|The Lounge | Champions | The Wire | Schedule | Audio | Arcade | The Top Ten | Historical | Email | Video|
Americas Secret Addiction
America is a nation of self-disclosers, amiably acceptant of our weaknesses. Celebrities, family members, coworkers and friends think nothing of admitting their compulsions and dependencies on alcohol, street drugs, prescription medications. We enter rehab programs, clean up, dry out, and go on with our lives: beating our problem or entering a long series of relapses and treatment episodes. Except, perhaps, for politicians or ministers, there is little social stigma attached to such mistakes unless there are criminal overtones that may lead to incarceration.
Television and films have educated us on the dangers and side effects of dependence upon alcohol, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, designer drugs, steroids, pain pills, cannabis and opium. We had to coin the term chemical dependency (CD) to completely cover the broad and ever-growing field. We approach individuals ensnared in their abuse as victims of a disease, to be educated and helped as long as they have a willingness to change and are prepared for the painful journey that owning responsibility for one's own self-destructive behavior demands.
But the most widespread, self-destructive, dangerous addiction afflicting America is never discussed: FOOD.
The treatment of overeating is extensive: diet clinics, fitness programs, fat farms, plastic surgery. We collectively spend billions of dollars on weight loss aids and fitness equipment. We decry the epidemic of obesity that is overtaking our population to an enormous (literally) degree. We investigate metabolism and hormonal effects. We debate the comparative merits and flaws of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and roughage. We develop new vitamin and mineral formulae. Diet books, support groups, internet clubs, and television shows trumpet tips, techniques, special aids and hundreds of weight control regimes that promise inevitable weight loss with the right combination of "tasty" and "delicious" foods, guaranteed to ensure that our comfort levels remain high and our self-discipline minimally challenged.
We fail to confront the irrefutable fact that obesity is caused by food addiction. Excuses and metabolic rationales aside (No, Virginia, no one ever walked out of a Nazi concentration camp or a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp fat -macabre but true) our out-of-control overweight is a direct result of our obsession with, and dependency on, too much food.
You may disagree. After all, the other CD addictions are for substances we can totally banish from our lives whereas we have to eat to live.
Consider the problem from a slightly different perspective. In the United States, an "all or nothing" society, the goal of the typical CD treatment program is total abstention. The alcoholic is taught that one sip of liquor is never acceptable and constitutes a full relapse from which recovery must start over. In Europe, and many other parts of the world, moderation is considered more realistic than abstention. The goal is to lower the level of usage to the point where it has no deleterious effects on the user's life and the problems - work, relationships, mood, productivity -are resolved.
Such a model can more easily be applied to food. Our bodies require a certain level of sustenance to thrive. It is when the intake becomes excessive that problems arise: appearance, the inability to be active, fatigue, depressed mood, and strains on the internal organs. If we can temper that level of intake, we can avert the consequences that follow overindulgence in anything.
Such is indeed the focus of many weight control programs. However, they are missing one vital ingredient: acceptance of personal responsibility. At a 12-Step meeting, members repetitively admit to the group: "My name is B and I'm an alcoholic." Imagine, if you will, the different atmosphere that would be engendered if a member were to state: "My name is B. I drink a lot because I inherited the genes from my drunken parents and I can't drink, like all my friends can, without overdoing it. It's so unfair that everyone else can enjoy a drink and I can't."
Such a statement sounds ridiculous coming from an admitted problem drinker yet that is exactly what we allow from our problem eaters. It is far more likely that we will tell a close friend: "M, I think you have a problem with alcohol and I want you to get help," than we will tell an equally close friend: "G, I think you have a problem with too much eating and I want you to get help."
We remain silent about overweight because we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. We use euphemisms like "heavy" and "queen-sized" to avoid the word "fat." When a very overweight friend asks plaintively, "Don't you think this dress makes me look slimmer?" we quietly agree, refusing to give the honest answer that nothing in the world will make her look slimmer except losing 60 pounds of avoirdupois!
One lesson learned over decades of CD research and treatment is that the problem must be acknowledged before it can be addressed and beaten. CD clients are notorious for making excuses, playing mind games with those around them, and shirking self-responsibility whenever they can. If we can bring ourselves to acknowledge that we are addicted to food, it allows for eventual movement into a process of change, bypassing the excuses and rationalizations at which overeaters excel -- to an extent that their CD counterparts would admire.
Confrontation of the problem requires that we drop the faēade of politeness and euphemistic phrasing. As a society, we need to look at others and ourselves and call it as we see it. If I'm fat, I'm fat, and it's my responsibility to not only admit that honestly, but to also admit to myself and the world that it is my fault: I am the one who made myself fat. No one else forced food into my mouth. Like the recovering alcoholic at the bar, I can always say no or drink a plain club soda. Like the recovering cocaine addict who learns to stay away from certain street corners or drug houses, I can stay away from bakeries, fast food outlets, and pizza parlors.
