What the Diversity of Human Experience Tells Us about Food Brain

I happened to see a profile this weekend of a woman training for the Boston Marathon. Former Olympian Shalene Flanagan has finished fourth in the Marathon and wants to be the first American woman to win since 1985. After the tragedy of the bombings, the Boston native wants to win the marathon for her hometown. Her interview with Anderson Cooper was intriguing. Both her parents ran so long-distance running is something she’s always accepted as an ordinary part of daily life.

For her own intense training, Shalene talked about the pain of long-distance running. “When I start to feel uncomfortable, it’s all about embracing it and realizing it’s inevitable.” She went on to talk about how she always knows if she’s feeling pain, her competitors are as well and she wants to push through it and outlast them. She described how she trained in her early days, “I would run so hard I would literally collapse.” Anderson Cooper pointed out that she has called it “Kamikaze Racing.”

Her current coach says his focus is to train Shalene how to run “without blowing herself up. She likes to go out and she likes to suffer.”

What makes a person so competitive that they will run until their body collapses? Most of us cannot even imagine pushing ourselves to such a maximum physical limit.

I was rather bemused at the public attention focused on the book “50 Shades of Gray.” I know many people in the fetish community so I know certain desires and experiences are natural for them in a way that the rest of us will not be able to understand. There really are people who experience pain in a way they find pleasurable; they even crave it. Their physical and emotional experience of particular types of pain are intense for them and can bring them to a psychological state that is unique. They’re not drawn to these experiences because it’s the current popular fad. That would be like a heterosexual person trying to be gay because it’s the latest cool thing. So I really laugh at the people who think they’re going to imitate “50 Shades.” If they’ve never wanted to do those things before, it’s not really part of them to want those experiences and they won’t respond in the way that’s natural for the people who do feel drawn to fetish activities.

Pain is just one aspect of the vastly diverse fetish world. Most people would barely be able to comprehend the range of human fetishes and cravings. Human experience is incredible! The range of what we desire and crave and how we perceive the world is vast! So why would anyone assume that we all experience desires and cravings for food the same? Some of us live with a Food Brain. We think about food, we crave food, and we experience food in ways that other people don’t. Having a Food Brain is not about having no self-discipline or being emotionally broken and weak. For so much of my life, I resisted being told that something had to be “wrong” with me because I was overweight and I had to fix what was broken. But I was never broken; I was just me and I had something in my life that could be challenging to manage. Having a Food Brain is natural for me and for others. I’ve learned to deal with it since I’ve acknowledged and accepted it. I don’t feel any shame for my cravings. Instead, I’ve learned to identify them and how to manage them. It’s all about connecting deeply with who I really am.

Who are you?