An Addictive Approach to Eating
Although Michigan’s winter weather seems to be holding on with a death grip, I know in my heart that summer will be here soon, and I’m already dreading my appearance in shorts and t-shirts. I used to love going to the beach, but now I wouldn’t be caught dead in a bathing suit. Even the joy of vacations and/or weekend trips is diminished by knowing I’ll look like a buffalo in the subsequent photos. Shopping for summer clothes doesn’t bring nearly the pleasure that shopping for over-sized winter sweaters and cardigans do.
The most frustrating realization is that I have the power to undo all of this – my negative self-image, growing dislike of clothes, and fear of warm weather – with nothing more than discipline. It’s not unlike being caught in quicksand. I know I’m overweight, I don’t want to be overweight, and yet I’ll sit and make a meal out of cheese, crackers and Dr. Pepper - and two or three cookies. I’m ashamed to say I have no willpower to do something positive.
This is why I believe the weight loss industry would do well to help people like me figure out what’s keeping us from weight loss success. Why do I think it’s acceptable to continue on this same path, even when I know it hurts my esteem and makes me unhappy? The pleasure that comes from eating what I want is very short-lived; five minutes after I’ve eaten, I feel overcome with disgust and guilt, and these feelings lead to more self-loathing.
My Distaste for Fruits and Veggies
I wish I enjoyed fruits and vegetables, which are the essence of good health and simple living. I can’t tell you why I don’t like these foods, except to say their tastes and textures simply don’t appeal. Some fruits are okay, but their textures turn me off. Vegetables, meanwhile, taste bland and earthy.
The sad thing is that I’ve eaten these foods in the past, and I feel great afterwards. When I have a salad for lunch, I feel lean and energetic (quite unlike the lumpy lethargy I experience after a drive-thru meal). Physiologically, however, I feel dissatisfied. It’s like I need to feel full, uncomfortably so, before a meal is complete. (Hence my penchant for chips and other unhealthy snacks.) Why can’t I derive the same pleasure from eating mangoes and asparagus that I do from sweets and salty snacks?
An Addictive Approach
I think the answer lies in how I approach the very act of eating. I fiercely crave junk food because I’ve eaten so much of it over the last several years. Like anything else, it’s become a habit. And the more I get, the more I want. It's an addiction, and the only way to break an addiction is to walk away from the substance in question. For me, the substance is mostly sugar. I especially love baked goods – donuts, cookies, cupcakes, and pies – and these have absolutely no nutritional value.
My mind and my body need to be reprogrammed. I’m going to have to force myself to eat fruits and vegetables in order to break the sugar habit and start enjoying good, whole foods. But before the reprogramming, I have to work up the courage to face my problem and change it once and for all. I’ll need more than a little luck for that.