Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thinking about food all the time

I've always found it curious how people assume that just because I'm overweight that I need a lesson on how to loose weight. When discussing my weight at a recent doctor's appointment, my doctor launched into the types of foods I should be eating. Fruits, vegetables, low fat milk, lean protein... yada, yada, yada. It took every ounce of my being to not roll my eyes.

How many magazine articles and TV episodes are dedicated to losing weight again explaining the foods that I should and should not eat and the proper portion sizes? And what about people who comment on a news article or tell me that "I just need to stop shoveling food into my mouth."

Why don't these thin people /doctors / crusading TV hosts understand that the problem isn't a lack of knowledge on how to diet? As a serial dieter, I know how to lose weight: the foods to eat, the foods not to eat, and the proper portions.

I believe that thin people don't understand what it is like to have fat thinking. And on the flip side, overweight, serial dieters like myself, don't know what it is like to not think about food all the time.

Munchberry recently commented that she is baffled by Mr. Munchberry's complete lack of interest in food. For a long time, I assumed that everyone thought about food as much as I do: my friend who keeps a box of cookies on her desk; the doctors that lectures me; and TV hosts touting the latest info on loosing weight. That every waking minute of every day is a marathon struggle to not eat something. That I just didn't have as much willpower to say no to chocolate and french fries as other people. That I was weak because I couldn't stop eating.

But, the fact is not everyone thinks about food all the time. Some people can go into a gas station and abstain from buying three chocolate bars for the price of one. Some people can go into a restaurant and order a reasonably healthy meal, some people can eat a bowl of ice cream without feeling guilty, some people can eat only when hungry and stop when satisfied. Because for some people, like Mr. Munchberry, food is just not a big deal.

How much easier would it be to healthy without constantly thinking of food and battling cravings? This is essentially why I decided to seek therapy to change my eating behaviours. I thought it would be much easier to just not have cravings rather than constantly drawing on "willpower" to manage cravings. 

So the next time you read an article, watch a television show or someone tells you how to lose weight, keep in mind that it's not just about the knowledge, it's also about your thinking. Not everyone thinks the same; there are those of us who think about food all the time and some people who just don't think about food at all.

And sometimes I think to myself: how well would my thin friends eat if they had my fat thinking?

Follow up posts

Previous post - Dietary Assessment: hot water


  1. I get this! I have written in the past about food and my thinking. If you saw me today, you might consider me "thin." But that's the outside. On the inside I do not, as you aptly have named your blog, think like a thin person.

  2. Hi I'm new to your blog but I do completely understand this thinking. Sometimes I see a thin person walking around the shops eating something and I cant imagine feeling that free around food to just casually eat in public. I never have, for as long as I can remember had a relationship where I just eat my food. I'm either obsessed with eat eat eating or diet diet dieting. Balance has hardly ever been my friend. I cant imagine how a thin person really thinks about food!
    Shall follow along now


  3. Hey Karen - Saw your comment and wrote you back.

    Interesting question you posed at the last. I suspect they would be like the full spectrum of we obsessos. I would sometimes enjoy seeing it because I think that if they were saddled with those obsessions they might truly get it. But I would not truly wish it on anyone. It irks me when someone dons a fat suit and thinks they have a complete and clear insight on the world of the fat person. It insults me. Grr. I could get started, but I won't.

    Since your blog's name is the actual thing we are driving towards - you have far greater insight on such matters. I do wonder how to curb my obsession (I try) and how not to obsess on the curbing (so it won't take over my life - how it might become natural). I wonder if it is possible or if it is just going to be about finding work arounds. Any thoughts?

  4. Hi Karen - I agree, you can be thin as well and still struggle with thinking about food all the time. I thought about food all the time when I was 125 lbs.

    Hi Dawn, thanks for visiting my blog. People who can just eat stuff boggle my mind as well.

    Munchberry - truth be told, I have to be in a foul mood to wonder how a thin person would do if they had my fat thinking. I'm with you, I wouldn't want anyone else to be in this personal hell, which is why I'm write NEDA Media Watchdog posts from time-to-time.

    My thinking is changing, the connection and food obsession is loosening its grip on me. So yes, it is possible to change your thinking. In my case, there was no way that I could have gotten here on my own. Cognitive therapy was the key.

    I know many people are happy and it works for them to use a work around. I couldn't live with the struggle any longer. Well I could, but the anxiety caused me to eat and eat and I was getting bigger and bigger.

    I'll expand more in a blog posting....

  5. Gotcha. Looking forward to it.

  6. This is a great post! I've always wished that I could go even one day without thinking about food 90% of the time. Even while losing all the weight I've lost, I was thinking about food constantly.

  7. For what it is worth, i find that parents who console their babies and children with food, are setting them up for a lifetime of looking to food for comfort. I have struggled with my weight, but have learned to think differently. Now im married to a man who is grossly obese, as is his mother, and his siblings struggle with their weight. I noticed that when his mother has children around, that when the child grows restless, tired, or upset, she begins offerring food to pacify instead of distracting the child with an activity, or offerring a nap, etc. When the child is old enough to begin trying to meet his own needs, he will do what he has been taught. Just think about the times when parents pass cookies or drinks to a restless toddler in the backseat of a car, in an attempt to pacify him, when he is not hungry.. He has a completely different need, if nothing else, the need to learn patience. When we eat out of anything else but hunger, we are ignoring other needs that desperately need to be met... Leading to the action of eating, feeling guilt, and then feeling helpless and empty. The biggest thing that helped me was deciding what and how much i really need to eat, and sticking to it. If i feel hungry outside of that, i stop and ask myself, am I really hungry? i have a glass of water first because thirst is not just a dry mouth but can also manifest in sensations of hunger. Ive also read that people who didnt have food readily available often struggle with obsessive thoughts of food.

  8. I think half the problems lie with old habits. Many years ago our grandparents were told "If you don't eat your main meal, you won't get this sweet" because they knew they had to 'force feed' their child past the 'I'm Full' stage, because they knew they might not be eating again for three days. The ""If you don't eat your main meal, you won't get this sweet" habit was then passed on to their children, and so on. Nowadays, food is plentiful, but we are still being overfed with this "If you don't eat your main meal, you won't get this sweet" habit. So I suggest to all parents that, if you want to have a sweet with you main meal, rather than say "If you don't eat your main meal, you won't get this sweet", instead just ensure the main meal is only half of what it would be if you weren't having a sweet.


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