Inches, pounds and comfort food

It’s June, early in the month. Snow jackets and flannel bed sheets are put away. Summer clothes take their happy posts at the front of the closet. It is time to face the music—bathing suits come out of hiding.

There’s no denying it. Also coming out of hiding from beneath winter sweaters and sweatpants, is winter’s comfort food, inexplicably transformed into inches and pounds.

You know what I’m talking about. Shop for a new bathing suit or start that diet, tomorrow? That dreaded experience, bathing suit shopping--at its best, humbling.

First, you must come to terms with the fact that bathing suit designers, unlike industrial designers, never heard of form serving function. Second, do you go for comfort or a bathing suit straight out of the Victorian era, promising to make you look 10 pounds thinner? Finally, you have to look at yourself trying them on.

My friend Joan plans bathing suit shopping trips better than generals plan their military campaigns. If you have to ask "why," you are either a man or swim textile free. The reality of bathing suit shopping means steeling yourself. You get to see, in the mirror, what time and comfort food accomplished over the last six months.

Unless you spend in the three-figure range, you shop in stores with dressing rooms that generally don’t help your self-image. I’m talking about the industrial florescent lights—the same ones you find in car repair shops.

The cubicle is cramped, not always carpeted, and comes with a mirror inches from your nose. Some are single-mirror cubicles, the kindest. Some have two, "the better to see you, my dear." Then there is the terrible three-way mirror cubicle that won’t allow you to keep a single delusion.

Take in the cutest suits to try on. Then start squirming. Did they change how they size bathing suits over the winter? Sometimes the top is too small, or the bottom is, or there just isn’t enough "suit." We repeat this, usually in more than more shop, until one finally fits. Now you tell me, who wouldn’t dread this?

Maybe another option—diet—makes better sense. How hard can it be to get rid of winter’s inches and pounds? I buy Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink. The teaser on the cover says "Why we eat more than we think." Yup, that’s me, eating more. The book is just a over 200 pages. Wansink backs up studies with pages of reference notes, documenting why we mindlessly eat.

For me, the grapefruit diet, protein diet, cabbage soup diet, 3-day, 10-day or any-day diet, don't’t work. Maybe five or ten pounds go away, for a while, but they return with interest. So why not change the way I eat?

Studies say we make about 200 food-related decisions a day, 90 percent of which we aren’t even aware of. And yes, my metabolism slows down when I cut back on food, to help me "survive famines and barren winters" in Cleveland.

The final straw comes with studies showing it isn’t the fast-food syndrome that is the culprit. Our eating behavior may actually be formed in the first several years of our lives, before we even meet a happy meal. What to do? Hmmm.

Anita Kazarian

Anita Kazarian, marketing professional, founder of Noah’s Landing, LLC, and a longtime resident of University Heights. Contact her at

Read More on University Heights
Volume 4, Issue 6, Posted 1:06 PM, 06.01.2011