My First Fat Day

I remember a time when I was in 7th grade, and a couple of friends and I were all going to the Spring Fling school dance.

Now, for this story, it’s important to know that before I hit puberty, I was a chubbier kid. I wasn’t fat (I thought I was at the time, but looking at pictures I realize that I wasn’t as hefty as I had imagined), but I was big enough that I got picked on by a couple people, almost exclusively boys, about the way I looked. I was also a nerd–imagine that! So, I also had glasses and talked like a weirdo, just like I still do. I definitely was not popular…but as many 12-year old girls do, I desperately wanted to be. From about the age of 11 onwards, I wanted so badly to be pretty, and skinny, and liked, and super awesome like some of the girls at school that I looked up to.

Back to the party–the two friends in question that I was going to the Spring Fling with both lived within walking distance, so they were going to meet me at home, and my mom was going to take us down. Meanwhile, I was getting ready…doing my little makeup routine, which was awkward at best, and digging through my closet to find the perfect outfit.

I tried on a couple shirts…this one was too short, this one was the wrong color…and then I saw one of my favorite shirts. It was a long-sleeve leopard print shirt, with sleeves that belled out at the elbows, and a little tie on the chest. This, I thought, This is the one! I felt like I looked completely ugly in all of the other things I’d tried on, but I always felt great in this shirt. I put it on and looked in the mirror…but to my dismay, I still looked fat.

I started to get angry, throwing my clothes all over the place to try to find something that wouldn’t make me look completely ridiculous. My crush was going to be there, after all! And though I would never have the courage to ask him to dance, or to even say “hello,” there was a slim chance that if I looked really nice, that he would come up and ask ME to dance!

Then I knelt down in the middle of my bedroom floor and started to cry.

“What’s wrong?” my mom asked. She had been helping me get ready.

“I…I don’t know what’s wrong. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHY I’M CRYING.” I started to cry more as the realization hit me that I couldn’t stop crying.

I thought my mom would laugh at me and tell me that I looked beautiful, to just put on whatever I was most comfortable in and to go have fun with my friends. Instead, she rubbed my back and calmly said, “I understand. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to…I’ll just tell your friends that you aren’t feeling up to it.”

I continued crying for a little bit longer, feeling miserable about myself, and then I got myself together. I’d like to say that I tried to put some of the clothes away that I’d thrown all over the place, but I definitely didn’t, because I couldn’t look at any of them. Now, I was just feeling confused. How could my mom understand, when I didn’t understand in the least?

She never did explain that one to me, and I ended up staying home from the dance playing video games instead of going out with my friends. Maybe she chalked it up to me being a hormonal mess, being only months away from hitting full-on puberty…but regardless, I now know as I’m older what exactly happened. That day is when I had my first “fat day.”

I want to let that sink in…at the young age of only 12 years old, I felt too ashamed of the way that I looked to go to a simple school dance with a couple of my (much skinnier) friends. Before I was even old enough to have my first period, I felt ugly, and I felt that my self-worth was completely dependent on my looks.

But where had I learned that? My mom had never pressured me into looking a certain way…my dad did make a fat joke to me once that scarred me, but he never meant anything by it. I know this because my mom was very heavy when they first met, and he never strayed or stopped loving her.

One time, my best friend’s mom had told her that “She wouldn’t be so heavy if her mom didn’t let her drink those sodas all the time,” in response to my friend asking her why they never bought soda, and she then told me. One boy made fun of me the year before almost every single day for the way I looked, and even hit me with a binder once. Furthermore, all of the prettier girls in school were complimented all the time, and everyone was always nice to them. Some of them weren’t very nice back. So, one day, in my tiny pre-adolescent head, I understood that if I wanted to be popular and if I wanted people to like me (which I very much did), then the best way to do it was to look the part, because if I was pretty, then people would automatically be nice to me, and adults wouldn’t say things behind my back. Instead, they’d talk about how wonderful and smart I was–which no one would know unless they liked the way I looked enough to get to know me and find these things out.

