At long last, I have begun reading the book, “The End of Overeating.”, by David A. Kessler, M.D. The subtitle is “Taking control of the insatiable American appetite”. Sounds good-let’s get started.
Sarah: Dr. Kessler saw Sarah being interviewed by Dr. Phil on Oprah; she was “a large, well-dressed woman”, who confessed to eating for pretty much any reason, at any time. She called herself “fat” and “ugly”, described an obsessive thought pattern of “why I eat, when I eat, what I eat, with whom I eat”, and felt she had no willpower. She finished in tears saying she didn’t like herself.
Andrew: Dr. Kessler interviewed Andrew, age 40, 5’9″ and 245 lbs; he’s a journalist who has spent time on battlefields, in some of the world’s most dangerous places, and yet, when faced with a bowl of M&M’s or a slice of pizza, his will crumbles. He describes his day as a constant battle between himself and food, picking up and putting down a candy bar at a convenience store over and over, before finally succumbing, buying the candy, throwing half of it away on the way out the door and eating the rest. He believes America has become “a food funhouse, a carnival of fatty, sugary, salty, accessible and cheap delights.” He finishes with a textbook description of the body’s reward system-if eating something makes him feel good, even momentarily, his brain drives him to eat it again and again to get that good feeling.
Samantha: Samantha is a 25-year-old law student, 5’6” and 120 lbs. She sees food in front of her as an eternal struggle not to eat. She leaves her apartment to study at the library because there’s no food there. She exercises vigorously to stay thin, and as soon as she’s not actively busy “doing something”, she begins to think about having something to eat. She knows how to make healthy food choices, but doesn’t know why it’s so hard for her to do it.
Claudia: A middle-aged colleague of Dr. Kessler’s, Claudia will sometimes eat to the point of making herself sick, if the food is appealing. There are days when she dreams of food all day. She has fond memories attached to foods from her childhood, and special occasions. She can’t wait to get home from work each day, to eat. When asked why she does this, she answers simply, “I don’t know.”
Dr. Kessler shares a personal experience he’s had; he performed an experiment pitting temptation against his willpower. He bought two freshly baked, hot, gooey chocolate chip cookies, took them home, and set them on the counter in front of himself. He focused on his reactions to the cookies; they soon captivated his attention even more than the photos of his children nearby. His hand had moved closer to the cookies, although he had no memory of doing it. He went up to his office, to get as far away from the cookies as possible, but still could not stop thinking of them. Finally, he left the house without eating them, feeling great, but proceeded to a cappuccino shop and had a cup, plus a chocolate-orange cookie from a jar sitting on the counter.
None of the people profiled above has been diagnosed with any recognized eating disorder. But they, and millions like them (like you? like me?) have a relationship with food that is causing them unhappiness, frustration, pain, and/or poor health.
Coming Up Next Month: Part One: Sugar, Fat, Salt
Next week, another great recipe from Jamie’s Food Revolution/Pass It On: Shrimp and Avocado with an Old-School Marie Rose Sauce-yum yum yum!