j4: (blade)
I tweeted about this last night but it's so rage-inducing that I think I might have to post about it too. Here's the text of the latest email from Bounty (these are weekly emails for "Your baby at n weeks", but after about the first 10 weeks they stopped being about baby's development and started being about why you need to start waxing your legs again... OK, so you can probably guess I'm not the target market for this stuff anyway, but here goes):

Eat, drink and be merry

This week, we're focussing on food.


We're talking about both you and your baby's tummies. So first, here are some superb tips on how you can get a yummy mummy tummy.

Your baby

We've got some great advice on how you can help your baby to eat sensibly and enjoy their food. But if your baby's refusing food, or eating less, the chances are that everything is absolutely fine and there's no need to be frustrated.

Your baby's first teeth are either here or well on the way. Which is perfect timing for their developing taste for lumpier food.

So we start with "Eat, drink and be merry" (yes, I know this is just a sub-editor's autocomplete tic from "Eat", but still: let's be happy about food), but immediately go on to "how you can get a yummy mummy tummy": that is, obsess about your figure. Bit of a contradiction here, maybe? OK, so they don't actually mention the d-word, but let's face it, if you tell people their figure is all wrong, they're likely to think about dieting.

Having tried to make mums feel bad about their figures, they then remind them that they're supposed to help their baby "eat sensibly" and "enjoy their food". Now, this may be a bit of a radical suggestion, but: maybe one way to help your baby eat sensibly and enjoy their food would be to eat sensibly yourself, enjoy your food yourself, and generally model sensible behaviour?

Now, in fairness to Bounty I should point out that while in my opinion they clearly imply dieting, they don't actually say anything about it: the "yummy mummy tummy" article is actually about muscle-toning exercises. So that's OK then, surely? I mean, doing your pelvic floor exercises is sensible, right? (At least, if you don't want to spend the rest of your life doing a little wee every time you cough, sneeze or laugh.) So here's the beginning of the article:

Exercise for new mums

Size zero A list mums may be all over the front pages, but in real life your tummy might not spring back to its pre-baby state easily.

However, the good news is you can get trim and toned without getting a personal trainer or going under the knife.

Fortunately, nature can be kind as well as miraculous, and your muscles will regain a lot of their tautness naturally, especially after your first baby and if you’re reasonably fit and a healthy weight. However, for the rest of us, a bit more effort may be required.

Targeted exercise is the only way to de-flab your abs without resorting to surgery (and better for you all round, not to mention a lot less painful and non-invasive).

There's a lot of subtle linguistic sleight of hand going on here, a sliding and eliding of subjects that I'm strugging to put my finger on. Let's see if I can pull it apart a bit.

So, we start off by invoking the "Size zero A list mums" and then pretending we're not talking about them at all; we're talking about "real life", where you can "get trim and toned without getting a personal trainer or going under the knife". These are things that the celeb mums might do, but because we've stopped talking about them by this time and started talking about "real life", they're presented as realistic options that "you" would have thought of already -- that is, options that you should have thought of already, because your body is All Wrong -- had Bounty not come along and told you the real solution.

Then we're told that "nature can be kind as well as miraculous, and your muscles will regain a lot of their tautness naturally" -- two references to nature, to make it clear that this is all nice stuff they're talking about -- "especially after your first baby and if you’re reasonably fit and a healthy weight. However, for the rest of us" -- because most of you aren't fit enough! And you're TOO FAT! -- "a bit more effort may be required." Just a bit more effort, that's all. What kind of lazy person wouldn't put in just a bit more effort (that's more than 'doing nothing because miraculous Mother Nature will sort it all out', I guess?) to look good?

"Targeted exercise is the only way to de-flab your abs without resorting to surgery (and better for you all round, not to mention a lot less painful and non-invasive)". Silly you for thinking about surgery! You were thinking about surgery, weren't you, because you're THAT UGLY. What? You hadn't even considered surgery? Oh dear. Well, don't worry, dear, you don't really need surgery. You just need to do "targeted exercise". That's not targeted at getting you healthy and active again, it's targeted at giving you a flat tummy. The sort of flat tummy that 17-year-old girls WHO HAVEN'T HAD BABIES have.

