I Speak for the Fat People-last part

I was heartened to hear once, a man describe his joy-spreading tactic.  Essentially, he spends half of his time acquiring special little chocolates and the other half, gifting them to people as morsels of universal love.  I am either becoming a very cynical nutritionist or a very empathic human being.  The collective psyche is longing for the morsel of joy even at the expense of the perfect waistline.  The truth is that we have appetites and hungers because we are merely human, not because we are bad people.  However, when all of these human tendencies accumulate into extra pounds, getting rid of that weight is very difficult.

A few years ago, I attended a conference on an obesity-related topic.  As a group we were to brainstorm how to counsel a postpartum woman with a BMI of 30.   The exercise had me squirming from the get go.  As the attendees were getting rather  dead-ended in their attempts to master this case-study, the presenter, a physician and researcher at a major university said, “Let me offer this idea.  I am often in my office at my desk and on the phone.  I could just sit there and talk on the phone, but instead I stand and pace as I am talking.”  My agitated brain said, “Yes, let’s file that idea to use.”  Not with my clients but in this article.  I could picture Homer Simpson stuffing one more donut in his face while muttering “Ah, vigorous pacing. That’s the ticket.” I wondered when was the last time this guy got out of his office and realized the experiences of real people, real fat people.

TARTA DECORADA HOMER  Y BART SIMPSON

TARTA DECORADA HOMER Y BART SIMPSON (Photo credit: YOCUNA ARTE EN AZUCAR)

Hardly are all defined cases of overweight problematic. Some in the field maintain that the goal is for all individuals to attain an “appropriate” BMI.  Short of that, they will be at risk for various health problems. My intuition and much science beg to differ.  Many people are fine–if not perhaps better off–with a little extra weight on them.  Pavarotti once said, “The reason fat people are happy is that their nerves are well protected.”  My own observations reveal that the neurotically thin tend to be more frayed than their rounder counterparts.   Besides, BMI is just a tool.  At times it is a cruel tool—or at least a not very nice one.  It makes no allowance for age, fitness, or even natural body type.  Whether we like it or not, our bodies will shift and change as we age.  Nature, with no ill intent, seems to want to round us out a bit as we mature. That is how we get to be grandpas and grandmas.  Appropriate BMI does not necessarily confer lack of health risks–only ones of a particular nature.

Do not get me wrong.  I am not undermining the seriousness of the obesity crisis that we are facing.  I understand its consequences perhaps more than most.  I see the implications of weight that people struggle with on a daily basis and I strive to alleviate the challenges through educational, lifestyle and nutritional support.   I bemoan the forces that are propelling our society into ever-expanding levels of girth, especially those that are now affecting our children.

Still, I feel a need to call TIME OUT!  To stop the madness that makes those who are the statistics speechless.  To stop pointing the finger merely at the individual without an understanding of the deeper forces that are at play.  There are multi-factorial causes that lie at the root of the weight gain epidemic.  Many are so abstract or insidious that it is very difficult even for the experts—let alone an ordinary individual–to understand what is going on.  Though overeating, bad eating, food addiction and poor lifestyle choices are definitely a part of it, the magnitude of the communal weight gain doesn’t seem to make sense based on calories alone.  In the causative mix lie politics, hormones, pharmaceuticals, poverty, nutrition misinformation, dieting, food sensitivities, sensory science, profits, changes in the components of our food, environmental toxins, personal and spiritual alienation and lifestyles spinning out of control.  There are strange bedfellows in each and every fat cell.

Now, back to our friend the Lorax.  For the record, the Lorax, our venerable spokesperson, was rather portly himself.  Based on his picture, I’d put him at a BMI of about 27.  I’d describe him as neither apple nor pear-shaped but rather pickle-shaped.  According to Dr. Seuss, “He was shortish. And oldish. And brownish and mossy.” The final message of the Lorax in his plea to save the environment was UNLESS.   “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”

I too, am rather shortish.  Oldish, brownish and mossy may someday also describe me.  For now, my intention is not to imply an ultimatum.  It is, however, to bring a greater sense of compassion and understanding–and a broader lens to the discussion and to the approaches to care.

I do not intend to deny the role of personal responsibility—be that for everyone.  It is a big piece of the puzzle.  Though it is critical that we address the current weight epidemic–we should not do it with an assault on the fat people.  We must not slap everyone silly in an attempt to squeeze them into a size six dress or Speedo swimsuit.  Besides, who would be left to sing the blues? And though I’d have been happy to find my grandmother at the gym, it could not replace the experience of cuddling up on her big, warm lap with wonderful smells wafting in from the kitchen.

Let me know what you think.  Thanks.

Related Posts:  I Speak for the Fat People: First Part and I Speak for the Fat People: Middle Part

In health, Elyn

my plate

my plate

My Plate Haiku

Hunger tiptoes in

From bellies, hearts or minds

Feed me now she calls.

by Eva

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5 thoughts on “I Speak for the Fat People-last part

  1. A hearty “Bravo!” to you from me and our friend, Pavarotti. I especially like your inclusive list of all the things lurking “in our fat cells.” Many people have no idea what their medications do to their appetites or metabolism or what is really in their food or drink and how badly the profit-mongers have manipulated the food supply to make it taste okay though lacking in nutrition, or worse, to encourage our dependence on their food “products.” I don’t think nature intended us to have to work this hard at being healthy. Your call to action in changing our perspective on the obesity debate is well heard and appreciated by this reader.

    • dear susan. i agree. nature could never have meant for it to be this hard to just feed ourselves. catching a bison was intended to be hard enough. we seemed to have survived that phase better than this one. thanks again for getting what i am trying to say.

  2. oldish , brownish , and mossy hmm. I am trying to picture it.
    Just read that 95% of dieters will regain the lost pounds… yet the diet industry and biggest loser shows remain a multi, multi billion dollar industry. We must be doing something wrong.
    but mossy? sure, why not!

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