Jesurgislac’s Journal

April 9, 2009

Vegan Lunch Box Turns To The Dark Side

It is a truth not sufficiently acknowledged: being thin, and being healthy, aren’t the same thing. (I wrote about this a bit in October last year: Diet Merchants Lie.)

I believe in eating healthy, delicious food.

I love (or rather I loved) the deliciously simple Vegan Lunch Box blog, which for a year or so was the one thing I could always turn to with a smile: a blogger who, every school day, posted a photograph of the beautiful and tasty vegan lunch she had made for her small son to take to school. (Such as: this Easter lunch, a beautiful layered bean dip lunch, a yummy French Toast lunch, an injera and pea stew lunch that makes my mouth water just looking at it, and some really lovely musubi. Just a short list – I could go on and on…) Lovely, healthy, delicious lunches, not intended to be slimming or diet or anything ugly promoting thinness over health… so I thought.

The small son is now homeschooled, so he doesn’t get daily lunch boxes (and is in any case past the age where he could accept without embarrassment his mom blogging about his lunches every day). I don’t check Vegan Lunch Box every weekday: two or three times a month, usually – about as often as it gets updated.

A couple of weeks ago, Vegan Lunch Box got all exercised over the blog that posts awful pics of deeply unhealthy food in large portions: thisiswhyyourefat.

She wrote:

So I started thinking, what if, instead of looking at images of junk food every day, we served ourselves up a daily helping of healthy images instead? Can healthy images trigger the same reaction but in reverse? Can they inspire us to better health, make us crave a colorful salad, or help us get to the gym?

Good plan. So, what did she come up for as a counterblog?


Nope. Vegan Lunch Box isn’t interested in promoting healthy eating of good food. She wants to promote being thin. Her new blog is thisiswhyyourethin.

It is completely bloody wrong to equate “Being healthy” with “being thin”. It is objectionable in the extreme to try to advocate that people eat healthy, tasty, delicious foods to get thin.

If you are healthy, you probably aren’t thin. If you are thin by modern standards – BMI less than 18.5 – you are unhealthy, no bones about it, you skinny bag of bones. Even if you are carrying more weight than BMI standards say you should, if you eat a healthy diet and don’t go on yo-yo diets and exercise regularly, you are more than likely more healthy than someone with a lower BMI: certainly you are more likely to survive a debilitating illness or a serious operation.

Oh, this is the post on Vegan Lunch Box where she proudly touts her new skinny baby: My Brand New Baby Blog. Huh.

To quote my favourite American doctor: “She has gone from the 25th weight percentile to the 3rd in one month. Now I’m not a baby expert, but I’m pretty sure they’re not supposed to shrink.”

Update: why Vegan Lunch Box is going off my blogroll

October 21, 2008

Tuesday Recipe Blogging: Diet merchants lie

Suppose you are a woman aged 40, 5 foot 8 inches tall, and you weigh 165 pounds. Your BMI is 25.9 (which NHS direct will make a point of telling you is overweight for your height, but which most people would say is a perfectly normal size.)

Your basal metabolic rate – the absolute minimum you need to stay alive if you do nothing all day but lie on the couch and watch TV – is 1500 calories a day. If you eat less than your basal metabolic rate requires, you starve. If you starve, you lose weight. When you quit starving, you gain weight.

A BBC news story which reports that women who were put on starvation diets of 1200-1500 calories a day also reports that most of them failed to stick to the diet and failed to keep losing weight. In a sane universe, this ought to be as much news as “dog bites man”.

Yet over and over again, you will see diet merchants recommending diet “calorie allowances” which are far too little to stay alive on. Over and over again, you hear the message from the media: fat is bad. Overweight is bad. Control your calories. Go on a diet. Lose 10lbs in 2 weeks!

Friends go on the Atkins diet on a spectacularly regular basis – suddenly they won’t eat a slice of bread or a baked potato, while tucking into bacon and eggs. They lose weight. They go off the Atkins diet. (No one should stay on that diet long-term: it can have serious health risks.) And they gain weight: reliably as clockwork. That’s how diets work: that’s what keeps people coming back for more.


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