Addiction to food is a life-depleting problem for many people. If you become unhappily overweight, you probably have an internal battle going on. On one hand you feel guilty for not taking proper care of yourself and feel entirely responsible for getting fat; and on the other hand you feel somehow helpless and irresponsible: you want someone else to take charge and you will overeat anyway, so there.
The key to coming back into balance with food is to take personal responsibility, but then there is always that nagging feeling that it’s not your fault and you cannot do anything about it.
Don’t ignore that feeling. Although what you do about your weight is entirely up to you, your little voice is correct: it is not your fault, to a large degree.
In this blog I am generalising. The reasons why someone puts on weight are complex, individual and so much greater than the availability of fattening foods. The circumstances of your life that led you to obesity are the basic material for the therapy I provide.
However, there is a much
And it involves you! And me, and all of us.
Here are four reasons why being fat is not your fault.
- Obesity is an epidemic
Obesity is on the rise over the whole world. As more calorie-dense and animal-based food becomes cheaper and more available, the global incidence of piling on the pounds increases. As these poor but fattening foods spread out into new markets like syrup pouring over a treacle sponge, so obesity follows.
Obesity is like bubble wrap – each susceptible person becomes inflated, and then so does his or her neighbour, and so on, and the bubble wrap is cocooning the whole Earth.
“Weight gain by one individual may have the ‘collateral effect’ of promoting obesity in others,” says Viktor Bovbjerg. He noticed a direct connection between the levels of obesity in people living close to each other. Your risk of becoming obese is increased by 45% if you have a direct connection to an obese person. If your best friend becomes obese, you stand a 171% greater risk of becoming obese yourself. So obesity is like a communicable disease, and epidemic. Bubble wrap. A wave.
Here in Britain and in the US, about two-thirds of people are overweight. We are amongst the fattest people in the world. But even in countries which are blighted by wide-scale poverty, the number of obese people is rising, even though malnutrition is still a major problem; and the diets of once healthy nations are being invaded by cheap, fattening food. Why?
- Food subsidies and economic practice
The US Department of Agriculture and other governments subsidise large-scale farmers to grow meat and corn, and they lower the prices of energy-dense food, which is now accessible worldwide. We have changed our eating patterns to suit. People are eating more oils, dairy, meat and calorie-laden sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup. Soft drinks, greater portion sizes, eating out, and eating ready meals at home – all this tends to make us fat.
In parallel to the increase in highly fattening food has been a decrease in physical activity because of cars, tellies, computers and labour-saving machines at work and at home.
- Eating is addictive
“The food-seeking and consumption behaviours of obese individuals are eerily akin to those of people who are addicted to drugs, including alcohol,” says Elliott Blass, adding that there are “identical characteristics between overeating and established forms of addiction.” When people are addicted, their power of choice is damaged, and unlike cigarettes or drugs, eating is essential: you can’t go cold turkey. Food contains addictive properties (both natural and processed foods contain chemicals that act on the pleasure centres of the brain). There is a link between alcohol and obesity, and obesity can be considered an “addictive disease”. The therapy I provide addresses the deeper reasons for the addiction.
- Our bodies remember
Every time we gain weight our body will remember – it’s like it recalibrates. When we expand from overeating we reset to a new elastic limit. The body, which loves to be in balance, will do its best to get back to that size.
Children naturally regain weight between the ages of 5 and 7, but this process is happening younger, between the ages of 2 and 4, when children naturally lose weight. Obesity in childhood usually continues into adulthood. Children, as they grow up, are also learning to be inactive, being driven to school and playing out their childhoods on a screen. These patterns continue as we grow older.
So it’s not your fault… but you hold the power to do something about it.
The personal effects of obesity are unhappiness and physical illness which reach into our lives and switch off the light. It’s a see-saw ride. Rich-poor. Bulimia. Guilt-pleasure. Yoyo dieting, and a constant battle with your own mind and body. I will help you to switch the light on again, to address your addiction and to remove the bubble wrap. For further information, contact me.
All quotations and references from Blass, E. M. (Ed) (2008). Obesity: Causes, Mechanisms, Prevention and Treatment. Sinaur Associates Inc; Sunderland, MA, USA.