Saturday, July 4, 2009

food: it's what i'm thinking about

At my workplace I'm famous for a number of things, most of them not particularly flattering. One of those things is my adoration of fast food.

There isn't much fast food to choose from near the call centre -- McDonald's, Wendy's, Subway, Tim Horton's (does that even qualify?) and KFC form something of a temptation strip along the provincial highway -- but it doesn't really matter since I tend to have a rotating obsession with specific menu items from either McDonald's or Wendy's.

There have been several periods in my life when fast food was not welcome in my belly -- there was that glorious 18 months of vegan-hood, for example, in the late 90s -- but every time I cracked open the door of whatever regimen I happened to be following the french fries and burgers and breaded chicken wraps always found their way back in.

Once inside, they became magical again. A day might start badly but if I had some Mickey Dees fries to look forward to for lunch, life always got better.

When routine starts bringing me down, I invite the fun back into life with a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger.

And when I feel sad or stressed or angry, a Quarter Pounder® with Cheese Extra Value Meal is fantastic comfort.

Literally, it turns out.

I learned of The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by Dr. David Kessler the other day and I ordered it immediately from my local independent. I've only read one chapter and yet I already understand what's happening so much better.

I've never been able to figure out why I think of food so often. I've never understood why it's had such an emotional impact on me and why I can't ever really keep away.

After just one chapter, however, I know that I'm not the only one. Millions of people experience the same cravings that I do.

It turns out that the food we're so drawn to is stimulating pleasure chemicals in our brains. We're getting high from it.

I'm not that much different from an alcoholic, it seems. I turn to my drug for all the same reasons.

And the food industry knows it. They're targeting me and the millions of others like me. They're even preparing the food in specific ways that will keep me addicted, keep me coming back.

It's making so much sense now. I didn't understand before now why I would be so drawn to something that isn't even really food. I can eat it, it's true, but it isn't nourishing me and certainly isn't good for me.

So these are some of the things I know now. What's left to be discovered is the most important: can I break the chain? Can I stop needing the joy my brain experiences when I consume the salt and cheese and fat?

This, of course, is what I'm really looking for.

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