Thursday, June 30, 2011

Junk Food: 7- Eleven Visit

I love 7- Eleven: open 24/7, delicious coffee and a hearkening back to my pig out days of junk food mayhem. I could count on them to supply me with my favorite treats: fire-breathing Doritos, Entenmann's (local bakery on LI that mass produces bakery items and ships them all over) any Ben and Jerry's, hot dogs with chili and cheese add-ons, sandwiches (home made from a Kosher Deli that used to deliver) and yipee, corn muffins. Ah yes, those were the days of reflux, binge eating and sleepless nights where I'd awaken with a start having aspirated food in my lungs, choking and coughing with heavy breathing, thinking I was having a heart attack. The worst was when "I didn't care about my weight" and stopped looking in the mirror, halted weighing myself and refused to look in the direction of anything tantamount to a reflected surface (i.e. store window, friend's stainless steel fridge) or my shadow at 10:00 am or 4:00 pm. Was I that HUGE? Duh!

Now I've returned to my 7- Eleven days, for coffee, cough drops and the ATM machine for quick cash or the occasional house item that I've run out of and realize I need at 1:00 am. Evian water, the Sunday paper. I avoid all the central aisles filled with junk food, processed food and chemical food. I avoid all the "fresh" food in the refrigerated units (a lot of it sitting there for a few days except for the cold drinks) and the hot foods: pizza, hot dogs, fried chicken, etc...all looking very "fine," but very fat and ILL. (For those of you unfamiliar with such slang...that isn't praiseworthy.) For convenience, 7- Eleven is 100% and you pay for that with some pricey items (paper napkins, detergent, pet food). But like a casino in Las Vegas, the "food" and especially the junk food is cheeeeep!

Folks, this is deception at its finest. Welcome to the food corporations of America Mega Millions! Mass produced chemicalized foods, what I call junk food, appears cheap, in comparison to organic food items, fresh local produce and quality food served in restaurants like Craft or Blue Hill Farms.  But if you swallow enough of 7-Eleven garbage food over a period of years without really thinking about it, you will come out with a disease entity: obesity, reflux, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc., that will be costly to treat over the long haul. If I have to spend money, I'd rather spend it on quality food for a high price and not worry about the high blood pressure, or reflux I will have to find treatments for to alleviate my physical stress as my body unsuccessfully attempts to purify itself from the long, slow process of liver, kidney, gall bladder and other organ debilitation created by poisoning elements of tasty treats especially designed by the Agra- business and the food company industrial complex to addict me.

Back to 7-Eleven. In there Friday getting coffee. (Hold onto your shirtsleeves; it's an antioxidant, and I am addicted and have to go on The Master Cleanse to get off it, I know, and will.) I see a young black woman with a beautiful face. She is dressed in slacks and salmon pullover top. I pay for my coffee. She puts a bag of Doritos, a bagel and a bag of Cheetos on the counter to pay for them. A fresh apple or banana would have cost less in the short term and long term. 7- Eleven did have both. Did her food selection matter? Not to me. But it did matter to her. She was over 100 pounds overweight. It mattered. I would never say anything to a stranger and I would interpret any intrusion on my space with regard to my food choices as rude and "none of your business." But I made a mental note as a researcher and writer. In this instance, there was probably a correlation between food choice and obesity. (There was with me.) And unfortunately, there also might be a correlation between obesity and race.

Later, I went to a friend's room; she is being rehabbed. After a longer than usual wait, I got into the elevator with a number of women. Two Caucasian women (me and another woman) were thin. Two Asian women, (a mother daughter team) were thin. Three lovely black women (staffers, two whom I recognized are really nice) all were obese:  not overweight, obese. There is a prevalence of obesity across racial lines.
But that is most likely because non-celebrity black women aren't influenced by iconic beauty images spawned by the Culture of Thin as much as white women are. (click link) It could also be related to issues of economic well being and food choice.

I come from an era where Black is Beautiful. And regardless of whether one is fat or thin, a woman's beauty shines, (even if she is an ugly witch inside). I, too, along with bloggers and commentators decry the Japanese blogger whose post was removed because of what he alleges he discovered. After he posits that black women are on average heavier than other women racially (OK. That is statistically proven in national studies.) he then goes off into insanity making claims using faux genetics about their beauty. If he had just said he was biased toward very thin Asian women, he would have been honest and everyone would have left it alone and ignored him. Bias is bias. Admit it, Mr. K. But to pretend there is validity to your "thesis"?  Ha, ha. The area of Psychology has enough problems of its own. It doesn't need your malarky to infantalize it any further. Freud did a good job of that.

Junk food is healthier than such baloney! But don't eat either, if you can help it. Just use 7- Eleven as a Convenience Store for items you discover you need at 1:00 am in the morning.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Genie's Lap Band Surgery Series, Part III: Updates

My Patchogue HS classmate and friend had Lap Band surgery and kindly shared her decision about choosing Lap Band over Gastric By Pass (dangerous) and her experiences before and afterward. Genie shared these first in her post and then I visited again with her in Part II of the Lap Band series in an interview. This is an update four weeks later.

