The American Obesity Debate


I am really confused by people sometimes and the way they try to over simplify other people’s problems. I was reading some comments on the web site thekitchn which is an awesome web site that has recipes and pictures of people’s kitchens and quite often discusses how we eat and what we eat. The beautiful pictures are always alluring, but I enjoy the commentary on the beautiful food and the way people eat. One of the articles referenced a Slate article called, Five Obstacles to Eating Right. If you want you can go here to read the article

What really concerned me were the comments underneath. This web site is beautifully written and I think exemplifies how I want to live, with beauty and reverence with food. The original article was written by an Ellen Tarkin, and she discusses all the reasons you may not be able to eat healthy and how to overcome them. She uses her own life as an example. I know from experience it can be unnerving to talk about something like that, but these comments were so judgmental.  If you read them you will see the debate.

I think there is such an over simplification to the way people think about weight and eating right. I don’t believe it is malicious. I think it is desperation to get people to listen, to get people to respond. There is a “calories in, calories out,” or “eat less” and “move more” kind of motto that I don’t believe is helping anyone.  I know there are people who can live there life this way naturally. I am so happy for them, and hold those people up in my mind as “healthy.” You know there are people who put good things in their mouth every day, like Jamie Oliver. This makes me believe that I can do it too. I hold those people up to esteem.

I am not one of those people, and I don’t believe most people in America are. We have a huge problem in this country and it isn’t going to be changed with a sound bite. It isn’t going to be changed with, “I lost weight this way, and you can too.”

If someone wanted to reach me, this is not how they would do it. I have a problem; my brain is wired a little wrong. When I was young, my Mom really did try to keep us healthy. She had a garden sometimes, and she used to make fresh bread. We were a meat and potatoes kind of family. If you think about this, it makes sense. My family started out as farmers, and up until my generation worked in physical jobs, so chicken fried steak with gravy and mashed potatoes would be an appropriate meal. When you come home from harvesting the fields you need something that will stick to your ribs. These are the recipes that passed down from generation to generation. I sit on my ass everyday so I don’t get to eat that way anymore.

When I moved out, I started making money and my idea of indulging myself was eating out, drinking and smoking.  I didn’t quite understand the idea of restriction. Why would I restrict myself? I deserve these French fries. I deserve this martini and these calamari rings because I had a long day. I slowly got fat, and sick. It wasn’t like all of a sudden I was fat and sick. It seemed to slowly happen to me, with tiny little choices.

It wasn’t until I met my husband and realized that not only did I want to live long enough to enjoy my life of pure bliss with him, but I wanted him to live a long blissful life. I am now motivated enough to do something about it. Yes it is my fault, and yes I should have known better, but all in all it isn’t that simple.

Now that I know I want to eat healthy and live a long time, I still have to overcome the want of convenience. I still have to change my automatic response to hunger and my emotional need to fill myself with crap. I have field tested it; French fries do make me feel better.


This is just one of the ways in which I had to rethink things. French fries were a treat as a child. I got French fries when I got my ears pierced and didn’t cry. Now when you eat French fries three times a week, it isn’t a treat anymore. I have started to rethink my treats. A treat in my mind had to change to healthful nutritious meals planned and cooked with reverence to how it would make me feel and how it would nourish me.  I am just one example of someone who has emotional ties to food.

I can’t speak for anyone else. I know some people use weight as a way of separating them from the world. It can be a defense mechanism that is hard to give up. If you watch any amount of TV you can see some people don’t know what good food is. There are people who don’t know what a Brussels sprout is.  And as discussed on that forum, and at my writers group, there are whole towns that don’t have access to produce, less known organic meat and dairy.

There are emotional, mental, and physical issues that all overweight people have to contend with in order to figure out where their thinking is wrong, and how they can fix it. It is just like any other addiction. I have never had a problem with alcohol abuse, so I don’t believe I could comment on how to kick that. I haven’t tried to understand that, and I don’t think I could. I am not a mental or psychological professional either. If I don’t know, I am not going to comment.

If you can’t be understand how someone could get out of control with food, then it is best that you don’t comment because I believe you aren’t helping. I believe you are trying to help, but when you say it is so easy and then someone fails, it is worse. I think the United States need to realize how complicated this issue is. We need to look deeper into not only the psychological but the sociological reasons behind the obesity epidemic. Until we do, we will continue to have a problem.




3 thoughts on “The American Obesity Debate

  1. Gail

    I understand completely. I have been a yo-yo dieter for years! I can lose weight, but can’t keep it off. Darn Debbie Snacks! I am an emotional eater and when I am stressed I eat, of course my choice is usually anything sweet. I wish there was a magical pill, with no side effects, I would definitely take it, but when I run out of pills the weight would be back. I wish I had the answer Danielle, but I think as long as you keep trying to eat better and walk the weight will come off. Hang in there and remember you are not alone! I love you!

    1. Thank you for the encouragement. I can get down sometimes. I am still plugging along. I just hope that eventually everyone can see that it isn’t so easy. Eventually I am sure we will get there.

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