Posts Tagged ‘weight’

Food as addiction? Doesn’t make sense, does it?  We need food, right?  Food isn’t like cocaine, we have to eat.  However, considering the obesity epidemic that has overrun America and my experience with patients, it appears that many cannot kick their over-consumption habit.

Addicted to food?  Many scoff at such an idea and believe that obese individuals just lack will-power or need to exercise more, which may be partly the case, but what if there is more to it than that?  A study from Nature Neuroscience and another from the Journal of Nutrition, just to name a few, give some insight into the inner workings of brain chemicals in relation to food.

But, what if humans have not quite adapted to the high-sugar, high-sodium, high-fat foods that encompass the modern American diet?  As our food has become increasingly more convenient and processed, so has our waistlines. Coincidence?  Probably not. But, that certainly does not prove that food addiction is real.

I can only speak from personal experience with bulimia, which some experts believe is a form of food addiction.  I actually went to 12-step meetings through Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA).  They had a structured meal plan that was devoid of all sugar and processed foods.  I can’t say if it was the elimination of the processed foods or the structure that allowed me to work on my issues surrounding food and body image, or if I was just “ready.”  But, it was a breakthrough for me at that time.  Before then, no amount of therapy or anti-depressants were able to pull me out of the bulimia spiral.

My diet has changed since the FAA plan and I haven’t felt out of control with food and am able to enjoy desserts once in awhile without overeating, but that wasn’t always the case.  I do believe that my ability to stay sane with food has stemmed from a structure with eating and eliminating most processed foods.  I don’t ever remember a time during my bulimic days that I was binging on apples or salad?  Weird, I know, seems like just the right binge food, huh?

I can’t prove that food addiction is real, but I would guess that many with bulimia, binge-eating disorder, or the main character in the movie Lbs. would have a hard time believing that it isn’t real.  Lbs. was released on March 26, 2010 to limited theaters, mostly on the East Coast.   I am hoping that it will at least get to Chicago, but I may have to wait until the DVD comes out, which is of an unknown date. Below is the trailer to Lbs.

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The 16 food companies that encompass the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) are pledging to cut 1.5 trillion calories from the U.S. food supply by 2015, and 1 trillion by 2012.  Per their press release, the HWCF “manufacturing companies will pursue their calorie reduction goal by developing and introducing lower-calorie options, changing recipes where possible to lower the calorie content of current products, or reducing portion sizes of existing single-serve products.”  And, “is working to promote ways to help Americans achieve healthy weight by balancing the energy (calories) they consume with the energy they expend through physical activity.”

I just have a couple of points to make:

1. The names of the companies that make up the HWCF are listed below.  From the looks of these, I am pretty sure their only goal is more revenue, not reducing the incidence of obesity in the U.S.

  • Bumble Bee Foods, LLC
  • Campbell Soup Company
  • ConAgra Foods
  • General Mills, Inc.
  • Kellogg Company
  • Kraft Foods, inc.
  • Mars, Incorporated
  • McCormick & Company, Inc
  • Nestlé USA
  • PepsiCo, Inc.
  • Post Foods/Ralston Foods, LLC
  • Sara Lee Corporation
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • The Hershey Company
  • The J.M. Smucker Company
  • Unilever

2. “Cutting” calories to these companies means creating more crappy, low-calorie foods full of chemicals, additives, and fillers.  Their goal is not to promote more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Do not be fooled by their shiny packages and fancy labels.  Their goal is for you to purchase more, more, more.

3. In 2008, according to the USDA, 38 million Americans, 13.9 million being children, live in households that suffer from hunger or live on the edge of hunger.  Yes, that is correct, 38 million fat Americans do not have enough food to prevent hunger for them and their children.  Do we see something wrong with this?  These companies have enough food and resources to wipe out hunger in the U.S.  But, why isn’t this happening?

I have one question for the HWCF:

If you are truly concerned about the health of U.S. citizens, have you ever thought to use those huge profits you make off of us fat Americans to create subsidies for healthy foods like produce so that more Americans can have access to these foods and less of our population has to suffer from hunger?

You may think you have fooled the majority, but you have not fooled me.

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Dear Scale,

I am sure this letter is a complete surprise to you considering our long relationship, but this tryst must come to an end.  The only thing you have ever given me is a number, no more, no less.  A number that tells me what I weigh at one given moment on this Earth, which, by the way, would be totally different if I lived on the moon.  You don’t take into account the amount of muscle I have, how much I’ve ate or drank in the last day, or that I might be a little bloated this time of the month.  Nope, you just give me a number.  And, this number is the reason we must part ways.

