Weight Loss Support - Why did I get fat?

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07-09-2012, 04:50 PM
Hey all! I stumbled on this article today and thought I would share it. It's a fairly entertaining read and something most of us here can relate to in one way or another.

"Why did I get fat? Why was I eating until I hurt and regarding my own body as something as distant and unsympathetic as, say, the state of the housing market in Buenos Aires? Obviously, it's not wholly advisable to swell up so large that, on one very bad day, you get stuck in a bucket seat at a local fair and have to be rescued by your old schoolmaster, but why is being fat treated as a cross between terrible shame and utter tragedy? Something that—for a woman—is seen as falling somewhere between sustaining a sizable facial scar and sleeping with the ****s?
Why will women happily boast-moan about spending too much ("…and then my bank manager took my credit card and cut it in half with a sword!"), about drinking too much ("…and then I took my shoe off and threw it over the bus stop!"), and about working too hard ("…so tired I fell asleep on the control panel, and when I woke up, I realized I'd pressed the nuclear launch button! Again!") but never, ever about eating too much? Why is unhappy eating the most pointlessly secret of miseries? It's not like you can hide a six-Kit-Kats-a-day habit for very long.

Seven years ago, a friend of mine broke up with a pop star, reactivated her bulimia, binged and purged for nine days straight, and then admitted herself to the Priory, a British rehab center known for treating famous clients like Amy Winehouse. I went to visit her—out of a combination of love and curiosity as to what the Priory was like. I'd presumed it was like the glitzy Chateau Marmont in L.A., but with amazing prescription drugs. Full of interestingly ravaged celebrities clawing their way back to normality, in the midst of some helpfully gorgeous décor.
In the event, it turns out that, inside, the Priory actually looks, and smells, like a lower-midrange family-run hotel. Faded swirly carpets and, somewhere—judging by the smell—a perpetually boiling caldron of stew, working as the world's biggest Glade PlugIn. As my friend told me, sitting on the end of her bed chain-smoking, an institution full of emotionally troubled substance abusers turns out to be no fun at all.
"There's a pecking order," she sighed, shredding her cuticles with her opposing thumbnail. "The heroin addicts look down on the coke addicts. The coke addicts look down on the alcoholics. And everyone thinks the people with eating disorders—fat or thin—are scum."

And there's your pecking order of unhappiness, in a nutshell. Of all the overwhelming compulsions you can be ruined by, all of them have some potential for some perverted, self-destructive fascination—except eating.
Consider, for instance, Keith Richards, in his Glimmer Twins days—snorting, smoking, injecting, drinking. Everyone loves him! Even though, by any way we can calculate it, he would almost certainly have been a complete nightmare to be around—paranoid, shaky, unreliable and, a good part of the time, so deeply unconscious that the primary method of moving from one location to another would have been being dragged by the ankles—we still have a slight cultural frisson of "How cool!" when people get this messed up.
But imagine if instead he had started overeating and gotten really fat instead. If he'd really gotten into spaghetti Bolognese, say, or kept coming onstage holding foot-long meatball subs. Long, crazy, wired nights after gigs, in penthouses, nubile dollies scattered across the room, and Keith in the center, sprawled across a silk-draped emperor-size water bed, eating Doritos sandwiches.
By the time of "Their Satanic Majesties Request," what his Satanic Majesty would be requesting was a 38-inch waistband, and everyone would have mocked the Stones for having a faintly ludicrous wobble-butt on guitar who was ruining the concept of rock 'n' roll.
But, of course, all this time, Keith would have been behaving like a total darling: waking at 8 a.m., keeping his hotel rooms tidy, thanking everyone, working a solid 12-hour day.
People overeat for exactly the same reason they drink, smoke, have serial one-night stands or take drugs. I must be clear that I am not talking about the kind of overeating that's just plain, cheerful greed—the kind of Rabelaisian, Falstaffian figures who treat the world as a series of sensory delights and take full joy in their wine, bread and meat. Those who walk away from a table—replete—shouting, "That was splendid!" before sitting in front of a fire, drinking port and eating truffles, don't have neuroses about food. They aren't "fat," they are simply…lavish.
No—I'm talking about those for whom the whole idea of food isn't one of pleasure, but one of compulsion. For whom thoughts of food, and the effects of food, are the constant, dreary background static to normal thought. Those who walk into the kitchen in a state bordering on panic and breathlessly eat slice after slice of bread and butter—not even tasting it—until the panic can be drowned in an almost meditative routine of chewing and swallowing, spooning and swallowing.
In this trancelike state, you can find a welcome, temporary relief from thinking for 10, 20 minutes at a time, until finally a new set of sensations—physical discomfort and immense regret—make you stop, in the same way you finally pass out on whiskey or dope. Overeating, or comfort eating, is the cheap, meek option for self-satisfaction, and self-obliteration.
In a nutshell, then, by choosing food as your drug—sugar highs, or the deep, soporific calm of carbs—you can still make the packed lunches, do the school run, look after the baby, stop in on your parents and then stay up all night with an ill 5-year-old—something that is not an option if you're regularly climbing into the cupboard under the stairs and knocking back quarts of scotch.
Overeating is the addiction of choice of "carers," and that's why it's come to be regarded as the lowest-ranking of all the addictions. It's a way of screwing yourself up while still remaining fully functional, because you have to. Fat people aren't indulging in the "luxury" of their addiction, making them useless, chaotic or a burden. Instead, they are slowly self-destructing in a way that doesn't inconvenience anyone. And that is why it's so often a woman's addiction of choice.
I sometimes wonder if the only way we'll ever get around to properly considering overeating is if it does come to take on the same perverse, rock 'n' roll cool of other addictions. Perhaps it's time for women to finally stop being secretive about their vices and instead start treating them like all other addicts treat their habits. Coming into the office looking frazzled, sighing, "Man, I was on the pot roast last night like you wouldn't believe. I had, like, POTATOES in my EYEBROWS by 10 p.m."
Then people would be able to address your dysfunction as openly as they do all the others. They could reply, "Whoa, maybe you should calm it down for a bit, my friend. I am the same. I did a three-hour session on the microwave lasagna last night. Perhaps we should go out to the country for a bit. Clean up our acts."
Because at the moment, I can't help but notice that in a society obsessed with fat—so eager in the appellation, so vocal in its disapproval—the only people who aren't talking about it are the only people whose business it really is."

