Rod Dreher

As a way to think and talk around the controversy over obesity and weight control in earlier threads, I’m thinking it might be good to start a thread in which people who have struggled with food and weight issues — I included anorexics and bulimics in that bunch — can simply talk about what they’ve gone through, and what they deal with now. On this thread, there will be no criticism of anybody, from any perspective. I simply want people on all sides to feel free to share their own experiences. Lucky you, you can be anonymous.
I’ll start. If you’ve been reading these threads, you know most of my story. But thinking about all this this morning, I remembered a few key facts.
My oldest son will be 11 later this year. He’s a tall boy, and weighs 90 pounds. When I was his age, I was of average height, and I weighed 150 pounds. I was unhealthy, and miserable. I recall not knowing how or why I was so heavy, though in retrospect, the fact that I ate gobs of sugar for breakfast (donuts, sugary cereals), and got off the school bus and fed my face with Fig Newtons, Oreos, potato chips and Coca-cola, had a lot to do with it. I remember in fifth grade, absenting myself from P.E. because I couldn’t compete with the other boys. I would go off with the other obese kid in our class to do nerd things (usually some Star Wars game), and comforting myself by the fact that he weighed 155.
I remember going to rehearsal for the Christmas play that year one afternoon after school. I told Mom I wanted a “treat” on the way, so we stopped off at the Junior Food Mart, and I got a large hot chocolate and a packet of Donette Gems. Later, at rehearsal, I was made fun of by some of the boys from another class. Somehow I made the connection between my obesity and the fact that I’d just consumed massive amounts of sugar as an afterschool snack. I don’t know why I hadn’t really thought of it before.
What saved me was not diet and exercise, but the onset of puberty, and a growth spurt. Having lost all that weight — or rather, having grown into it — I was amazed by how much better I felt, and how much better I felt about myself. I became determined never to return to the size I was. I have been fighting this off and on all my life. As I’ve said, I don’t have genetics on my side, but I also can easily see that my own bad habits — bad eating habits, and refusal to exercise — were probably the key element in my childhood obesity. These are things that were within my control, and still are. But I didn’t understand that till later; when I was eating all that crap food as a kid, I thought that’s just the way things were with me, and that I was pretty much powerless over my weight. It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now. I recognize that some people really are powerless, or mostly powerless, over food, and that we live in a culture that encourages the worst attitudes toward food. Nevertheless, my resistance to the “just accept that you are the way you are” mentality is rooted in my own childhood experience with obesity and food. I react strongly to attempts to normalize obesity, because I believe that line would have been destructive to me as a kid, and condemned me to a life of obesity had I believed it. Pure shame would also have been destructive, but social pressure not to be fat, along with help and even coercion towards eating a healthier diet, and even exercising, would have been ideal, or so it seems to me today. Left to my own devices, as I was, I was prepared to eat every cookie and chip in the house. Little Debbie was my first girlfriend.
So, tell your story. Again, no commentary and no judgment from anybody else on anybody’s story about weight and food. Just let people talk, and let’s learn from each other.

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