Mike, Genie and Joe (Genie's husband Jim took the picture. Mike is engaged; Joe is married with two children.)
Genie has continued to lose weight slowly, which is the best weight loss. She is moving onward and making progress in her journey to relearn how to eat healthily, gauging portion control when eating out (bringing home a doggie bag where before she would eat the entire meal) and rethinking food selections.

For breakfast, she will have a flavored Greek yogurt which is less sweet at 140 calories and which is condensed and more substantial than other yogurts. During the day, she is currently favoring smoothies that she makes in a Vitasmart, a super fast food processor great for making drinks (in the past, margaritas) and setting up soups like French onion or vegetable soups. She also makes thick shakes with vegetables she likes, i.e. broccoli, carrots, and mixed vegetables, always fresh in the summer mixed with yogurt or another shake mix, using soy protein, Greek yogurt or nonfat milk. For a delicious smoothie, she makes fresh strawberries, cut up in quarters or halves, Greek yogurt and Agave which is a sugar substitute.

We discussed portion sizes in comparison with the past. When we used to go out to eat in the 1960s to our favorite diner or restaurant on LI, the sizes of the burgers, the salads, the french fries and the entrees were moderate; they fit inside the plate with an inch or two of room to spare. Now, of course, such items are piled high and hang over the plate in some instance (prime rib). Genie laughed, "On the Today Show, they were saying that the portions are 14 % larger than they were in the past, adding an additional 4000 calories to our food intake each week."

No wonder that the American waistline is expanding and those who are not necessarily in the two-thirds of the population currently dieting, will gain 10 pounds each year if they are not careful to exercise regularly in the gym or engage in a sport like tennis, cycling, or a team sport with friends. Portion sizes (except in upscale restaurants which cater to the wealthy uber thin women and  health conscious who pay to have gourmet meals in celebrity chef restaurants) are unnecessarily huge and the paying public expects them to be oversized. I find this to be especially true the farther ones goes from  NYC, and out on LI and up in Westchester and the other NY counties, unless it is to the CIA upstate or other foodie places.

For dinner Genie has been having pre made salads topped with chicken or turkey that she often gets at the Farmer's Market. If food is not in the house, all the better. Then she won't see it and she won't eat it. Not having food around or being near food is a good thing: out of sight, out of mind. The grazing and nibbling between meals has been curtailed and she is trying not to overeat, trying not to get sick and eat more than her lap band will allow; avoiding the syndrome of letting the memory of her former appetite override what her stomach can bear. And for the most part she is succeeding. It is a retraining that is laborious, slow and steady. The weight did not come on in five month or even one or two years. Genie has been practiced in her old eating habits for many years. It will be a steady, slow process to reverse them, sometimes through trial and error. But her food habits are being revamped and she is moving forward.

Genie will go in for a readjustment in one month's time. I asked her what a readjustment was. "The doctor sticks a needle in my stomach, finds the portal and injects saline into the contraption to tighten the lap band which does have some give. When it's tighter, my stomach notifies me that I must not overfeed it or I'll become ill and vomit. The threshold for allowing food is decreased and I will feel full with less food than before the tightening, so I'll eat less. Eating less means I'll continue to lose weight. The tightening ultimately translates into more retraining, more portion control, more weight loss.

When I asked Genie what she thought of shows like The Biggest Loser, she made a telling observation based upon her experience with "Extreme Makeover, the reality series about home make-overs which visited a neighboring town and conducted a makeover of a couple's house. The story behind the scenes was very different from the impression givens before the cameras. People were asked to donate materials and supplies, time and effort to help the contractor in charge upgrade the house. Rumor had it that in a number of instances, the mortgages used for the makeover upgrades had been defaulted on and foreclosed. And the people who had sealed their claim to fame in having their house made over, later sealed their doom in not being able to pay back the mortgage.

Likewise, Genie feels that in The Biggest Loser, the more interesting story is behind the scenes. Because participants most likely have to sign non disclosure agreements to be in front of the cameras, they cannot tell the truth about what their weight loss was really like behind the cameras, with the digital edit suited to the viewpoint of the show's producers. Genie felt the show was exploitative and encouraged negative practices for weight loss: fast, artificial (How many people can afford a trainer, etc.) and highly supportive, initially with abandonment after the show is over. And the follow up? What happens when the contest is over? What happens when the contestants go home to the environment which spawned their obesity? To what extent did they, in that relatively short period of time, deal with, work through and free themselves of the incredibly complex issues (emotional, physical, psychological, social, spiritual) that mired them in weight gain to begin with? Like Genie says, "It's all in the back story." We'll never know it unless someone breaks their confidentiality agreement and comes forward.

For now, weight loss like Genie's is not a "show," it's a hard reality. At times it can be lonely and depressing. Other times it can be exhilarating, especially when a barrier or weight plateau has been broken. That's what we're waiting for. The next milestone in Genie's weight loss.

For anyone interested in pursuing lap band surgery and speaking to those who have had it, you may contact and join the following site. Individuals who have already had the surgery and have lost weight will give you information, tips and explanations you may need to help you make an informed decision beyond what your doctor tells you.