lowbrowculture

collects stories and ideas from John Kelly

One day at a time

Let’s try a little thought experiment, shall we?

Imagine you worked in a shop and that sold both hard liquor and weapons. Let’s not ask why. Now, imagine a man comes in looking depressed and wants to buy a bottle of vodka and a handgun. Would you sell them to him?

Now, let’s imagine you worked in a fast food restaurant. A McDonalds. Or better still, a KFC. Imagine a morbidly obese man comes wheezing in in and orders three Double Downs. Would you sell them to him?

David A. Kessler’s _The End of Overeating_ is a fascinating book. Especially if - like me - you’re overweight. He talks about the science behind food, and what drives us to eat the shit we do. He makes a terrific analogy, a connection I’d never made before. He says that for some people who are wired a certain way, struggling with a food problems can be like an alcoholic trying to come to terms with their own addiction. If you’re trying to kick it, you need to take it one day at a time.

As someone who has struggled with their weight for a long time, this a terrific way of looking at it, and even this one little sentence has had a profound effect on me, in terms of the shite I put into my body. At the same time, it underlines the way in which obesity and food problems in general are seen as ‘socially acceptable’ in a way in which other addictions - drink, drugs - are not. Or rather, they’re not seen as addictions or significant problems at all. Consider the semantic gulf between a ‘glutton’ and an ‘addict’. One implies ‘Conscious’ while the other implies ‘subconscious’. ‘Active’ versus ‘passive’. ‘Choice’ versus ‘compulsion’.

To highlight this, there’s my wife who is incredibly supportive of me, despite the sometimes incredibly stupid things I do. Her relationship to food is very different compared to mine. She cannot wait until all food comes in pill form and it no longer has any significant role in her life. When she saw I was reading a book called ‘The End of Overeating’, she snorted in derision. For her, reading to lose weight is like dancing about architecture. If you want to lose weight, just eat less, dummy.

That’s what I’m trying to do. But I have to take it one day at a time.