A recent essay by Ron Rosenbaum shared on the Wall Street Journal website made the case for stopping the madness called fat shaming and condemnation (Let Them Eat Fat, by Ron Rosenbaum, March 15, 2013). Mr. Rosenbaum suggests that the efforts of Mayor Bloomberg and Michelle Obama and countless health professionals, to condemn the pleasurable eating of high fat, delectable foods, have run seriously amok. He contends that the nation is being shamed by fat hunters who bully those who want to eat all types of high calorie, fatty foods, and he contends that “all fatty foods are not created equal.” No kidding? I fear that in an effort to support a cause, Mr. Rosenbaum has decided to be very selective in his case presentation.
There is an obesity epidemic, ongoing and raging, among children and adults. They now call the southern part of the US the stroke belt. I agree with Mr. Rosenbaum that much of the eating causing this epidemic revolves around cheap, fried, junk-like fast foods. My fear is that his contention regarding the ability of the average overweight or obese person to show constraints if allowed to consume better quality, high calorie foods, is misguided. We are too far along in this journey called overeating and food addiction. I do not believe that people will be able to scale back if suddenly allowed to eat sophisticated and well prepared, wholesome but high calorie/high fat foods like cheesecake made from scratch, roast goose, or authentic Peking duck (not the cheap American version we currently consume). Despite the powerful satiation signals that small amounts of these unique and quality dishes will send to our brains, most of us will over eat these dishes too. We have moved beyond the natural communications sent from our stomachs to our brains during the consumption of a meal, signaling fullness, to eating for all the wrong reasons – emotions gone awry and the habit of eating too much because it’s there. When you habitually eat this way, it’s almost impossible to reign in the behaviors. Paula Deen’s old-style cooking (pre-diabetes diagnosis) was being eaten by many folk on a daily basis. The recipes for the most part used eggs, and cream, and high fat expensive meats and not cheap fast food ingredients. To be fair, she was eating it on a daily basis too.
I contend that until we figure out the kinds of therapy needed to reconfigure our relationship with food, we DO need guidance and restrictions. And I have a huge problem, when someone like Mr. Rosenbaum chooses to compare the policies and campaigns by leaders and health experts to a nanny state, or to somehow suggest that our basic rights are being curtailed. When’s the last time you allowed a child to tell you to stop curtailing his or her rights? You guide and even control a child’s behaviors because their lack of knowledge prevents them from behaving in a healthy or safe fashion, or because their impulsivity is not yet tamed. Well, adults or not, we’ve lost the ability to tame our food impulsivity. And it is wreaking havoc with our health and our quality of life, and it’s also costing society big bucks.
We know better but we do not do better. I’m the first to acknowledge the complicated nature of this disease we call obesity. And I agree that fat free is not the solution. But suggesting that if we simply replace the crappy food we are eating with higher grade artery-clogging fattening food we will somehow instantly learn control is just not a viable concept. At minimum, we can substitute healthy higher fat foods like those made with mono and polyunsaturated fats – so at least there’s less heart disease risk resulting directly from the foods. Of course, consuming too many calories – even from healthier food is still a problem. But I’d sooner have you over eat avocadoes and nuts and foods cooked with olive oil, than risk the notion that you have the control needed to have just one small serving of artery-clogging steak with Béarnaise sauce or a small portion of sour cream and blintzes. The average person will not have just one and they won’t have it just one time.
I am a big fan of real foods and unprocessed ingredients, and including real treats within a balanced diet IF you have the ability to eat this way in a controlled and sensible fashion. Many of us can’t and if that’s the case…..then we need information, support and rules.
Published On: March 19, 2013