The Sandy 15? Spare me.

Reader Tara brought this concept to my attention today and I have to say that when I first read her comment I was hoping it was just one goofy local news thing.  But it wasn’t.  If you’ve banked some Sanity Watchers points this week you can Google Sandy 15 and see what I mean.  In case you don’t get the clever, clever reference joke, the Sandy 15 is a reference to the freshman 15 (the idea that college students gain 15 pounds their freshmen year).  The idea of the freshmen 15 is problematic on many levels including but not limited to putting a focus on weight at a time when girls have a high chance of developing an eating disorder.  The Sandy 15 is just stupid and not just because it’s only been a couple of days, not a year.

My blue ribbon loser article was by Fox [Edit:  Reader A Elizabeth corrected me – the article is by the Associated Press, Fox picked it up as did many other outlets.]  The article talks about a woman who went to the grocery store with “good intentions” of buying cucumbers and apples.  But since there was, you know, a freaking hurricane, her store hadn’t received new supplies.  So she *gasp* bought chips and salsa, and Oreos.  She even “sheepishly” admitted to eating boxed macaroni and cheese. I’ll say it again because it’s so distressing that you may not have been able to process it the first time – this woman ate boxed mac and cheese.  Oh the humanity!

A dietician even made a punny – calling the combination of a lack of fresh foods, people baking as an at home family activity, and having Halloween candy around for trick or treaters as “the perfect storm.” Get it – perfect storm…hurricane – get it?

The article actually says “Even fitness trainer Simone de la Rue gave into a burger, french fries and margarita on Tuesday – for lunch, no less.”  For lunch.  FOR LUNCH!  We should strip her of her fitness certification, or we should maybe just kill her and put her out of her misery. No wait, later in the article they say that she is “making up for her indulgences with a few extra workout videos streamed on her iPad.”  She can live to fitness train another day.

Our genius dietician suggests household chores with vigorous scrubbing (seriously) and that next time people should be ready with some low-sodium bean based soup in the pantry.

So let’s review – there was a massive natural disaster, people died and there may be more, some people have lost everything and are living in shelters,  people are literally dumpster diving for food, but let’s make sure that people with internet access should know that they should feel ashamed of what they are eating, and more shamed if they aren’t overcoming whatever emotions, tragedies etc. they are dealing with to scrub something in their house vigorously enough to feel like they’ve burned enough calories to assuage the guilt that there is no need for in the first place.

The fact that anybody thought this article was ok to write and that a major news outlet was willing to print it tells me that we have gone far, far over the line when it comes to confusing healthy eating habits with a relationship with food that is built on what eating disorder specialists consider disordered eating patterns.  When it comes to our ideas about eating and health, our culture is massively messed up. When people who are dealing with a natural disaster are most worried about calorie counting, there is a problem.

Imagine a conversation about food without the concepts of guilt, good, bad, evil, sinful, etc.  Where eating is not used as a way to manipulate body size.  Where the discussion is about, as Linda Bacon says “Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety and appetite.”

So what can you do?

  • Opt out of this for yourself.  There are lots of resources to help you find new ways of eating, I recommend Michelle at The Fat Nutritionist and Golda at Body Love Wellness for a start.
  • Speak out against this when you hear about it – leave comments on articles, comment on conversations, speak about your HAES practice like others speak about their diets
  • Sign the HAES pledge

Happy HAES Holidays Teleconference Workshop – Registration is Name Your Own Price – Nov 13 and 15

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66 thoughts on “The Sandy 15? Spare me.

  1. Wow, that almost sounds like a parody. It’s scary that they were actually serious. Sorry, but if I’m scrambling to get by in the aftermath of a major natural disaster, the last thing on my mind would be calorie counting. Priorities, people!

    1. While I don’t know that it started there, it certainly does sound like something The Onion would run… and it wouldn’t be the first time major news outlets mistook something from there for real news.

