My Dear Brother

Several days ago, I read yet another thread on 3FC with an obvious slant against IE. I started writing a response, but I didn’t finish since I had to work that morning. So I saved it to my hard drive. Then things got busy and I never did respond to the thread. While I don’t feel compelled to wage an IE battle or right every wrong, I thought the discussion was interesting and I wanted to share my opinion and see where the conversation went. Since that never happened, I decided to share my thoughts here.

In the discussion, one poster commented on how Europeans have fewer weight issues than Americans and how they often eat smaller quantities of rich foods rather than larger quantities of diet foods. This correlation has always struck me as a rather large culteral factor in the US’s obesity epidemic. And as an Intuitive Eater, I most certainly see the benefits of eating satisfying foods in small quantities.

This also got me thinking of my own weight problem, which started very young with me. What part of my culture led me to become overweight? And that made me think of my inspiration for Intuitive Eating: My brother.

Now, my brother is NOT a model Intuitive Eater. He’s actually a very mindless eater. But, he’s just like countless skinny people I have known through the years that eat what they want and don’t gain weight. Many people chalk it up to faster metabolism, which may be true, but I don’t think that is the full picture. I think that many simply get more exercise and eat smaller quantities of regular food. 

Enter my brother. He is the only one in the family who never had a weight problem. Not coincidentally, he also has/had ADHD. He was constantly in motion while the rest of us sat quietly. The rest of us cleaned our plates and sometimes had seconds or even thirds. My brother would eat the tastiest portions of his plate, leave the rest, and go bolting out the door to find something more interesting to do.

 He never snacks. I don’t think he ever thinks about food until his hunger is loud and uncomfortable enough to distract him from his other interests, even now in his mid-20’s. His dinner plates still look half eaten disaster areas with the best stuff missing. Food has no hold on him.

Me, I was different. I weighed 188 lbs in high school. I ate emotionally. My portions got bigger and bigger, but they seemed normal to me. Overeating was learned socially from the rest of my family. I was obedient and I cleaned my plate. I also got hunger headaches when I went too long without eating, so I learned to eat lots, and often. I think the only thing that kept me from tipping over the edge into obesity was high school hockey and track & field (mostly field, lol).

One year I decided to try and lose weight by constantly skipping breakfast and sometimes lunch. This only lead to constant headaches and ravenously eating huge meals of highly processed junk foods when I got home from school. Talk about a metabolic disaster. It is no wonder I ballooned so quickly. It’s actually a wonder to me that I didn’t get larger.

So anyway, being that he is my genetic brother from the same two parents (and yes, he looks just like Dad!), I think that our different views on food are derived more from behavior than genes. I’m not sure what it is in his brain that places food at such a low priority. When he has it, he seems to enjoy it very much, but he doesn’t think about food all the time like I do.  I wish I had a little more of that, whatever it is. But since I don’t, I will eat intuitively and mimic the habits of the naturally thin. And you know what? It seems to be working just as well for me. 🙂


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