—From "How to Be a Woman" by Caitlin Moran. Copyright © 2012 by Caitlin Moran. To be published July 17 by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

07-09-2012, 05:01 PM
Great article. Very insightful and accurate!

07-09-2012, 06:27 PM
Entertaining and exactly on point! Thank you for sharing - though you did cause me to laugh out loud in the restaurant where I should be studying (and will be again in just a few minutes - I promise!)

Thanks for sharing it.

07-09-2012, 07:20 PM
Interesting read! Thanks for sharing.

07-09-2012, 07:54 PM
"I had, like, POTATOES in my EYEBROWS by 10 p.m."

lol, yep, I can relate!

07-09-2012, 08:02 PM
Great article. Thanks for sharing.

07-09-2012, 08:04 PM
I got this book and then I came upon the "fat" chapter and it hit me like a ton of bricks, so many things spot on.
The family who cultivates the perfect environment to get and be fat but never mentions it, feeling like a floating head without a body..then she goes onto say when she lost some weight she felt like a sexual being again basically, you can get very trapped inside your own routine and focus of feeling good via food you can't see how sh*t its making you and your life become.

08-07-2012, 05:02 PM

08-07-2012, 05:13 PM
Loved this article. Funny and insightful. So true. Even as a fat person, I can't help but find the idea of a fat Keith Richards a bit...a lot...screwed up, as opposed to a drug addict Richards. I wonder why that is?

Thanks for posting. Very good read.

08-07-2012, 05:38 PM
That's excellent. I love the insight that obesity is the addiction of carers. Brilliant.

Personally, I like to think of myself as "lavish" in her language. :)

08-07-2012, 06:26 PM
Wow, that really resonates with me. Thanks for posting.

08-07-2012, 06:32 PM
Thanks for sharing this very well-written piece. I've been meaning to get her book after reading a review of it.


08-08-2012, 03:50 AM
You might have a bigger build or slower metabolism than others. Don't worry about it. As you get taller, you'll also be slimmer. Besides, I doubt that you are actually fat. Unless your parents or doctor are telling you things, you don't have to worry. Love how you look and so will everyone else.

08-08-2012, 06:29 AM
You might have a bigger build or slower metabolism than others. Don't worry about it. As you get taller, you'll also be slimmer. Besides, I doubt that you are actually fat. Unless your parents or doctor are telling you things, you don't have to worry. Love how you look and so will everyone else.

?? Obviously did not read the article... haha

08-08-2012, 01:06 PM
This is funny because I have often thought how easily I could have become an alcoholic, or drug addict if I wanted to. I took being a mom pretty seriously so I stayed away from that stuff, but eating didn't affect my ability to mother in the same way so I suppose I felt like that made it ok.

08-13-2012, 12:40 PM
Just took the time to read now. Ms. Moran is a smart, smart lady. I've seen other things she's written and heard her on NPR.

