As mentioned in the first article of the #unlockingthelockdown series, I am going to write about meaningful projects and truly inspiring people. Again, this is not meant to add extra-pressure or to act like a guideline or textbook on “how to succeed during lockdown”. My main focus is for us to come together (virtually, of course! 🙂 ), support each other in any way possible and learn something in the process.
It baffled me to notice that even in the midst of a pandemic which literally kills people we love, might even kill us, destroys jobs, spirals into a world crisis etc. (I could go on but this is not my point), we are still receiving the message we already know so well, that the worst thing that could happen now is to gain weight.
Oh, the infinite memes and gifs and laughs people had on this. Maybe I related to 1 or 2, but it then went downhill pretty fast…The healthcare professionals who considered this was a good time to shame patients. The so-called nutrition specialists who thought it would be a good approach to advertise themselves based on this fear. I honestly think that is incredibly sad. The levels of fat-phobia are nothing short of frightening.
Maybe it is true, in times like these we can witness the true nature of people. Among the troubling fat shaming within us and surrounding us (I’ll repeat, even from health care professionals, which is very, very unfortunate, in my opinion), there was a shinny light in my feed and I once again remembered why I admired her so much, even if I never met her (yet).
I simply had to write about Arantza, because I think that her attitude, work and message are part of the key of unlocking this lockdown and generally unlocking our relationship with food.
I discovered her on Instagram some time ago and I think she is one of those special and precious unicorns in this sea of nutrition tips and unrequited pieces of advice.
She views nutrition from an integrative point, she is not obsessed with weight or the concept of diets, she wants her patients to develop the sense of trusting their own bodies. She firmly believes in the idea of health at every size and in deciding from love and not hate, by trusting our bodies. She specializes in veggie diets, but not exclusively.
I appreciate her friendly, but direct tone. I enjoy her thought-provoking posts. I love that she offers adapted prices for the ones that need them, even though the conditions are tough for everybody. This again goes to support my point, that we should support each other.
All in all, I admire her and I am pretty sure you would admire her too :). This is why I was so very happy that she answered some questions for us.
What does she miss from “before”? She longs for feeling the wind on her face and in her hair, the sun on her skin, seeing the daylight and being blindfolded by the sunlight. She misses smelling and listening to the sea, touching the wet sand, searching for little stones and shells. Touching the grass and the trees. Hugging her friends and family. Travelling by bus or metro listening to music. Going out to dinner with her husband. A beer with her friends.
What took her by surprise during this period? Her own resilience, her capacity to adapt, the tribe feeling in social media. She was also surprised by the lack of financial help by the government (like many of us…). The solidarity felt when people clap together, although apart, from the windows and balconies, each evening at 20 hours. That it rained so much. That the pigeons changed their movements a lot, each time discovering more freedom. The almost absent sound of traffic.
Should she need to choose one single word to describe what we are living now, she would opt for Catharsis.
Which piece of advice would she have given herself one year ago, in order to face this better? Leave your rental apartment and get a cheaper one, with a balcony or a small yard. Or, even better, go live in a house with a garden. Or facing the sea.
Did she notice any change in her eating needs or habits? No, she did not. But she likes cooking more and invests time in homemade recipes. She is actually feeling less hungry, which she thinks is normal, because, obviously, she is not as active as before.
I really wanted to see which was her take on the influence that this situation will have on our eating habits and our relationship with food, especially in the context of the constant fat shaming.
Arantza reminded that there are so many factors contributing to our way of eating. It is never as simple as pointing to a certain type of food. There are so many inside/outside factors, traumas, wounds still waiting to be handled, emotional and conflict management, people surrounding you, social and cultural influences etc. Taking all this into account, how will this pandemic affect our way of eating and our relationship with food is, needless to add, very complex.
She had patients these days who, upon being forced to stay inside, are feeling safer concerning their connection with food. This can happen because what made eating a way of emotional coping for them was what was happening outside their homes, for instance work issues, rituals of preparing to go out etc.
There are others who, on the contrary, are searching some stimulation through food…And/or alcohol.
Therefore, this will likely be a before and after type of scenario. The direction will be decided by each of us: Do I want to work at it or Do I prefer to avoid it, run from it, not think about it?
Regarding fat shaming, Arantza underlines that we need to understand that this is the society we leave in, that we were taught that being fat was bad and reason to be rejected, other socially, sexually or even at our jobs. Hence, people are used to try to change their bodies through physical activity and food control.
Now? We are inside. Many of us have access to a lot of food, but maybe not so much access to emotional processing resources. We are not allowed to be too active. Hence, there comes the fear of gaining weight and then the memes and comments pop-up. It is a spiral.
From her point of view (And mine): What is really the worst that could happen now is not weight-related. There are people dying. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty for people with other diseases which cannot be attended in the hospitals now. There is loss of jobs. There is no financial help. There is the looming crisis. Etc.
On another hand, there are more people investing time in cooking, baking bread, searching for recipes etc.
Arantza hopes and wishes that after all this we could continue on the road of mindfully cooking, investing time and love in eating. She feels that one of the most beautiful things brought to some of us by this horrific situation was the comeback of the slow life, a journey back to origins.
I had so many more questions, but I trust this will serve as an appetizer and it will open your curious mind to other concepts or the same concepts explained in another manner. 🙂
I am sure that by now you would like to contact Arantza, discover more of her wisdom, be her patient or support her (also very important!). You can do so by following her on Instagram or Facebook or checking out her website or her blog.
I think now is a great time to unlock the lockdown of the pressure on your body, the stigma of your weight and the self-hate. So, dare to love yourself!
Stay safe, be good and do good!