  2. Oh, for the love of Maude. People are DYING and STARVING and HOMELESS and STRANDED and THEIR COMMUNITIES ARE DESTROYED and some self-important talking heads tsk-tsked us to watch our waistlines?

    And I wonder why I’m contemptuous of so much of humanity…

  3. Some people are seriously f*cked up, in a time when people are going out of their way to help others some sad little w*nker thinks that was an appropriate show of ‘community spirit’? >.<

    For anyone affected by Sandy, my heart goes out to you and I hope you can find help and comfort in your communities.

    (not sure about your policy on bad words, but this was the politest I could be)

  4. These people are wackadoodles – sorry, but in the midst of a natural disaster these bitches are worried about burning calories? Priorities way off. I actually feel sorry for this dietician and most of all, her family – people baking at home is something negative? How stupid, how empty. Sorry Ms. Expert Dietician, but baking at home is NOT something to look down upon. Get a life! People are suffering, have lost homes. Honestly, this person has no clue about the really important and wonderful things in life.

  5. Fuck those people. I have been without electricity since the storm hit and it’s getting colder by the day. I am lucky to have gas and hot water and periodically I cook food to get something warm in me. Who cares if I put on some pounds? More insulation for me! Such a stupid thing to worry about.

    1. I hope you have power soon. im sure you are aware of the linemen from Tx and Al. being turned away because they are not union. There is plenty of help for you but the unions are stopping it from happening. Good luck.

      1. Sorry, but please, spare us the “evil unions” stuff. So not the place for that. Union workers have been helping out people caught in the storm and doing the best they can, just like everyone else.

  6. In an emergency, you eat what you can eat. If I was stuck in the middle of a disaster like Sandy and the best I could do was Oreos and boxed mac and cheese, you know what? I’d be damn well grateful I could get Oreos and had the means to cook the mac and cheese! Neither is on my list of favorite foods, I don’t usually have either in my home. But I would eat them and be grateful and not give a crap what it might mean for my oh-so-precious figure. I would worry a hell of a lot more about whether I’ve got safe food, shelter, clean water, and the means to stay warm.

    What sanctimonious crapweasels.

    1. Heck, mac and cheese and oreos are constant staples in my life. And I’m a happier person for it. Why can’t we stigmatize these judgemental wackadoodles instead of people who are just trying to live their lives as they see fit.

    2. When I lose power I turn to spam. Not something I would touch ordinarily, but it fries up pretty good over my little gas burner. Makes a decent sandwich. Nothing like a loss of electricity to adjust your cooking standards. 😀

  7. I’m happy to read an synopsis of the article… I didn’t get past the sheepish admission of eating Mac and Cheese. I mean, holy crap! I almost always have some at my house.

    Sure, I am eating a lot of apples and peanut butter right now because I like peanut butter and apples… and apples last a good week or 2 after purchase. And I had purchased extras prior to the storm. We live in an area where power outtages due to storms (this summer’s derecho, ice storms and yes, hurricanes) happen from time to time. The hurricane’s forecasted track could have delivered my area a direct blow. By the Friday before the storm we were well stocked in such items. We always have plenty of water, canned and packaged foods, as of Friday we had some of the fresh items I like so much that last for a decent while. We also have chips, nutty bars, *gasp* and even some oreos in the house! Holy shmakanoli!

    But we live in a single family home on more than an acre. We have a generator and a good place to put the generator that will not affect us or our neighbors with carbon monoxide poison. We did not have our house washed away. We did not lose close family or friends.

    I cannot begin to think what situation we would be in if our house had been washed away, or if we lived in an apartment building in the middle of a city. Some apartments and houses in those cities hardest hit are TINY. A stockpile of emergency food/water? What in the world for?? How many times has a hurricane made a direct hit so close to Manhattan? That area is heavily populated and is always increadibly resourceful.

