One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

INSIGHTS

The "Paula Deen" Culture

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Last week we had a great conversation about the San Francisco law concerning kids toys and happy meals. Without rehashing that debate I want to quote myself, as obnoxious as that is…

We have to change our culture not create more laws. Education, spreading a culture of health will go a lot further. Let’s build more side walks, fund more physical education and health courses in our schools, make healthy whole foods more accessible and affordable.

I truly believe this with all my heart. I’m tired of battling people on the "healthy" front. Including my own family. Last night I had an argument fun, lively discussion with the husband about walking to the park vs. driving. We literally live an 8th of a mile from a park (I know this as I run and have clocked it) and he wants to drive there. DRIVE! It reminded me of this funny picture

motivational poster

I see hoards of people waiting in line of a 3 story building to take the elevator instead of the stairs or people circling parking lots waiting for a close spot to open up when there are tons free just a little further back. I’m sure SOME of these people have valid reasons to take the elevator or require a close spot but I’d wager the majority of them are just being, well, I hate to say it, lazy.

Besides the activity front, or lack of, our food culture revolves around convenience and indulgence. I watch the food network and cringe at the amount of butter and sugar used for basic, otherwise healthy meals. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT against any particular food, processed, convenience, or otherwise. My pantry has bags of chips, sugar, chocolate chips, and more pre-packaged baked goods than I’d like to admit. I take my son to the candy store on a weekly basis. I am NOT about avoiding anything. I truly believe in moderation and I think it’s VERY possible to indulge and eat a balanced diet. These things aren’t in competition.

I don’t normally go down this path. I believe in staying positive, doing my own thing and not focusing on the negative BUT we live in a world where obesity numbers are shoved down our throats yet we still feed crap in our schools and build more fast food restaurants than side walks.

I was inspired to write this post after having the following conversation on twitter with @ChrisPeden. I don’t mean to pick on Chris he was just the catalyst for me to explore these feelings of mine. Here’s what we discussed yesterday…

I tweeted out this link to an article I wrote for the Patch

Are you cooking Thanksgiving this year? How about trying one of these simple healthy ideas?

I’m not against indulging on Thanksgiving but I don’t see anything wrong with spreading some ideas to include more vegetables and having fun trying new dishes on this food centric holiday. That’s not how Chris interpreted. He responded with…

@RoniNoone oh come on roni, thanksgiving should be day for indulging!’

Now if you know me, I rarely let things go. I felt the need to defend my healthy Thanksgiving approach…

@ChrisPeden Oh I indulge.. don’t u worry. But I also like making healthy meals for my family! All in moderation why go completely overboard?

His response…

@RoniNoone one day won’t kill ya. I spend every other day watching my diet.

Here’s the funny thing I agree with him BUT why point the finger at someone who’s trying to inspire by injecting some good healthy food on Thanksgiving? I just don’t understand. So I responded…

@ChrisPeden You are right. But if I want to be a little healthier what do you care? To each their own.

And then I find out he’s just trying to push my buttons…

@RoniNoone oh I don’t care. Of course to each their own. Just playing devils advocate.

I also enjoy playing devil’s advocate BUT I refuse to feel guilty about serving healthy meals to my family on Thanksgiving or any day of the year. It truly does make me feel good and it’s how I take care of my own.

@ChrisPeden You won’t get a rise out of me. ;) I totally agree w/ you but I still like to put a healthy spin on things. It makes me feel good

THEN the truth comes out….

@RoniNoone truth be told I would like to but extended family is so country they turn their noses up at anything not made Paula Deen style

The conversation ended with me saying…

@ChrisPeden lol yea.. I can see that being an issue. I tend to make my family deal. ;)

And I do. I make them deal. I feel bad for Chris. It’s hard to fight not only our unhealthy culture but your own family as well. I feel like he was trying to make himself feel better by playing devils advocate with me.

