Saturday, January 10, 2015

Chocolate for fat people?!

Since I’ve last posted, I’ve had a troubling, food related conflict. Can I dump on you, dear readers? Can I model what I suggest you should do—to express yourselves and reach out for support?

Colleague conflict

I love good chocolate. So it follows that at holiday time I’d want to share the joy as holiday gifts to some providers that refer to my practice. (Remember, this dietitian has a cupcake as the mainpage image on her website. What harm in that, I thought?

Yet in sharing my intentions with a nutritionist colleague, I heard a very different perspective. Namely, that many office employees are trying to lose weight—so chocolates are the last thing they need. Those who are obese hardly need the box of chocolate sitting around the office. And since many are so anti-sugar these days, giving chocolates is simply a bad idea.

Once I moved from my totally speechless state (a rarity with me), I tried to be open-minded. Is it diet sabotage to give a box of chocolates to be eaten in an office with many employees—i.e. with little opportunity to squirrel them away, in the season of New Year’s weight loss goals? Was I sending the wrong message as a promoter of health, that chocolate—ok, they weren’t even exclusively heart-healthy 70% cacao-dark chocolates but simply great tasting Belgian chocolates—are an acceptable snack?

Further, can those of high BMIs be given chocolate (or cakes/cookies/highly-palatable foods)? Are they entitled to enjoy the pleasure of great tasting desserts? Should anyone, regardless of their size or percent body fat be given chocolates as gifts? I mean, should we even be allowed to eat foods we truly enjoy?

Must we live an ascetic life of food deprivation and denial—whether for short-term weight change or for life? Is that a healthy lifestyle? Are we doomed to live secret lives—the model kale-salad-protein-smoothie-ingester in public and guilt-laden, binge eater by night or by car ride?

Still on the fence?

Perhaps Jamie’s Christmas surprise will do the trick. This patient’s sorrow and shame was revisited in my office post holiday, as she described her Christmas disappointment. Her three siblings dug into their chocolate-filled stockings, while she rummaged through hers. Only hers was filled not with her favorite candies but with plastic items.  No chocolate indulgence for this overweight young woman. A helpful, healthy holiday message? I don’t think so. A supportive gesture? Hardly.

Let us not for a moment believe that we are not entitled to enjoy life’s simple food pleasures. Yes, you. Yes, regardless of your size.

For me, the conflict’s resolved.

And for you?