People get fat for different reasons: A fondness for pizza, cake, and butter chicken, an indolent lifestyle, hormone imbalance, emotional emptiness that is temporarily relieved by over-eating, and so on. Losing weight is a struggle, for it often involves giving up a way of life. Change your relationship with food, advise experts, eat to stay healthy. This sounds easier than done, especially when your relationship with food is an all consuming one, and altering it would be tantamount to a kind of devastation.
Take the women in my family, for instance. Each single one of us has a passionate relationship with food. We love every aspect of it: Gazing at fresh produce at marketplaces and delectable pastries in bakeries, browsing for recipes and watching cooking shows, visiting kitchen stores, creating new dishes and talking about them at length to whosoever will listen, and force feeding our friends and families.
Every time we meet each other, our conversations contain numerous references to food: the cuisine at a new restaurant, the dessert recipes in a magazine and our own successes and failures in the kitchen.
All the women in my family express their love by feeding people. Ever since I can remember, I have watched my mother, sisters and myself forge a deep and unbreakable bond between food and our loved ones. If husbands and children don’t eat enough, we are deeply disappointed. This is a sign of our failure. My mother has spent a large portion of her married life calling out to my father for his meals. She is despondent if he doesn’t respond immediately to her summons or eats less than she wants him to. “I’m sick of planning meals,” she laments.
Weight is an obsession with us. Me, my mother, my sisters, their daughters – every single one of the eight females in the family worry about their weight. Theories and disputes about the right way to shed the kilos are the norm. Even a diet is turned into an occasion for discussion about food and eating. One sister thinks gluten leads to weight gain, while the second insists that bananas are fatty. My nieces believe that portion control is the path to slimness. The Atkins’s or high protein diet is the family favourite, largely because it allows unlimited quantities of food.
It’s hardly surprising that none of us have ever managed to lose weight and keep it off. How can we, when giving up good food would mean altering our worldview? For any of us to go past a bakery without stepping in and sampling the wares, choose a salad over lasagna, or avoid a discussion on the best way to make a chocolate lava cake is nearly impossible. The only dilemma then is how to stop worrying about our weight.