The problem with having a problem with…

I often find myself saying these words, “Here’s my problem with that…”

I have a problem with having a problem.

But is it a problem? Is it a flaw, or a feature?

There’s stuff out there that I think is good. Stuff like the Slow Food movement. Growing food for oneself and one’s community. Buying locally grown foods and locally produced products — not exclusively, but when it is possible. Cooking and eating home-cooked food. Fruits. Vegetables. Soup. Beans. More safe opportunities for people of all ages to play, outside and, when the weather makes it unpleasant for all but the heartiest of people to be moving around much outside, places inside, too. Great public transportation. I think there needs to be more regulation of the food industry, and far less advertising of food, particularly on tv, particularly to kids. Not because food is bad, but because advertising is bad. And because the food industry has demonstrated that it doesn’t care about health anywhere near as much as it cares about profits, and has been willing to say that if the foods they make contribute to poor health, it’s not their problem.

If these things were widely embraced, people would likely move more, and eat differently. Would they weigh less, population-wise?

I don’t particularly care. My hypothesis is that people would feel better, feel like they had more time with family and friends, feel like they had more vitality, might be sick a little less. I think that with the power to eat what they truly want (by being able to cook it themselves and know what’s in it) and the power to be as active as they would like to be, doing activities that meet their needs for community, creativity, social interaction and more, they would also feel better. That’s my measure of success. I think that better health would be an outcome. There could be some other not-as-good outcomes from the perspectives of some people: Employers might find their employees less willing to work 40+ hours per week; Politicians may find their constituents demanding things that would require them to raise public revenue; The food industry may find it’s profit margins decreasing as people demand healthier food for prices that compare to less healthy options.

I think we do need a food and movement revolution — but the rallying cry needs to be “Better Health for All” not “Fight Obesity.” We will never eliminate obesity, to do so would require eugenics and an even higher level of social torment of fat people than currently exists. And what awful “unintended consequences” await? Who knows what genes accompany fatness? I think that fat people are among the most resilient, compassionate, powerful, beautiful people out there.

I think we are reaching a “tipping point.” Once most reasonable people agree that blatant discrimination based on size is unfair and unfounded, the larger number will be on the “my side” of the equation.

Here’s a note I sent to an email list I participate on about Jamie Oliver’s TED prize acceptance speech:

Like Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” — if the word “obesity” were removed
from the presentation, I wouldn’t disagree with the content.

As a parent, I do find it hard to navigate the food landscape in a way
that doesn’t knock important nutrients out of my daughter’s diet. I
think kids of all sizes have a rough road ahead when it comes to food
selection, preparation and eating for energy, vitality and health. I
hate that “obesity” is the hook it all gets hung on.

For those of you who might be able to tune out some of the obesity scare
tactics and look to the content and solutions that Jamie Oliver is
proposing, I recommend viewing his “TED Talk.” Here is the link:
http://www.ted. com/talks/ jamie_oliver. html
<http://www.ted. com/talks/ jamie_oliver. html>
The reason I’m here — here on this listserv, doing the work I do, is
that I feel that people who gain weight more easily than average are “my
people” — the ones I want to help. While that carries some paternalism,
it’s also affiliating myself with a group I am in, and asking, “What is
our experience? What can we do to be as healthy as we can overall?” —
setting aside weight as the sole or primary concern. From that
perspective, I do focus on “obesity” — not in order to find a “cure”
but in order to figure out ways to have the best lives we can, however
each of us defines that. From that perspective, I think that preparing
food, cooking at home, eating socially, eating foods I’ve grown or
purchased from someone I know — all of those things enhance my quality
of life. I love to feed people, and I love to feed them things that
enhance their well-being, whether it’s sharing chocolate or strawberries
or homemade cookies or soup. I long to have influence on Jamie Oliver
and Michelle Obama to move from a “doing to” to a “doing with”
perspective. They think it must tie in to popular perceptions about
weight in order to succeed, and I believe an approach that defines
obesity as the problem undermines the potential scope and success of what
they want to achieve.

Here’s Jamie Oliver’s “wish”: “I wish for your help to create a
strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire
families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”

I’m right there with that wish, until the last two words. I would be
allied with his wish if those last three words were omitted. Or if
substituted were these words: “to fuel themselves to achieve their own
wishes.”

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