The Skinny Daily Post™

Short, daily essays on weight loss and fitness
from a really average woman who lost 100 lbs.
and works every day to keep it off.

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Friday, September 05, 2003  

Food Insecurity?
Write away your food fear

A report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) crossed my screen today. Seems researchers there have been looking over data from the state of Washington's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) that appear to link obesity with food insecurity.

"Food insecurity" is a term widely used by world health/world hunger researchers. It means insecurity about having access at all times to safe and nutritious food. The study doesn't go so far as to say that food insecurity CAUSES obesity. But it does suggest a LINK.

Interestingly, the study suggests that the existence of food insecurity thrives in all socio-economic groups. But a Cornell Study showed prevalence among the rural poor, and suggested a number of related problems caused by the dietary choices of people with food insecurities. The subject rang a few bells in my own pea brain, so I thought it would make a nice little journal assignment.

And you? Are you ever concerned about having enough food? Are you ever afraid of being foodless? Do you horde, gather, eat defensively to ward off food shortages, food theft?

Are you afraid of the feeling of being hungry? Of not having enough food for your kids? Have you ever been?

The editor of the CDC report took trouble to note that dieters, prisoners of war, and children of food restrictive parents all tend to overeat once the deprived foodstuffs have been restored. Do you have experiences with any of these kinds of overeating?

Have you lived through difficult times in your family? In your country? My mother-in-law's generation lived through a terrible depression in the U.S., and have a very hard time leaving food on their plates. I have a friend who fled her country with her whole family in the middle of the night, having to be hidden by friends along the way. What she remembers most was the profound hunger. Her favorite moments now involve her whole extended family sitting around a table full of food. Is your story similar?

My own food insecurity is without drama, related to simple unstable blood sugar. Especially when I was heavier, if I went without food for too long, I would get the shakes, turn cold and clammy, forgetful and irritable. I often lose track of the time, and wind up forgetting to eat regular meals. So I wanted food with me. Or in a drawer, or nearby. I still do. I still will often eat the wrong food for fear of not having the right food available soon enough.

I'd like to think that food insecurity could have explained the snickers bars in the glove compartment, the peanutbutter crackers in my purse, the stash of chocolate-covered "breakfast bars" in my desk in the old days. That's all it was, right? Just a little insecurity?

I don't mean to make light of the situation, but some of us are just squirrel-like. I have a friend, who's actually pretty slim, who is terrified of heading out on a long car trip without plenty of food in the car. He's concerned that if the car should break down far from a food source, he'll grow too hungry. He might faint. And then where would he be? So, he packs the car with a larder fit for an expedition across an unpeopled continent.

A woman I spoke with not long ago worries about cutting her calories, concerned that she won't get enough nutrition at lower calorie levels, and she won't be able to think straight. Might write bad checks.

Our family has lived in rural settings, where the Little House on the Prairie syndrome sets in, spending the summer and fall stuffing pantries with canned, dried, frozen, and pickled things to last all winter. This usually resulted in enough food to last several families all winter, and we wound up eating the canned stuff well into the following summer. "Eating up" the canned peaches in August, while watching your mother can the fresh ones? That's a bizarre moment, friends. But the specter of being without food enough to feed her family was, of course, the food insecurity my mom was trying to quell.

I work hard not to have more food in the house than my lifestyle really requires. I do this in part to encourage myself to eat fresher foods. But remembering that I am never more than 10 minutes away from food sources is important, too. Do I really need more than a couple of cans of soup, a box of cereal as emergency food backup in my life? No. No, I don't. And If I learn to let go of my food insecurities, I might control overeating, stop-gap eating, defensive eating. I'll certainly avoid wasting food, and might save a few bucks I could use to buy more exotic veggies once in a while.

Think about and argue down your own food insecurities today. And maybe tomorrow too.


The State of Food Insecurity in the World
Cornell University Study
23 days left to support JuJu's jog for the Canadian Diabetes Association in the Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon

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posted by Julie |
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