Sunday, January 9, 2011

Please, Refer Sandra For Much Needed Help!

This is not a planned post. But feeling sickened reading today’s NY Time’s article by Sandra Tsing Loh, entitled Taking a Leap of Faith Onto the Scale
I simply couldn’t remain silent. The damaging content just can’t go without a corrective response.

I was drawn in by the promising first line, which ended with “…I can say I am at least one of the few American women who is not obsessed with her weight.” Really? Dear readers, is it me that needs a reality check? Please read this article and confirm that I haven’t missed a bad joke.

After cleverly acknowledging her healthy relationship with her scale, suggesting a healthy relationship with her weight and body, I was horrified to read what follows. That she’s crafted an eating regimen for weight control from a variety of sources—Pritikin, Atkins, Zone, etcetera. And that, (brace yourself eating disordered readers, for what follows can be triggering),”the secret is to eat just one meal a day. I…ingest nothing but coffee starting from the time I get up until…the magical time of 5”(as in PM). And yes, she acknowledges, she’s “pretty hungry” by then.

She then describes how full she felt on her Spa vacation, eating prawns and jicama (trust me, hardly calorie dense), feeling the need to get home to be able to slim down. Did I mention this was a healthy, fitness focused SPA vacation?

Throughout the article, this “not-obsessed-with-my-weight” writer obsessively describes her weight, describing numbers as “depressing” and “terrifying” that are within the range for any healthy, 5’8” female. She further describes herself as a "...circus-elephant-like 147 1/2 pounds..." And she ends with her New Year’s Resolution—“Back to black coffee!”

So why spend my Sunday afternoon ranting about this? Because if you are at a vulnerable place and happen to stumble upon this (or other such pieces), it is very likely to set you back. Seeing things in print somehow makes them trustworthy, even if the content if outrageous, unhealthy, disordered, distorted.

So question what you read. And get angry, please! But direct that anger not against yourself, but in a rebuttal to the source. 
Please feel free to share your reactions here as well. I truly welcome your comments! Thanks for hearing me out! I needed to vent!


  1. I may be triggered by a lot of things, but even I know that eating just one meal a day is just plain stupid...for so many reasons. What's more idiotic than this article is the editor who let it be published. There are certainly some crazy ideas out there of what eating should look like(especially this time of year). Case in point:

    1. Slim Fast "Because who has time to slim slowly?"

    2. Kellog's Special K: How many times per day do they want me to eat cereal?

    Those are just a couple commercials I've seen recently that got my blood pumping. It's like America wants people to develop eating disorders.


  2. She seems to be approaching weight maintenance in a completely distorted way. While I commend her for not owning a scale--throwing out my own was an utterly terrifying moment, but one that ultimately lead to diminished obsessiveness about the number it showed--I find it hard to believe that keeping a wardrobe full of "threatening jeans" that can "disturb her equilibrium" is any better than knowing the number on the scale. To me, the size on a pair of jeans is equally terrifying as knowing the number on the scale--they both represent (in the distorted logic of disordered eating) self-discipline, self-worth, and attractiveness.

    Additionally, I find it hard to believe that after a day of fasting and subsisting on caffeine, she "slowly and mindfully" begins to eat at 5pm. Ignoring hunger cues is a slippery slope, and "slow and mindful" eating is certainly not what happens after a period of starvation--at least not in my experience.

    Lastly, how sad that she spent her spa vacation--where she could have been hiking, practicing yoga, and appreciating the activities that her body lets her do--obsessing about fitting into her jeans. Life is too short to spend so much time loathing your body!

  3. Great comments, Emily and Hannah! It's a sure sign that a part of you is truly healthy when you can further identify the crazy messages in this article and all around us!

  4. Firstly Lori, can I congratulate you on actually getting through that self-indulgent, judgmental, sanctimonious diatribe passing itself off as journalism.

    If I was concerned about it being triggering all that disappeared at about paragraph 5 when I was just so sick of hearing what she did (or didn't weigh) even though she didn't own a set of scales...yawn...

    However, what she is describing would surely be described as disordered - restricting for 24hours and then binging on wine, cheese, salami, and then dinner...
    Thankfully she does start the (so called) article by admitting that she is not underweight (or even at the lower end of the bmi scale) so hopefully this nonsense will not be too harmful to susceptible individuals.

    Good vent though! Feel better??

  5. I would really like the 5 minutes it took me to skim that article back. She is so clearly obsessed with her weight that I almost wasted another minute going back to re-read the beginning; did she really say she wasn't obsessed?
    I had this conversation with a friend a long time ago, I just plain feel terrible when I don't eat. I can feel my blood sugar dropping and my crankiness rising and then I can't concentrate on anything. How anyone could spend their day feeling like that was amazing to me (at the time we had a mutual friend who ate nothing but a chocolate bar and coke between waking and dinner). Then my friend pointed out that maybe they don't. Lori, do you know if that is true? It makes sense to me that we each could be more or less sensitive to blood sugar levels but, is there research that says that even adults need to break the fast (and keep it broken) to function at 100%?

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  7. The response to starvation is variable, depending on individual factors, stores of nutrients,intake vs need, etc. Symptoms will change with the passing of time, following restriction. But ultimately, even if someone appears to function well and be unaffected by starvation, it is anything but the truth. Physical changes, mental processing and emotional health suffer, even if someone seems to compensate quite well.

  8. I think the most disappointing part of this article is the fact that it was given the green light to be published. I've been struggling with bulimia for 3 years now and everyday is a struggling battle, and to read an article like that isn't very encouraging. Thank you for your encouraging words, you are truly an inspiration and I everytime I get an email about a new post, I immediately go to my laptop! :) -Anna

  9. Hopefully, the NY Times will publish my letter to the editor (which had a subject heading of "Shame on you!"). It is a disgrace that this got published.

    The best we could do is right the wrong, to share with everyone you know (please link to Facebook and any anywhere else you could think of) how distorted this piece truly is. Let's not let Sandra's distortions be our own!

    Thanks for reading, and for your kind words. Reader feedback certainly motivates me to take the time to write these posts.

  10. Good for you! Even if they don't publish your letter at least you have made a stand. Perhaps the next time they will think more carefully before printing an article written by someone passing themselves off as an expert simply to indulge their readership numbers (or perhaps the editor just doesn't know the difference between nutritionist and narcissist???)

  11. Yikes! I bet she is a fun co-worker. All day long with no calories.