The main reason I decided to share this with everyone is that I realize now as an adult that children still go through these kind of self-image problems, and they still place so much of their value on the way that they look, because that’s what our media and culture tells them is important. And, as an adult, I understand that these standards still affect me–I just care a little bit less. Nonetheless, the pressure is and always will be there to look beautiful, over all other traits (e.g. being kind, thoughtful, intelligent, or hard-working). But why is this so?

Another Cheap, Delicious Recipe for All You Non-Believers

Still think you can’t eat delicious and nutritious food on a budget because groceries are super expensive? I SAY NAY. Today’s recipe is for green bean casserole and pan-seared chicken breast (boneless and skinless)! SO MUCH DELICIOUS FROM THIS.

TastyFood

(THIS actually is the food I cooked. Yes, I took a picture. Just for this.)

INGREDIENTS AND COST:

1 1lb bag frozen green beans ($1.50)
2 cans Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup ($1.69 each)
½ large onion sauteed in 1 tbsp margarine (1 onion=$1)
4 slices (about 2 oz) cheese (1Lb=$5, 2oz= 65 cents worth of cheese)
Breadcrumbs–any kind will do, I usually use the heel of the loaf that no one loves

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast: $4.50

TOTAL COST: about $11
Cost per meal: $5.50 for 2, makes about 2-3 servings extra of casserole.

If you want to know how to make this: boil green beans on high for about 5-10 minutes, while at the same time sauteeing your onions in margarine in a large skillet until they’re yellow and tasty. Make sure you preheat the oven to 350 degrees in the mean time! Add 2 cans Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup to the onion mixture and stir, turning heat down to low until it’s warm. Strain the green beans and add them to the mushroom/onion mixture, then cook for an additional 2 minutes or so, while seasoning to taste if you wish.

Now, add the skillet of goodness to a casserole dish, placing the slices of cheese on top, then bake for about 15 minutes. After cheese is melted, add breadcrumbs on top (I use this in place of fried onion bits just because it’s way cheaper…have you seen the price of those things??) and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

CALORIE BREAKDOWN:

Mushroom Soup: 259 calories per can (18g fat) (20g carbs) (5g protein) (x2)
1lb frozen green beans: 120 calories (28g carbs) (8g protein)
½ large onion + butter: 100 (11g fat) + 25 (6g carbs) (1g protein)
Cheese: 210 calories (9g fat) (1g carb) (7g protein)
Breadcrumbs: 90 calories (13g carbs) (8g protein)

ENTIRE CASSEROLE: 1,063 calories (4 servings) = 265 calories per serving, about a cup and a half

8oz Chicken: 280 calories (11g fat) (43g protein), round to 300 due to marinade in chicken (I used about 1/4 cup of Italian dressing and 2 tbsp vegetable oil, then seasoned with Italian seasoning, fresh basil, salt, pepper, and oregano)

Total per meal: 565 calories

NUTRITION BREAKDOWN:

Nutrition Breakdown for meal: 23g fat (24%), 22g carbs (23%), 51.5g protein (53%)

That means that this meal is over half protein! As I mentioned last time, this proportion allows your body to metabolize the calories more slowly and put them towards more useful processes, rather than allowing your body to store the excess calories from carbs and fat as–well, fat! GO PROTEIN.

The best part is that this meal tastes like it’s bad for you because of all the cream of mushroom (which of course means it tastes awesome), but it isn’t! You can trick yourself into eating healthy! It worked on my boyfriend, might as well give it a try…=D

How Buying Real Food Is Healthier AND Cheaper!

Greetings! I’m going to take a break from tirelessly advertising my Humanatee fund for a moment to discuss a topic that everyone enjoys: FOOD! Specifically, how cost-effective and health-effective it is to learn how to cook (which is pretty simple for most things) and buy groceries as opposed to eating fast food or processed foods all the time.

