Managing Our Weight: It’s NOT a Level Playing Field

My primary objective is to break down the paradigm that says if you are overweight, there’s “something wrong” with you and replace that with the fact that some of us are simply born with bodies that want to be larger and brains that want to think about food. It’s only logical! Consider that our culture does not make value judgments against people who are thin all their lives. No one imagines there’s “something wrong” with a person who has little concern for food and may be consistently underweight. In fact, naturally thin people will be held up as examples for the rest of us to follow! But are they really these paragons of good judgment? Do people who are thin all their lives make specific, conscious decisions to deny themselves food they want because it would pack on the pounds? Or are they simply doing what’s natural for them and it takes no effort?

I can’t help it, the man’s becoming my hero. Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, founder of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa writes an awesome blog you should be reading. Find it here. Today he posted an article to health website,, making points that have got to become conventional wisdom if we’re going to truly tackle the obesity problem:

People have different fuel efficiencies, whereby two people eating the same number of calories may see markedly different impacts of those calories upon their weights; the more processed a food the more calories it’ll effectively make available to your body; and some foods will leave you hungrier and in turn (given our caloric modern day wonderland) lead you to eat more.

Read the full article here.

I make the point that people have not changed, our food environment has. We’re not struggling with more psychological issues and trauma nowadays. We deal with the same life trials and tribulations as did generations before us. We are fatter because our grocery stores contain more than three times the number of items they did just a few decades ago. And at any given time, no matter where we are, we are bombarded with food stimuli, particularly cheap processed food that is layered in fat, sugar, and salt. If you have a brain that tends to focus on food, you can find it lit up and buzzing all the time! We are fed processed foods that are christened with “health halos,” we think a weight loss diet means a frozen dinner every night and baked potato chips. We think if we “just put our minds to it” we could all lose weight with the same ease. Attempts to manage their weight are futile exercises in repeated mistakes for most people.

Add to this struggle the fact that some of us have bodies that manage energy very efficiently, as Dr. Freedhoff points out in the above passage. I like to think we’re more highly evolved! Our bodies were not intended for constant access to food; we really were built to eat intermittently. In a world of feast or famine, who would survive the longest? The people who eat the most plentifully when food is available and whose bodies then store the energy the most efficiently.

The number one thing we MUST do is stop the blaming and shaming. It’s so pervasive, we do it to ourselves. If you struggle with your weight, there can be so many complex contributing factors but one of them is likely NOT a personal failing! Do you call yourself “broken”? STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!!!

If we insist on believing that overweight is a “psychological” problem and what needs “fixing” is our heads, then we’ll never see any significant changes. We are immersed in a food-obsessed obesogenic culture. Some of us find that pretty tough to deal with, even exhausting. Stop telling us it’s all in our heads.

It’s in our grocery stores.

It’s in our restaurants.

It’s in our media.

It’s in our changing cultural norms that connect food to EVERYTHING.

What’s in our heads is noise. Misdirection. Fallacies. Shame. Time to turn it down.


    • JoAnn on September 4, 2013 at 7:12 am

    I wish I could stop the blaming. It’s certainly not something I would do to someone else, yet when I grab a few handfuls of popcorn like I did last night, I still wonder why I can’t resist. Two and a half years in and 115 pounds off and this stuff still calls my name. I’d love to turn my brain off, but that’s not realistic. So I try to control my environment as much as possible, fill myself up with healthful foods and keep the noise to a dull roar.

    Mostly it’s good, mostly manageable and then I’m completely blindsided by some craving. That’s when I question whether there is real hope for the future and the possibility of permanent change. I do think it’s critical to accept that we’re wired differently and work within that “system”. Most days it keeps me from pressing my nose against the window and wishing for something different. It allows me to do the work that will take me forward.

    • Michele on September 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    It’s VERY tough to turn down that “blaming” voice. My brain truly is focused on food. I’m one of those people who kind of marks my day by meals and the anticipation of meals. I really wish I wasn’t this way, but I am. I’m sure people see me and think that I give in to every single food temptation I have – but believe me, if I did, I would be one of those poor people who would need an emergency team to get them out of their houses. For me, the best way to quiet the food goblin is to stay away from processed foods. BUT, they are everywhere and they taste so good and they are so inexpensive and easy and …. I’m whining here.
    It’s something I’ll always deal with. Processed foods aren’t going away. I can only deal with my response to them.

    1. Michele and JoAnn—I am right beside both of you!!! You each cite exactly what so many of us really deal with, myself included! If I could have a wish it wouldn’t be for a thin body. I’d wish for a brain that did not get so damn pre-occupied with thoughts of food! It’s a terrible thing to actually fight with your own thoughts but this is REAL and only some of us understand what I’m talking about!

      I can tell you it DOES change but for me it’s been about eight years now. It’s a long slow process of living a different routine and keeping my diet very simple and clean that the “goblins” haunt me less intensely but I do not believe they will ever go away for good.

      Take a minute to read the post about my mom. I’ve linked to it below.

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