One of the first things I’d like to talk about on this little writing venture of mine is numbers. Now, I know that when the culture of Mesopotamia invented the sexagecimal system back in the olden days, they probably had no conception that in a couple of thousand years, an obsessive teenage girl would be using their beloved number 60 as a count for nutrition and self-worth. Never would they have also thought that thousands of summers later, after their clay tablets would have turned to dust, people would actually be starving on purpose. Never would it have crossed their mind that these people would use numbers as basis for starvation.
Enemy #1: The Calorie
But then again, the future brought with it a lot of weird shit, some of it more bizarre than the rest, and one particular discovery became the bane of existence for the entirety of the human race, particularly its more self-absorbed female part. In 1824, Nicolas Clément, a physicist and chemist from Dijon, first defined the ultimate enemy of contemporary humanity – the dreaded Calorie. Now, while the poor genius considered it more in terms of energy of heat, it was later bastardized by physicians and doctors and had mutated into a sort of Boogie-man for people aged, well, I suppose, twelve and above.
I was, and still remain, in part, the Calorie’s hostage. When it comes to measuring things, I have become a pro over the summer. I could (and still can) list the calorie values for the most common foods off the top of my head if you woke me up in the middle of the night. Not only that, I could probably tell you which Calories come from fat, and which not, – a recent skill I’d acquired, albeit I don’t have as much beef with this one – we’ll get to that in a minute.
I was obsessed with Calorie-counting: any packaged food that had more than a hundred of those little fuckers was deemed an abomination in the eyes of nutrition (as seen by M during the time), and slammed back onto the shelf in indignation, followed by a long rant on over-processed, over-produced foods that only made us, healthy (insert extreme irony here) humans, fatter.
What I didn’t realize, something I began to, much later, was that not all Calories are bad. In fact, there are things that have high energy values that are actually good because they are full of nutrients. Of course, being an anorexic and having gone round the bend, I didn’t realize that the majority of Calories were not inherently evil. Therefore I cut out everything – and I mean everything, – nutritious from my diet: nuts, seeds, milk products… The list goes on. Calories were the enemy and I eradicated them with the determination of an Auschwitz executioner.
Enemy #2: The Fat
Another thing I started counting obsessively was the fat content. My Freshman Eleven had developed partially thanks to the delicious goodness that was Greek yoghurt, as well as finger-lickingly good Milka chocolate bars. And while those were questionably good fats – well, definitely not the chocolate; the yoghurt does have a lot more worth than badness in it, – I decided to completely erase those from my menu as well. Out went the yoghurts and kéfirs with more than zero percent of fat, and in came the light and de-creamed versions of everything. I ended up eating my cereal with tasteless, lactobacteria-infested nonsense that reminded me off a platypus’ piss rather than a dairy product but it was completely fine because why? That’s right, because it was fat-free.
Now that I am familiar with the concept of good fats, I am trying to incorporate those into my diet within reason: olive oil, peanut butter, dairy products that don’t taste like mouthwash… Just be careful with those McDonald’s specials and horrendous chocolate bar monstrosities and you’ll be fine.
Oh yes, the Sugar. I divorced that guy early into my insanity, when I first became obsessed with the most ironic thing in the world, given the situation: sugar-free chewing gum. Basically anything at the cash register that had sugar-free written on it was thrown into the basket, whilst the things I’d enjoyed as a child and as a hormonal teenager, like cookies, cakes, chocolates, went straight out. Even fruit had become an issue – 100% juices had too much naturally-occurring sugars in them, and, at any meal, a delicious, scrumptious peach, which, by the way, was in season at the time, at the height of its sexiness, was exchanged for sour apples. Sour. Goddamn. Apples. Which are on supermarket shelves all year round.
Not only was sugar-free good, I also encouraged the use of sugar substitutes. After my break-up with Glucose, I quickly picked up an abusive relationship with the Not-So-Golden Trio: Xylitol, Aspartame, and Sorbitol. We’d had an insane affair based on the omnipresence of a wide range of chewing gum flavors, and boy, did we run the town.
Last, but not least, Enemy #4: The Kilo
Oh, yes. I mean, oh no. The Kilogram, or, for those living in countries where Lavoisier’s invention was not met with quite as much enthusiasm, the Pound, its little anemic cousin, was perhaps less akin to a pesky boyfriend and more akin to Jack the Ripper from the very beginning of my spiral down into self-mutilation.
See, the Kilogram was a sneaky little bastard in the beginning: he would come and go as he pleased, show up on the scale unannounced in the mornings and then suddenly pack his bags in the evenings with not so much as a goodbye or a thank-you-for-your-hospitality note. At the beginning of my success stage (you know, the time when I still looked like a human being and not a National Geographic taxidermy specimen), I had fifty-six of those little guys settling around the bones of my thighs and pressing outward into the seams of my jeans. If one is into all that nutrition stuff, like I am, they would calculate my BMI at the time, given my height-to-weight ratio and come out with the result of me being completely healthy. It wasn’t so much as I didn’t feel good about weighing a certain amount of Kilos at the beginning, it was the fact that my jeans wouldn’t button up by the time Christmas rolled around.
In the summer, though, when the success stage had slowly regressed into self-destruction, the Kilo was proclaimed Public Enemy Number One and convicted of every possible sin, with the ultimate outcome of the death penalty. Of those fifty-six, now only thirty-eight survive, struggling to hold themselves up on the shaky carcass of my body. Way to go, M. Way to go.
So, in the end, I shall leave you with some ancient wisdom that doesn’t seem to prevail much these days, in this crazy, stupid, number-obsessed world:
A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers. -Plato