    Sorry if my rant is a little all over the place. I was just terribly upset with the article. Those people are worried about finding food. Any food to sustain their lives. I had heard the report about dumpster diving moments before opening the article on my computer. I am disgusted with those who report about the evils of calories and obesity no matter what, I am even more angry when they feel they have to bring up their crusade during a disaster such as Sandy.

    Thank you for blogging about this today. I feel much better!

    Big Fat Hugs!

  8. I remember something similar right after 9/11 – an article suggesting that if you went off your diet, Osama Bin Laden wins.

    1. If the ladies go off their diets, i.e. refuse to be controlled by an unrealistic ideal of beauty and the concept that anyone can get there by working hard enough, everyone will a penis loses. At least, that’s how I think they see it.

  9. Let me get this straight… a superstorm blew into the East Coast, leaving tens of thousands of people without shelter, food or power… and the “mainstream liberal media” is spinning it as “Gays caused the hurricane, and now we’re all going to get FAT!!!”?

    I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

  10. The whole thing is such bulls*%t. Really makes me angry there are such shallow and stupid people in the US. As far as the freshmen 15, I have written about it in my book. The 15 lbs gained in college has nothing to do with eating. The natural body is changing from that of a child to that of an adult. We are not supposed to weigh what we weighed in school. Do the math. One would have to eat 47 extra calories a day to gain 15lbs in a 4 year period. All bull. So do they expect someone who is dumpster diving to eat only the lettuce they find and if they find a cookie, dont eat it. Holy Cow!!!

  11. My head is going to explode. In addition to “Sandy 15” whargrrrbll, when the NY Marathon was cancelled, the very first response I saw was “Oh great, the fatties have won again, and now everybody is going to stay home and eat doritos and sit on their fat asses.”

    So I don’t know if we fatties are responsible for Sandy itself, but apparently we are responsible for the cancellation of the marathon.

    And people wonder why I am getting so cynical and withdrawn from the world.

  12. Talk about First World Problems!!!!!

    Or maybe now they should call it “Midtown problems”. If you caught the Jon Stewart Show when they first went on after Sandy, they did a bit where the reporters in Downtown NY was walking around in the dark with a machete for self-defense, forced to drink urine and eat rats for survival. The reporter in Midtown was declaring it a crisis that the ice cream shop was out of mocha sprinkles.

    The Sandy 15 sounds like a Midtown problem.

  13. #first world problems- “I’m worried that having to eat non-perishables during this natural disaster will screw up my diet.”

  14. Seriously, that is messed up, but if you want even MORE messed up, here is a website done by a man who is a fitness trainer who is berating people for ‘gasp’ daring to miss their workouts due to Hurricane Sandy. If you can stomach it, take a look at his other articles, specifically the one about Christina Agulara (have no idea if I spelled that right), as well as the one about ‘catching anorexia’. He is huge into fat shaming under the guise of ‘just telling it how it is, for your own good”.
    Warning: WHOLE website is triggering.

    1. That was the most disturbing site I’ve ever seen. So models don’t have anorexia because they let people see their bodies? Wow, we’re raising a generation of girls who are having health issues because of low body fat and all their being told is “GO LOWER!”

  15. Amen. Some of the worst, most certifiable insanity I have seen. My husband happened to have the tv tuned to “The View” (a show I will NOT watch) On Wednesday, the first live show they did for the week. The four women who star on the show (my computer is on the other side of the wall separating bedroom where he was watching from the living room where I was, so I had no escape from the audio assault) spent at least the first 10-15 minutes whining about how ‘bad’ they had been while shut up because of the storm for a couple of days, how ‘everyone must have gained at LEAST TWO pounds!” & one was moaning, “I gained so much weight that I couldn’t get into my Spanx this morning!” Give me a fucking break!

    1. Horrific content notwithstanding, “I gained so much weight that I couldn’t get into my Spanx this morning!” seriously cracked me up.

  16. And here I thought the aftermath of Sandy would mean less focus on how fat people were destroying society. That didn’t last long. I wish these so-called fitness and nutrition experts would get out of their “thin only” bubble and inject some reality in their lives.

