Hey fatso

Being fat is a kind of crime, right?

I mean, you owe it to society to be easy on the eye, not deliberately, avoidably unsightly, right?  At least so the dudes on the internet who sign up to sites like ‘red pill blue pill’ seem to think.

For a page-turning heart-warming fictional exploration of the topic, you can’t go past Eating Bull, by Carrie Rubin.  Carrie’s sweet, kind and obese teenage hero eats because he’s troubled…and because it’s all too easy these days.

I’m not fat, mainly because I inherited lucky genes.  Back in the forest, I would’ve died of starvation quicker than chubbier sorts, because I use up my energy fast instead of storing it for the bad times.  Mind you, I’m not that naturally into food, and I have three dogs who insist on exercising me.  That helps.  Jeremy (Eating Bull)’s mum won’t let him walk to school, and brings him home KFC for tea.

So should we feel sorry for Jeremy,  or disgusted at the state he’s allowed himself to get into?  Let’s just be honest, fat is something we can help.  An Ethiopian friend of mine went back home for a visit and when he came back, he said he was startled to realise how fat Aussies are.  In Ethiopia, most people (even the ones with slow metabolisms) are skinny.  You can’t put nothing in and still get fat, no matter what the status of your thyroid glands.  Why is it that people on the road to being obese don’t check out those inflating spare tyres and think, hey, better lay off the fries?

As the owner of a small paunch, I can say that trying to lose weight is dispiritingly difficult.  More than that, we’re not psychologically geared for it.  Our brains say put it on, not take it off!  Then along comes the food industry and makes us an offer we can’t refuse – because it’s too yummy.  Add some misery  to the mix and at least the chocolate pudding cares about you.

Fat is NOT a moral issue. It’s not wrong to be fat, any more than it’s wrong to snore.  But it’s not something to celebrate, either.  If you’re seriously chubby (like my son, for instance) you’re not really healthy. That stuff on the outside is matched by stuff on the inside, which you can’t see, clogging up your arteries and making it more likely you’ll get any number of unfortunate conditions.

Being ‘volumptuous’ (as my eight year old used to call it)  does say something about us – about what we eat and how much we eat and probably about why we eat.  It says something about what we do in your spare time (sit round reading, for example).  It doesn’t say anything about how lovable or kind or intelligent or worthwhile we are.  There’s a lot more to us than fat or the lack of it.

That said, there’s a definite opportunity here for some nutrition-poor 3rd world country to offer ‘diet-tourism’ to the fatted masses of the West.  Win-win, right?  And Carrie, if you want back-up for your thesis that the food industry is committing murder by chocolate, try That Sugar Movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FxCYSdv3MM

 

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16 comments

  1. It is very very hard to lose weight and keep it off… and so so easy to eat a little over what you need to maintain. More and more garbage calories are being packed into tasty food and it’s become a thing to have a constant supply of noms around. In “the old days,” people weren’t snacking all day at their desks at work. There weren’t bacon wrapped chocolates or whatever the fuck everywhere you went. Little kids didn’t get handed packs of junk food to entertain themselves with so their parents could shop or wait for whatever. Kids had to wait and be bored too. We are deliberately teaching children to self-medicate with food and have been for a couple generations now. Of course food is comforting when we’re taught from day one that we should comfort ourselves with food! I could rant about this all day, lol.

    • I completely agree that there has been a significant change in the way we eat food over the past few decades. We were so busy as kids, we didn’t have time to sit around and eat food all day long. We were doing this really odd thing called “playing outside.” Combine the massive increase in the production of snack foods of all kinds and the changing ways in which kids spend their times — in front of the TV, playing video games — and it’s a recipe for weight issues. I see it in my kids — the amount of snack food they eat while lolling about is amazing some times.

      • Yeah absolutely. Those days when you got home from school, ate a snack, then disappeared till dinner time outside with your mates are long gone. But then, some people seem able to resist (my daughter is) and others just cave in (my son). Why?

    • I think it is really hard because it goes against our wiring as animals. Evolving humans didn’t need to know how NOT to eat – it was more a case of ‘great – food! Gobble it up before someone else does!’.
      In the past, if you wanted to eat something then someone had to cook it, usually (like my mum cooked biscuits for arvo tea every day), and if you wanted to go somewhere, it usually involved walking (eg my dad and I walked the 2km to the train station every day for work when I was 18). Now we have to make a conscious effort to eat and exercise because ‘if you don’t you’ll get fat!’. No wonder people give up and go, oh well, what’s wrong with being fat anyway!

  2. Thank you so much for mentioning my book. I love how you expanded on the topic. We’re tempted to see overweight/obesity as a simple problem–just eat less and exercise more. But in reality, it’s much more complex. Our unhealthy food environment has burgeoned in the past few decades. That alone isn’t to blame, but when you factor in the biological changes that occur as we gain weight as well as other factors such as the way towns and suburbs are designed such that cars are necessary and walking is difficult, it all makes for a recipe for disaster.

    I have not heard of ‘That Sugar Film.’ Thank you so much for the link. Off to get the DVD now. Thank you again for the mention! Your support is greatly appreciated. Happy New Year to you!

    • I enjoyed the book a lot, Carrie. Well, I think weight is an input/output thing, at its core. But why people eat too much and don’t exercise enough, that’s where the complexity comes in. I really think the human animal is wired to conserve energy and maximise fuel intake, ie find easier ways to do stuff (the bike! the car! the sit-on mower!) and faster ways to pile it on (sugar, yes! fat, yes! right now, yes!). Overweight people often say ‘but I hardly eat anything!’ – from my observation that’s never the case. I have an obese acquaintance who eats like Jeremy does, more or less, and because she’s obese she can’t exercise. But like Jeremy she’s deeply troubled – maybe that’s why I have a paunch (happy family) and she has a mountain (dysfunctional family).

      • Very true. And you’re right that we’re biologically wired to conserve energy and maximise fuel intake. Back in early times when food was scarce we needed to store fat in times of excess to tide us over during lean times. That’s why we’re so biologically efficient at storing fat. It used to be a good genetic defense. The problem is, genes don’t change quickly like our environment does. Now we have an excess of food on a daily basis, but we’re still genetically programmed to be efficient fat storers. So it sets us up for weight gain. I read a fascinating book on the subject called “The Evolution of Obesity.” Well, I found it fascinating. 🙂

  3. All fair enough, but I think a lot of obesity is due to not actually enjoying food as a process and ritual. I met an Italian guy years ago who was appalled that people in Britain eat on the run, in front of the tv. He said, in Italy ‘we eat knowledge’. By sitting down with people, taking time to share food and conversation, people eat better. Also, when children see adults eating a range of food, they are encouraged to try different things, to learn what they like, and to learn how to eat a variety of food, rather than becoming the modern epidemic of ‘fussy eaters’. I used to eat tons of chocolate as a kid – never seemed to fill me up. then I discovered European chocolate – with high cocoa butter content. Filled me up, I eat it slowly. Junk food is scoffed because we don’t really enjoy it. And because it never fills you up. Chewing your food helps, as it slows down eating, and helps fill you up. Happy New Year Rose!

  4. That’s true, you can eat a lot more if you don’t have to talk (ie if you’re watching tv). Although, Italians as they age are on the round side…Happy New Year to you too Barb!

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