association-list a veritable mint for dunning-kruggerands

12 - The End of Overating, by David Kessler

An interesting book that attempts to tie overeating to addictive behavior in general. All of it more or less makes sense to me, especially comparing my experiences with weight control and quitting smoking. Contrary to Cory Doctorow’s suggestion here, there was a lot of interesting advice in the book. I suspect that part of Cory’s reaction was simply that the advice given (mostly CBT mindfulness/thought-pattern-changing stuff along with planning/portion suggestions) is simply that there is no silver bullet, even when you understand the psychology of the interaction to a certain degree. But if you’re looking for brain hacks, here’s an idea: as soon as you’re served at a resturant, ask for a to-go container, and immediately pack away everything over your immediate requirements, then put your leftovers out of the way somewhere. This seems less rude and wasteful than returning the portion that you don’t plan or need to eat.

Interestingly, Kessler pulls his punches overmuch. He’s a technocrat, of course, and does come across with some policy proposals, many of which are already winding their ways through the halls of power (Kessler, after all, was a key Washington player in much of the damage done to big tobacco in the last two decades). He stops, however, before coming out and saying something that really needs to be said. Most restaurant food, especially the food sold by the big chains, is more or less toxic sludge, and should be avoided until such a time as these businesses recommit themselves to producing actual food that is rarely more than one or two steps removed from its source. He dwells for much of the time on restaurants, but the same thing could be said for much of the processed food that’s available in supermarkets, or delivered at many of the coffee shops and chain bakeries around the country.

One last problem that Kessler ignores is that many middle-American cities are food deserts. When I go home to Tulsa, for example, I seem to find it inordinately difficult to find a restaurant that isn’t incorporated in Delaware. The supermarkets are a little better, but not that much, as processed food seems to take up more and more shelf space each year, but that’s more of a nationwide problem than one that’s specific to the midwest. The problem of processed foods in the markets is less tractable than that of the restaurants; food is already labeled with the number of calories it contains, yet people buy it and overeat anyways. Perhaps the best technocratic solution to this issue would be to eliminate feedlot animal production and grain subsidies that make the processed foods so much cheaper than their constituent parts bought individually at reasonable levels of quality.

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