Last week, I ranted on my Facebook about how tired I am of hearing people complain that they’re overweight or malnourished or whatever their ailment may be, because it’s too expensive to buy nutritional food. Aside from the fact that vegetables are probably the cheapest thing ever to buy (come on, 5lbs of potatoes costs roughly $2…what CAN’T you make with potatoes?!), the worst is watching these same people go to a fast food chain and buy their meals off the dollar menu, reasoning that it’s “all that they can afford.”

Then, today, I went to McDonald’s for dinner at work because I was pressed for time, STARVING, and unwilling to wait another 3 hours until I got home to eat. And it was horrible. I felt gross, and I could tell that I was ingesting pure shit.

After someone reminded me that I’d mentioned alternatives to eating out, I thought, “You know what? I’m going to analyze what we ate for dinner on Tuesday night and compare it to McTurdy’s–I mean, McDonald’s.”

So, that is what I’m going to do!

SO, let’s first meet our comparison: the quarter pounder cheeseburger meal, medium, from McDonald’s. This image from sldesigns.ca shows McDonald’s in its more true form, without the incredible photography and Photoshop skills of McDonald’s advertising team.

Let’s take a look at the nutritional content of the meal as a whole:


CALORIES:

520 (burger), 380 (fries). For the sake of this comparison, we’re going to pretend that you’re drinking a diet soda, because everyone knows that when consuming mass amounts of carbs and fat, we all feel better ordering a diet soda. BUT, know that if you did order a medium Coke classic, you’d be adding 210 carby-carbed up calories to your meal.

TOTAL: 900 CALORIES

That seems like kind of a lot for one meal, but it does depend on what’s in it. For example, more protein usually equals more calories because some types of calorie sources contain more calories per gram than others, and are metabolized differently.

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT:

Total Fat: 19g (fries), 26g (burger) = 45g fat

Total Protein: 4g (fries), 29g (burger) = 33g protein

Total Carbohydrates: 48g (fries), 40g (burger) = 88g carbs

It should be noted that a small percentage of the carbohydrates are in the form of dietary fiber (8g total), which if you follow the Atkins diet, somehow means that they don’t exist. =D But really, dietary fiber mostly passes through the digestive system unprocessed and helps…basically smooth along the process. So I guess one could take that into consideration and deduct 32 calories from this meal because we assume that it won’t be processed.

The percentage breakdown of this meal is as follows: 27% fat, 20% protein, 53% carbohydrates.

Most people only take into consideration how much fat is in a meal, believing simply by the word itself that fat is a terrible thing. What you really need to watch out for though is your carb intake, because the body is only capable of storing excess carbs, for use as energy, for a little while (and can only store a certain amount) before it gets converted into fat. Protein, on the other hand, requires more energy for the body to metabolize into energy, and often requires as much energy to process as one would gain from its caloric intake, according to this website. But, we won’t get into that–the point is, carbohydrates, if unused, convert to THE SAME as fat. Our body burns both for energy, but if you take in more calories than you burn–well, fat is created. People are FINALLY understanding this, but for so long, an enormous base of grains was considered the foundation of a healthy diet.

COST:

How much does a McDonald’s medium quarter pounder with cheese meal cost? It varies by country, state, and even city, but where I live, this costs about $6.00-$7.00 with taxes for one meal.


Now, let’s examine the alternative dinner: an 8oz boneless pork chop steak with green beans and a biscuit! The pork chops were purchased from Sprouts, the green beans are frozen, and the biscuits are Pillsbury Grands Original. The example picture from Pinterest below shows a fried pork chop, but ours were pan-seared with soy sauce and sesame oil, then topped with salt, pepper, and steak seasoning.

(just so you know, I didn’t take this picture, it’s from Pinterest. BUT THIS IS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE.)

CALORIES:

8 oz Pork Chop: 420 calories
1 Biscuit: 170 calories
2/3 cup green beans: 23 (really killin’ it here)

TOTAL CALORIES: 613

So far, we have fewer calories already. What’s in them?

