Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book 39 of 52: The End of Overeating

I've never been obese. I might have tipped high on the body fat scale from college until my mid-20s, but I was never so heavy that my weight was a medical issue. But certain foods are so tempted that I can rarely turn them down: a BLT with fries at a Jersey Diner; hoagie from Carmen's deli in Bellmawr, N.J.; potato chips. Oh, potato chips. You are my demon and friend.

My response to dealing with these foods is not to have them in my home. I never buy potato chips. I don't order hoagies. I switched my eating patterns around by writing an article about it. In writing down everything I ate and forcing myself to try something new, I retrained my brain away from processed foods and instead seek out fresh fruits and vegetables. My favorite lunch is a kick ass Greek Salad. I slip sometimes and have that BLT, that hoagie, or those chips (usually with the hoagie), but I don't lust after them.

I never thought about why those foods are so good for me even though I know they're not healthy. David A. Kessler, former commissioner of the FDA (and self proclaimed over-eater), examines that issue in The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite.

The book has a lot of important information, and is filled with interviews with scientists, people locked into eating patterns that have rendered them obese, and food industry experts -- some speaking anonymously because they talk frankly about how food in restaurants is so awful for you and how they are designed to keep you wanting more. Fascinating stuff, but it's not exactly a thrilling read. I abandoned it this weekend in favor of Book 38 of 52. It's dry, repetitive and probably 100 pages too long. But I can see that, if you're stuck in an overeating pattern and want to break out, knowing the science of why people eat the way they do in the U.S. can be invaluable.

And with that, I'm off to Key West for a few days -- a much needed mini vacation (I wish I could talk a full one, but that's not happening until at least November). I will NOT be packing work books, so expect some fun stuff when I return!

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