How, you might wonder, do High WASP women keep their weight where they want it?
For it’s true that we tend more often to the slender. Of course, that renders us prone to shriveling in our later years, but there you go.
Let me say that I understand and have lived the difficult and unfair impact of cultural expectations for women’s bodies. Let me say that I believe to each her own, and health is paramount. But let me also confess that I watch my weight, that I derive enjoyment from the results of that effort, and that I rely on lessons from my culture as secret weapons.
Which I am quite prepared to reveal. I do not diet. I do not torture myself. I am comfortable now with my relationship to food, despite occasional petulance at not being able to eat as much as in days past.
Let us always remember that eating well is one of the greatest privileges of all. Did you know that inner city Detroit has few actual grocery stores? That quality produce is unavailable for many rural or urban communities, particularly of color? You probably did. Here’s a summary of the studies. I find it helps me eat fruit if I perceive it to be a result of good fortune.
10 Sneaky Tricks Of The High WASP Diet
1. Eat breakfast. We like our breakfasts and we eat them sitting down. (Did you see the part in Downton Abbey when the butler was scandalized by the nephew serving himself? Said all meals would be ‘like breakfast?’) Every day of my childhood mom made us bacon, toast, a bowl of cold cereal and a glass of orange juice. Now I just have tea and toast. I know I’m supposed to eat protein, according to various doctrines, but the High WASP Diet says I don’t have to if I don’t want to. And I don’t.
2. Partake of high tea. Eat sweet afternoon snacks. That’s when to indulge in cravings. If things get out of hand, if the cravings surpass your capacity to have only one, or just a handful, the problem is simply solved. Move dinner forward. And please don’t eat dessert. It unseats the savory taste of an evening meal.
3. Develop the capacity to feel pleasure in delayed gratification and self-limitation. This one is hard, and drilled into High WASPs at a very early age. Eat fruit before cookies. Throw away the piece of cake when you’ve only had 4 bites. Physically remove yourself from temptation, telling yourself, “Good job!” over and over again. Or hearing your father’s voice tell you something similar.
4. Rely on hot liquids to combat actual hunger. Tea. Miso soup. Any soup. Good for the budget too. It’s possible High WASPs enjoyed hot liquids to appease appetite without stretching family fortunes to the breaking point.
5. Give lettuce its due but do not expect too much. Lettuce is a harsh mistress. Always eat a salad, never only a salad. Those we see eating solely greenery at midday are often compensating later with something not so kind to one’s weight.
6. During times when one really must get rid of a pound of two, cut out a meal. Pretend it just doesn’t exist. Chin held high. Mom had Fresca for lunch. I replace dinner with a little cheese and bread, a tangerine, and one glass of wine. Diet sodas are the devil’s work.
7. Never learn to fry. High WASPs are afraid of deep fryers. The closest we can get is a sauté pan.
8. Bring your high performance, excellence-in-everything attitude to eating – i.e. learn to cook food from other cultures ahead of the curve, worship salmon, respect the blueberry, culture yogurt. Processed foods are not ingredients. Recipes that include a purchased sauce aren’t recipes for anything but laziness. To say nothing of the salt, sugar, and unnatural fats hidden therein.
9. Fall victim to the vapors, otherwise known as low blood sugar. Eat protein early and often. I often have second breakfast, like Winnie-the-Pooh’s elevenses. It’s always protein. Sometimes even vanilla-flavored whey protein from Whole Foods stirred into 2% milk. I can’t drink milk with less fat, it tastes too weakly sweet.
10. Watch the alcohol. A High WASPs downfall. I didn’t drink regularly until I was over 40. Started with an nightly glass of wine. “How odd,” I thought, “I’ve put on 3 pounds I just can’t take off.” The nightly glass crept up to 2. “How odd,” I thought, “I’ve put on another 2 pounds I just can’t take off.” Then my doctor told me that the recommended 2 glasses of wine should actually be 1, for women. “Oh drat,” I thought, and focused on cutting back. You know how the story ended. With a step on the scale one morning, and a small, quiet, “Huh. There go those 2 pounds.”
11. Eating disorders. The which I cannot and should not refer to lightly, having battled the little fiend of bulemia in my youth. Although I came away relatively unscathed, I feel it would be ill-mannered to banter at all about something so excoriating. Let me just say, show better judgment than I did. Food is, first and foremost, something you put into your mouth to keep yourself alive. With abundant resources, we have the good fortune to be able to enjoy what we eat. I try to merit that privilege.
There you go. Eat like a High WASP. Or not. Entire civilizations live on rice with vegetables, and a little meat. Or pasta, salad, and a little fish. This is how my culture does it. And I left out kippered herring, although they are deeply-rooted in our food stuffs, just because I don’t like them. You’ve got to like the food you eat or you forfeit one of the great joys of life.