I'm a size 14. I should be a size 10. But I'm not because I like to eat food for a lot more reasons than just nutrition. And I think it's going to one day kill me if I don't change.
We all know the stats regarding obesity and cancer. We all know what we need to do to: eat less, move more. So why aren't we (I) doing it?
We are a bunch of addicts.
Medically speaking, an addiction is defined as "a persistent, compulsive dependence on a behavior or substance" (you know, like eating or food). And why do we become addicts? Again, we know the answers: it's biological, it's environmental, it's both... but the purpose of addiction (because it does serve a purpose in the addict's life) is to anesthetize, to numb the feelings of pain, loss, or anger. And I think the "doing" of addictive behavior replaces the "doing" of dealing with those feelings.
So, what's our pain that we're trying to eat into submission? I don't know. The answer to that question is one for self reflection and a counselor, not a community editor. But I do know that how our food is being processed isn't helping us kick the habit.
Again, we know that the caffeine, sugar, and additives like aspartame put into the processed foods that most of us eat change our bodies' chemistry, and the more we eat it the more we want it. According to WebMD, an animal study at Princeton University in 2002 found that "after rats binged on sugar, they showed classic signs of withdrawal (such as "the shakes," anxiety, and changes in brain chemistry) when the sweets were removed from their diet, suggesting that sugar may have addictive properties."
In the United States, one agency oversees our food and drug safety: the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And if you go to the site, their mission statement sounds very noble. And broad.
Recently, the FDA approved two weight loss drugs, Qsymia and Belviq. And my first thought was, "Isn't that like the pusher running rehab?"
It feels like the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing: The FDA has the power to address the overprocessing of our food (which is contributing to the epidemic obesity rates we are seeing in the US), but doesn't, all the while approving drugs (with side effects such as increased heart rate and metabolic acidosis) to help us lose weight while we continue to eat processed foods.
Are you achieving your mission statement, FDA?
Ultimately, the FDA isn't going to make the changes I need to make to my diet -- it's up to me. I'm cutting out processed foods, cutting out the caffeine, and banning aspartame (it's in everything by the way). This overhaul is taking time, a lot of effort, and it isn't easy. And while popping a pill to lose the weight may be a quicker fix for this addict, it's one I want to avoid. I want to be healthy more than I want to be a size 10.
I realize this blog is more of an editorial. And know that these are my thoughts (and frustrations). I hope it will lead to some discussion here among our community because you see one of the results of addictive behavior every day: cancer.
Tell me what you think. Are diet pills ever medically necessary? Am I overreacting to the whole idea of processed foods? What will it take for us as a nation to address our nutritional issues better?