  17. Actually, that article, which is on Fox and one or two other news websites, is by the Associated Press! I thought they were a more serious news agency.

        1. I knew that the AP piece about Minnie was one of the least balanced pieces about the petition that we saw but I didn’t realize that it was by the same woman. That makes sense. Thanks! ~Ragen


  18. If the spin had been that diabetics are having to make unfriendly food choices (with consequences of uncontrolled blood sugar when it’s probably also difficult to get/stay on meds), I would have been fine with this. There are thousands of folks in that area who are on dialysis who have restricted diets to begin with, even more so if their treatment is unavailable. For them, lack of right foods can be immediately life threatening. An extended diet heavy in Oreos would make me feel crappy, but health is a different issue than worrying about a couple of pounds during a disaster.

    1. Yes THIS exactly. There are people with medically-related food and beverage restrictions for whom having to rely on emergency grub is literally an imminent matter of life and death, or at least severely compromised health (e.g. people with celiac or ulcerative colitis). But then, yuppiefucks like these don’t seem to care all that much about people who never get anything else to eat BUT emergency grub, so it’s no surprise that this wouldn’t occur to them.

  19. *This* is supposed to be newsworthy? Power’s out, there’s no place to store perishables, cooking facilites might not be available, grocery stores aren’t getting fresh supplies; of *course* people are reaching for packaged stuff.

    The lack of compassion is truly mind-blowing.

  20. Seriously? Ugh.

    It’s not just the ridiculousness of ‘people are dying; I hope I don’t get fat!’ , the complete lack of logic is overwhelming. I live in PA. We were without power , water and internet for three days – how the hell was I going to make oatmeal, or stream online workout videos? For the first day there were so many trees down we couldn’t leave the house – too bad I missed the spinach sale at the grocery store!

    I guess I should just be glad I got such great exercise hauling water up and down stairs for my family to flush toilets. *facepalm*

  21. Ask any person who lost a loved one in this storm if they would have preferred to have watched that person get fat eating oreos. I suspect I know what the answer will be.

    1. Hear, hear. A lot of displaced Katrina victims came to my area, including a bunch of kids who had lost a parent. I’m pretty damn sure they would have much rather had to pull Mommy or Daddy away from a pile of Oreos than out of a flooded building.


    Also, coming from a long line of amazing bakers and cooks (both men and women), the thought of criticizing baking as a family pastime makes me want to hork. Baking with kids (or adults who know how to be kids at appropriate moments) is FUN. So is making cookie frosting that doesn’t come out of a can and taste like butt, but anyway. Anyone who criticizes it either has never done it, or is so wrapped up in the diet industry spiel that it’s overwhelmed everything else.

    (Now to make it easier and cheaper to have a gluten free baking night, sigh. Ah, cheap bread with only one kind of flour, I miss you so.)

  23. Every once in a while I wonder why I don’t have a TV set… until something like this comes along and I remember why I opted out of McWorld.

    The media is a black hole in constant search of content. And a novel angle on a story is the holy grail. So some bright eyed journalist came up the idea of mixing the obesity crisis and hurricane Sandy. The result: this horrendous, insensitive story.

    I don’t even want to think about the people they interviewed whoes lives are so shallow that they worry about the caloric content of foods in a time of crisis and even give diet and exercise tips to storm victims.

    1. I don’t have a tv either. And while the media constantly searches for content, I don’t believe they’re looking for novelty at all. Real novelty is anathema to them. What they’re doing is nailing together two things that draw lots of attention (Natural Disaster and Obesity Crisis). So you can expect to see Natural Disaster also coupled with:
      1) It’s all the fault of gays.
      2) It’s all the fault of terrorists.
      3) Some Hollywood celebrity has an opinion.
      4) Some politician has an opinion about another politician’s role in cleaning up after the storm.
      5) Heartwarming tale of heroism especially involving a child or animal.

