by anything than the most image-obsessed individual they should go out and do some charity work and do something that will benefit the world. Fat Woman has raised £500 for good causes in the last month through pushing cake (Take The Cake initiative for the Classic FM Foundation, supporting music therapy) and peddling chocolate to children (Easter Egg hunt in aid of local country park).

Fat Woman was overjoyed when she found that the great CS Lewis had not only recognised this annoying trait but in his Screwtape Letters had explained why it is an actual sin.
The contemptuous way in which you spoke of gluttony as a means of catching souls, in your last letter, only shows your ignorance. One of the great, achievements of the last hundred years has been to deaden the human conscience on that subject, so that by now you will hardly find a sermon preached or a conscience troubled about it in the whole length and breadth of Europe. This has largely been effected by concentrating all our efforts on gluttony of Delicacy, not gluttony of Excess. Your patient's mother, as I learn from the dossier and you might have learned from Glubose, is a good example. She would be astonished—one day, I hope, will be—to learn that her whole life is enslaved to this kind of sensuality, which is quite concealed from her by the fact that the quantities involved are small. But what do quantities matter, provided we can use a human belly and palate to produce querulousness, impatience, uncharitableness, and self-concern? Glubose has this old woman well in hand. She is a positive terror to hostesses and servants. She is always turning from what has been offered her to say with a demure little sign and a smile "Oh please, please...all I want is a cup of tea, weak but not too weak, and the teenies weeniest bit of really crisp toast". You see? Because what she wants is smaller and less costly than what has been set before her, she never recognises as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others. At the very moment of indulging her appetite she believes that she is practising temperance. In a crowded restaurant she gives a little scream at the plate which some overworked waitress has set before her and says, "Oh, that's far, far too much! Take it away and bring me about a quarter of it". If challenged, she would say she was doing this to avoid waste; in reality she does it because the particular shade of delicacy to which we have enslaved her is offended by the sight of more food than she happens to want. The real value of the quiet, unobtrusive work which Glubose has been doing for years on this old woman can be gauged by the way in which her belly now dominates her whole life.
Fat Woman has had far too many of such people in her life, nearly all of them women. There are many who indulge in the gluttony of Delicacy in the fitness industry, although they are inclined to brand it "healthy". Fat Woman doesn't care what other people get up to but really hates the way some people like to use "healthy" as a yardstick to beat you with. Fat Woman is firmly convinced that "healthy food"  is not an absolute, but is a sliding scale.

Fat Woman's primary healthy food metric is her calorie count. Losing weight is a big health concern for Fat Woman and controlling her calorie consumption is the best way for her to do this. Fat Woman will go so far as to say that calorie control is the only way that dieting has ever brought about permanent weight loss for her. Fat Woman likes the freedom of the calorie controlled diet. The nutrition professor who lost 27lb eating junk food proved this point to Fat Woman's satisfaction. So long as Fat Woman eats fewer calories than she burns she knows she will lose weight. However, calorie count is only the first and most important target that Fat Woman uses. Fat Woman then concentrates on having a nutritionally balanced diet, with a certain of protein in each meal and a ratio of carbs and fats, with as much fibre as possible and only a little sugar. Fat Woman does this because it allows her to enjoy her food and helps her to feel full and well. The nutritional balance is Fat Woman's second target.

Fat Woman's third target is the more generic 'healthy eating', that is to say Fat Woman likes to eat either unprocessed food or food such as bread that she could make herself. Fat Woman does eat some processed foods such as granola for breakfast and cereal bars and oatcakes for snacks, but there aren't that many of them in Fat Woman's diet.

The underlying consideration of all Fat Woman's diet efforts is that she doesn't want to develop disordered eating. Fat Woman has got past 35 without developing an eating disorder and isn't keen to get one. Fat Woman makes sure she is fuelled for her life and also that she is mindful about food, enjoying it as a part of life and a good thing. Food is so much more than fuel, and reconising this means Fat Woman can have a healthy relationship with it.

Once again Fat Woman has banged heads with Personal Trainer over food.

Fat Woman spent a day going on a five mile walk with a friend and two dogs. Fat Woman had her usual breakfast plus a protein shake (550 calories) plus a cereal bar on the way to the walk site (200 calories). Fat Woman then walked for two and a half hours, had a cup of tea and 110 calories of oat biscuits, then set off to get fish and chips - another thirty minutes walk to get there. Total calories by 2pm: 880. Fat Woman thought this would be enough to get her through to a late lunch. Immediately before lunch was ordered Fat Woman crashed. Fat Woman hardly ate any chips, but managed her fish in batter. It took a packet of fruit pastilles and some chocolate to make Fat Woman feel okay.

Fat Woman explained this to Personal Trainer because she was seeking advice on better fuelling for long exercise. Fat Woman hasn't ever walked five miles for fun and enjoyed every mile before. If Fat Woman had proper walking boots she would have been happy to go on a lot longer. This was a new experience for Fat Woman. The last time Fat Woman did such a long walk the final two miles were torturous for her. Fat Woman had thought she would be fuelled but obviously hadn't managed to get he nutrition right. Unfortunately Personal Trainer seemed to get stuck on Fat Woman's remedy for her crash, rather than her nutrition leading up to it so she could avoid it. Fat Woman found this obtuseness massively frustrating and backed off from the conversation because she hates it when Personal Trainer picks on a food choice that he considers less than perfect. There was absolutely no way Fat Woman was going to go to the seaside, walk five miles and not have fish and chips. Fat Woman considers that a large part of walking five miles is so you can have fish and chips afterwards without it being too many calories. Personal Trainer said he would rather see Fat Woman having some brown rice or a jacket potato. Fat Woman looked at Personal Trainer in amazement wondering what the hallelujah he thought she ate most of the time and also what the heffalump he thought she was going to eat after a five mile seaside walk. There is only one Pret a Manger in Norfolk and it isn't in a little seaside town where the pannin was introduced in 2011.

Fat Woman had brought Personal Trainer clotted cream fudge from the seaside. Personal Trainer was very pleased with the sugary, fatty goodies and will no doubt have eaten them by the time this blog is posted.


Having recovered from her long walk Fat Woman has been eating healthy food of which Personal Trainer approves. Fat Woman has Nairn's chocolate oat cakes at just 57 each. Fat Woman also has full fat Philadelphia soft cheese, also stamped with the Personal Trainer seal of approval, and fresh raspberries. Fat Woman has found that if you spread a chocolate oat cake with full fat Philadelphia cheese and ram some Tesco Finest raspberries on top you have a damn fine chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Fat Woman has an utter genius for subversion. Diet food becomes naughty, evil pudding Well, not evil in Fat Woman's world because Fat Woman does not attach morality to food. But it tastes so goooood! It must be bad for you. If one isn't bad for you then surely five must be.

Once again, Fat Woman has proved that food itself is not inherently evil, it's what you do with it that counts. And what Fat Woman did with it was, of course, eat it.

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