Thursday, May 9, 2013

Obsessed: America's Food Addiction---And My Own

This Tuesday Mika Brzezinski came out with her newest book Obsessed: America's Food Addiction---and My Own.  Cover to cover in just a couple of days - definitely a recommended read.

Obsessed takes us on the journey of food obsessions from two different points of view - a skinny Mika Brzezinski and an overweight Diane Smith, two TV journalists that may have night and day differences in physical appearances, yet very similar internal obsessions with food.

But it's not about being thin, or overweight, it's about being healthy.  Whether you need to lose weight or gain it, Obsessed is about learning a healthy food relationship.  Something we all need, and can relate to.

Everyone has to find his or her own healthy balance. Some diets work well for some while it might not work the same for others.  It's a whole mentality shift. You can't diet, you must change your approach entirely.  It's about looking at food in a different light.  Food is fuel.

Fat or thin - We need to support one another. The primary message of the book is that we need to have a conversation, although that is easier said than done.  The conversation seems to start and stop.  As you may recall, we started talking when the 2004 documentary Supersize Me aired with eye-opening results.  Then in 2008 came Food, Inc. - speaking of, remember Kevin's law?  Last I looked the proposal still has not been passed and it appears the talk has been tabled.

Supersize Me and Food, Inc. were educational tools for an uninformed public about what is in the food that we eat.  Obsessed tells the story of the body's natural instinct to want these foods.  By now we know they're bad for us, and so we must overcome our natural desire in order to curb the addiction to making bad food choices.  Food is about knowing, and making a conscious effort.  

The book addresses many issues that I can personally relate to:

On the issue of food on your mind... It isn't unusual for my husband and I to talk about what we plan to do for dinner while we haven't even finished our lunch yet.  Are we obsessed?  They say it's very French to talk about food over food (and according to the book, Nora Ephron would have agreed). Truth be told, don't we all have a bit of a food obsession in our own way?

On the issue of being skinny... It's always a tricky trade off between keeping skinny and keeping healthy. Yes, it has no calories, but is it natural?  I'll save my rant on fat free, sugar and sugar substitutes for another time.

On the issue of abstaining... Every once in a while you must allow yourself a splurge.  Otherwise, if you don't get your fix, you'll crave it again and again into the downward depressing spiral.  The stories of Mika binging on food after not eating all day are quite compelling and all too real.

On the issue of labels... I will be first to say that initially I was very overwhelmed going into a restaurant and seeing the calories listed on the menu.  But does it help me?  It sure does.  I may need more time deciding which sandwich to choose, but I am willing to make time to come to an informed decision.  And yes, I do splurge once in a while, but I am more cognizant that I am splurging.

On the issue of overeating... Growing up you were supposed to be in the clean plate club.  If it hasn't already, this needs to change (sorry Mom and Dad).  Either we reduce our portions, or stop with the "starving kids elsewhere" syndrome.

On the issue of exercise... At my previous job, employees were encouraged to take The Steps Challenge.  We all received a pedometer and tried to meet 10,000 steps a day.  Elevators were emptied and the stairs became the new water cooler.  Just thinking more about what you are doing, step by step, can be a helpful tool.

To reach a goal, it always helps to have a support system.  In the book, Diane, along with a few other contributors, mention how tweeting for support can be beneficial.  It's definitely putting oneself out there, and major props to those that can/will.  Whether it is family, friends, or social media, we all need a shoulder to lean on. 

Obsessed is inspiring, so you don't feel alone.  It's very honest - an honesty that is sometimes hard to tell.  Thank you Mika and Denise for opening up and sharing.  I'm ready to carry on the conversation.  Are you?