It’s not about willpower

Willpower.  It is what every fat person wishes they had more of.  I want to challenge the idea that losing weight takes more willpower.

I used to believe that every person should eat a certain kind of food to be healthy.  When I believed that, I gained weight at a constant pace.  What if being thin wasn’t something that we had to constantly work on.  Why is it that obesity is an increasing epidemic?  Why is it an epidemic and not something that humans have struggled with for centuries.

Don’t get me wrong.  I understand that there were obese people hundreds of years ago. I think of Henry VII.  I look at his relationship to women.  If his relationship to food was similar to his relationship with women, then that would explain a lot about his weight.  For the most part, however, obesity was not a big concern of the average person.  Now, however, obesity is a huge issue.

My husband’s doctor was talking to him about weight.  He is Asian, and for years he never had a problem controlling his weight.  He ate a typical Asian diet that was high in rice and fish.  Then, he moved the the United States.  He immediately gained weight.

The African American community has an epidemic of obesity.  This has been blamed on many factors.  I am African American, and I can attest to the fact that many in my family have struggled with their weights.  They are very conscious of what they eat, but few seem to be able to keep weight off.  These are professional people that know what the FDA recommends.

There is also a big issue with alcoholism in the Native American community.  I have quite a bit of Native American blood in me, as well.  My father doesn’t drink alcohol, because he knows that he has the genetics that would lean towards alcoholism.

These three different stories do not seem to be directly connected, but they are.  All of these three groups have had diet related problems in the United States.  I personally have spent a lot of time thinking about this.  Our ancestors are all from different areas of the planet.  They ate very different foods.  Why would we think that there could possibly be one correct way for everyone to eat?  The FDA pyramid groups us all into one category.  To me, it would make more sense if our bodies would process food differently based on our ancestry.

My husband’s doctor said he never struggled with weight until he started eating an American diet.  It consisted of food that his body could not process.

Many African Americans have been eating the American diet and have struggled with weight related illnesses. I think that is because many African Americans are the protein nutritional type, which is almost the opposite of the FDA pyramid.  Many stereotypical foods (I hate stereotypes, but they come from somewhere), like fried chicken, would be the type of food that a protein type would crave.

Native Americans were not exposed to grains until they were brought here by European settlers.  There is a intolerance for these foods that have led to epidemics of alcoholism in the community.  That is most likely because Native Americans’ bodies are not designed to process grains.

To use myself as an example, I went on a Weight Watchers diet.  I was on a restricted caloric intake, so I lost weight.  At the time, Weight Watchers was following the FDA food pyramid.  I remember having intense cravings for steak fat and pork ribs.  I was hungry all of the time.  That is because I believe that my body cannot process whole grain pastas and potatoes.  All of those were foods that were “low fat” and “low calorie” and encouraged on the plan.  I am a protein nutritional type.  These are the foods that my body can’t process.  In fact, the foods that I craved were high in protein and fat.  I was learning to eat the foods that my body didn’t need and reject the foods that it did.

My point is that perhaps the issue for many overweight people is not that they were born lacking some magical willpower trait.  Maybe their bodies are trying to tell them something.  We think that the experts know it all, but a recent article from the New York Times entitled “Why Nutrition Is So Confusing” shows that experts have no idea what the heck they are doing.  The author Gary Taubes states, “Because the nutrition research community has failed to establish reliable, unambiguous knowledge about the environmental triggers of obesity and diabetes, it has opened the door to a diversity of opinions on the subject, of hypotheses about cause, cure and prevention, many of which cannot be refuted by the existing evidence. Everyone has a theory. The evidence doesn’t exist to say unequivocally who’s wrong.”  And we are trying to follow what these people say?

I encourage you to start listening to your body.  Give up sugar, and write down what you crave.  You might actually find that your body is telling you what you should be eating.  Perhaps, if you have a problem with weight, it is not that you have an issue with willpower.  Instead, you might just not be listening to what your body is trying to tell you.  Your body may just be trying to compensate for receiving the wrong types of foods.

I am following the same process.  We can keep each other posted on our progress.



3 Comments on “It’s not about willpower

  1. You are right, it is about WANT POWER! How bad do you want it. Think about the time that you put in to come to this conclusion. You wanted to find an answer. It is not about the cookie cutter diets that are on the TV (kill your tv), but about the diet that works for you.

    I don’t even like using the work diet because it is about lifestyle. Make the changes that get you results and you will achieve your desires and wants.

    Clifford Mitchem
    Advocare Distributor
    Nutrition + Fitness = Health

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