Great lecture by Gary Taubes on the true causes of obesity that explodes many common myths – including the widely held belief that obesity is a simple matter of calories in exceeding calories out. You think this is obviously true? It’s not. Watch!
People are overweight either because they eat too much food or they eat the wrong food (too many processed foods, too many sweets). But it is not for lack of knowledge of what to eat, and this is a crucial point. Most overweight people could write a book about nutrition and what they "should" be eating. They know what to do, but they don’t do it. Why?
It’s not that fat people are weak or morally deficient. It’s that there is a compulsive aspect to overeating. Part of it is the physical effect of processed food – sugar, salt, and fat. But this isn’t the whole story, and it’s not even the biggest part of the story because people can and do learn to eat moderate amounts of these types of foods.
The main reason for overeating is emotional eating – stress eating. And here’s the thing: dieting can’t fix that.
Editing Note: This post and the previous post originally were one long article.
In my previous post I explained why nutrition information has a role in the non-diet approach – not as a rule, but as information. But with all the contradictory nutrition advice out there, is there really such a thing as “good nutrition”? There is not one single nutrition principle that isn’t contested by someone somewhere. Doesn’t this mean that there are no reliable facts about nutrition, and everything is subject to reversal?
Actually, no, though it can feel that way at times. While many details of nutrition are speculative, some principles are backed by voluminous research. So how do you separate proven facts from tentative theories presented as facts, or outright misinformation?
An attempt to maintain a lower-than-normal weight triggers emotional eating and eating disorders in millions of people. Being very thin is not healthy, which suggests it’s not normal or natural. From an article about a new Japanese study:
“People who are a little overweight at age 40 live six to seven years longer than very thin people, whose average life expectancy was shorter by some five years than that of obese people, the study found.
“We found skinny people run the highest risk,” said Shinichi Kuriyama, an associate professor at Tohoku University’s Graduate School of Medicine who worked on the long-term study of middle-aged and elderly people.”
This is only the latest in many studies to show this result.
Evidence suggests that our normal, healthiest weight may be somewhat higher than what the weight tables say it should be. If people could accept their natural, normal weight as beautiful and healthy, it would solve many problems. I’m not talking about being very fat, just a little fatter than the culture around us says we should be.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them.
There was an interesting discussion in the forum this week about whether – even after you stop emotional eating – you need self-discipline to lose weight. Here is the argument in favor, from a Normal Eating Support Group member:
I think the issue of discipline is important in Stage 4. Health and fitness does not come naturally in most adults, and requires a lot of work and restriction. The real work is transforming restriction into self-love, and befriending the mechanisms of self-discipline can be useful. At least that’s how I see it, and how I observe many adults around me with no eating issues, who are very strict with their food intake and their exercise routines. Within a solid stage 4, those mental push-ups can bring enormous benefits.
This is diet-think, turning Normal Eating into the “eat when hungry” diet. It sounds reasonable only because this is the attitude of the culture at large – that if we follow our natural instincts, we will not do the right thing.
This is not my personal experience, nor the experience of many others I’ve worked with over the years. Intuitively eating to fuel our bodies – without particular stress or effort – is our natural state. Once emotional eating is resolved and we are reconnected with body wisdom, we don’t have to fight ourselves anymore – there is nothing to curb or discipline.
We just observed Memorial Day in the U.S., and that means summer with its skimpy clothing is just around the corner. This triggers fat panic in many people, but don’t start thinking about dieting again. Diets don’t work, and there’s another way that does.
We’ll start with the goal: How much should you weigh?
This video, from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, is 17 minutes long and very well worth watching. It talks about the true causes of obesity — genetics play a big role — and the awful prejudice against fat people in this culture. The narrator is a high school student.