I refuse to subscribe to the "Paul Deen" culture of butter, butter, butter that Chris brought up. I like to FEEL good and making healthier choices FEELS good. Running helps me FEEL good. Watching my son eat a plate full of broccoli FEELS good probably as much as others feel good making an indulgant dish on Thanksgiving. Hey.. to each thier own but I show love with vegetables NOT butter and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. That’s the culture I want to spread and I refuse to feel guilty about it.

Note: I read this post to the husband to proofread to which his response was, “I don’t care I’m still driving to the God Damn park!” LMAO he CLAIMS it’s a “logistical decision.”

Note 2: I feel the need to add I LOVE Paula Deen and actually watch her show all the time. Again, everything in moderation. The only reason I picked on her was because of Chris’s tweet about his family.



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Discussion

There are 35 comments so far.

    Lori

    November 18, 2010

    Keep putting your healthy ideas out there, last year I made your mashed potatoes and no one ever knew the difference especially my father who would swear to know the difference but loads everything up with ketchup and salt so it all tastes the same! I also make lots of veggies with butter on the side, more for my father than anyone else. That’s why I like cooking Thanksgiving, control! lol

    Lori

    November 18, 2010

    Oh yeah, also agree with the more sidewalk thing. I would love to walk to the grocery store with the kids during the summer since it is only about a mile away but there are not sidewalks to get us the whole way there. Too dangerous to not walk on the sidewalk.

    jessica

    November 18, 2010

    So – did you at least have fun @ the park? LOL. This is going to sound really bad but my parents still host Thanksgiving. The family was the southern type that it HAD to have lots of butter and sugar. Now, my Mother is a type 2 diabetic and so my healthy alternatives are appreciated. Hated that she had to get a disease, though, in order to not get my healthy options accepted.

    roni

    November 18, 2010

    LOL we do and the husband is a good sport. We just have different goals I guess.

    jessica

    November 18, 2010

    typo above – please disregard the ‘not’ in my last sentence

    Stephanie

    November 18, 2010

    I totally agree with adding healthy changes when possible. Sometimes those healthy differences go unnoticed and it benefits everyone in the mean time. It’s all about the baby steps and doing what you can, when you can, right? =)

    Oh yeah, I just had steel cut oats in the crock pot. GENIUS.

    Dana

    November 18, 2010

    I have a similar situation to Jessica’s. Only the diabetics in my family aren’t following any type of eating plan. : (

    We are lucky and have no food allergies in the family. So I sneak in the healthy things that I can like no-fat sour cream for dips, etc.

    Roni – my husband would be the same way…just because I think it’s good for me and he thinks it’s good for me…doesn’t make it good for him LOL

    Josie @ Skinny Way Of Life

    November 18, 2010

    I agree, It’s hard to fight the cultural norm of what a Holiday meal should be. My favorite thing to do is lighten meals up by not altering the taste. It can be tough but I love a challenge. My husband’s side of the family has only ever ate meals full of fat, it’s sad they really don’t know what the true taste of a dish can be. My husband has battled weight his whole life b/c of this, but he realized as he got older this isn’t a good way of life (however I can not get him to walk either! ::sigh:: one thing at a time…) I love taking the challenge of serving them a healthy meal and I NEVER get one complaint. I will never feel guilty for serving good wholesome food, the same way I won’t feel guilty for using real butter instead of margarine. Everything in moderation- It’s amazing how having a family can change your whole outlook on food : )

    Melissa (@MelGetsFit)

    November 18, 2010

    I agree about the whole moderation part. The first year I served steamed green beans with almonds, I got a few dirty looks from folks wondering why there was no green bean casserole. Now that I’ve done it a couple of years, no one thinks twice about it. It can definitely be a challenge to turn the tide on things like Thanksgiving traditions, but not impossible. I figured I would rather forgo the green bean casserole and have something I really want, like a piece of pumpkin pie. :)

    Melissa (@MelGetsFit)

    November 18, 2010

    BTW, forgot to mention that I’ve been to that 24 Hour Fitness. It’s down in San Diego. I took the stairs. :)

    Carrie

    November 18, 2010

    You keep goin girl! I am going to make the sweet potatoes in the crock pot and wouldn’t have found that if you didn’t put it out there!