So it's a funny definition of "good news" they're using here: as far as I can work out the "good news" is that you need to be "trim and toned" (why?), you need to "de-flab your abs" (why?), but it's OK, you don't need to have surgery (surgery! for fuck's sake!) to get there. Well, hurrah! Break out the bunting!

Even worse, look at the comments on that article: people are going to Bounty for medical advice:

"Whens the best time to start doing sit ups after giving birth? I'm confused because my family and friends are telling me different things! One told me you can do sit ups more or less straight away and another told me not until six months as your stomach muscle don't recover from pregnancy till then. Any one got any tips? xx"

"how do i tone my belly after having an emergency c section...? Or atually when can i start toning after an emergency c section? I had my baby son 13 weeks ago. Please advise needed........ xx"

"Anyone got advice on how soon after the birth I can return to running and / or circuit training? I ran up to 12 weeks pregnant and did body pump and walked for up to an hour right up to the birth. I have had episiotomy and stiches which seem to be healing well. I am also breastfeeding."

It's frankly terrifying that people are trusting Bounty -- who exist solely to sell shitloads of plastic tat to mums by making them feel guilty, by making them feel that if they don't buy all the plastic tat then they JUST DON'T LOVE THEIR BABIES ENOUGH -- with questions like these, rather than asking e.g. the NHS. Ask your health visitor, ask your doctor; even ask your mum or your friends -- at least if they're wrong they'll probably be innocently wrong rather than trying to sell you dieting aids or exercise equipment.

You might well ask me "why did you sign up for these emails then, you silly moo?" Yes, you might well ask. I signed up with Bounty for the packs of freebies and the special offers, because I STUPIDLY FORGOT that free stuff which wastes your time and makes you angry is NOT ACTUALLY FREE. While we're on the subject of those freebie packs, let's remember that Bounty have somehow wangled it so that Important Government Information on how to claim your Child Benefit is stuffed in the pack of advertising and marketing samples that they give you when you're IN HOSPITAL, ie probably still woozy from being stuffed full of drugs and confused from being SHUNTED AROUND LIKE A PIECE OF MEAT, and therefore not in the best frame of mind to go through a bagful of rubbish and filter out the Important Government Information; but obviously it's as important for women to be aggressively marketed at by the makers of unsustainable disposable rubbish as it is for them to collect the benefits to which they're entitled. Yes.

Oh, the Bounty freeby pack also included a can of DIET COKE. I thought this was nothing do with mums/babies but now I realise OH WAIT they mean you can have caffeine again but YOU'RE FAT! GO ON A DIET EVEN THOUGH YOU JUST GAVE BIRTH 2 HOURS AGO!

If I'd seen this stuff before giving birth I'd have pushed that baby out in 10 minutes flat, with no drugs except RAGE.

Sorry about all the CAPITAL LETTERS. I blame coffee, lack of sleep, and Caitlin Moran.
j4: (omnomnom)
A couple of fragments both labelled 'food' (OK, food.tmp and food_2.tmp, since you ask) -- the first was clearly intended to be a comment (judging by the first line, anyway), then got a bit rambly, then I guess decided to rework it as a post, & then I added bits of another post at the end, & then I never did anything with it. So it's posted here unedited:
This is a really interesting post -- thank you!

[livejournal.com profile] barrysarll mentioned "Sudden Adult Death Syndrome" a while ago, as an extreme example of the disconnect between effort and results: as he put it, "In amongst all the health and terror scares, while everyone tries to improve their odds, SADS is the Reaper's little way of reminding us that the house always wins."

This also reminds me of a brilliant post by [livejournal.com profile] rhodri: Stop press: Everything causes and doesn't cause cancer. Which in turn reminded me of something said to me by a biochemist I briefly shared a house with, while I was an undergraduate, which has made me think ever since. He told me that he didn't want scientists to find a cure for cancer. "Everybody has to die of something," he said. "If they take away cancer, what are people going to die of?" I still disagree with his wish to avoid a cure (he's too late, anyway: cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was) but his point seems tangential to one of the ones you're making, and one that keeps occurring to me: increasingly, people seem to believe that they have a Right to avoid ill health altogether. That if they didn't do anything wrong, and they still get ill, somebody must be to blame. Maybe it's
the government, for not banning food (because a food allergy could have been responsible). Maybe it's their parents (either nature or nurture).

In the long run, we're all dead.

