Saturday, March 6, 2010

Our Obsession With Food

Why is it that, whenever people are on a "diet", all they talk about is food? One of my co-workers decided to go on a weight loss program a couple of weeks ago, and ever since then he has brought to work doughnuts, cakes, cookies, chocolate... The sole topic of conversation with everyone at work is food, how many calories are in this, how many calories are in that, how much protein is in this, how much fat is in that... They are all obsessed with food. This morning I got up, had breakfast, and switched on the TV to watch the morning news. What were they doing? Cooking. I flipped around the channels -- everyone was cooking ... and more cooking ... and more eating.

I once had a friend whose mother spent her whole day cooking and baking for her family. She was famous for her home made cinnamon buns, but she was a skinny little thing. I asked her how she could spend so much time cooking and baking, and she never gained weight. She laughed, "Me? Oh, I never eat this stuff. Eating bores me." I thought how wonderful it must be to be bored by eating. But that seems to be the trick -- if you don't eat, you don't gain weight. There are so many weight loss programs out there -- low carb, high protein, low fat, low calorie, don't eat anything white, don't eat anything with sugar in it, eat only organic food, eat only raw food, don't eat meat, don't eat starch ... it starts to get very confusing after a while. We see food advertised on television and in magazines and newspapers -- right next to the weight loss programs. We watch TV shows with Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver, et al, cooking food. We are obsessed with food. We lose weight, only to put it all back -- and more. But the secret to losing weight and keeping it off is just to eat less and exercise -- walk -- more.

I think the next time one of my co-workers brings in a box of Tim Horton's timbits, I'm just going to say, "No, thanks, that stuff bores me..." *sigh*

30 comments:

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I love to cook..... and I love to eat what I cook! Wish food bored me, then maybe I wouldn't be so... curvy. You are right, though, walking is the best thing. Now that it is finally warming up here I will be getting more exercise. I do a lot of my walking behind a mower!

Jo said...

Kathy, according to my pedometer, 2,000 steps burns about 100 calories. So if a person walks 10,000 steps a day, that is 500 calories. That's pretty good. :-)

Donnetta Lee said...

Well, you know I am just so happy to eat these days!! I'm doing well on fruits, veggies, chicken, and fish. Yep, I cheat on cookies and a little candy from time to time. But OH my coworkers. They eat big time food. Lots of doughnuts, milk shakes, french fries, burgers, beef, etc. They sometimes eat so much food in a setting that it would make you gag just to watch it! D

Jo said...

Donnetta, I know! My co-workers are like the North Shore Bears. Just leave food out, and *poof* it's gone. It's as if eating has become a recreational activity, and then people gain weight. Your food sounds very healthy!

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

How funny! Great answer wish I could remember to use it and pass up the sweets. I work with nothing but men and believe me if there are any sweets or food brought guess who brings it. Yep the female! Now I know these men all have wifes...hahaha
Always love your post.
Maggie

Jo said...

Maggie, we have some fabulous cooks and bakers in our office, and yes, the men avail themselves of the goodies, and never bring anything themselves. I have a friend who takes brownies and things to work for his co-workers. He's one in a million. :-)

Lorac said...

I agree with you. My ex-boss was no help to staff. He used to bring doughnuts into our weekly meetings. It was suggested that a fruit or vegetable plate would be more than acceptable but that went over like a lead balloon!

Cloudia said...

We all relate to your honesty because of your good writing we all see ourselves in you. Glad we met



Aloha from Hawaii Jo


Comfort Spiral

pilgrimchick said...

I completely understand what you mean--I had a bug recently that limited my ability to eat, and that's when I noticed that EVERYTHING is about food. I think you're absolutely right about walking, too. When I lived in the UK years ago, walking was a way of life. However, European culture makes walking a necessity--cars can be impractical, and public transportation may not correspond with your schedule. European countries also seem to make walking more possible by installing lots of wide sidewalks and sculpting pedestrian-only walkways to and from cities. I wish that were the case out here--those 10,000 steps could happen every day easily.

Jennifer D said...

I hate it when someone is on a Diet and that is all they talk about.
Are we not all on a "diet"? Some of us are on a diet of Big Mac's and some of us Grapefruit and celery.
I try to keep my diet in the everything in moderation zone and keep it to myself although I am trying to eat at least 100 calories less everyday than I normally do just to lose weight but I am not really counting. I do love to cook and eat what I cook. I am most certainly not bored by food.
:-)

Laurie said...