    Helen

    November 18, 2010

    I have to say, I don’t feel guilty at all when I have a bit of the gazillion calorie sweet potato casserole. It’s only one day. But not everything on my plate is calorie and butter laden either. Out of necessity in some cases (i.e. medical reasons) our family meal has become a mix of the traditional and the newer, lighter fare. It works and everyone is happy.

    Erica

    November 18, 2010

    I have to say, I agree with you 100%. And, your husband sounds like mine. Way to stand up for what not only intellectually makes sense to you, but emotionally too! I hope you have a happy, healthy, Thanksgiving!

    Christine

    November 18, 2010

    I agree with you. I also think that the Paula Deen style of cooking is not the main issue with American obesity. My Grandma cooked like Paula and lived to 98. The fast food, processed food, huge portions and lack of activity are the issue. Now if you make one of Paula’s pies and eat the whole thing then you have an issue :) It is a hard topic and something I am really struggling with right now because of the holidays. So many of our traditions are tied to food and I am trying to give my daughters a wonderful holiday with a healthy balance of the fun foods. They are still very young so luckily I have a few years to figure it out!

    roni

    November 18, 2010

    Helen – And you totally should NOT feel guilty just as I won’t for skipping the butter in my mashed potatoes.

    roni

    November 18, 2010

    Christine – I think your right. It isn’t the main cause. I’m not sure we can point to ONE root cause. It’s the combination of everything I tried to express in my post (albeit probably poorly)
    I’m just tired of people trying to influence me out of my healthier choices. Just as I’m just Paula is sick of those telling her to reduce the butter. lol

    Lisa

    November 18, 2010

    While my gym is closed for remodeling I’m going to a different one. The parking lot and garage are 100% full as a result of this. It’s very frustrating. After driving around getting mad (and thinking about going home instead) I decided to just park down the street and WALK. ;)

    Christine (in CA)

    November 18, 2010

    Hubby and I are constantly — discussing this subject — it took me 5 years to encourage (make) him eat wheat pasta and enjoy low fat ice cream. The kids complained but now they just deal with it. I worry about it and make an effort to provide healthy alternatives for my family without making them feel like they can’t have something. (When I am on a business trip they eat fast food and pizza.) :0)

    Oh, hubby’s family is naturally thin with bad lab work. So they may look thin but the heart, blood pressure, glucose, etc is not so good. My family has obese and morbidly BMIs with awesome lab tests.

    I feel as though I am fighting a war for their lives but it is worth it!

    I am totally there with ya! I’m all for indulging here and there and enjoying food, even food with “real” butter and “real” sugar and whatnot, but sometimes the excess is just ridiculous and unnecessary. Every weekend I host dinner at my house with a bunch of friends, and it’s the one night a week I make dessert. I don’t typically “lighten” my desserts that much, but when one particular cupcake recipe called for a full CUP of oil, I could not let that go. I replaced all the oil with part fat-free strained yogurt, and mostly unsweetened applesauce. And you know what? Everyone LOVED the cupcakes. I took these same cupcakes to a bridal shower and again, everyone LOOOOVED them.

    Sometimes I think people just use that much of an ingredient because that’s what’s always been used (oil for moisture) and don’t give it any further thought. And some other times I think people just use excess for the heck of it, thinking that more butter will make it taste better, but really it makes no difference.

    I will use heavy cream, real butter, shortening, and oil when it really makes an obvious difference. I will use real butter in my cookies, but I will not use oil in my cakes. Every time I’ve served cake made with applesauce, people have PREFERRED the flavor and texture over any cake made with oil.

