Food addiction in our culture




Food addiction, just like any addiction, grows from roots in so many different places, from the chemistry of our bodies to our social traditions, from private self-regard to national legislation. All of them can exert an influence on those moments when your addictive desire has appeared and demands to be satisfied.

Cultural attitudes blind us to the realities of food addiction in many ways. If we live in a world where absolutely every single thing is blue, who will notice? It could take a stranger to look from the outside and say, “How amazing, everything is blue where you live!” And we reply, “Really? Don’t think so.” We’ll call them weird, of course, and at the very least wrong.

I do wonder if all of the craziness about food and weight and diet and nutrition will ever end, and if it does, where that will be. I’ve spent, and continue to spend, a great deal of time finding my heroes in the field, those I trust and want to rely on. I’ve always regarded this as part of my job, but should I expect you, or anyone for that matter, to invest a similar amount of effort?

Who counts for you in terms of reliable nutritional information – or even weight loss advice? Your Weight Watchers leader? Newspapers, magazines, TV? Maybe your favourite YouTube expert? I’ve got a few of those.

Looking back, I can see that what I’ve done is read a great many books – beginning with Fit For Life way back in the 1980’s. I’ve followed qualified professionals (such as doctors and researchers) online, and frequently dipped into PubMed for the published papers. I look for common threads and of course for what makes sense.

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  1. Gillian K

    I so agree with everything you say. Seeing excess weight as a symptom not as the problem has been so important for me. But the wider issues of trying to make helpful choices every day in a society obsessed by and deluged with cheap nasty “frankenfoods” is dispiriting and exhausting. Leaving home without a good packed lunch is a nightmare. I’ve been travelling for six weeks this summer and have struggled to make the best choices since I got home simply because of the unremitting onslaught of less good food options everywhere. The worst places of all are hospitals. I had to go to one recently where the cafe sold sausage rolls, pasties, crisps and confectionary. That was it. A complete joke, except it’s not funny.

    • I feel your pain! I’ve been frustrated recently with a lack of real food similar to your hospital scenario.

      BUT – I wouldn’t want anyone to miss that second sentence of yours. Such a radical step for so many, and it’s important to see ‘social proof’ confirmation that it is in fact a step in the right direction.

  2. Cassandra

    I LOVE what you have to say. I’ve recently been able to lose 55 lbs, and would like to lose another ten. The real payoffs have been for my health and sense of well being, which have soared. The overeating-restriction cycle though is still a problem for me. So I know my relationship with, or how I think about food still needs some healing.

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