Friday, January 08, 2010

Food addiction ramblings

The latest season of the Biggest Loser began this week. I love the show, mainly because it's a show about people getting healthy and gaining power over themselves and their food addiction by learning about a healthy diet and exercise. For some of them, the lessons don't seem to stick the first time around, which is probably to be expected, considering it's a reality show competition, not a wellness program.

On today, there was a story about a new issue of V magazine featuring plus size models in designer wear. Plus-size meaning normal size - in general, plus size models are sizes 12-14 which sits very well on some women's bodies.

Watching the Biggest Loser, seeing ads about the current health care debate and obesity crisis, and reading about the growth in popularity of larger size models made me think about how Americans have a love/hate relationship with fat. Most Americans are overweight or obese - over 1/3 are so obese that their health is damaged more by carrying so much fat than it is/would be by smoking. A lot of women support the movement to be more inclusive of normal sized women (size 22 should NOT be normal, it's a health hazard), but will stare at themselves in the mirror for extended periods of time poking at their own fat in miserable self pity.

When I finally was able to stop gaining weight and lose thirty lbs a couple years ago, it was for two reasons: I built walking into my everyday lifestyle, and I ate in small portion sizes. To lose more weight, I'd actually have to work at it, which isn't something I'm particularly good at - but there just doesn't seem to be on average a really honest attitude about weight and health in the United States.

For myself, I can say that I am a food addict. I crave sugar and sweets most, chips aren't really all that tempting. I love chocolate fudge. And cookies. And candy. LOTS of candy. I have the fillings in my teeth to prove it. But, I didn't know how to moderate my intake, and I didn't know how to love myself enough to make it a priority. Not everyone should be a size 4. Some people are naturally; good for them, that's not me. But no one should be a size 22, either, because the damage that being morbidly obese does to your body is truly quite extensive.

I think everyone's journey through controlling their addictions will be different. I didn't have to quit smoking, which I hear is extremely difficult, because I never started, but if I am to honor my own presence on this earth, I need to be honest enough to treat my body with respect and do exactly what other addicts have to do, which is first admit they have a problem. I have a problem with food that I expect I will have my entire life. But, I won't and can't let that addiction to the high I feel when I stuff my face with an entire pound of saltwater taffy at once destroy my long-term happiness.