      Don’t look for novelty.

    2. This is so insightful. They have to fill content whether there’s anything important to say or not. So, the message services the medium, rather than the other way around. Once I understood this, so many more things became clear.

  24. Mac and Cheese? Is that the stuff in a box? Yes, handy for keeping in the cupboard in case your fridge breaks. But, as a Brit, my mind boggles why Americans buy it as its so easy to make it fresh with some pasta, milk, butter, cheese and seasoning.Its really simple, cheap and without all the weird chemicals of a processed food.

    1. Milk, butter and cheese are not cheap here, the boxed stuff is significantly less expensive – some people make the boxed version with water and without milk or cheese to keep within their budget. It also keeps for longer so people who don’t have easy access to a grocery store may choose the boxed version for that purpose. Also, many people here work more than one job while caring for children and the boxed stuff is much faster to make and easier for a teenager to make if they have to feed themselves. Some people like the taste. I completely support you if you want to make it fresh but please be especially careful on this blog not to judge other people’s food choices. Thanks!


      1. Thank you for this. I like to make mac n’ cheese from scratch, but it’s kind of a hassle. Boxed mac n’ cheese is much easier, and it’s delicious in a different way than homemade. And yeah, it’s SUPER-cheap. I’ve seen boxes of it for less than a dollar.

        1. As another Brit I occasionally find myself wondering about ‘food choices’ of people over the Atlantic. I think it is sometimes difficult to picture how very different availability and pricing is in America, given how similar the two societies seem to be on the surface.
          I would find it interesting if someone in the States would be willing to do a comparative post with a Brit to highlight some of the assumptions made about things like that.
          There are (for example) 4 shops that have a good selection of fresh veg, 2 with a butcher, 3 that sell a wide range of fresh and dried spices.. e.t.c. I am aware this is not usual, even in the UK, but it is still very easy to slip into thinking it is.

        2. Even the Annie’s natural boxed mac n cheese is available for less than $3 a box most of the time. I have to admit to preferring it, with its whole grain and ancient grains options, to making from scratch or the “look! yellow teeth!” cheaper kind.

          But yeah, this is just all kinds of fucking ridiculous. Now that my eyes are a lot more open to the falsehood of the “epidemic of the disease of obesity” I’m amazed at how this talk is just all around us! What absolute crap! Ugh. 😦

    2. As an unemployed Brit I have eaten boxed mac’n’cheese as it is significantly cheaper (non branded version) when you are on a limited budget and unlike milk and cheese does not go off if you forget about them. Now that more supermarkets do a wide range of cheap label stuff it’s easier to choose to eat healthily, but I still sometimes miss the cheery orange as it brightened up my plate.

    3. The whole point was that people were stocking up on nonperishable food items because of the likelihood of multi-day power outages. Wouldn’t have been all that smart to stock up on milk and cheese.

  25. I’m from NY and wasn’t personally affected. The aftermath is awful- I can’t imagine anyone dumb enough to compare Sandy to eating. At this point, many have nothing to eat. What a disgrace.

  26. I’m sorry. I know the following comment from me is not what the article is about nor am I focusing on what Ragen has very rightly pointed out is all kinds of wrong with how the world views bodies/health and food. It’s just that Simone De La Rue and I had the same dance teacher way back in the dark ages. I was completely unaware of what she had gone on to accomplish, which appears to be quite significant. Now after googling around and reading for several hours I feel like I’ve been hit with a big old bus of self loathing and weirdness and wonder, at well, the universe in general really. Life is seriously strange. I will just say she was always a great person when I knew her and I’m thrilled she has found success doing what she loves and appears to have maintained her down to earth personality. I guess this just dredges up for me a variety of emotions about body and I’m really not sure how to even process it. That’s before I even try to work my head and emotions around a situation where by it looks like any minute Jenny Craig will be taking up ration pack supplies. I think I need a lie down.

