So you’re petitioning the powers that be because you want to put ugly warning labels – a la cigarette packages – on junk food, impose a fat tax, and give us all a break on the taxes on healthy foods – (they’re taxing healthy foods???) – to help fight the newly named ‘obesity epidemic.’
And you are the experts?
Okay, listen. Here’s how it really works.
Obesity has nothing to do with food.
Every person in North America who has ever had more than twenty pounds to lose, could easily teach a nutrition class. We know what to eat, when, and how, to maintain a healthy body. We know the difference between junk food and healthy choices. We understand the medical dangers of being overweight. And, more importantly, we feel the societal pressure levied against us for not being able to control our eating habits.
Trust me. We get it.
And yet, we overeat anyway.
Does this not qualify as an addiction? Or at least, an eating disorder, as serious and dysfunctional as anorexia and bulimia?
As long as the diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, this problem is not going to go away. We all know how these huge companies fund research, lobby governments, and, dare I say it out loud, promote programs that leave the user destined to fail.
Our problem, me as a person, us as a society, is a bigger, deeper issue. There is something – and this something is suddenly and severely on the rise – that is causing so many of us to self-medicate. And more of us are using junk food as the drug of choice.
If it weren’t for junk food, it would be cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, etc. etc. Junk food is just easier to get.
Of all the obese people out there, there are very few who suffer from simple overeating – the consumption of meal-quality foods in amounts that result in weight gain. For these people, the answer is less food/more exercise.
Most of us are sugar addicts. Closet icing eaters. Candy junkies. Cookie dough dependents.
And don’t tell me sugar is not addictive. Just because there’s no respectable study confirming this – and again, I ask you why not… – doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The fact is, I get immediate gratification – it feels good – to ingest a good dose of sugar. So good, in fact, that I lose sight of the consequences of the act. So good, that I often have no recollection of having consumed the sugar.
Banning large soft drinks, labeling food, making overweight people feel bad (worse!) for eating this stuff, is not the answer.
The answer is simple. I think I’ve found it – for anyone who’d like to listen. It’s all about the mindset.
When I can get my mind into a place where I can focus on weight loss, losing weight is the easiest thing in the world. Easy, because I know what to do. I eat less, I eat healthy, I exercise more. Simple and easy.
The hard part is getting my mind to that place. The hardest thing in the world to do is to stop doing something you like. It’s like, I can sit here and say I should control my temper better. But when I’m good and angry – when I’m actually sitting in the middle of the moment when I should be controlling my temper – I want to be mad. I don’t want to calm down. I need to be angry.
Afterward, I usually wish I hadn’t reacted, or hadn’t reacted badly. But at the time, I wanted to be angry.
It’s the same with sugar. When I’m hooked on sugar, I don’t want to be not-hooked on sugar. I know it’s bad. I know I should fight harder. But I can’t fight something I don’t want to fight. Even given all of the negative consequences of the act.
But every once in a while, something changes in my mindset. Something settles into me that says, “Just do it. Just for today. Do it. Don’t think about it. Don’t whine/worry/yap about it. Just get through today.” And if the feeling’s strong enough, I can string a bunch of days together.
As of today, I’ve managed to string together 162 days. I’ve been working relentlessly with ‘Ramone’ – my name for ‘MyFitnessPal.com‘ account. (Ramone is easier to talk about than explaining the whole website thing.) Ramone is an app on my iPhone. I tell him what I weigh, how old I am, how tall, what my activity level is, and exactly what I eat every day. He tells me how much I can eat and tracks and encourages me. If I look at the math, calculate the calories, I am within two pounds of where Ramone says I should be given our plan and its results. And it’s free.
MyFitnessPal – Free Calorie Counter
This success has come from a different direction than every other success and failure I’ve ever had. I am not dieting. Not at all. And I think I could live like this. Ramone tracks, but doesn’t berate me for exactly what I eat. If I’m having a bad day – I can still have some ice cream. But now I’m far more careful about how much ice cream, how I plan the rest of the day, and have an extra voice in knowing when to stop. Overall, I’m naturally making healthier choices because I can eat more. And I’m just starting now to find other ‘rewards’ and ‘incentives’ to promote the mindset it takes to be able to do this.
What I don’t know, is how to get to this mindset. With some very obvious physical changes now apparent to friends and family, I still haven’t found a way to inspire any of them to come along. I can’t lend them my mindset. They need to find it themselves.
We all need to find it.
Of course, the bottom line is, the company who figures out how to bottle that mindset, will be the one to corner the whole market.
You doctors are wrong on this one. Food is the drug. Obesity is a symptom. The real, underlying problem isn’t even on your radar yet.