NUTRITION:

Total Fat: 24.5g (pork), 7g (biscuit), 0g (green beans) = 31.5g fat

Total Protein: 47g (pork), 3g (biscuit), 1g (green beans) = 51g protein

Total Carbohydrates: 0g (pork…wow!), 25g (biscuit), 5g (green beans) = 30g carbs

The meal breakdown is 27% fat, 46% protein, and 26% carbohydrates.

As you can see here, the meal is comprised of the same percentage of fat as the McDonald’s meal (though there is actually less fat because the pork chop meal has fewer calories overall), but look at the swapping of the protein and carbs. The protein will break down slower, allowing you to use all of your carbs for energy instead of storing them–even if you’re a lazy slug like me who only makes a real effort to exercise for an hour a week!

OH BUT WAIT, does this meal contain dietary fiber too? Why yes! This meal contains a total of 3.5g of dietary fiber as well, potentially nixing a small 14 calories from the meal.

COST:

This is the part that will stun you…what if I told you it was actually cheaper for you to eat this tasty, amazing pork chop meal? Because it is!

Local-farmed pork chops from Sprouts: $4.30 for the package ($3.99/lb plus tax)

Pillsbury Grand Biscuits: $1.50 for the roll, or 25 cents per biscuit

1 lb bag Steamers frozen green beans: $2, or about 55 cents per 2/3 cup serving (the serving used in this meal at least)

TOTAL COST: $7.80 for all the ingredients, $6 for what we used for two people (plus leftover biscuits for breakfast and extra veggies!), boiling down to about $3 per meal, and only about 20 minutes of your time. BAM.


OVERALL ANALYSIS:

Overall, I’m pretty sure that the quarter pounder lost. When comparing these two meals, we found that the homemade meal actually cost roughly half the price of the quarter pounder meal, contained 287 fewer calories, contained 18g more protein and a whopping 58g FEWER CARBOHYDRATES. Unless you’re running a marathon across the county Forrest Gump style, I seriously doubt you’ll need those extra 58g of carbs.

And once again, half the price here, people!

So, that ends my first analysis of home-cooked grocery food vs. fast food.This article, however, only addresses a small number of people stricken with money problems who buy fast food in place of groceries. The majority are buying highly processed grocery foods that are high in fructose corn syrups, sugars, preservatives, and chemicals that are TERRIBLE for your health. Those will be addressed (soon, hopefully!) as their own separate and very pressing issue. In the mean time, I hope you enjoyed this analysis!

“The Plight of Humanatee”

Alright, so…I’ve been talking about this humanatee character lately, and I’m excited to say that I’m trying to do something awesome with it. =D I’m trying to raise funding for a project on Kickstarter.com to make a series of t-shirts featuring none other than Hugh the Humanatee (a humanatee-shirt? =D)! The t-shirts will feature Hugh, illustrated to fit a series of humanity-related quotes (i.e. “Don’t lose your faith in humanity,”) to demonstrate in a humorous fashion the fact that we’re all human (except for Hugh–clearly he’s only half human). The funds, if raised, will go towards producing the first batch of limited edition t-shirts with a couple different designs. If it’s successful, I’d like to consider making more t-shirts with various designs on them for profit!

Curious to learn more? Click the image below!

HumanateeSign

If you’re interested in donating, THERE ARE REWARDS. If you donate $10 or more, you’ll receive a 5 x 7″ signed and numbered glossy photo of Hugh the Humanatee thanking you for your efforts! If you donate $30 or more, you’ll receive that AND, of course, a t-shirt from the series!

If you CAN’T donate, you can still help if you’re interested just by spreading the word! Link to this post, share with your friends, or you can even share or “like” it on the Atomik Cupcake Designs Facebook page!

AtomicCupcake

CUPCAKES CAN NEVER LEAD YOU ASTRAY.