It’s always been difficult to write on here when I’m not shrinking. It feels a little ludicrous to be writing about it when I’m blatantly not doing it, which is why you’ll see a fairly disjointed history if you look back over time. When all is well, I struggle to contain myself before the regular Sunday update, whereas when I’m not doing well, I’m too ashamed to write.
Shame holds a powerful place in the shrinking world. I feel ashamed that I’m fat again, and ashamed of what other people might think of me because of that. I know I won’t be top of their list of things to think about on a daily basis, but I also presume that friends, family and casual acquaintances will see a grown man incapable of controlling what he eats and feel a degree of disgust.
It genuinely is true – I am incapable of controlling what I eat. That’s both a horrible, horrible thing to admit to oneself, but also something that relieves some of the pressure of this. It’s true that I can control this for months at a time, but absolutely true that I can’t control it on an ongoing basis.
There’s a temptation to use that acknowledgment as an excuse to give up. To sit back and embrace the fatness within me, and just accept that this is who I am. Let the diabetes, heart problems and other health issues that are waiting round the corner for me, let them have their way and let destiny take over.
I still don’t think that all is lost though. I think that lack of control is fed by what I feed myself, and that for reasons that I’m not sure I can properly explain, some of what I eat drives the rest of what I eat.
I have no idea if this is common, or if I’m just a little odd in this way, but I still don’t think of myself as fat. It’s still a surprise when I see myself in photos and get to see what everybody else sees. I know I’m a big guy, but I still don’t really believe just how big – I have no idea if that’s a good thing or not. Or relevant in any way – you’re getting a real dump of my troubled mind right now – sorry.
The bottom line for me is that my lack of control is making me desperately unhappy. On a daily basis I struggle to do what should be easy, and over any significant period of time, I lose that battle. I’m an 18.5 stone man, and that tears me apart. I don’t want to be a fat man. I really, really don’t.
I don’t think that as a society, or even as a species, we understand what’s happening to people like me. I know I’m not alone. This is a growing problem and despite massive awareness campaigns, obesity is getting worse pretty much across the globe. Something isn’t working.
I’m going to stick my neck out and say that the things that we’re proposing as the solution to obesity, may well be the cause of obesity. The shift towards low-fat foods, the massive increase in processed foods and the corresponding influx of sugar into our diets might just be the thing that’s driving this. I doubt that I’m likely to crack the cause of this worldwide problem, but I’m determined to find out what makes me like this.
I’ve been experimenting a little over recent weeks, trying to understand what my reactions are to the foods that I eat, and trying to understand whether there are links between what I eat and what I then want to eat. It’s early days, but I’d suggest that so far, I can say that there are three categories of foods.
- There are foods that fill me up and satisfy me
- There are foods that make me want to eat more
- There are foods that make me NEED to eat more
This isn’t the most scientific approach of course, and it’s over a very short space of time, but there are genuine differences between what I eat and how I feel.
- Real, unprocessed food fills me up and satisfies me. I’m talking about meat, eggs, cheese and some fruit and vegetables (e.g. apples, salad vegetables)
- Some food fills me up but makes me want to eat more – not necessarily of it, but other processed foods. I’m talking about processed meats, some fruits and vegetables (grapes, potatoes)
- Some food doesn’t fill me up at all and makes me NEED to eat more. Here I’m talking about biscuits, crisps, chips.
That NEED that I’ve mentioned there – it genuinely is a NEED and I could no more avoid it than I could stop breathing. But it’s triggered by other things that I eat. It’s not there all the time. If I eat real unprocessed foods, then I don’t get the same compulsion to eat. I still have the desire to eat stuff, but that’s a habit thing, and is very different to the NEED. The habit is something that isn’t easy to deal with but I can deal with it. The NEED is different.
Anyway, right now I’m sitting back and studying what happens to me. I’m not beating myself up if I eat stuff that isn’t great for me – I’m studying what it does to me, both in the moment and afterwards. As it stands right now, I’m eating mainly the first category on Monday – Thursday and eating pretty much what I like on Friday – Sunday. No real logic behind it, just taking some of the pressure off of me. I’m actually dropping weight off while I’m eating better, but then putting it back on during the days when I’m not.
Today is a ‘eating what I like’ day and I’ll give you a very brief glimpse into my day. I had bacon, eggs and fried bread for a late breakfast. I was full, and had no desire to eat anything else. Mid afternoon, I had some processed meats and cheese – I was relatively full, but wanted to eat more. I had a bag of crisps. Almost as soon as I’d had the crisps I NEEDED to eat something sweet. NEEDED. I don’t expect the thin blokes amongst you to understand that, but I NEEDED it. I had six biscuits that I wolfed down in seconds. No pleasure, just guilt, shame and calories. For dinner I had a fish pie with peas and sweetcorn. It filled me up and I had no desire to eat more. I had some cheesecake for pudding. I was tempted to eat more after that, though I wasn’t hungry at all, but avoided it.
So what does that tell me? It tells me that there might just be reasons why I can’t control what I eat, and that those reasons might be connected to what I eat. It’s not about the calories in a bag of crisps. It’s about the calories that eating a bag of crisps makes me NEED to eat afterwards.
Early days, but interesting times.
Have a good week.