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At least I’m not fat *and* crazy

I suspect our society’s current treatment of obesity is a lot similar to our treatment of the mentally ill centuries ago. Mental institutions used to be horrible places. Not that they’re amusement parks nowadays, but at least we don’t charge people a penny to view the ‘freaks’ like they did at Bethlem Royal Hospital in the 18th century. I’m sure they’d charge more today. Inflation, you know. Entry free on the first Tuesday of the month! (No joke.) People didn’t have much knowledge about the causes of mental illness back then and thus couldn’t treat them. So the unfortunate sick were locked up in deplorable conditions.

Today if you’re schizophrenic or manic depressive, there are at least medications and humane treatments available to possibly better your quality of life. We can’t necessarily cure people. Finding the right meds that don’t cause side effects worse than the disease can be challenging. But at least we’re making headway. A couple hundred years ago depressed people were just told to cheer up, much like fat people are told to just stop eating so much.

As far as obesity goes, there is still so much we don’t know about how the body regulates hunger and metabolism. Scientists are researching it, discovering chemicals like leptin which regulate hunger, but what we don’t know far outnumbers what we do know. And whatever one study declares another one seems to contradict. The conventional wisdom on dieting changes from year to year and you never know who’s right or wrong. So the diet industry thrives, yet seems to barely help anyone. Extreme measures like weight loss surgery are the only treatments that will work for some people. Fat people are blamed solely for their condition because of their lack of willpower and laziness, when there are likely other factors involved both metabolically and in their environment.

I hope that a hundred years from now our fat descendants have it better off than we do and will laugh at the silly weight loss treatments that are now in vogue. Because if people are still trying the grapefruit diet hundreds of years from now, God help us all. Except for the grapefruit farmers, of course, who will rule over us like warlords. And squirt grapefruit juice in our eyes. Bastards.

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5 Comments

Mark • December 13, 2006 at 11:32 am

Who eats because they’re hungry? Specifically, how many fat people are there who have ever really been hungry? Craving food is not hunger, or a bowl of brown rice would satiate it.

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PastaQueen • December 13, 2006 at 12:34 pm

Mark, I’m confused by your comment. I get hungry several times a day, like right now because it’s right before lunch. Are you just trying to make a distinction between the differences between simple hunger and craving a specific food, like chocolate or ice cream? I’d agree there’s a difference between eating because you are hungry and because you want to enjoy the taste of something. However, even if you are a person who gets cravings, you will still experience hunger when you go for many hours without eating.

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Barb • December 13, 2006 at 12:35 pm

i personally am fat and crazy, diagnosed bipolar (manic depressive) my illness definately effects my eating trends, more when i’m down and less when i’m high. the struggle with my brain and weight are SO similar and finding useful help for both is far and in between.

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K • December 13, 2006 at 7:51 pm

“Finding the right meds that don’t cause side effects worse than the disease can be challenging.”

I agree with everything else you said, but that really hits home. My husband is currently on medication that makes him shaky, too tired to exercise (he goes to bed hours earlier than me, because he can’t stay awake any longer) and hungry all the time, particularly for sweet things.

If that was me taking that medication… well, I know exactly what would happen.

Fortunately for him, he’s naturally thin, and aware of what his normal eating habits are (not that this necessarily helps with the cravings, but at least he knows that for him, wanting to snack isn’t normal). We’re buying a lot of fruit and hoping the effects wear off before too long…

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Thora • December 19, 2006 at 3:02 pm

Unfortunately, I’m one of the fat and crazy ones (but I’ve gotten better!)

My crazy consists of major depressive episodes that can last for 6 months at a time. On top of that, I’m insulin resistant. Depression (comfort eating*lack of energy) + undiagnosed insulin resistance = 15+ years of gaining weight like crazy and wondering why, during the not-so-bad times, I had such a hard time taking it off.

In the past few years I got the insulin resistance under control, in the past year I got my mood issues under control. Now I’m finally in a place physically and mentally where I can work on losing the weight for good.

You and I are the same height and my max recorded weight was 383 (I’d like to think I never broke the 400 mark :-\). Seeing someone who is the same height and (mostly) same start weight as I was being sucessful at losing is really giving me hope that this time will be the last time.

Keep up the good work and thank you for putting yourself out there to show that it can be done!

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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The Making of CHOCOLATE & VICODIN
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