I left the following comment at the online home of an aspiring actress and other things living in New York City, who penned an uninformed diatribe against food addiction:
I mean this in the sweetest, most constructive way: You are ignorant of very real conditions. Really, no flaming, no caps.
"I can't imagine..." you say, and I accept that — you haven't been able to imagine this thing that is real. OK, I hear you, your imagination won't conjure the idea.
But we don't need your imagination. We have real-time scans of the brain showing that areas of the brain that activate under substance stimulus for cocaine addicts light up for some people under food stimulus, especially processed foods. This is science, which is often more authoritative than imagination, though perhaps not as entertaining.
Finally, try imagining this: Your experience of food is not the only experience of food known to humankind. Just as some people can take alcohol or leave it while others end up in the gutter, some people react biochemically to food in ways that are destructive physically and crushing emotionally. And you just sneered in their faces.
Our faces. My face. Way to go.
(FTR: I'm maintaining a 155-pound loss for 23 years. But I'm still a food addict.)
Was I too rough on Caroline? Should I not have bothered, or even not linked to her? I'm open to feedback.
As with so many like her, she mixes in some good with her bad, which came to me via a Google Alert for "food addiction." This passage from her About page lays out some of her considerable confusion:
The mission is to help people leave diets behind forever, to love their bodies in the process, and to be able to rise above the cultural obsession with skinny.
The mission is to support all people to be seen and heard and know their inherent value.
The mission is to remind people to enjoy their lives.
And to eat.
I'm with her about not dieting and I also favor "[rising] above the cultural obsession with skinny." What she fails to acknowledge is that while the culture is "f**ked" up (as she would write it) about body image, obesity is also, typically, an unhealthful, quality-of-life sapping, life-shortening condition — more typical, and more acute as the level of obesity rises. How is going toward one any redress of the other? "Ha, ha, society, I showed you?"
These issues are way more complicated than black or white — diets are bad, so eat whatever you want and enjoy life? Is that the only alternative? I am flourishing in many expressions of life, including maintaining long-term weight loss. I didn't get there by dieting, but I still feel strongly that it has been, and continues to be a major improvement in my quality of life. I would want everyone who was where I was — 365, lonely and isolating, angry, clueless — to escape it as I have. I've tried both, and this side is better. Period.
Pointing out culture's ill effects on so many of us, and pushing it to change, are good initiatives. WTG, Caroline! But then she pisses away the good by enabling-slash-justifying potential food addicts into dooming themselves with what culture was pushing them toward.
There are many ways to enjoy life. Some ways are very pleasurable, and there's nothing wrong with that. But those who lost the ability to keep those pleasures within a healthy range have to find ways to moderate around them or they will suffer. Not being able to indulge fully, in food or anything else, is a loss, but unfettered enjoyment of all things is not a successful way of the world. Not even culture did that; it is just the way it is.