Getting Fat is Easy
I recently wrote about how being obese was hard. I stand by that but I did want to clarify that getting fat is easy.
Access to ultra processed food has never been easier. Everywhere you go there is cheap, easy to access food that is highly palatable. Pediatricians nicknamed some of these foods as "meltables" (think goldfish crackers) because when things melt in your mouth, real food you have to chew isn't comparable in satisfaction.
I could go on and on about how our modern life is just set up to make us fat. If you don't believe me read this fantastic NYT article by Muktita Suhartono on the rise of obesity among monks in Thailand.
Ultimately a move from ancestral diet of protein and whole foods to a modern diet based around pasta, bread, white rice, and sugar has contributed enormously to the rise in obesity. Our diet has never been so full of sugar, starches, and calories. And yet, at the same time we've never been more sedentary. We are eating the diet meant for a life of vigorous activity but spending our days and nights in front of screens. We have pants without belts and friends without boundaries so it's amazing any of us maintain a normal body weight anyway.
We think that somehow our bodies can intuitively calculate how many calories we need. In a perfect world, your body wouldn't be hungry when you've eaten your caloric allowance. But of course we know that's a bunch of crap. There's always room for ice cream, right? Honestly, I think the fatter you are the hungrier you get (because of hormones and insulin resistance).
Also here's the thing, people are really very bad at remembering how much and what they ate in hindsight. There's so much food in our modern environment that surprise food situations happen ALL THE TIME. You pop this in your mouth and that a few hours later, and as they say in WW -- the BLT (bites licks and tastes, really do add up).
Imagine the morning of a working adult. You wake up, have your coffee and breakfast cereal. On the way to work you are feeling a little down so you grab a coffee (+200 calories). Later on at work someone has brought donuts (+300 calories). You have a sensible lunch and dinner at home. But even then you've added +500 calories to your day. That's not mentioning the food you eat off your kids plate or something you taste to just be polite.
Doing the math, an extra 500 calories a day is a 1/2 kg a week or 25 kg a year. In 2 years, you could be 50 kg up or 100 pounds more. How easy is it to gain 50 kg. Really easy actually. Add restaurant eating and drinking calories with booze and coffee drinks and the picture of how everyone is so fat, really comes together.
Eating is a great way to numb out and manage anxiety. It calms you down, helps you concentrate.
It's everywhere -- a universal social lubricant.
So what's my point? Quit beating yourself up about why or how you got so fat. This is what our bodies are designed to do. Get fat and survive the famine or live through the winter.
To add insult to injury, obesity is socially contagious. The real cause of childhood and family obesity is a shared collection of unhealthy but normalized lifestyle habits.
Getting healthy is going in part to be eating more of whole volume diet of volume, richer in protein and ingredients "blessed by the sun" in their natural form. If you're ever been obese or have disordered eating habits, you may have to keep a food journal or do some kind of system to achieve a consistent caloric deficit.
Anyway, you've got this! With enough consistent habit change and behavior modification you can nudge yourself along to a healthier life. Start talking to yourself like a friend and just realize that what happened to your body is normal not a moral failing. If the monks can get fat eating junk food, so can you.
You're only human. But the good news is that the body adaptable and if you start on your healthy diet and exercise -- and put in the hard work EVERYDAY, results will happen. I am living proof. You can do this so keep going.