Ate and Ate and Ate

Post ImageMy Christmas? Oh, it was lovely. What did I do? Oh, I ate and ate and ate and ate. Then I ate, ate, ate, ate. After that, I ate some more, then had dessert, after which I ate and ate and ate and ate and ate. Once I was finally done eating, I took a nap (yet somehow continued to eat, even while asleep). I woke up, then had a snack, after which I ate and ate and ate and ate. Then I fixed myself a well-deserved dessert.

How did I feel? Lousy. Huge. Awful. Sick. Stupid. Guilty. And not guilty in the sense of, “Oh, gosh, I really messed up my diet! Shame on l’il ol’ me!” But in the sense that I’m ever conscious of the fact that there are so many people who don’t even remotely have the privilege of over-indulging. It really bothers me that so many people struggle to support themselves and meanwhile I sit around moaning oh-gee-I-just-can’t-stop-eating. As if that’s a problem worthy of anyone’s sympathy.

I actually touched on this near the very end of my book. For those of you who don’t have a copy (or do, but never got that far) here’s an excerpt:

The diet industry takes in an absolutely astounding amount of money. I’ve read figures ranging from eighteen to thirty five billion dollars or more per year in the United States alone. You heard right, people are spending upwards of one hundred million dollars per day for one reason: they just want to be smaller. They spend money on diet foods and diet programs and diet surgeries. They spend money on supplements and herbs and magic pills. They buy books and magazines and videos. They join health clubs and purchase equipment for home. One hundred million dollars per day and all we have to show for it is endless news reports all saying the same thing: we’re getting larger and larger and larger, and there’s no end in sight.

When confronted with that thirty-five billion dollar figure, many people are appalled that such an obscene amount of money changes hands each year. The next reaction is predictable: “All they have to do is eat less and exercise! There’s no reason to spend that much money on such a simple problem with an obvious solution.”

I won’t even bother to respond to that statement. That’s what the rest of this book is all about.

What slightly fewer people pick up on is the raw, dark irony of the total picture. By some estimates, thirty-eight million people in the United States are “food insecure,” meaning they cannot sustain minimum food needs due to a lack of money. And almost a third of those are truly hungry and malnourished. This country is wealthy enough to feed itself many times over, yet millions go without. An extremely overweight population is a growing concern at all levels, yet hunger is on the rise. In one household, a woman will spend $100 on diet pills while only a few miles away another woman is unable to put food on her table. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

And that’s basically what I think of every time I gain five pounds over a ten day period. I can tell myself I work hard, and I deserve a break, and in the big picture it’s okay to stuff myself and then write a funny post about it afterward. But I was assembled with an over-active guilt chip; and it doesn’t have an off switch.

8 Responses to “Ate and Ate and Ate”

Biz said
January 7, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Great post Charlie – and I did get to that part of your book! 😀

That’s why it kills me that Jillian, who said the only thing that works is “diet and exercise” has joined the band wagon with weight loss shakes – WTF?

It was great seeing you Chowlee! 😀

Love, your prettier sister

Helen said
January 7, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Wait, Biz is related to you? No wonder you overate. I think the food gene is built into your family.

Seriously, I get that guilt too. Which is why I took all my leftover Christmas goodies to our local homeless shelter. I know these people need good healthy food but who determines they should never have a cookie.

I have earnestly worked at reducing how much food I make because I cannot bear to throw food away when so many are hungry.

On the other hand, don’t beat on yourself too much. It’s not your fault that you do have means to over indulge. You should be allowed to enjoy without guilt. So take a deep breath and get back to it (and maybe volunteer some time a soup kitchen to assuage some of that guilt?)

    Charlie said
    January 7, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Yep. We’re related. Jennifer too…

Tony said
January 7, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Definitely something to think about the next time I want to binge on some cookies…

Stephanie said
January 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm

I’ve been doing quite a bit of blogging recently about poverty and world hunger. It does tend to put our overindulgent American holiday season into perspective. And it can remind us to be grateful, which is after all what it’s all about.

BODA weight loss

Quix said
January 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I’ve had to suppress the guilt switch, because mine usually kicks in when I think I’m spending more money for less food. But it’s usually because I’m spending 30 bucks on produce to make healthy stuff instead of 10 bucks on crap. Or ordering lower calorie tacos at chipotle instead of the burrito which is the same price even though it’s less food. Or throwing away something that is NOT nutritious (like a leftover slice of cake).

My motto is: “If I’m sending it down my throat out of guilt, then it might as well go in the trash can.” Does it always work? Nah. But most times it does.

/friday rambles off

TexasDeb said
January 11, 2010 at 12:36 pm

This is a thorny topic for me and I mulled over whether or not to comment for a day or two. My opinion is that even though you felt guilt, I will give you full credit because at least you ate the food you are talking about.

Far worse to my mind is throwing good food away because nobody wants it, or worse, it was purchased and allowed to spoil before being used.

If I am pudgy at least partly because I insist on eating leftovers for lunch (rather than throwing them out) then hopefully at some point I’ll take that regret and shift it into determination to whittle recipes down to provide fewer servings.

And in addition to pondering how much I have and why I am heavier than I’d like, hopefully I, and everybody else, will try donating as much money as we spend on snacks to a local food bank. Most food banks can take dollars donated and get 3-4 times as much food for them as a regular consumer could.

Here’s a link to find the food bank closest to you:

Sagan said
January 11, 2010 at 9:20 pm


It’s not so much that “oh no I slipped up my diet”, but “this is terrible that I have the LUXURY to be able to do this”. Shudder.