Weight control can be simple - eat only what you need to survive - but never easy. The fallacy of many diets is that we can lose weight without suffering. Stopping or minimizing CD abuse is always painful and a craving for chocolate, ice cream, or the urge for sugar (no one seems to crave vegetables) can be as overwhelming to the dieter as the addict's emotional need for his drug of choice.
Naming our national weight problem for what it really is, a plain old addiction to food, releases us to start the process of rehab and recovery that has been so completely developed in the CD field. Honesty, and the willingness to work through pain to reach our goal, allows us to not only accept our responsibility for our problem but also to relish the triumph of our eventual success.
Virginia Bola is a licensed psychologist and an admitted diet fanatic. She specializes in therapeutic reframing and the effects of attitudes and motivation on individual goals. The author of The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a free ezine, The Worker's Edge, she recently completed a psychologically-based weight control book: Diet with an Attitude:A Weight Loss Workbook. She can be reached at http://www.DietWithAnAttitude.com
Questioning Cardio for Weight Loss?
Q: I've heard you mention that you don't need tons of cardio to burn stubborn abdominal fat. Okay, I can live with that, but you've also said that it isn't absolutely necessary to perform direct ab work either.
Have You Given Up on Weight Loss?
Have You Given Up on Weight Loss? by Greg Landry, M.S I receive several email messages every day from people who have given up on weight loss.
Weight Loss Success -- The Most Important Determinant
Adherence to diet for one year, not the specific diet plan, is the most important determinant of successful weight loss. According to the results of a randomized trial published in the January 2005 issue of JAMA.
Hunger Free Eating - How To Eat Less And Not Feel Hungry
There are many diets, all of which boil down to taking in fewer calories especially of the foods, which tend to lay down fat in the body.The reason most people become over weight is that they are eating foods that are high in calories and low in bulk and, that they eat too quickly.
Hypnosis, Weight Control, and The Thought That Wont Go Away
You've decided it's time to lose some weight. A lot or a little, it doesn't really matter.
Resist that Snack Attack and Keep Your Diet on Track
When on a diet, snack attacks can hit hard and fast. Everywhere you go reminds you of what you can't have and what you want.
Weight Loss Program: Do Your Expectations Sabotage Your Success?
When women talk about their biggest obstacles to successful weight and health management, we often hear about hurdles like not enough time or knowledge to prepare healthy meals. Or frequent social occasions that involve food.
Ten Important Things to Know Before You Join a Weight Loss Program
1. What is my BMI and how do I calculate it? BMI means Body Mass Index.
Can You Still Buy Ephedra?
With millions of people aiming for successful weight loss, many are still interested in diet pills and want to buy ephedra. Perhaps you are wondering.
Lose Weight Quickly And Easily - Weight Loss Information
For people that are obese, losing weight quickly can seem like a dream that will never come true. The fact is that if you want to lose weight quickly you must dramatically reduce the amount of fat and calories you consume.
Eat More Often to Lose Weight
I'm sure you have heard it before, but one of the best ways to control your caloric intake and lose weight is to eat more often throughout the day. Ideally, you should eat 5 to 6 times per day, with 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours between each meal or snack.
Diet Pills - Do They Work? Are They Safe? Which One Should I Use?
Diet Pills are the fastest growing segment of the dietary supplement industry. Sales of diet pills and related supplements have been increasing 10 to 20 percent annually to the point where last year they reached $2 billion.
Diet Pills And Supplements
Losing weight is a struggle that many of us face every day. In the search for the best diet program, the subject of diet pills and supplements can be the foremost thought on our minds.
Close Kept Secrets to Weight Loss Lesson #10
WOW!! Here we are on lesson #10. Hasn't it been an amazing journey over these two months? What you are discovering is all the secrets to your weight loss are within you.
Resolve + Enthusiasm = Power
Think for a moment about the highest mountain you ever climbed, the deepest valley you ever crossed, or the longest river you ever had to swim. Perhaps it was healing a relationship with an estranged loved one, closing a big deal at work, overcoming an addiction, surviving an illness, succeeding against the odds or making what seemed like an impossible dream come true.
The RESULTS Diet!
98 Percent of Dieters Fail: A Sensible Lifestyle is the Answer
What the Diet Industry Does Not Want You To Know: 98 Percent of Dieters Fail. 98 Percent of dieters either quit the diet or are not able to keep the weight off permanently.
Simple Plans for Social Eating and Travel
It's one thing to stick with your diet regimen when you're at home, in control of the contents of your refrigerator and your portion sizes. But what about going out to dinner with friends? Worse, how do you stay on track when your dream vacation has you seated by the dessert cart at every meal?Eating right when you're out of your comfort zone can actually be easier than when you are at home, so long as you think smart and plan ahead.
Weight Loss Tips, Tricks, and Tactics - Part 1
I personal lost 60 pounds in 2003. Here are some tactics I used to lose the weight.
How to Select the Best Diet for You?
In the old West tricksters sold a snake oil to the unsuspecting cowboys. That snake oil was supposed to cure all illnesses.
Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us
Copyright © 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.