08-13-2012, 12:49 PM
So very true. I have lots of alcoholics and addicts in my family, and for a long time I ddn't realize that my drug of choice was food. Then, my brother told me "you do know you and I both have addict personnalities, right?". Before that I would have NEVER admitted that food was to me what pot was to him.

It does help, but you canMt quit food altogether as you can with other addictions, which makes it a very different journey.

08-13-2012, 09:34 PM
I'm reading How to Be a Woman - very smart and funny. I'd never heard of Moran until reading this thread.

The part about food being the addiction of choice for carers is spot on.

08-13-2012, 10:51 PM
Can't wait to read her book-- I have it on hold at the library (probably only six months before it gets to me :)!)

08-14-2012, 11:31 AM
what a great article. I'm going to have to buy this book.

08-14-2012, 01:41 PM
I do find it ironic that food abuse and food abusers are accorded less respect than more disfunctional addictions and addicts. It's almost as if we as a culture say, "you food abusers (at least you obese food abusers) are so lazy and pitiful, you do everything half-a$$ed: you can't even screw up spectacularly."

And it also shows how little respect we give give to those who care about others (the caring professions being the most underpaid). We don't value compassion and caring (except occasionally in lipservice).

I disagree though that food addicts cannot entirely avoid their substance of choice, because most food addicts aren't truly indescriminate food addicts.

It's a bit like saying drug addicts can't avoid their substance of choice because they might not be able to avoid taking antibiotics if they get an infection.

"Not the same thing," people would say, but here's a better example. Many pain-medication addicts still have to take pain meds. We have a friend who has severe degeneratove health and pain issues. He fell into the trap of abusing his pain meds. It would be cruel to expect this man to live without strong pain meds at all, and in fact, he'd likely suicide if that were required of him. So he and his doctors had to find a different solution (putting him on a stronger, but time-released medication that a home-health nurse administered and then that responsibility was eventually transferred to his wife).

Food addiction is more like pain med addiction in chronic pain patients. You may still need to use the addictive substance, but you can use alternative strategies (including accountability to others) to manage the addiction.

Also, many food addicts aren't food addicts at all, they're actually high-glycemic carb addicts... and high-glycemic carbs CAN be avoided entirely (we just don't WANT to do so).

After reading the book "The End of Overeating," I realized that I was not addicted to food. I wasn't even addicted to carbs. I was addicted to the carb/salt/fat combination, even though I wasn't a fan of simple carbs, fat, or salt by themselves. I didn't care for most potato chips and other salty snacks (too salty). I didn't care for most candy or other sweets (too sweet). I didn't like greasy foods on their own either. It wasn't salt, sugar/carbs, or fat that was my addiction of choice, it was those elements in combination.

I CAN avoid the deadly trio. I never have to eat another sweet/salty/creamy combo ever agan, and if I choose to, I'm "playing with fire."

I do play with fire, but it's not because I HAVE to, it's because I think I have to, or think I can.

I have learned though that indulging in those foods is the equivalent of playing with fire. I'm only kidding myself when I say that I can't avoid my addictive substance, because I can.

I do have to be somewhat careful with healthy carbs, and I've learned that with some care I could even avoid those (you can get absolutely all the nutrients you need without ever having to consume starchy foods and even most fruits). So I don't have to eat high-carb foods, I choose to eat them.

It is harder to live with an addiction that you haven't entirely given up (just like the friend and his pain meds) but it doesn't change the fact that even food addicts usually have a choice (because there aren't many food addicts, if any, who abuse lean proteins, greens, non-starchy veggies, and berries).

The vast majority can abstain completely from their substance of choice, they just choose not to (in part because of the societal pressure to include them. Everyone from coworkers to our grandparents PUSH these foods on us as they never would dream of doing with alcohol or narcotics).

Food addiction is different, but not because the trigger foods can't be entirely eliminated. In most case they can be.

08-14-2012, 02:17 PM
Wow. Love this! I've always thought along these lines. My brother is a recovering addict and my sister is a recovering alcoholic, I always thought I had the same issues but I just used food instead of drugs or alcohol because I can't afford to be non-functioning. I easily overdo everything, I have no middle ground. That is my main struggle with everything in my life -- it's either 0 or 100. 0 sucks and 100 is not maintainable.

Strawberry Blond
08-15-2012, 11:09 AM
"Overeating is the addiction of choice of "carers," and that's why it's come to be regarded as the lowest-ranking of all the addictions. It's a way of screwing yourself up while still remaining fully functional, because you have to."

Thank you for sharing this. It really resonated with me.

08-16-2012, 02:13 PM
That was an interesting read, thanks for sharing. :)