Sure, we’ve had some good times.  I remember the times when you gave me a low number, you made me feel great enough to wear a tight shirt and my “skinny” jeans.  I especially remember getting down to less than 100 pounds and being so proud of myself.  The thing is you weren’t really much of a friend.  You provided me with this number, but you were never concerned that I might have achieved this number by doing unhealthy things, like binging, purging, and excessive exercise.  Nope, you only reinforced these behaviors.  I suppose these weren’t really the good times that I had envisioned.  You were all I cared about for so long, it is sad to let you go, although we have been growing apart for some time.

And, there have always been the bad times.  You never failed to make me feel like a whale on many an occasion, with numbers spanning from 110 to 130 pounds. Sure, whales weigh in the range of 33-85 tons, but that’s how you made me feel.  I was sure I heard you let out a little scream from the pain of my body on you.  Some of these days, I didn’t go to school or want to meet with friends; you made me feel that bad about myself.  No longer will I allow you to make me feel this way, don’t even try.

It is amazing to me that you have had such a hold on me and so many others for so long. I know most still won’t let go of you, and they will take their own journey, but we are through.  Interestingly enough, since we have grown apart, my weight has remained stable. I have realized, and I hope someday others do as well, that you are no good for our psyche.  You only give us a number.  That number does not dictate the type of person we are, if we are pretty or ugly, if we should smile or cry, nor should it dictate what we might eat that day, or who we shall visit.  You will only ever provide a number, that’s it, nothing more, nothing less.

So, Scale, I can’t control you, but I do control my behaviors.  So, I choose to focus on my behaviors that promote my health…eating mostly whole foods, eating mindfully, exercising, practicing yoga, getting enough sleep, etc.  Please, do not try to contact me ever again.  My mind is no longer yours to tamper with.



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Size bias is certainly routine in everyday life and definitely in the world of roller derby. Many outside of the derby world might naturally assume that the smaller girls would be jammers and the bigger girls would do the hard hitting as blockers. My derby sisters are probably chuckling at this as they know this isn’t necessarily the case. I have seen some “bigger” jammers that are truly amazing with their speed, agility and they are impossible to knock down and like myself, there are some “small” girls that will knock a girl out of her skates…I have yet to do this, but it’s not from lack of trying.
And, just like roller derby, I find size bias as a dietitian. I am intrigued by the comments I receive from clients regarding MY size. I am 5’4” and weigh in at 120lbs; body fat percentage is around 20%. I am not overweight, but I am certainly not the skinniest person you’ve ever seen, I used to weigh 95 pounds….more on that another time. I always think “What does it matter to them? Isn’t this supposed to be about what they’re doing or not doing? Aren’t they coming to me for my knowledge? Are they playing mind games with me?” I don’t have the answers, but I have some theories and I’m pretty sure it really has nothing to do with me or my size, and more to do with my clients’ perceptions of what it means to be thin or overweight. Typically, I just brush off such comments and get back to the reasons that brought them to me. And, another thing, it’s really none of their business. Ah, but here I share with all that care to read this.
I have some clients that would prefer to see a thin dietitian, such as myself; I think they believe that thin dietitians have all the answers, or I am hiding my magic wand somewhere. Well, I must, right? I’m thin, I must eat all the right foods in the right combinations and the right amounts and never indulge in chocolate or alcohol or chicken wings, right? In the words of Dwight Schrute: “False!” Now don’t get me wrong, 85% of the time I choose whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, lean meats, etc, but I believe in balance and enjoy the occasional brownie, beer, chocolate, Keystone Review wings, and my recent weekly favorite, a pretzel from Taste of Philly. So, if these clients are correct in their thinking, instead of getting a 4 year degree, 1 year internship, and taking an exam to become a registered dietitian, I should have just been weighed???
And, funny enough, there are some clients who would prefer not to see a thin dietitian. Why you might ask? Well, over the years I have heard rumors from clients that thin dietitians know nothing about the struggles that one might encounter with a “weight” problem. NEWS FLASH: I am not thin because I thrice tapped by ruby red slippers and said “let me be thin, let me be thin.” Ironically, I have had to work at this as well. Huh, who knew? I have had my “struggles” with weight over the years from starving myself to binging/purging, and every diet in between those two extremes. I started dieting in middle school about the time I hit puberty. I won’t go into all the gory details in this post as I want to keep them short, but I’ve done it all.
I don’t know everything, but I have learned some things in the last 10 years of being a dietitian and 20 years of pursuing thinness. First, don’t judge a dietitian or roller girl by their size or lack of tattoos. A thin person is not necessarily “healthy” or fast and an overweight person isn’t necessarily “unhealthy” or good at hitting. Second, I have yet to witness strict dieting being successful . I promote being mindful while eating real foods, which means more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts/seeds, and organic dairy products. And, finally, BALANCE. Take rest days; eat pretzels, chocolate, and wings occasionally; it’s good for the soul.

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