    CarolineC

    November 18, 2010

    Roni, I can so feel your frustration with society in general and it is so true. What kills me is all my overweight friends who are constantly complaining about their weight, but all they seem to post on facebook is links about free Starbucks holiday drinks and free McDonald’s and free CRAP. They are constantly rolling their eyes at me about limiting my kid’s junk food as if I’m the total nazi Mom. Well, my kids are NOT overweight and never will be while I am making all the food choices. And they are very good eaters (they really liked those lentil/eggplant burgers of yours that I made the other day!) They eat whatever we eat. And they do have treats. But “treat” means occasionally, not daily. Luckily, I do not have to negotiate with the husband about this, because we see eye to eye about it (having both been overweight kids ourselves and we are both very into health and fitness now). Stick to your guns! You are right and society is wrong.

    We always have Thanksgiving with several other families who, like us, don’t have extended family living nearby (lots of transplants in Florida). It’s potluck. We always bring healthy things, like a fresh green bean casserole instead of the traditional canned green beans/mushroom soup variety, or pumpkin cookies vs. traditional pumpkin pie. And often we are the only people who really eat and enjoy the things we bring. Oh well. We try! And we actually like what we bring :) I am ALWAYS grateful when someone offers healthy alternatives at parties.

    Deanna - The Unnatural Mother

    November 18, 2010

    You said it best…everything in moderation!!

    D

    November 18, 2010

    I agree with you TOTALLY, Roni. I’ve faced the same fights. However, when we have a large family get-together, I go w/ what they’ll eat (BBQ in the summer is hamburgers & hotdogs BUT I add healthy choices – lots of them, cut veggies, salad, and chicken and/or veggie burgers – our last family get-together we ran out of the chicken & veggie burgers! yah!). My family is still into all the junk, although many are making better choices. We do have a family member who is crazily into healthy food, and by that I mean she will not allow anything else, which does get everyone’s goat up…Food is becoming such a big issue at these things (and more than just stuffing yourself with it).
    Oh and walk to the park??? NOOOOOOO. LOL
    D

    Sarah

    November 18, 2010

    I totally agree with you, Roni! I have just moved to America and love the Food Network. I am BAFFLED by Paula Deen and her need to put pounds of butter in everything. One day, I don’t know what she as making, but she said the recipe called for one stick of butter but she always puts in two. WTF? How is she not dead yet?

    Kim

    November 18, 2010

    A lot of truth is spoken here by many folks… and you know what – as adults, we have the “choice” to put whatever we want in our bodies – but our kids are subject to what “we” give them, or the school or babysitter, etc… and yes – our nation has issues and our schools have issues when it comes to food…

    I think the beauty of Roni’s site is – she is trying to make a change in how “she” raises her family when it comes to food – and her passion about it is graciously shared with us…and if we are inspired to change our over indulgent ways – – GREAT!

    We should try to live by the 80/20 rule or 90/10 rule depending on your choice – 80-90% of the time choose healthy items – and 10-20% of the time – splurge on the “treat” you love!

    I’ll bet that Roni’s hubby has changed some of the ways he has eaten – even if it’s just a little bit… and guess what – every little bit counts!

    ROCK ON RONI!!!!

    Aimee

    November 18, 2010

    I love your recipes!! I really enjoy lightening up recipes and sharing them with family. I don’t always admit to adding healthy ingredients right away. Sometimes I wait for a reaction and then I share the details. My family has been stuck in their ways for many many years – pasta at every meal, heaping mounds of food, seconds at every sitting, dessert 20 minutes after dinner, hot dogs and hamburgers at every cook out, and that general opinion that there must be something wrong if you’re not indulging like everyone else. It is nice that they are coming around and at least trying to adopt new habits here and there.