So true! I can't count how many times I've had groups of friends or co-workers decide to diet together then get together and talk constantly about food. I do kind of relate to your friend who cooks but doesn't eat - there are a lot of "traditional" treats I make at the holidays every year that I NEVER eat. I'm so sick of them I don't even want to look at them again! Now, if I could only take that attitude about soups, stews, spaghetti...pizza... :-)

A human kind of human said...

It would be so wonderful to become bored with food, but alas, it has not hit me yet...

DJan said...

I love to eat, but I also love to exercise, and somehow that keeps me from eating too much, I think. I am enamored with Michael Pollan's Food Rules, which gives 64 rules to live by, and one of them is not to be too strict or unbending. One that I've followed lately is "If it's a plant, eat it. If it's made in a plant, don't eat it." Works for me!

Kathryn said...

I don't eat a lot. I don't care much for food. When i was younger i was anorexic & i often still forget to eat. When i'm stressed or ill i have no appetite at all.

But i am NOT skinny. Eating such a poor diet for so long messed up my metabolism. I could eat 800 calories a day for a month & not lose weight. It is very disheartening.

You're right about the different info we get being confusing. From all i've read, low carb is the best way to eat healthy. That goes ok with the gluten free that i have to eat, but it gets very confusing when i add vegetarianism in. Plus the other things that folks have suggested to me to help with chronic illness: no nightshades, really low carb (no beans or lentils), food combining, etc., etc.,

A friend of mine said recently that each of these is a filter. When you have too many you end up not having much to eat i.e. (per my friend) a rice & raisins diet.

Part of the problem is that much of what we are told is healthy is political, as well, not based on science. Soy is not good for you, neither is canola/rapeseed, or corn oil. But they are touted as health foods, because the industries that grow them have a lot of clout.

Even when i'm "dieting" i try not to talk about or focus on food too much. Not always easy.

Whitney Lee said...

I love to cook and I love to eat! I'm trying to eat and cook healthier fare for myself and my family. My biggest problem is that I have an incredible sweet tooth. I do love to walk, though, which helps. I've noticed that I'm much nicer when I have time to walk and do Pilates.

You're right, though, in that we are completely obsessed with food and weight loss.

Owen said...

Well, just remember to drink a glass of red wine daily to clean out the arteries... the French exception...
Only one though !
:-)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I love to cook, and to grow food, and even to find wild edibles. And I do eat, but seem to have a fast metabolism. If I didn't, I would weight a lot more than I do.

It has occurred to me that it's bizarre that nearly everyone in the developed nations is on a diet while the rest of the world is starving. Now that's food for thought.

Mclndesm said...

Well Jo, the same thing happens at my job! The skinnier the person the more junk they bring in!! I tell them that they are evil and living vicariously thru others :). Why is that what is bad for us is so good?? I never had a problem with weight until I hit my 40's. Aghhhhh. I use to be able to eat anything, no such luck now. I have to say, I do love fresh fruit and veggies but I also love fresh bread, butter and all kinds of cheeses and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!! Sorry, I lost it there for a moment. :)

Mia said...

We like food so much because it's really good and keeps us from dying a slow and painful death.

Fad diets are unnatural. And if they worked everybody would be skinny.

JeannetteLS said...

When I was having a weight problem at about fourteen, I decided to serve myself exactly what I wanted, and put a third of it on a home "Doggie bag." I lost weight. I remembered this about four months ago and have returned to that habit as I go through physical therapy. I eat two thirds of whatever I want, and put the rest aside for the next day's lunch. No deprivation and I've stopped thinking about it... and I'm losing weight. A couple of friends were on a very popular program and I just could not STAND hearing about points when we went out to eat. I get so tired of the obsession over that and how many workouts they've fit in. I think for me, just cutting the quantity as I try to find what exercise I CAN do regularly has been the ideal. It's always been more about too much food for me, more than the wrong kinds of food.

And here we all are, writing about diets and FOOD!! Seems different though.From the sound of some of the responses, I think it's a good thing that I work at home!

Marcos Vinicius Gomes said...

Well, some times I think that this topic 'food and etc' bores me. But I usually eat light food and walk a lot. And I have not dinner - only lunch. In Brazil our principal meal is lunch. At night I eat fruits or porridge or even a good dish of soup..

