For a long while I’ve just been thinking about it from a purely compulsive eating perspective, but since AHS12 (and the fallout), I’m starting think a bit more about weight loss, obesity stigma, and connection (or lack of it).
In particular, I keep coming back to a comment hopefulandfree made recently on her blog. She writes re the paleo fixation with offal:
It’s not the venison, or the ox tail that MATTERS—what matters, and what creates HEALTH, are the social bonds of trust, respect, and certainty—the security of knowing you are not a separate person who must find her/his own food or construct shelter without the help of all your extended “family”. We are sick and suffering and succumbing to so much illness in this culture precisely because we are essentially on our own (as individuals or as individual families) and we know: NOBODY HAS MY BACK over the long haul.
Eating liver rather than McDonald’s is certainly a good idea, but it’s not the holy grail. Nor is getting in your WOD at the local Crossfit box.
Psychology of Eating’s Marc David states it point-blank:
Science has failed us in the weight loss department.
It literally gets an “F.” The culture has failed us as well. Far too many people have intense moral judgments towards anyone with excess pounds, which contributes to the hidden epidemic of social disconnection, apathy, and plain old sadness. Let’s face it: when it comes to the subject of weight gain and weight loss, we’re clueless. And from that place of cluelessness we tend to flail around, we try our hand at the most inane weight loss strategies, we diet for decades, we consume diet foods and ingredients like synthetic fats and artificial sweeteners that are, if you care to closely study the scientific literature – toxic.
I’d suggest that if you’re not outraged at how all of us have been handling the issue of weight, than it’s time to pay more attention.
Maybe, just maybe, what’s important before anything else is to have a sense of security AND a sense of connection or community. That’s true for all of us. So what does it mean for your average overweight or obese person who may well be starting from a place of stigma and shame?
Time to put the social back into social? It’s very interesting to me the number of times social support and health appeared in my feed this week (here from the folks at SPEED, here from Dave Asprey, and here from Michael Prager).
And it go me thinking … just as a Western diet is a poor substitute for a nutrient-dense diet, and just as sedentary lifestyle is a poor substitute for one focused on movement, so too is our movement away from real social support towards one that, for many of us, is largely online.
Just eating the right foods and doing the right exercise is trying to balance a stool on two legs. So if working hard on diet and exercise isn’t doing it for you, maybe it’s time to give those a rest and work on connection … to nature and to others.
I’m putting my money where my mouth is. More about that in future posts!
Photo credit: Penn State