Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The End of Overeating

It's been more than two months since I read The End of Overeating by David Kessler and I haven't had a candy bar, potato chip, or nugget of orange chicken since then. I have cut out commercially processed foods before, most aggressively after reading Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food, but this feels permanent. If I do slip again, I'll re-read The End of Overeating and expect to be reinvigorated in my conviction that abstinence is the only way for me to cope with an eating environment that caters to my worst instincts.

The book finally convinced me that what I'm experiencing in relation to doughnuts, bacon cheese burgers on toasted sourdough, and french onion dip is addiction. And that addiction has been carefully orchestrated by the food industry's ever new creative ways of inserting more fat, salt, and sugar into the foods they process as well as sophisticated marketing techniques that have conditioned me to think that I deserve a break and an edible treat is just the way to get it.

Getting angry at the food industry helped, mostly because it gave some energy to the idea that I need to set some rules for myself about eating. Normally, the notion of rules pulls out my inner teenage rebel and the whole endeavor goes down in fiery turmoil. But with anger at the food industry at the root of this, my inner rebel had a different way of looking at things. My rules help me subvert the conditioning of the food industry while asserting my will. My inner teenage rebel likes being subversive and independent.

The rules that made the biggest difference for me were "No eating in the car" and "No eating anything purchased from a drugstore or gas station." Kessler points out that each person reacts differently to the stimuli in our environment, so my rules may not help someone else overcome their conditioning by the food industry.

The End of Overeating made it clear that my environment was not supporting a healthy lifestyle. I am now carefully building an environment that does. For me, this new environment includes a constant influx of health books from the library, an almost daily presence on the forums at 3 Fat Chicks, and a commitment to eating food made from scratch in my own kitchen with very few exceptions.