"Gosh, that looks healthy"

Suggestion that 'healthy' is abnormal (worthy of comment) and that choosing "healthy food" is something that people would not normally do. I feel the need to defend myself against (perceived) allegations of weight-loss dieting; I want to say that I'm just eating things I like and/or things that are convenient, but I want to do this without *denying* that it's healthy, without denying that I *try* to eat healthy food.

Yes, I want to be healthy. How many people would say that they want to be unhealthy, if asked?

What is "healthy" food? Most things are fine in moderation; most things are bad for you in excess.

And yes, I've had it forcefully explained to me since then that actually lots of people do want to be unhealthy (not just to do unhealthy things from time to time, e.g. drinking/smoking, but to be unhealthy, persistently and permanently) and that's their Inalienable Right as well, and by suggesting otherwise I am a Health Nazi and probably also guilty of Bad Fail. Too tired to deal with that argument though, because it all bleeds into the question of whether deliberately self-inflicted injuries should be treated on the NHS (which is a rusty-edged can of poisonous worms, so at the risk of being boring and "healthy" I'm not going to pick it up, I'm just going to nudge it out of the way with a very long stick), so perhaps we could just agree that it's a bit irritating when colleagues say "Gosh, that looks a bit healthy" in a kind of mocking way when we eat salads at work. Isn't it. And that anybody who says "rabbit food" when they see me shovelling an entire pot of hummous into my mouth using a couple of sticks of celery as a spoon has really not understood the insignificance of the celery in this picture.

So, enough of that, and on to the other fragment (unedited except for making the link work):
"It is cheaper to buy a Big Mac than to source focaccia, fresh tomatoes, carrots, organic beef and watercress."

Well, yes. But you're comparing apples with oranges. If you want something cheaper than a Big Mac, it's foolish to go out and attempt to construct a Big Mac out of more expensive materials.

Big Mac =

Pack of 4 frozen beefburgers
Pack of 4 rolls
fresh tomatoes
No, I didn't work out the costs of the beefburgers, rolls, lettuce, etc., but I suspect it would be a lot closer to the cost of a Big Mac. Also, since I started posting this it has (quite coincidentally) been pointed out by a friend on twitter that there's nothing wrong with comparing apples and oranges. To which I replied that there is: it's a waste of time when you could be eating them.

I do seem to argue with articles about food a lot in my head. But I am currently too cold and tired and hungry to have any of these arguments, and I am wishing November was over, because I have so little to say and so little energy to say it with.
j4: (Default)
Saw the doctor and he was slightly more helpful than they usually are. He agreed that while stress is probably making things worse, being uncomfortable and in pain tends to make people stressed, so let's try to fix the problem or at least the symptoms.

Booked in for blood tests next week, but in the meantime he wants me to cut the following things out of my diet for two weeks: foods, gushy and otherwise )

Anyway, at least it's something concrete to try, which is better than sitting on my arse feeling sorry for myself. We'll see what happens.
j4: (badgers)
A tasty, easy, relatively quick & reasonably nutritious meal based on cheap stuff from the Co-op and storecupboard stuff:

Take 4 salmon steaks and put them in an ovenable dish with 1 fennel bulb (sliced), some crushed garlic, some of a lemon (juice squeezed over the fish and squeezed-out skins thrown in as well) and about half a pint of stock (half a veggie oxo cube). Stick it in the oven for 25 minutes at 180°C. Serve with green beans and couscous.

We drank: Cairn o'Mohr Autumn Oak Leaf wine.

A few notes about prices and availability, for posterity/interest/whatever:

The salmon steaks were £5 for the pack in the Co-op. I was sort of intending it to be enough to do for another day (or maybe for my lunch tomorrow) but we were both hungry and before we knew it we'd eaten the lot (omnomnomnom). Fennel was half price (49p) and green beans were reduced to 99p for the pack (I used about half of them), though I only realised later that they were from Kenya so a bit of a bad move on the food-miles front there. Couscous was in the cupboard and I can't remember how much it cost but it lasts forever and goes with everything. Garlic and oxo are things I always have in; I had to buy the lemon (I wish lemons lasted longer; I do freeze lemon slices for drinks, maybe I should freeze half-lemons for throwing in soups and fish stuff).

I'd forgotten we had the wine, but I found it when I was looking for some white wine & today was definitely autumnal. It was quite strong, dry in flavour but not in feel (if you see what I mean) and while it probably wasn't the best thing for that meal it was certainly tasty.

