wshaffer (wshaffer) wrote,

  • Mood:

A cheeseburger is not a cry for help

So, this rant was touched off by a blog post that I ultimately decided not to link to. Partly because the author of the post was clearly speaking the truth about her own experience, and I didn't want to seem to be attacking her for doing that. And partly because she's hardly the first or the last person to put forth the idea that triggered this rant: The notion that extremely overweight people are using food as a way to deal with emotional pain. This idea is usually expressed as something along the lines of, "No one gets to be a hundred pounds overweight just because they like to eat."

Actually some of us do. I did. Though to be fair, it went a bit beyond "liking to eat." It was more along the lines of, "when I eat highly-processed high-carbohydrate foods, my appetite regulation goes haywire and I'm constantly hungry, causing me to eat more highly-processed high-carbohydrate foods." When I cut back on the highly-processed high-carbohydrate foods, I stopped being hungry all the damn time, and I lost quite a bit of weight. (More significantly, I got back all the time I used to spend wondering if gnawing on the corner of my desk would somehow help me deal with the fact that I was ravenous despite having eaten an hour ago. Being constantly hungry sucks.) I didn't need to confront my emotional issues. I just needed more protein and fiber.*

Now, I'm not trying to deny that there are people who struggle with emotional eating, and that some of those people are fat. But every time someone makes a blog post like this, well-meaning commenters announce their intention to reach out to their fat loved ones and help them confront the emotional demons that they are battling with food. Wanting to help a loved one is commendable; trying to help a loved one with the attitude that you understand what the problem is better than they do is...well, "unlikely to work" is the kindest thing I can say.

*You have no idea how uncomfortable writing that paragraph made me feel. I think because it feels like such a conventional piece of weight-loss narrative. I practically expect it to wind up with, "And if I did it, you can do it to!" Maybe you can do it too; maybe you can't; maybe you don't want to. I use myself as an example because I think I have a pretty good understanding of what made me gain and lose weight, and so I think I can speak fairly authoritatively when I say that deep-seated emotional issues were not involved.
Tags: ranting, weight

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.