In polite company, we don’t talk about politics or religion… or about nutrition. Let’s face it. 1 in 3 of us are having to deal with being overweight – and so are many of our kids. You can find expert advice on how to lose that weight on every street corner – a dime a dozen. But, what no one talks about is the emotional addiction to that food. We use food in our culture to celebrate. We reward our children with treats. When most of us think about food, it makes us happy.
I recently watched a video of Dr. David Kessler explaining the science behind this emotional attachment to food in “The End of Overeating” (the video is below). Basically, sugar, fat, and salt in combinations trigger the pleasure center in our brain. Americans’ diet over the last four decades has increased tremendously in those three ingredients with the processing of our foods. Those foods, in turn, act like a drug – stimulating our brain.
The power of the food addiction (I know, no one likes the word “addiction”, but there it is) doesn’t necessarily come from the food itself. We are driven (much like Pavlov’s dog) by stimuli all around us. Anticipation is powerful. It is the smell of the pizza when I walk into Costco that gets me in trouble – long before I actually see or taste said pizza. As a matter of fact, the very thought of going to Costco makes my taste buds start watering.
So, really, those of us that are wanting to lose weight need to deal with the emotions of eating first. (I don’t pretend to be an expert, but replacing a behavior with a new behavior is working for me. Also, avoiding situations that will get me into trouble is very helpful when I’m hungry.) Changing how we think about food – and feel about food – is a necessity if we want to lose the weight and actually keep it off this time.
As a society, Dr. Kessler recommended adding boundaries back into how we view food. Over my lifetime, smoking has made the transformation from being acceptable to not. Food can’t be demonized the way smoking has been done, because we all need food. But, going back to it being three meals a day (instead of grazing all day) will be a step in the right direction.
As for me, I have to be the change I want to see in the world first. I’ve got to lose the weight and the emotional baggage it represents for good.