Obesity is more than just a problem, it a pattern.
A pattern of thinking. A pattern of teaching and believing.
We have ignored the pattern of obesity in America. Sure, we can classify people as underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese, or morbidly obese. But, labeling body types does not always initiate a change.
A person does not become “obese” overnight. Certain behaviors and environmental cues caused them to start having a disordered way of thinking about their food and their diet.
Patterns Leading to Obesity
Choosing to be a “picky eater” where large food groups may be excluded is a pattern of obesity. For picky eaters, food is not about what they need in order to keep their body at top condition. Food is about impulse and desire. Some of them confuse the two so much that they include eating and food in their sexual life. They might spread Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups all over the room and then eat their way to each other in the middle as a form of foreplay. By that time, they’re gorged, but they actually think they’re happier.
Another pattern of obesity is to say one thing and do another. Tired of being judged, some people with eating problems tend to “perform” in social settings, taking small portions. But, the second everyone leaves – this person finish the rest of the food in sight. They lie so much to other people in their life that they eventually start believing the lies themselves. They rarely fess up to their mistakes and behaviors – but instead become defiant or defensive about the accusations.
Like attracts like, usually people with poor eating patterns feel comfortable around other people with poor eating patterns. The community of problems tend to feed one another and cause a downward spiral for everyone involved instead of just affecting their own lives. One person might bring over pizza and ice-cream for their friends in order to reward or cheer up bad days with food. One person might suggest going to an all-you-can-eat buffet. They might cherish their deep fryer thinking that this fills a need in their life. Unfortunately, they need none of it.
As humans often tend to do – they have misplaced their need. They need something, but they don’t need this. They need someone who understands – food does not understand. They need someone to touch them – food does not touch them. They want to ignore their problems – food does not make your problems go away. They want to act like there are no consequences – disordered eating has consequences that will start showing up on your abused/unfit body.
Food replaces EVERYTHING – and, yet, nothing.
I think it’s important to know when you might be headed down that road of disordered thinking. So, I’ve included a list of things I typically find. You may have one or two of these traits, you may have 10 of these traits. Whatever the number, it’s a good thing to be able to recognize.
After all, if you can recognize a problem then you can take ownership and start to developing a plan of action or a strategy to combat it.
Please, don’t ignore your problems.
- Brag about not eating something and then eat it when everyone leaves
- Buy things at the grocery store that you know you shouldn’t
- Try to get out of doing work or helping people because your body is so unfit, it would be better off just skipping the activity than risking the embarrassment that your labored breathing might cause you.
- Taunt other people who are on diets because you want them to make the same bad eating choices that you are making.
- Resent dieters for making you feel like there’s something wrong with the way you’re eating…. even though you know it’s wrong because everyday you look in the mirror and see your food choices wrecking your body a little bit more.
- Deny that you have a problem when it’s clear that you DO have a problem
- Get defensive when someone asks about high calorie, junk foods that you might be eating.
- Have a hidden “stash” of junk food that no one else can find.
- Eat at night while no one is watching.
- Avoid going to the gym because you’re worried that everyone might stare at you for being overweight.
- Get angry when people take food away from you.
- Use food to make yourself feel better.
- Use food to ignore other issues in your life that you don’t feel like addressing.
- Think it matters what you do and do not like to eat – “I don’t like fruits and vegetables.”
- Make excuses for not eating well by saying “I didn’t have time.” When really, the truth is that you “didn’t make time.”
- Drink, and drink, and drink, and drink – because if a little bit of alcohol is good, then a little bit more will be better.
- Scoff at small portions of dessert, saying “That’s hardly worth eating!” Even though by the time dessert gets to you, you’ve already had a full meal and you’re not actually hungry any more.
- Exaggerate your hunger.
- Get out of bed because you “Can’t sleep if you’re hungry.”
- Refuse to admit that you have a problem or talk about “obese” people as if it couldn’t possibly be you.
It could very possibly be you. It could very possibly be me. The only thing that keeps you and me from being on the road to obesity is making these small re-routings on a consistent basis.
But the tough part is: it’s hard to address a problem when you ignore the patterns in the first place.
Ignorance is not really that bliss.
Disclaimer: Exaggerated examples usually teach a stronger lesson. Every person comes complete with their own problems in life. It’s our job to keep learning and trying to better ourselves. This is an opportunity for all of us.