    All we can do is do what is right for us and lead by example. Keep up all the great work you do.

    alicia

    November 18, 2010

    i also agree with christine. i always refer to people in other parts of the world, like in western europe where nobody is afraid to eat rich foods and use plenty of butter/oil in cooking. however, they are nowhere near as heavy as most americans, because they eat in moderation and are much more active. or in places like mongolia where meat and dairy are the staples of their diet, but again, they are very active. true, paula deen does create some excessively fat-filled foods, but a lot of the things she cooks, people have been eating for many years before the rise of obesity in america.
    you have the absolute right to feed your family whatever you like and i commend you for teaching your children healthy habits. i just wish that eating a good balance of “healthy” and more “indulgent” (i hate the way those terms are used, but just for example..) food was common practice, without having to obsess.

    Runeatrepeat

    November 18, 2010

    I believe in everything in moderation – except on Thanksgiving. It’s a rule I live by :)
    But, I do appreciate one good veggie option on T-day. My family drowns everything in butter and calls it a vegetable.

    Charity Froggenhall

    November 18, 2010

    The thing is, if you really do eat healthy the rest of the year, it IS okay to indulge on Thanksgiving. But how many Americans really eat healthy? Then they say it’s a holiday so I “deserve” a treat, even though their everyday diet is a never-ending round of treats. Feh!

    Mary Nell

    November 18, 2010

    It is all about shifting perspective. I used to dread going out with my “healthy” friends to eat until I realized that they truly enjoyed the healthy food more–while I was depriving myself while not getting the wings, they really didn’t desire them. Now that I’ve changed my eating habits (instead of “dieting”), I get it. I now will crave healthy options, a totally new phenomenon for me. And I’ve become comfortable with myself and my choices so I no longer feel the guilt that I once did. I think that is what people have a problem with–the guilt they feel about their own choices when they see people making different ones. Just a thought…and since it is close to Thanksgiving, let me say I’m so thankful for blogs like Roni’s that help motivate and inspire :).

    Kerry

    November 18, 2010

    I think this topic gets so complicated because we are each on a different place on the ‘change curve’ if you will. Many of us have made a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, which certainly allows indulgences but values healthy eating and exercise. And yet others are in denial about the need for a healthy lifestyle, or are resisting the change.

    I try to demonstrate how great it feels to cook and serve healthy foods, and suggest that we take a walk. Sometimes that helps someone move towards change, sometimes it doesn’t, but I am just going to keep on doing it.

    BigTickles

    November 19, 2010

    Oh my…do not get me started on Paula “I’m not your doctor, I’m your cook”! (Her response to Oprah’s question about how “interesting” some of her recipes are).

    I do believe in treating myself over the holidays which means instead of 1 slice of apple pie, I will have 1.5 slice and call it a day. Then we are all going for a walk. ;-)

    I think that you can indulge over the holiday but you do not have to lose your mind in the process. The food is not going anywhere. Trust me, you can still eat the leftovers days after – haha!

    Denise

    November 19, 2010

    Here’s what really hit me as I was reading the original post and all of the comments that followed: as long as your Thanksgiving is centered on the people you are eating with, being grateful for the blessings in your life, and really appreciating the food that you eat – whether butter drenched or steamed – then your day will be wonderful. I think too many people focus on the food instead of the real reason for the holiday (giving thanks) and I think it’s a shame.

    Denise

    November 19, 2010

    p.s. Should have added that I think both Roni and the commenters have got the real reason for the holiday in their hearts…no criticism of anyone here is intended.

    roni

    November 19, 2010

    I think you are TOTALLY right. My post was really in response to feeling criticized for the way I want to cook and serve food on, what is, a very family centric holiday. For me, the holiday is all about getting my family together around a healthy meal and being thankful for each other.

    Ami

    November 22, 2010

    I think a great thing about Thanksgiving is that there are more veggies than normal on the table. Although I’m of the opinion that raw & full fat dairy is good for us, but sugar gets the axe. I love using real foods to make all the seasonal veggies so mouth-watering! By the way, I made the braised cabbage last night. Delicious! Cabbage is so underrated!