  27. I used to volunteer with a charity where I learned about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I have to say worrying about the quality of food to avoid contaminated foods is not even one of the most basic needs, first you worry about getting food, then you worry about making you ill, then you worry about several layers of other things, then you worry if it might not be the healthiest choice.'s_hierarchy_of_needs

    When people don’t even have the first tier of needs met you do not harp on about their food choices unless you are a horrible specimen of a human being.

    1. This is a really good point…but in survival classes you learn that it’s better to fast than to eat something that is poisonous (e.g., poison berries, rotten meat). If you vomit and get diarrhea, you’re worse off than if you hadn’t eaten, because dehydration is way more dangerous than lack of food. Most people can live for three weeks without food, but only three days without water (probably less if you get diarrhea). So, food safety is paramount, but worrying about choosing “healthy” food is ludicrous in a survival situation.

  28. This concern about eating “nutritious” foods during a disaster is both ludicrous and dangerous. Another casualty of this good food / bad food obsession are the people that are food insecure. So many organizations emphasize high-cost low-calorie fruits and vegetables as well as low fat foods for their hungry clients. Why do they want to practice calorie restriction on their hungry clients? Something is very amiss here. The word nutrient has become corrupted. Low calorie vegetables are called nutrient dense when in fact the most important of all nutrients are macronutrients, i.e. proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. When it comes to discourses on nutrition and obesity, in this self-professed most advanced country, the United States, popular myth is seen to dominate over basic scientific logic and reasoning. For more information, see my website:

    1. Thank you for the link! It is so true that the ‘leafy greens’ get all the press when talking about ‘healthy’ foods, as if we are all herbivores and that is the only type of food that ‘counts’ as healthy. And honestly it really enrages me that a disaster occurred in which people died, were injured, traumatized, have had their lives changed dramatically and there is a focus on what foods they might be eating.

    2. Yeah, what they really mean when they say “nutrient dense” is “micronutrient dense,” but they shorten it because I think they’re trying not to confuse or overwhelm lay people. Kind of like how MRI SHOULD be called NMRI (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging), but we don’t want to turn people off with the word “nuclear.”

    3. I looked at your website. I agree with some of what you say, but instead of telling people to eat fewer vegetables, meat, and fish in order to save money, couldn’t we just somehow make more vegetables, meat, and fish (or money) available to them? I’m not saying people HAVE to eat these things, but as I understand it, there is a negative correlation between fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality (regardless of size), so if people want to have access to these things, I don’t think they should be denied.

      Also, I think that many organizations DO emphasize adequate caloric intake over everything else. What do you think the farm subsidies are all about? Less than 3% of all subsidies go to produce; most of the rest goes to the hard corn that’s used as animal feed, and to make corn syrup. This brings down the cost of eggs, dairy products, meat, and calorie-dense sweets (including soda). I recall looking at USDA suggestions for shopping lists a few years ago, and for low-income families, they recommended buying soda as a calorie supplement (I’m not making this up!). I do agree that the whole “obesity epidemic” thing has probably confused some organizations. I also agree that food insecurity (which can be caused by dieting as well as poverty) probably contributes more to weight gain than “calorie-dense” foods.

      Organizations should focus on providing adequate calories to those who are in need. But for long-term health, micronutrients are also important, and we have no excuse for not providing fruits and vegetables to those who want and need them.

  29. It saddens me greatly that instead of writing truly helpful articles on how to protect your food options or increase the food options for individuals in hard hit areas people are writing bigoted schlock like this.

    Having just lived through this (our power came back on a few days ago thank heaven!) here in NJ, I can tell you that with a little bit of creativity and very little money spent we didn’t have to change the way we ate very much at all. Eduction is the key, everyone shouts “throw all your food away if your power goes out” instead of offering ideas that help people safely store the foods they have! Sure it requires a little more work, but with the power out, you aren’t spending time watching TV.

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