I was just recently described as a badass since, it seems, I speak my mind freely. As I get older, I find that I do it more and more…and more easily at that.
So here I go again.
Many of you know that I LOVE to read my husband’s Men’s Health magazine. I love the fitness tips and workout advice that serve me in my own workouts.
Often, though, there’s an article that makes me scratch my head in amazement. The September issue had one such piece, called “Inside the Fat Lab.” I am always intrigued by the stunningly bizarre approaches we take to weight loss, but this article took the cake, pun fully intended.
The article talks about “an Avengers-style team of experts” at a biomedical lab in Louisiana, dedicating their time (and obviously millions of dollars) to cracking the code of America’s obesity problem. It’s a great and noble cause with more than 71% of us overweight and more than 38% obese.
Volunteers check into the lab for 24 days during which time they are measured, tested and observed, from each breath and how it affects metabolism to the role metabolism plays in keeping weight off once lost. The lab houses departments with names like Ingestive Behavior and Weight Management and Health Promotion. It sounds impressive, right?
The journalist revealed that, drawing on the expert research being done, weight problems can be broken into seven “fat types,” the “seven ways your brain, body and habits conspire to pack on the pounds.” He then presents us with the seven types.
If you’re a woman who has ever read a women’s mag, you are more than familiar with these “fat types” and could have saved the donors to this research a lot of money! Here’s the groundbreaking research (quickly summed up) that comes from analyzing every single thing from our breath to our eating habits.
Sit down for this one and make sure you don’t have to pee. You might wet yourself laughing.
There are Cravers (who can’t resist foods that don’t serve their health) and they’re advised to breathe deep before caving in; think positive (imagine yourself thin or getting a good medical report); plan for parties (anticipate the caloric land mines and how you will avoid them). And the final tip? Avoid the foods you crave by not having them in the house. Brilliant so far, right?
There are the Emo Eaters who are compelled to eat by emotional factors. They’re advised to know their triggers.
The Grazer is the person who munches all day. The advice? Mindful eating.
The Late Night Loader is breakfast skipper who loads up on food late at night. The fix for them is to eat earlier; replace night eating with activity, like walking or working out; limit late nights so that you’re sleeping and not eating; eat breakfast; slow down when you eat as it takes 20 minutes to realize you’re full.
The Sweet-Seeking Missile has a massive sweet tooth and is advised to avoid processed foods, sugary drinks and to retrain their taste buds.
The Regainer is the person who loses weight and regains it and these people are advised to work out and keep a food diary.
The Clueless Compensator is the person who thinks that exercising a lot is permission to eat as they please, with no regard for caloric intake. They’re advised not to overestimate their caloric burn; avoid working out to exhaustion so their workouts are spaced too far apart; and stop looking to reward a tough workout with a highly caloric treat.
None of this is groundbreaking; not one piece of this research tells me anything new.
What was glaringly missing from this piece about why we’re collectively fat as a society was the role that marketing and food corporations play in turning us into eating machines.
Now I am the first to say that corporations have absolutely no responsibility to create our wellness. That’s completely on us. Their job is to make money. Their job is to sell us stuff, whether that stuff is good for us or not. Corporations and marketers are very good at their jobs, especially when you take into account their co-conspirators, the flavor houses whose job it is to addict us to the junk food they peddle.
So are we innocent victims of nefarious marketing? To some degree, I would say yes. You don’t watch any movie or tv program that doesn’t advertise some form of junk food, looking lush and gloriously decadent. You rarely see an ad for broccoli (and if you do, it’s a fiber supplement commercial or a cheese product commercial). We are tempted all the time, from soda and chips at the gas station to the junk food counter, I mean concession stand…at the movie theater. You see ads with fit and trim people chowing down on the foods that make us fat. The only ads that show chubbier people are for diabetes drugs and they show them having the time of their lives taking these drugs. Aaaarrrggggghhhhh!
At what point do we shake off these ads trying to sell us and our wellness down the river? At what point do we ask ourselves if the food we choose is serving the purpose of our lives?
At what point does research call out the societal conditioning that healthy food is not sexy, luscious or delicious? It’s just good for you, so hike up your skirt and let go of all the food you love. Seriously?
The food we have been conditioned to love, that turns us into “cravers” and “emo eaters” is not addressed in this article at all.
It’s time to re-think the food we think we love and choose foods that love us back, helping us to create the lives we want to live with the energy, vitality and health to do it. Do we really need more research facilities to tell us that we are enslaved to processed foods, saturated fats and sugar? We spend all this money on research to discover that we need to eat less and mindfully, not eat a lot before bed, eat less junk food and exercise more?
What we need are cooking schools, designed to teach people how to cook foods that serve their wellness, their bodies and the future they want to create. Let’s fund that idea and make them the new research labs, places that can really help people live their best and healthiest lives.