Thursday, May 21, 2009

The End of Overeating

I'm going to have to read this book. Heard the interview with the author last night and it was really good. The author was the head of the FDA during the Bush Sr. and Clinton presidencies and struggled with food himself. He finally realized and understood the physiological effects that food (or any other kind if stimulation) can have on your brain and when he did so, he was able to adopt strategies to help him restructure a different kind of relationship with food.

It was fascinating because I struggle so much with food, and its something I really struggle with knowing that I could in all likelihood be going down the road toward type 2 diabetes, knowing my family history. Its something I want to get control over.

The author explained that the food industry has spent millions of dollars in packaging and advertising to deliver food packed with layers of sugar, fat, and salt knowing that Americans would not be able to resist. And its not just the sugar, fat and salt that does folks like me in. Its the packaging, in bright flashy colors, the advertising, beautiful actors doing cool things while the "Do the Dew" for example. Its the fact that you can drive down every corner and get soda or a donut.

This experience of stimulation creates neurological connections in your brain, that causes you to crave the experience deeper the next time. And its difficult to resist and you cannot unlearn or break these connections when they have been formed. You're stuck with them your entire life.

And our culture has made it difficult. We have lost our food boundaries. We can eat high fat foods all hours of the day, almost everywhere any time. The French have been famous (until maybe just recently) for eating high fat foods and not gaining weight. But they're culture had strict limits on food. Snacking was frowned upon. They didn't eat while they worked or were in meetings. The boundaries also helped define their food relationships.

The trick is to build up something new that you want more than you want food. For some people, the trick is to become vegetarian or to focus on eating only natural foods, or gardening or exercise. It all hasn't sunk in yet, I really need to read the book, but the idea is fascinating.

Basically, having a food addiction (which I guess is what you call this), is really as normal as being human. Having these desires for stimulation is part of what makes us human. Its not our fault, its just who we are. Our society has made it almost impossible to have a manageable and healthy relationship with food, and we're suffering the medical consequences.

Having this knowledge though can give us power to protect ourselves, and even more importantly, to protect our children. In so many ways, we (I) have made mistakes with our kids. Using desert as a reward is a terrible message to teach to our kids. Personally, I have begun to transfer my desires for high fat foods onto my children. Its something I want desperately to change.

I'll have to get the book.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

One of the hardest things of coming back to America after living in Japan for two years, was getting back on the American diet. I realized how high in fat and sugar our American diet is. But most especially how BLAND our American 'cuisine' is.