I recently began reading David A. Kessler’s book The End Of Overeating. Although the book was written about a decade ago I really believe that most people will find the information inside both helpful and eye-opening.
We all know obesity is a major health issue in North America. In the past 30 years or so both the rate of obesity and the average North American’s percentage of unnecessary body fat have skyrocketed in an alarming fashion. If that was not disturbing enough, the age at which obesity is striking no longer seems to know any bounds. Toddlers and adolescents are now finding themselves afflicted with a disease that once rarely affected them at all.
We know that heart attacks, diabetes, strokes, and other health complications are a direct result of diabetes, and we know that depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide can also be linked to struggles with weight and body image. Most people recognize this, understand the health risks, and have no desire to be one of the statistics.
We know to avoid fast food, oversize portions, and junk food snacking. We know we are supposed to exercise and weigh ourselves regularly in order to confirm that we are on the right track. We are told all we need is willpower and we’ll be fine.
So why is this still happening?
Kessler’s book sheds light on the role that fat, sugar, and salt play on our neuro-chemistry. He cites many tests that confirm that these ingredients play havoc with our ability to regulate our intake of these substances. He also shows that this is not unique to humans alone. It appears that animals can be led astray – and led into obesity – by exposing them to these same three ingredients. (Not news to pet owners who find themselves over-generous with the treats.)
Kessler also exposes the role restaurants and grocery stores have played in manipulating us to become addicted to these substances in unhealthy amounts. We have become unwitting addicts to the food industry, who knowingly have become our drug pushers. And we are dying from this addiction just the same way cocaine and heroin addicts are dying from their substance abuse.
The good news that Kessler exposes is that food addiction is not as difficult to manage as other drug addictions. It seems that as quickly as these bad habits are formed, they can be broken. While it only takes a few days for a new “doughnut at 11 am” habit to develop, it can also be broken in less than a week.
The answer seems to be that if we can withstand the siren’s call of our favourite decadent addiction, we can become free of the distracting and dangerous call it has on us.
Of course that sounds ridiculously easy, and it is definitely not quite as simple as that. Our food habits are linked to memories and locations, and in order to rid ourselves of these foods we must face our triggers and deal with them. Tricks like taking a new route to work that doesn’t take you past your favourite fast food place, or not taking money to work so you have no access to the snack machine, are good strategies. And one of the most helpful of all: Not allowing banned food substances in to the home.
No, it’s not easy, and it does take a strong desire to beat the odds. It also takes continual vigilance.
Yes, the daily struggle to eat well can seem overwhelming, but there are many daily habits we have learned to accept for our health: brushing our teeth, getting enough sleep. As adults we need to rise to the challenge. For ourselves and for the next generations.
You can take back your health, and have a better life. You can free yourselves of the daily pain – and possible death – that comes with obesity. As a life coach, I know this, and as a human being I deal with it myself, everyday. It’s not easy, but knowing how it happened, knowing that I am not helpless is the first step. Books like The End Of Overeating are helping in a way that fad diets and expensive trends have failed to do.