Weight Loss

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Sunday, June 28, 2009

We Are Different

I am still reading "The End of Overeating" and it is quite fascinating. The premise is pretty simple--that the food industry has contributed greatly to the obesity epidemic in the US by creating "hyperpalatable" foods that (some of) our brains basically can't resist--and most of the book is describing the science behind it, which those in research and development within the food industry most likely weren't even aware of, at least at first.

One thing this book states over and over is that people who have a tendency towards obesity have different brains than those who tend to be thin. This is both genetic and environmental, and it can be enhanced by childhood experience, i.e. eating a lot of these hyperpalatable foods as a kid, learning eating habits from our parents, etc. One interesting thing about the book is that he writes from a first-person perspective; the author is in the entire book, which makes the whole thing seem a lot less judgmental of "us fat people". He describes the development of several foods, like Oreos, Cinnabons, and certain milkshakes, going through the characteristics of each one that make them so hard to resist. I realized through reading this that all of these things are things I, too, find impossible to resist, and so I simply never eat them, or buy them. If they are around, I know I will eat them. But even so, avoiding these strongly triggering foods hasn't meant that I don't still overeat, or that I no longer have a weight problem.

But, I don't drink milkshakes, because I don't go to places that sell them. Just the idea of going through a drive-through or into a restaurant that sells them (the good ones) is enough to stop me. Okay, there is an exception: I will go to Burgerville USA (in Oregon) and have a shake while I am driving a long distance. There are lots of subconscious cues and triggers that make it very hard for me to resist it in this circumstance.

I think it has been several years since I bought a package of Oreos. I can't resist them. I haven't had a Cinnabon in at least 5 years, because HELLO! And I've changed more things too. I almost never watch TV, because the commercials are too triggering for me. We do watch some shows on DVD, without commercials. Even so, some of the shows themselves contain a lot of food triggers. I rarely go out to eat anymore, because even though I eat a lot less than I used to, I still eat too much, and it's better and cheaper to cook at home. Also, my hubby is a great cook and likes making dinner. We go out for breakfast once a week, because I love breakfast so much. That's about it, and it's a vast improvement from a few years ago.

Our brains are different. That is one thing that the past year of my 2 1/2 years post op has really taught me. There are people who can sit in front of a whole plate of Oreos, and if they aren't hungry they won't eat any. If they want a snack, they might eat a couple, but not the whole plate. Many others of us aren't like that. Even if we are full, we will eat them until they are gone. Period.

Having surgery did what I wanted it to do: it took away my physical hunger, which was real. It left me with all the other reasons that I was overweight, including compulsive overeating and emotionally conditioned eating. This past year has really opened my eyes to this reality.

This book doesn't make the food industry into the big excuse for obesity. It simply shows how the foods that were developed because consumers like them and buy them and can't resist them have contributed to our drive to eat highly caloric foods, too much of them, and too often. It's one more key to understanding how to get control of our eating, our weight, and our lives. It also points to one of the reasons that WLS is not a magic bullet, and without attention to all of our habits that contribute to the problem, we will not reach and stay at our goal long-term.

1 comment:

Diz said...

Too true. One of the things I appreciate with the program that I went through for WLS is that they forced me to take a look at the reasons behind my behavior and gave me tools to help me prevent them. I wish more programs were like that. However, if I don't work it, I fall short.