Apologies to the friends who were sharing the New York Times around my breakfast table over the weekend and thus, have already heard all of my rantings on the subject of Tara Parker-Pope’s New York Times Magazine cover story, “The Fat Trap.”
But for those of you who missed that diatribe — or perhaps, just want to digest the more articulate I’ve-had-my-coffee-now version — here’s my Never Say Diet take on the weird left turn she makes in that piece. Which is mostly, so excellent. I just read her “Behind The Cover Story” Q&A with the Times‘ 6th Floor Blog and it makes me like the first three-quarters of the article all the more. It’s the first time I can recall a major media outlet taking on a story like this. And we really do need to be talking about all of the research that shows, over and over, why permanent weight loss is such a moving target for most people: Because “a number of biological factors that have nothing to do with character or willpower can make it extraordinarily difficult,” as Parker-Pope explains.
Where Parker-Pope and I part ways is in what we want to do with this information. She views obesity “as a medical condition” and thinks the kind of all-consuming, food gram-counting measures adopted by the people she profiles are inspiring, if exhausting, preventive health strategies. So she wants to use this new scientific understanding of why weight loss attempts almost always fail… to keep on trying to lose weight. Even though it will be really difficult and ineffective for the majority of people.
In contrast, I think* the jury is still out on whether obesity itself is a medical issue (at least 20 percent of obese people have no health issues at all, and there are studies show that overweight women actually live longer than normal or underweight women) or whether it tends simply to correlate with lifestyle habits that are bad for our health in other ways. And since we don’t know for sure, but we do know for sure that diets don’t work and the war on obesity has mostly just led to a war on obese people, why don’t we stop chasing the weight loss dragon once and for all, and instead focus on the specific lifestyle habits that definitely do impact our health’s bottom line? Continue reading
Today on Never Say Diet, I’m talking about a new study which explodes the myth of the Freshman Fifteen by figuring out that college freshman… don’t really gain fifteen pounds.
I know. Your mind is blown.
We’ve created a lot of hype and expectation around the idea that leaving home equals piling on pounds — just like we assume everyone gets fat over the holidays or right after they get married or when they have a baby. Which is not to say people don’t gain a little weight during these times. As it happens, I gained the Freshman Twenty (ohhh triple-decker PB&J every day in NYU’s Hayden Dining Hall, you were delicious…), so I know what of I speak.
But why do we demonize these expected weight gains as epic failures of willpower that need to be held at bay at any cost? Perhaps there are just stages in your life when weight creeps up a bit — and that’s not necessarily a sign of anything more apocalyptic or sinful than a newfound preference for triple-decker PB&J, or a busy work schedule, or whatever.
Because — not to get all conspiracy theorist on you — who really benefits from Freshman Fifteen Phobia, whether it results in an actual weight gain or unnecessarily restrictive behavior to stave it off? Our good friends in the $60 billion diet industry, of course.
Read more over on Never Say Diet.
Another day, another Getty Stock Image of Hungry Girl Stares Down Food. It’s as stirring as their “Woman Laughing Alone With Salad” series, but with just a touch more ennui.
Regardless, today’s Never Say Diet post is about how your brain cells start “self-cannibalizing” to send you hunger signals when you diet a lot and don’t eat enough. But where I see a good reason not to diet, the War On Obese People sees…a new AK-47.
So as you know by now, I was so into the awesome sharing that went on when we talked about our weight the other week. And thus, I’ve been brainstorming ways we can have more great conversations like that here on the blog. Because I really like talking to you. You’re so interesting and smart and pretty!
Shameless flattery accomplished, here is the plan: Every week (or thereabouts/when I can be asked), I’m going to pose a Check Your Own Pretty Price Question, hopefully inspired by some newsy price check bizness or maybe just my own internal musings. And you are going to answer and we are going to discuss!
So here we go: Continue reading