This post was partially inspired by an inspirational meme from Facebook. It quotes a Dr. Gould as saying, “Emotional eating triggers are usually based on a need to soothe emotional pain. Perhaps, then, the next time we see someone overweight, or don’t like what we see in the mirror, instead of saying, ‘There’s a person who eats too much,’ we might say, ‘There’s a person who’s hurting too much.’” When I first read that, I became livid. I counted to a lot more than ten before posting a response similar to this: “Obesity can be caused by a variety of issues, not just emotional pain. Judging others in any way is not a healthy attitude. Perhaps instead of focusing on an individual’s weight, we could focus on the beautiful person they are inside and out.”
Even as an obese woman who has herself pretty together emotionally, I’ve still faced many health practitioners who automatically assume that I binge eat or eat for emotional reasons. For some of them, this is because they have emotional eating issues that they are projecting onto me. For others, it’s just plain prejudice based on bad assumptions. Once they discuss diet with me, they realize I eat amazingly well; my weight issues are due to Lyme, not food-based emotional outlets.
Likewise, this attitude against obesity is the pervasive one on dating sites. One direct quote from a man on a dating site states, “If you are obese, chances are you are unhealthy. I want to be with someone who chooses to be healthy.” While this statement does leave a little wiggle room, it’s still based in false ideology. Just because someone is obese doesn’t mean they are mentally or physically unhealthy or that they choose their current body weight. I have several clients who are obese but can run five miles or bike twenty. They eat diets that range from moderately good to excellent. They are healthy, physically or mentally. But for some reason, their body won’t let go of that extra fat.
Another man on a dating site falsely presumes, “I'm cool with a little extra here and there, but for the most part I'm looking for someone that takes care of themselves--especially if it took them awhile to get into shape like I did.” Being obese doesn’t mean that one doesn’t take care of one’s self. It means one has extra body fat that may be there for any number of reasons. Yet another dating site quote, which I regret not copying directly, generally stated, “If you are obese, we are poorly matched because of `life style differences.’” This man is right, but for the wrong reasons. He and I are not well-matched, but it’s because he is prejudiced, not because we have lifestyle differences.
Too few people in our culture are willing to look beyond a person’s physical attributes. I firmly believe that we are souls with bodies, not bodies with souls. What is within a person is far more important than what is without, and I’m not talking about gut flora, either! When discussing good-looking men with female friends, I’m almost always baffled by some of their selections. Because I am able to read a person’s energy as well as look at their appearance, I find myself far more influenced by their energy. Men like Mel Gibson, Robert Downey, Jr. or Charlie Sheen who are considered good-looking by some are very unattractive to me. Their energy is just not healthy.
Western medicine does not help with this judgment. So many doctors presume that obesity is due to any of the causes listed at the beginning of this post. However, this TEDex talk by Dr. Peter Attia is right on the money. He’s realized though his own personal battle with health problems and incredibly rapid weight gain that obesity is often the symptom of the health problems, not the cause. It would be great if more doctors and the media at large could realize this so that our society’s views on obesity can start to change. Even though this TEDex talk isn’t short, I highly recommend watching it. You may end up crying at the end as I and many others in the audience did!
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance