Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Mixed Farewell to Raspberry Zingers

Health at Every Size (tm) is about making healthy choices for yourself, and loving your body as it is without judging it or yourself.  As those of you who read regularly are aware, I've been trying to make changes in my own life to reflect that way of thinking.  Sometimes they're very hard, and sometimes I manage them with little difficulty.  But there are always those unintended consequences that catch you off-guard.  Today, I found one of those consequences.

Before I discovered H@ES I honestly hated my body (and by extension, myself).  My body was something to be despised, and I could list a thousand negative adjectives to describe it.  I didn't care whether I moved or not, I didn't care what I put into it, there were even times when I didn't care about showering or washing my hair because why bother to take care of something that was so repulsive to me?  I managed the bare minimum of socially acceptable personal care when I had to go out in public, but when I was at home for any length of time, it just didn't matter.  If I ignored it, then maybe it would go away.

Of course, all that mindset did was to reinforce my already negative self-impression.  But when someone is in that mode of thinking, it is really hard to get through to them from the outside.  They really have to find it within themselves to care about their body.  That isn't easy to watch, and it isn't easy to do.

Anyway, consequences!

One of my favorite foods back when I didn't read labels or care about ingredients used to be Raspberry Zingers.  You know the ones!  They are that impossibly moist yellow cake with the white, creamy sweet stuff in the middle and a coating of Impossibly Pink Gooey Stuff on the outside that holds the sweetened coconut to the whole thing.  Normally they come in either a box of 8 or 10 (I honestly can't remember how many are in a box now) or in my favorite, the vending machine three-pack.

When these Impossibly Pink Coconut Covered Nuggets of Goodness would appear in the vending machine at work I would literally bounce with excitement and grab for my change stash.  I apparently wasn't the only addict in the office, because they would inevitably be the first thing to sell out (unless there were Chocolate Zingers in there, then the chocolate ones sold out first to be followed shortly by the raspberry) and I wanted to get MINE!

I would insert the coins, push the appropriate buttons, and watch anxiously as the corkscrew-shaped Goody Holder would turn, mentally sending every ounce of energy to make sure that my precious treasure wouldn't become a victim of The Snagged Treat Syndrome.  I would rejoice at the solid "thunk" that followed, reassured that I had avoided the horrible fate of staring helplessly through the glass as my Zingers swung there, stuck on the end of the Goody Holder.  I wouldn't become another office casualty, trapped under a fallen vending machine because I shook it too vigorously in the attempt to get my Zingers to let go.

My hand would reach through the swinging door at the bottom of the vending machine, extracting my prize and deftly avoiding having the flap close on them, making squished Zingers.  Once I had them in my hand I was off to my desk, huddling over them like Gollum held his Ring, holding off any attempts to intercept myself or my treat with a ferocious glare of possession.  And then, then I would be at my seat and I could finally safely open the package.

First, the scent.  That sweet, heavenly scent of faux raspberry and coconut, with just a hint of fake vanilla extract!  I would breathe deeply, savoring the anticipation of the first bite for just a moment longer until I couldn't hold myself back any more.  Mere minutes later the evidence would be on my desk in the form of a crumpled piece of plastic and a small, white rectangle of thin cardboard.  Maybe there would be a stray piece of pink-ended coconut here or there, or a smear of pink on the cardboard, but that would be all that remained of the three Zingers that had existed just moments before. 

I didn't take my time and enjoy them, I inhaled them.  And immediately I would feel a combination of over-sugared nausea and the desire for more.

And the shame.

I was ashamed because I got them to begin with.  I was ashamed because I ate them so quickly.  I was ashamed because they were "bad food" and society says that when we eat bad food we should punish ourselves.  I was ashamed because I was fat, and I was eating food that fat people shouldn't be eating.

So when we saw a display of Zingers, mini donuts and other treats by that company in the store yesterday priced at 10 for $10 I told my husband that if he wanted to take some for his desk at work he should grab a few.  As an afterthought I told him to grab me one package of Raspberry Zingers too, please.  I haven't actually had them for about three years or so, I would say, maybe longer now.

Today I decided to have them as a mid-afternoon snack.  I was worried in the back of my mind that they would trigger a craving to have more and more and more of them (part of why I only got one package), but I really wanted to taste that Raspberry Goodness again, so I decided that I was safe from going too nuts as I would have to go back to the store to get more and getting a craving THAT strong is rare for me.

I opened the package and inhaled that remembered fragrance, but it wasn't quite the same to me this time.  The smell had a slight chemical tinge to it that I didn't remember from the past.  Then I took a bite.  Now, Dear Readers, I wish that I could say that I took one bite and stopped, throwing the rest away.  I don't want to say that because I think that is the reaction I should have had, but rather because it would make a really cool dramatic ending, and I AM a writer (amongst other things) after all!  But that's not how it happened.  I actually ate all three, but rather than gobbling them down and not tasting them, I ate them relatively slowly.  Each bite that I took was followed by a small hint of disappointment and the unspoken hope that the next bite would bring back the enjoyment that I remembered so fondly.

And then they were gone.  There was the crumpled plastic, the small white rectangle of cardboard, the stray piece of pink-ended coconut.  The evidence was in, and it took me a long moment to realize what the evidence was telling me.  Finally comprehension dawned:

I don't like Raspberry Zingers any more.

I found myself torn between exultation and sadness.  Raspberry Zingers had been a comfort food to me at a time when I needed comfort.  I had so little that I liked in my life then, and those little round-cornered rectangles of sweetness had given me something to enjoy, even for a moment.  But now that enjoyment was gone.  I have been eating real fruits and treats made with real ingredients for long enough that my taste buds were thrown into shock by having all of those chemicals assault them at once.  (I'm not sure they've forgiven me yet, but we'll see when I have dinner if they will let go of their indignation or not.)

I know that some are asking, "Why write an entire blog post about this, Lys?"

Quite simply, this episode has brought home several truths to me, and personal truths are really what blog posts are supposed to be about, right? 

It is a personal truth for me that my tastes HAVE changed in a way that I believe is for the better.  My body expects, no...it DEMANDS, that I give it quality, whole foods prepared in ways that are healthy and taste great.

It is a personal truth for me that you CAN change your tastes over time if you start small and make your changes one at a time. 

It is a personal truth for me that I am no longer the person I was then.  I have grown, I have changed, I have discovered ways to *gasp* love myself. 

It is a personal truth for me that I'm not totally there yet.  I still have very far to go on this path but while I have a distance to travel, I can look back at the path behind me and see that I have come so very far already and celebrate that distance.

It is a personal truth to me that this journey is worthwhile because I am worth it.

That's what it comes down to in the end.  We're worth it.  We're worth more than self-hatred.  We're worth more than shame.  We're worth more than thousands of negative adjectives.  We're all worth more than that.

I'm worth more than those things.

So are you.


  1. Nice, Lys. This is a good sign of great changes.

  2. It's interesting how your body responds when you listen to it. Great example of HAES, Lys!


  3. That is such a great story, Lys!

  4. Awesome story...I've been finding the same thing too!


All comments are moderated, so if you don't see your comment right away don't worry, I'll review it and add it as soon as possible. The only time that comments won't be approved is if they are inappropriate. And yes, I am the sole arbiter as to what qualifies as inappropriate. :)