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Thread: Overeating truly and "addiction"?

  1. #1

    Overeating truly and "addiction"?

    I put this in the Nutrition forum, but I though it would also be appropriate here, since you guys and gals always seem up for a good discussion.

    My local NPR station ran this story this morning:

    Does It Really Take One to Know One?

    I knew this very thin, elegant, middle-aged couple. He was a college physical education professor. She taught English. We found ourselves in a cafeteria line one day. They commented, with a self-righteous edge, on the bad choices so many people make when they eat. The trays of these two were, of course, loaded with reasonable portions of low-fat, fresh, whole-grain food.

    I responded by telling them the story of a good friend who'd always had the most perfect peaches and cream complexion. She just couldn't understand why everybody didn't follow simple rules of hygiene so their skin could look like hers. Then one day, in her late twenties, she developed a case of acne like what rest of us had had to struggle with as adolescents. My friend quickly stopped believing that people with imperfect complexions had gotten what they deserved.

    Those professors didn't get the point of my story, though. They stuck to their belief that good eating was achievable by anybody willing to bring their reason and will to bear on their intake. Thank God this couple hadn't made a career out of counseling people with eating disorders.
    He then goes on to compare food addiction to alcoholism:

    Many alcoholics have told me that, until you've been through the hell of alcoholism, you cannot really understand what goes on within the tortured skin of someone who's drinking is still out of control.
    I don't know, but this is a little too bleeding-heart for me. I tend to side with the two "skinny, uptight couple of college professors".

    His first comparison, acne, is caused primarily by hormonal changes that cannot be controlled by hygiene. And I don't think comparing it to alcoholism is fair either. I could be wrong, but I thought alcoholism is a physical addiction (withdrawals, etc.), while overeating is purely psychological.

    I'm not denying that everyone is different, and some people have a much higher tendency to put on fat. Also, I don't deny that eating in moderation can be difficult when you're surrounded by decadent food choices. But it seems to me that this doctor holds some resentment at this attractive couple. I wonder what was on his lunch plate?

  2. #2

    Overeating truly and "addiction"?

    Wow - that's a really odd piece. Basically he's criticizing them for eating healthy.
    Wait, but then I read the rest of the article. It looks like what he was actually criticizing (well, at least criticizing more, in this case) was the couples' view of other, non-healthy eating, people.
    I think this is actually a really important issue. As someone who has taken the fitness mantle in my circle of family and friends, and has dispensed much advice on nutrition and exercise, I can personally say that the absolute most difficult obstacle an individual has towards achieving fitness goals is completely psychological.
    Which makes the job of a personal trainer or dietician that much more difficult. We in the fitness world tend to focus on science and studies and muscle growth and caloric intake and food tracking, and our universal motivator towards other people tends to be variations on "JUST #$@#ING DO IT!!!". (which basically never works for longer than a week or two)

    Ultimately, the author comes to the following conclusion:

    "A supremely valuable and hard-won healing skill lies in knowing how to adjust the distance one takes from each patient so as to be most effective. The therapist who, based on his own pain, helps you to indulge in self-pity can be just as ineffectual as the distant counselor who never engages you enough emotionally to make you believe that he really cares what happens to you.

    These days healthcare, especially among the ranks of doctors, is way too full of people who err on the side of too much distance from their patients. That's why, if there were a deep problem in my relationship with food, I'd choose Jack and Mrs. Spratt to counsel me, hands down over that lovely, skinny, uptight couple of college professors. "

    And I think there is some validity in that conclusion. And I also think a lot of people in the world of fitness and, more specifically, fitness counseling/coaching, could probably learn a thing or two from that piece.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Oklahoma City

    Overeating truly and "addiction"?

    I think there are a lot of variables here. Is the person using food for comfort? Are they used to a carb\fast food lifestyle? I guess the question I have is "why are they overeating?"

    It may be something as simple as laziness, lifestyle, or lack of knowledge. Hell, I don't know.

    IMO it's very possible to be addicted to food, and even different kinds of food.

  4. #4

    Overeating truly and "addiction"?

    If I eat anything less than a 3:1 meat to vegetable portion for a meal I'm going to feel hungry. I'd like to claim it's physical.

    Anyway, about that first portion that you quoted, the doctor is referring to how people who've never had any of the problems love to criticize others who have encountered the problems. The don't truly understand how difficult it can be to change themselves.

    I share that viewpoint to a certain extent. I believe that people do have it in them to change their life around, but I think it's better if people plan on such a change as a long term goal. You ever notice how there are tons of workout routines that set up a goal for 2-6 months? Yet you never see a diet that's set up for such a long goal. The diets that I've seen set up always tell you what your ultimate end goal's eating habits should be and I'm pretty sure 99% of the people viewing the diet jumps right into it. I think that's one of the keys to my own progress is that I took it slowly and within the limits of what I was willing to do and keep up with.


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