DUTA said...

Walking doesn't slim you with not even one gram; it can however prevent gaining additional weight, and that's of course very important.

The only diet that works is the "calorie counting" one but like all the other diets it's against our nature and it's frustrating.

It's a pity that all those Nobel prize winners in biology and chemistry haven't come up with something that boosts our metabolism and they just go on making pharmaceutical companies richer and richer. So you see, Obama's not the only one who got it for nothing.

Brenda said...

I am bored with food, because I really really don't like to cook anymore. When I go out to eat, I am always pleasantly surprised if the food taste good. Many times it just doesn't.

Land of shimp said...

Personally I try not to worry about it. I don't snack much, but really, it's not as complex a formula as many would have us believe. Eat when your hungry, and don't eat when you're not.

I think we've overcomplicated matters, really. Partially because most of our social activities revolve around eating. Eat because you're hungry, stop when your full, don't eat again until such time as you're hungry.

I do know someone who solved her weight problem years ago with pretty much that approach: She stopped eating pretend food (i.e. Doritos, that sort of thing) ...only had sweets as a treat...but most importantly she stopped gathering friends for food related activities. Instead of "doing lunch" she was more apt to ask someone to the zoo, or the museum, for a walk, a hike or just getting together in her living room for a book club, where she didn't provide food.

She started treating food as a source of fuel, not a means to social fulfillment.

Experts change their darned minds on everything, "Eat salmon thrice a week!" "Oh wait, sustainability and mercury, oops." "Drink green tea constantly! Wait, oops, too much caffeine."

Mostly, obsessive behaviors around food are elevating the importance of food. Food is fuel. Sometimes it's fun to have elaborate food for a celebration but mostly we've lost the plot on the function of food in our lives.

Now, I say all that, but it's much harder to let go of the importance of food as an underpinning of a social structure if you were raised to believe that it is an act of nurturing and caring to constantly feed others.

That's another element in the whole brouhaha. Food has become a gesture of caring. If you care about your friends? Stop overfeeding them. That's another gesture of caring.

It's not about carbs, no carbs, high protein, low sodium...it's more than that. It's about what we think the role of food is.

I mean, hell, we have people who proclaim themselves "foodies" ...like it's a special hobby.

People eat too much because they are conditioned to do so.

Here's an illustrative thing: food at movies. We're all used to it. You go to the movies, you get a bucket of popcorn, and a drink. Now concession stands sell hot pretzels, nachos, hotdogs, pizza.

It's a two or three hour at most event. People aren't eating that stuff because they need the fuel, but because...hey, when you go to a movie, that's what you do.

Go in with a bottle of water next time (and smuggle that sucker inside in your purse)...and just watch the movie.

Being condition to sit in the dark and put food into our mouths has nothing to do with need...it's about profit. We've been conditioned to do something so that AMC can make some bucks.

If people want to solve their weight issues, we all need to stop being Pavlov's dog about food. Meeting with friends? *ring* "Oh we should get lunch!" That's our conditioning.

Next time you want to get together with a friend, meet up to talk and agree to eat before you meet. Stop having so much food as a means to social interaction. It was never about the food, or our needs, it was and is, about marketing. Consumerism.

Just like "low carb" "no carb" "drink green tea until you are peeing tea leaves" is all about trying to sell us stuff, too.

Russell said...

What did you say? I was busy eating something and didn't hear what you said!!

Sigh....

lovelyprism said...

LOL that sounds like my Grandmother. She's a tiny little thing and the BEST baker I ever met. But if you ask her she'll tell you, "I never eat that stuff."

MinnieRunner said...

As for me, I am really not into diet now. I off for running. :)

Alicia said...

Lol, I wish food bored me. Cooking actually bores me. I was just thinking earlier today how we get together with friends and it's always to partake of some food and most of the time I never remember the food but I do remember the friends and the conversations.

I'm going to get a pedometer Jo, like you mention in your comments. It would be interesting to see how much I walk per day. I'm sure it's not 1/2 as much as you do.

Lilly said...

Oh my I need to start thinking that too, eating is boring. Oh if only it was that simple...but you are right we are obsessed!

pj prista said...

I’ve lost 5 kilos in my first week. I followed the diet with some protein as suggested. It is really like magic! It works. I’m not perfectly following the listed diet plan mostly), but the weight looses even on very little exercise. Give a try on this, this diet plan clearly works.