And some general related rambling:

We had salmon a bit like this when my mum and I went to visit Mémé and Pépé (my grandma and grandad) last week, only with onion instead of the fennel, and potatoes and various salads as accompaniment. That's Mémé's idea of a small quick lunch. (She loves salmon and often cooks it for us when we visit; when I was younger I remember she sometimes used to do a whole salmon with prawns and lettuce around the outside. It was amazing, display food but delicious as well.) After lunch Pépé was reminiscing about how when they were first married, Mémé had made a different meal every single night for a year ("bah, it was only really for the first 6 months", she chipped in). That was in 1950. I don't think I could make a different meal every night for a month without resorting to recipe books (unless you count "pasta and X", for every sensible value of X, as different meals), and I don't have rationing to contend with.

I don't aspire to being able to cook fancy food or invent innovative combinations of ingredients; all I really want to be able to do is what my parents and my grandmother did before me and still do now: make tasty and healthy food with which to feed a family. I'm still learning, slowly.
j4: (orange)
things I have eaten, things I haven't eaten )

So I make that 55 out of 100 -- over half, but still plenty of things to try! -- and it appears that most of my eating exploration has happened in the far-off land of, er, Cambridge. And I can't think of anything that I wouldn't consider eating, except things you really can't eat unless you're a crazy Frenchman, like glass or hair or unicycles or tambourines.
j4: (internets)
It seems like everybody I know has done this heap-of-questions thing, so I'm joining the club (no, not that club).

Describe yourself in far too many words )
j4: (popup)
I wonder if you can mix All-Bran with Bovril to create a tasty low-fat high-fibre snacky soup experience? There's no punchline here, I'm just bored.

(And when she got there, the cupboard was full of tea.)
j4: (dodecahedron)
One of my new year's resolutions was to cook proper meals. Wasn't it? I can't remember now. In one ear, out the other. Anyway, this weekend I actually made some progress in that direction: three proper meals, plus one which my parents brought and cooked, and therefore doesn't really count. food! )

So, gosh, that's more cooking in a weekend than I did in the previous 3 months, probably. Inbetween all the cooking, on Saturday I managed to do a bit of a shift at Oxfam (though I am getting hideously slack about that, and in penance I have promised to get there early next Saturday, i.e. just before 9 a.m.). Then at lunchtime my parents came to visit, bringing soup, bread, and the remainder of my Christmas presents, including my long-awaited iSight, about which more when I have actually set it up etc etc.

Then after parents had left, O. and I headed into town with bags full of my unwanted books, intending to sell some to the Haunted Bookshop (which specialises in children's books) and give the rest to Amnesty. However in the event of it, due to my Hard Bargaining Skillz (aka complete confusion) I managed to sell the lot to the Haunted Bookshop for a grand total of £32. That works out at about a quid a book, but given that I got many of them for under a quid and some for free, I think it's not too bad. And, hell, it meant I didn't have to walk any further with a bagful of books on my back, which has got to be a good thing. Though we did eventually walk to the Amnesty shop anyway and even spend some money there, which assuaged my guilt over cheating them out of books.

In addition to the books I've sold, I've given away about 30 books through ucam.adverts.giveaway; for a couple of weeks now my desk at work has looked like a car boot sale, but it's finally getting under control. I was annoyed by one man who emailed immediately to claim a whole batch of books I was giving away, but then after about a dozen faffy emails over the space of a week and a half totally failed to come and collect the damn things ... offset against that frustration, though, is the satisfaction I felt when I was able to email the people who had mailed me after no-show guy to claim various books (which I'd said at the time were already gone) and tell them "actually this is available again, do you still want it?"

So over all I feel pounds lighter and a few pounds richer. Not quite enough pounds richer to cover the money I owe the Inland Revenue, but I have now actually completed my self-assessment form (with tons of practical help, translation of tax-speak, and moral support from [livejournal.com profile] sion_a). Okay, so I owe them more money than I can pay without exceeding my overdraft limit, but at least I know the worst now... right? I still have thousands of pounds of debts to pay off, I still haven't done half the things I'm supposed to have done, but right now I'm going to drink a bottle of badger beer, eat a coconut macaroon, and relax for a moment. Sufficient unto the day, etc.

May 2017

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